Let me set the scene, you are bringing your newborn to a gathering of family/friends, or maybe you are hosting the gathering. At any rate, most of the people in attendance have not met your baby. But they are all here, waiting....probably not very patiently to see and hold your new little one. Dying to deeply inhale the scent of new baby :) For some new parents this a nightmare situation, for others not as much.
If you are the mother, or parent who finds this situation stressful, you have the right to say no!!! I know it's difficult, especially with family, they are so excited and want to be a part of your baby's life. But even the most well intended family member or friend can stress mama and/or baby out. Even newborns, sleepy as they are get over-stimulated. Their sleep cycles are short and being passed around like a hot potato can easy disrupt that cycle, making one touched-out, irritated and over tired infant.
If you feel that you or your infant cannot tolerate being handled by several people, you can politely decline this receiving line. Welcome everyone to approach and meet the baby while in your arms. Or invite people over in small groups. It's also okay to ask loved ones to wash their hands, babies are very vulnerable to germs as their immune systems are adjusting to life on the outside. Your only job is to be polite when advocating your or your baby's needs. If people are briefly offended, don't worry, they will most likely write your requests off as postpartum hormones!!!