Why NOT to Entertain Visitors in the Delivery Room

Gone are the days when soon-to-be-dads couldn’t go into the delivery room. Unfortunately, the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction.

Delivery rooms are now crammed with visitors! Between grandparents, friends, in-laws, photographers, and rotating nurses and hospital staff, visitors in the delivery room are taking over!

New moms and newborns are no longer receiving the space, quiet, and respect they need and deserve.

While family and friends in the delivery room may have the best intentions, their presence is unnecessary. Their presence may even be detrimental.

Remember, human beings are mammals. As such, it is in our nature to thrive in undisturbed births.

As Dr. Sarah Buckley writes in her book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Early Parenting Choices:

“Undisturbed birth represents the smoothest hormonal orchestration of the birth process, and therefore the easiest transition possible; physiologically, hormonally, psychologically, and emotionally, from pregnancy and birth to new motherhood and lactation, for each woman. When a mother’s hormonal orchestration is undisturbed, her baby’s safety is also enhanced, not only during labor and delivery, but also in the critical postnatal transition from womb to world.” // ChrisKresser.com

Note the point about the “critical postnatal transition from womb to world.”

Yes, it is critical. And, yes, it is a transition.

Think of it this way – birth is a huge, physical ordeal. You need rest. Baby just emerged from a dark, warm place. He needs time to adjust. And the two of you need to bond, skin-to-skin, after birth and for several weeks after birth.

Visitors disrupt all these processes and deter you both from bonding, recovering, and adjusting adequately.

It is important for all moms to clarify their position on visitors in the delivery room and during postpartum recovery in the hospital. If necessary, blame the hospital’s restrictive visitors policy for your decision to not entertain guests.

Do not feel obligated to invite anyone other than your partner to the delivery room at any point in time.

Here’s why you should NOT entertain visitors in the delivery room.

1. You need to recover.

Labor, as well as the joy and excitement of a newborn baby, can be overwhelming. Granted, there’s no better feeling than snuggling up to your newborn, but childbirth is an ordeal for both mom and baby. Even after an easy vaginal birth, you will be exhausted, sore and bleeding. You will also enjoy a cascade of hormones to help ease the pain, bond with baby, and breastfeed. Those hormones can be diminished by the stress and pressure of having guests. Besides, the last thing you will want to do is slap on a smile and welcome visitors. Give yourself time. You and Baby need it.

2. You need to be skin-to-skin with your baby.

“There are now a multitude of studies that show that mothers and babies should be together, skin to skin (baby naked, not wrapped in a blanket) immediately after birth, as well as…[the] first few weeks of life (not just at feedings).” // NBCI.ca

If you’re entertaining visitors, chances are you’ll want to put on a shirt and Baby will get wrapped in a blanket. This is not ideal.

Skin-to-skin contact has numerous health benefits for Baby, including regulating body temperature and normalizing heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. 

The benefits for you include lower stress, less anxiety, and easier breastfeeding.

3. Baby needs your beneficial bacteria.

If Baby is born vaginally, the bacteria in your birth canal is Baby’s first inoculation against illness and disease.

Your bacteria is a GOOD thing! It helps colonize Baby’s intestine, effectively jump-starting his immune system and teaching it how to fend off germs and bugs that your body already knows how to fight off.

If your baby is born via c-section, Baby will get your beneficial bacteria via skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding.

Lots of visitors holding, hugging, and kissing Baby means lots of new and foreign bacteria Baby’s never been exposed to. At least the hospital staff is wearing gloves and/or taking every precaution to keep excessive germs away from your child.

When Baby is a bit older, exposure to dirt, soil-based organisms, and other people’s (especially kids’) microbes can help strengthen the immune system. For Baby’s first month, however, your beneficial bacteria is enough.

4. Just because.

You may be called selfish if you ban crowds in the delivery room and at the hospital after your baby’s birth.

Be selfish! You just gave birth! It’s your baby! It’s your recovery period! Keep these precious newborn moments to yourself.

You will have plenty of time to introduce your baby to the world. Don’t feel pressured to entertain visitors in the delivery room if you aren’t feeling up to it. Your friends will understand. Your family will just have to respect your choices.

Once you’re settled in at home, visitors will come in handy. They can wash dishes, fold laundry, cook, or hold the baby while you shower or eat. Take the few days you have at the hospital (and the first couple of weeks at home if you want!) to get used to your baby and to care for yourself.

Take care of you, Momma!



Featured image source: www.macleans.ca

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