Social Gathering with a Newborn Q&A with Dr. Dennis

Jul 2, 2024
BY Partum Health Care TEam
interracial family with baby in nursery

Summer social season is in full swing and you might be ready to pack a bag with all the essentials for your little one but have you unpacked your feelings about taking the baby with you? Attending a social gathering with a newborn can be a source of anxiety for new parents and we’ve all been there. We sat down with Partum Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Melissa Dennis to get some answers for the most common worries about social gatherings that might make new parents anxious.

And as always, if your anxiety feels overwhelming please seek the help of a behavioral health specialist and reach out to our care team today to schedule an appointment. 

Q: What should I do if people at the gathering want to hold or touch my baby, and I’m not comfortable with it?

A: No is a one word answer, it’s okay to say that, this is your newborn. It doesn’t need a lot of explanation, because you are making decisions to keep your baby healthy and safe. Now, that’s easier said than done with some families and friends so I suggest you practice before you go and make sure you and your partner are on the same page.

I’ve also heard of parents choosing to wear their babies on their chests at gatherings which makes it easier to turn down hold requests.

Q: How can I minimize the risk of my baby getting sick when attending social events?

A: This is such a great question. Remember, babies are not born with their full immune system, when the umbilical cord is cut they largely fend for themselves.

Vaccines help babies develop immunity and breast milk also has antibodies in it so some of mom’s immunity can pass through. If another person is going to be close to the baby for an extended period of time, make sure they’re up to date with their TDap, Flu, Covid vaccines.

This (Dr. Dennis indicates her face with her hand) is where all the germs are spread. Keeping people away from the baby’s face and/or limiting the number of people who hold the baby are other ways to help prevent your little one from getting sick.

Q: What are some strategies for keeping my baby’s feeding and nap schedule consistent during social gatherings?

A: Go in with a plan. You and your partner need to decide how strict you want to be on the schedule. Some parents really want to stick to a schedule no matter what and there are those that say the baby will sleep where I am. Decide which camp you’re in and go from there. 

When I was a new parent we clung to our schedule and often I would leave the gathering to do feedings and naps and my husband would stay. 

Plenty of parents find it easier to go out with a newborn than an older baby because they can really nap wherever they are.

Q: What are some effective ways to cope with feeling judged for my parenting choices?

A: Such a great question, this plagues all of us, no one is immune to the insecurities of am I doing this right?

The bottom line, as long as your baby is safe and healthy you’re doing it right. Summon all your confidence and be comfortable with yourself and what you are doing. Find a group of close friends and family members who will boost you up, your hype people, they’ll get you through the tricky stages of being a new parent.

Also recommend working with a therapist who will be an unbiased third party who can walk through things with you and be a safe space to share your feelings.

Q: How can I participate in social activities while still attending to my baby’s needs?

A: This comes with practice, it is pretty easy when they’re newborns because they don’t need a lot, they need feeding and sleep, you can carry them or keep them tucked up in their carseat. You might find it harder to participate because of the round-the-clock schedule you’ve been thrown into!

It’s as they become more mobile, and when you might sleep like normal again, that it gets trickier. The key is surrounding yourself with people who understand that. 

Q: How can I manage my energy levels and avoid burnout after attending a social event with my baby?

A: Let me start by saying, it’s hard. It is definitely draining to do these things with a newborn and there is a level of stress associated with it. 

Do what you can to make things simple for yourself. Pack the bag ahead of time, pack a change of clothes for the baby, for yourself if baby likes to spit up, and give yourself some quiet time afterward to recharge.

If you feel like your battery is getting drained please take that time so you can recharge which will allow you to engage with your baby and your family in a way that is healthy.

If you’re finding these events are causing stress before and after, please talk with a therapist. Seek some professional advice because postpartum anxiety, ocd, or depression, are common and while this is new and you have to adjust to it you shouldn’t be feeling fear. 

If you’re unable to do things you want to do because you’re hindered by anxiety or reach out to a therapist or trusted provider. That’s a sign for professional intervention.

Q: How should I take care of my baby in the heat? Are there signs to look for if my baby is too hot or too cold in the AC?

A: Did you know babies can’t sweat like we can as adults and are prone to overheating more so than we are?

Look for these cues:

- fussy

- lethargic or extra sleepy

- not eating well

- baby's skin is flushed

What To Do:

- get inside to the AC

- wear light clothing

- bring a portable fan to attach to the stroller or pack n play

- chill a wet cloth in a cooler and put it on baby's skin

Don't be afraid to leave where you are to get to air conditioning. 

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a new parent who is anxious about social gatherings what would it be?

A: Welcome to the club! (Dr. Dennis laughs) 

But really, you’re not alone. You are adjusting to a new life. If I say it once, I say it a million times, give yourself grace, it’s an adjustment, figure out what is right for you and your family. You do it the first time and it’ll be easier every time after.

Think about setting realistic expectations for the event with your partner before you go. 

Ready for that BBQ or pool party? Before you dive in (see what we did there) understand that it’s normal to feel a little anxious and having strategies in place to manage these concerns can help make the experience more enjoyable for both the parent and the baby.

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