visitors with preemie — The Bump

visitors with preemie

My son is likely to be discharged from the hospital in the next week or two, and I'm a little concerned about having a lot of visitors.  He was born at 32 weeks 0 days and will be 36 or 37 weeks at discharge (if all goes to plan). We have a *lot* of family, and I don't want to blow off their requests to visit my son... they have been tremendously supportive during what has been a difficult time (and I'm excited for them to meet him); however, I'm worried about (a) germs and (b) over-stimulation. The hospital nurses have seemed to think that asking guests to wash their hands and using hand sanitizer is probably sufficient. How have you all dealt with this issue? Did you discourage visitors? Require proper hand washing and forbid ill visitors? Limit visitors to grand parents and great grand parents?

 Also, how did your babies do with respect to the stimulation from visitors? Right now, we are told only to interact with him for the hour after meals (and not to hold him at other times). Does this change quickly? I'm especially worried about out of town visitors wanting to hold him / interact with him for longer periods than our baby is prepared to handle... (e.g., the in-laws setting up camp at our house all day and passing him around kind of thing...). I'd like to get a feel for what has worked for others so that my husband and I can be on the same page...

Re: visitors with preemie

  • Personally, I would hold off on the visitors for a couple of weeks.  I think you should allow yourself some time to adjust. In fact, I think it would be best for you and your new family. I don't think you need the extra stress, not to mention the potential infection exposure. Graciously thank your in-laws for their support, but let them know that you are just taking appropriate precautions to prevent expensive hospital return visits.
  • I'd wait to have visitors as well. The day we came home my parents came over and so did my IL's. Everyone had to wash their hands while there and before they held him. The rest of our family was very supportive and understood why we asked to hold off on visitors, plus my little guy came home on October 18 so we were entering cold/flu season.

    We already had a 3 year old at home too so he was also trying to adjust.

    As for the stimulation, our nurses and doctors didn't mention that much when he was discharged.

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  • I think this would depend on a lot of factors, including your babies overall health while in the NICU. My twins were born at 26 weeks and had a lot of breathing issues etc. they were discharged in the summer so we had a few good weeks before winter hit. 

    We made it very clear that the first few days we wanted time just us. Then we slowed welcomed visitors (grandparents and DH's Sis). Our rules were: nobody could visit who was sick or had been since within the last few days, lots of hand washing, and we strongly limited the amount of time we had visitors. If the babies had enough we removed them from the situation and put them down for a nap. We also insisted that everyone close that would be spending a lot of time with them got a Pertussis vaccine as well as their flu shot.

    All of this was suggested by our NICU. We didn't have many other visitors until We had been home for a few weeks and had a good handle on things. Our family and friends understood (there were some who did not, but that was there issue not ours). Winter was a totally different story and we spent months on lock down and limited visitors to grandparents only. 

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  • I pretty much did what everyone else is saying...we had only one set of visitors over at a time. If they had not had their flu vaccine then we made them wear a mask (this was back in Feb.) obviously everybody had to wash their hands, and if anybody was showing the slightest sign of a cold then we told them no. Visits were kept to 10-20 minutes max. Our son did pretty well with this.

    I know that everyone is excited to meet your little one, but there will be plenty of time in the future. Now is your time to be home and love on him. The way we explained to people who were disappointed with waiting was simply by telling them that if he hadn't been born early, he wouldn't even be here yet for them to visit, so they can wait a few more weeks Smile

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  • I think it depends on several things. How complicated was your LO's NICU stay? Do your family members have a healthy respect for boundaries? I've had 2 late-term preemies (34w and 35w) and felt comfortable having healthy visitors who washed their hands and didn't stay terribly long. 
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  • Thanks. My son's NICU stay has been uncomplicated for a 32 - weeker thus far (knocking on wood)... more the usual issues (PDA, initial breathing issues, etc. He hasn't had any bradys or apnea issues for several days now (but is just now being weaned from the caffeine). That said, I'm concerned about the fact that he missed out on the antibodies he would have received from me from 32 to 34 weeks. I think that limiting visitors to grandparents sounds like a good idea. Not sure what to do about the uncle who booked plane tickets without talking to me first (my side, not my husband's... his son is in town, but he expects to meet the baby).

     Thanks for the advice. It's at least good to hear that limiting visitors is fairly standard... and the great news today is that my cousin has already identified the issue to the family, so I won't be shocking anyone on my side!

  • Keep it to just grandparents and few aunts and uncles.
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