We Just Flu in to Visit!
Cold and flu season is upon us! And now people around the US are beginning to freak out a little about the spread of COVID19. Don't panic, instead prepare! This is the perfect time to start considering questions of visitors when you bring home your new baby.
While you've probably thought some about who will come visit you and your new baby, there's likely more you can plan for. Postpartum doulas encourage new parents to consider how soon they'd like to accept visitors, how many visitors at a time, and how often they can handle visitors. Will you have friends or family on hand to open the door and entertain the guests? Does your partner feel the same way that you do?
Have you thought about establishing health rules for who may enter your house or hold the baby? Do you feel comfortable having a visitor who is coughing or sneezing? Runny nose? Fever? Diarhea? These are all reasons you might keep a child out of school or stay home sick from work. It is PERFECTLY OK to tell visitors to stay home and come back when their symptoms have cleared!
Sound uncomfortable? It can be. Especially if family has traveled a long way to see you. But it's far worse to suffer the flu while caring for a newborn. You may want to consider some strategies before sniffling relatives arrive at your door. My family likes to use the old "Aunt Barb & Uncle Eddy" approach when we want to avoid pushback from family. I say, "George is really concerned about getting sick right now and would prefer that you come back another time." George says, "Jenn is worried about germs and keeping healthy for the baby, please come back another time." We find it's hard for family to argue with someone who isn't there. If you don't like that approach, you can always use "our pediatrician says" to lend weight to your demands. It's hard for even the most eager baby kissers to argue with the advice of the doctor.
This is your baby, your family, and your responsibility to take care of them. Aunts and Uncles may be upset to be turned away, but you know best what is best for your family.
New parents are often surprised and horrified to discover that perfect strangers will touch their baby in the supermarket. Again, it may be helpful to have some responses ready before you leave. Some people make or buy a hang tag for the carseat handle. These range from "STOP! DO NOT TOUCH!" to "Please ask my grownup before touching me." Some parents ask that friends/strangers use a squirt of hand sanitizer and then get to flirting with the baby. But it is perfectly fine to simply say "No" to anyone who wants to touch or cuddle your baby!
Finally, with people getting so worked up about COVID19, we tend to forget about the less glamorous but still dangerous diseases out there. Whooping cough, pneumonia, flu. Here is a helpful article about vaccines that all grandparents need before spending time with a newborn. Your pediatrician or family doctor can help make sure everyone in your household is up to date and well protected.
I hope I've given you something to think about that will help you feel more prepared. Keep washing those hands and cuddling that baby!