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Welcoming a new baby at Christmas

16 November 2023

Christmas can be a stressful time of year. Adding a newborn to the mix can make it even more overwhelming. Nurse Manager Suzanne Kelly shares her tips to help you and your new family member enjoy this magical time of year.

Firstly, congratulations on the birth of your new bub.

Secondly, I want to reassure you that you’re not the only new parent finding this time harder than normal. Understandably, you’re already feeling a bit tired in the lead up, but add in the fact that you’re expected to attend the festivities and let everyone have a cuddle of your baby, it’s no wonder you’re exhausted.

Here’s a few recommendations to hopefully reduce some of the stress.

You set the rules

You’re the one with the newborn so you should set the ground rules for what you are willing to do on Christmas day and the holiday period. 

Be firm and set the boundaries based on what is going to best suit you and your baby’s needs, not others. For example:

  • Are you ok to travel to family or do you want people to come to your house?
  • Do you want to do something in the morning and relax in the afternoon, the other way around, or nothing at all?

Also consider how you feel about people holding your baby. Things like:

  • Do you want people to be vaccinated for things such as COVID-19 or whooping cough?
  • Do you want them to sanitise or wash their hands before touching bub?
  • How long are you comfortable having people hold your baby for?
  • Are you ok for them to be passed around person-to-person?

Discuss it with your partner and agree on your limits. 

Know when you and baby need a break

With emotions running high and lots going on (especially if you’ve given birth in the last month), give yourself permission to have a break.

As I mentioned above, it’s normal to find this time challenging. Pack in the celebrations early or find a room to escape the noise for a while and give bub a chance to resettle, feed and maybe have a nap in peace after lots of stimulation.


For your newborn:

It’s easy to go overboard with gifts for bubs’ first Christmas, but my advice is keep the gifts simple and practical. The focus should be on appreciating the time you have with them and creating memories that you’ll cherish (and they’ll look back on fondly, later in life).

My suggestion? Get them a:

  • Fun and practical toy. 
  • Memory evoking gift for later in life, for example, a tree decoration to mark their first Christmas that you can bring out every year.
  • Cute and personalised outfit for photos.

As with any purchase or gift for young babies, ensure you don’t get anything that may be a choking hazard.

For others:

Don’t stress about shopping for gifts. Similar to baby’s gift, keep it simple.

Buy them a voucher or ask to spend time with people one-on-one away from all the hustle and bustle instead. People will understand that you’re operating on reduced capacity. They will also appreciate spending quality time with you and bub too.

Most of all, enjoy spending time with your new family member… they only get their first Christmas once, so make it one you remember.

Remember, support is available

If you are finding a few aspects of parenting challenging, feel free to call your obstetrician or hospital for advice or a referral. 

St John of God Healthcare at Home’s lactation consultants and midwives will be available for home consults Monday to Friday, except Christmas Day. You can self-refer to this service by calling 1300 475 442.

If you’re struggling mentally, St John of God Raphael Services provides free mental health support for mums and dads from conception to your child’s fourth birthday. 

Raphael Services has locations in NSW, Victoria and WA. To make an appointment, you’ll need to see your GP for a referral and a Mental Health Treatment Plan. Then contact the Raphael Services closest to you to make an appointment.

Some other helpful services include:

St John of God Subiaco Hospital Nurse Manager Suzanne Kelly
Suzanne Kelly - Nurse Unit Manager

Suzanne is the Nurse Unit Manager of St John of God Subiaco Hospital's maternity wards 53 and 54.

She started her midwifery career at Subiaco over 12 years ago, beginning her journey in ward 54 before moving to ward 53 in 2013. She has held the roles of Clinical Midwife, Acting Nurse Unit Manager, Clinical Nurse Manager, Acting Nurse Service Manager and now Nurse Unit Manager. 

She has a keen interest in research and perinatal mental health and is passionate about delivering excellent patient care.