Post-partum Protocol: Visiting co-workers in the hospital

by epi on February 19, 2013

Q: My 55 year old husband was asked by his 25 year old secretary to visit her in the hospital after the birth of her child. Is this proper for a boss to visit his secretary with other work colleagues if she is in her hospital bed, in her nightie, just because she asked them to visit? Wouldn’t flowers and balloons suffice?

A: Flowers and balloons of course are festive, and in some offices the protocol is such that personal visits of any kind are not made, but if the office staff is close and less formal, and the person who has a child is extremely excited and wanting to share the wonder of it all, there is nothing wrong with the colleagues and even one’s boss visiting. You will find that people who have just had children want to share the joy of it with the world and often don’t think about protocol!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brockwest February 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Wow, I’ve never heard anyone claim that hospital garb is a nightie. It’s absolutely fine for the boss or any friend to visit a willing patient in the hospital. Patient’s aren’t in nighties, they are in hospitals.


Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Hospital gowns can be revealing, especially if a mother is breastfeeding or trying to bond through skin-to-skin contact.


Chocobo February 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

True, they can be revealing. However, many maternity wards now allow patients to wear whatever they want, especially after the labor is over. So it is possible that she would be fully dressed by the time anyone would see her in the hospital. Either way, I agree that thinking of a johnny gown as a night gown is silly. Would it be any different to receive a visitor after she had kidney surgery, where she would be required to stay in the johnny gown? I have to have faith that the woman would not breastfeed or otherwise reveal herself in front of her boss.

I think it really depends on the personal relationship of the boss and coworkers to this woman, more than the situation itself. Are they that close as friends? Have they visited other coworkers before in a similar situation? If not, the boss probably should not visit her and simply send his well-wishes. But if they are, then it would be appropriate.


Heather February 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I agree with the above; I was in the hospital for a week after giving birth. However, after a few hours I was dressed in street clothes and did not in any way appear to be undressed. Visitors, even if they were business colleagues, would not have been embarrassed.


Andra February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm

It strikes that the larger question here may be ‘Is it okay for a husband to do something which with the wife is uncomfortable when it pertains to other women?’ If the mother in question is comfortable having her boss come visit her to the point of having requested it and your husband is willing and interested, then I think your problem is less one of etiquette and more one of negotiating marital boundaries.


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