Set & Hold Strong Boundaries

How to set a boundary: Your boundary is pretty close to or exactly matching the first thought that pops into your head in response to someone’s question or comment.

The first thought is often the most protective and loving of you, your baby, and your new family. It is your truth. Set a boundary that helps you most closely honor this truth. Ignore the voice that tells you this truth will disappoint other people. Other people don’t matter right now; just you, your baby, and your family matter.

Suggested boundaries to set: (add your own!)

During Pregnancy

Shut down interactions that feel uncomfortable. People will cross personal boundaries a lot when you are pregnant. Like, um, touching your belly. It’s weird and inappropriate and wrong. So, feel free to hold that one strong with the weirdos at work and strangers at the mall.

In the Hospital Postpartum

Be very choosy about visitors. You’re in there for, like, two days and you literally have zero time when you are not doing something critical and not cute like peri-care. In the hospital postpartum: Place a sign on the door that says, “Please do not disturb until _______ o’clock. Parent is sleeping.” If you feel like you are unable to rest in the hospital due to very frequent interruptions, ask your nurse if anything needs to be done in the next four hours. If not, put up your sign and get some rest.

In the First Two Weeks Postpartum

Visitors should be very special picks. 

  • Week one: The first week at home is very, very not cute. The only people who are coming over are the obligatory grandparent visit and people who you are overjoyed to show your baby to and are bringing you a delicious, ready-to-eat meal. It can be Five Guys or a pan of brownies or a bag of M&Ms. But, seriously, nobody should ever show up in the first six weeks postpartum without food in their hands. 
  • Week two: Others in short, predetermined increments. The second week postpartum, you may add in the non obligatory but also not at all helpful and somewhat vexing tier of visitors. These people probably won’t bring you anything and that is okay, because they are only invited over for 30 minutes. Max. You might say, “I’m cool with you coming over for about 30 minutes. There is strong chance the baby will be nursing for most of that.” No apologies. 

General Maternity Leave Boundaries

Do not talk about or do work. If friends from work text, keep conversation off of work matters. Set a mental boundary of not thinking about or worrying about work until four to six weeks before your return. Don’t let that creep into your one and only maternity leave with this baby

How to hold a boundary

  • Find gentle, perhaps even humorous, ways to make people leave your house: “Okay, I am going to kick you out now guys. You honestly don’t want to see what is about to happen around here.”
  • Don’t reply to a text sent after 9:00 pm or before 9:00 am.
  • Don’t reply to a text from work at all unless it is an emergency that only you can fix. Then, only do that one little thing.
  • Don’t look at or respond to your work email that has an auto responder on it (right?! An “I won’t be regularly checking mail for the next three months; please direct any questions to ____ in my absence.)
  • If your personal and work emails are connected, break the connection during your maternity leave.
  • If you must do work while on maternity leave, designate specific periods of time to do work. Don’t let it trickle in throughout your day. That time is for your family.
  • Notice when your thoughts are somewhere you would rather they not be. Without judgment, just let those feelings go and return to the present moment. Ask yourself, “where am I and what am I doing?”