Visitors After Birth

The long awaited nine months is over and baby is here! What a blessing and joy it finally is to see, hold, smell and touch your new precious bundle. When that tiny baby is placed into your arms, he or she is the ultimate reward for your nine months of careful preparation. Mom and Dad/Partner are over the moon with excitement, love and so proud of the miracle that they just created. As they hold their new baby, it is only natural that they want to show their baby off to the world! I remember when my first daughter was born, I wanted to break free of the hospital and show everyone my new beautiful little girl!

Pregnancy and birthing is such a challenge and blessing all at the same time that who wouldn’t want to show off their baby? In the movies, you see the dad walk into the waiting room full of friends and family members announcing what the sex of the baby is. Everyone cheers and hugs and pour into the hospital room where mom is found showered, hair done, make up perfect and camera ready. Seriously?

Over in the real world, it may be hours before mom showers and her hair is likely in a “mom-bun,” hardly brushed, but she is still beautiful. Hollywood creates a fake appearance while the real world highlights those imperfections which are perfect and magnificent. Family and friends are excited of course and while they need to meet your new baby, holding off from visitation may be a bigger benefit than you think.

Let’s start with the obvious and the fact that you just went through one of the most strenuous body experiences in life:  labor and delivery. It doesn’t matter if you had a natural birth or C-section, your mind and body are depleted, not to mention completely exhausted!  Babies are also exhausted from the whole experience. You and your little one need to rest together to recover. Engaging visitors does not provide the deep rest you need. Besides, when you get home is when you will need visitors, mostly someone to help,  because there will not be a nurse call button to help anymore!

I want to bring your attention to something that is called the “the golden hour” after birth and this is that very first hour after the baby is born. You may not know that what you and others around you do in that very first hour of your baby’s life can have a significant—even lifelong—impact on the bond you have with your baby. Therefore, you and your partner’s arms are the most important and only place the baby needs to be to take advantage of this first hour or even few hours, after birth.

“Our first impression of life outside the womb, the welcome reception we receive immediately after birth, may color our perceptions of life as difficult or easy, hostile or safe, painful or comforting, frightening or reassuring, cold and lonely or warm and welcoming” – Dr. Raylene Phillips

There are amazing changes that takes place within the mother right away in this hour, all the way down to the changing of her brain chemistry to promote her natural instinct to nurture her young. And the suckling of the baby on her breasts, stimulates hormones that sets her mother intuition off, her “all knowing” power that she has for her baby. These same hormones also help her uterus begin to contract too and bleeding to slow. Not to mention these hormones help to enhance bonding!

It is also vital for the success of breastfeeding to have the baby latch during that important first hour, before sleep overwhelms your exhausted baby! That first latch is of the utmost importance for the breastfeeding relationship to get off to a good start. It will be the most magical thing to watch.  Dads and partners: get those tissues ready!

With Mother Nature’s most spectacular relationship: mother and baby, blossoming for the first time during this delicate, sacred hour, how would visitors contribute anything during this time?  Not very much! While the visitors you have are there to love, and support the new parents, this is really a time for the family to connect, alone and without distraction.  It is a time to enjoy all of those “first moments” in that special first hour or hours after birth.

What about baby’s health? I mentioned that bonding enhances breastfeeding, but how else will alone time alone with mom and dad help the baby? Allowing the baby to connect to his or her parents via skin to skin helps tremendously with the baby’s transition from womb to world. Put yourself in the life of the baby for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine that you are all wrapped up, warm and cozy within your mother. All you hear is the soothing sounds of her heartbeat, her voice and partner’s voice. You hear the slow, rhythmic sounds of her breathing. It is like music to a baby’s ears to hear this.  It is the greatest comfort to be securely wrapped inside of the womb. Now imagine being born and taking your first breath of air as you emerge from this place of serenity and warmth. Taking your first breath into this big, loud and bright world is shocking!

Therefore, easing the baby in by mimicking the environment of the womb with skin-to-skin contact and as little noise and lights as possible is the best thing for the baby. The hospital room is already stimulating enough and adding visitors too soon after birth can easily overstimulate the fragile newborn. Babies are sensitive to a lot of stimulation up to the first six months of life! Mom and dad should take time alone, hugging baby and telling him or her that they love them and everything is okay. Remember, birth is not just hard on mom! This helps the baby to really understand, “all is right with the world” and is a beautiful way to start their life on earth.

Many blessings to you all for healthy and peaceful births!

Lindsay Gibson
Editor, Beautiful Births and Beyond