6 Ways to Set Boundaries Postpartum

6 Ways to Set Boundaries Postpartum

By Kelly Mitchem

The transition to motherhood, like so many life transitions, can be filled with both joy and difficulty. The arrival of a new baby brings change to many areas of your life very quickly. You and your loved ones are excited, which is to be expected, but don’t let the excitement over the new baby diminish your personal needs. Even well-meaning loved ones can overwhelm us if we are not careful. 

Setting boundaries during the postpartum period will help you to stay focused on what really matters: the needs of your baby, yourself, and your nuclear family. Postpartum is about recovery, adjustment, and bonding. It’s important to surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with and that will support your choices. During this time emotions can be heightened which can easily lead to disagreements and pent up frustrations. You will be going through a lot of physical recoveries as well, which is another reason why having people that you feel comfortable around is essential.

Despite the necessity of boundaries as a new mother, it can be one of the hardest things to do. It is difficult to tell anyone no - to be truthful with them about your family’s priorities and intentions. The key is to recognize your needs and do your best to stay true to them. 

Here are a few ways to help you do that. 

6 Ways to Set Boundaries Postpartum

1.Start Early - Begin envisioning your postpartum period early in your pregnancy if possible. This will give you more time to make your wishes clear to the people in your life that will be there during that time. Expressing your desires can be hard, but it is easier to get your expectations out and heard before the postpartum period when emotions are heightened and tender.

2. Consider your Recovery - Everyone’s postpartum recovery looks different. Some people will have more intense physical injuries than others but there are a few things all new mothers can expect to experience. At a minimum you will be dealing with breast tenderness, excessive bleeding, hormonal changes, and general aches and pains, just to name a few. Be sure to surround yourself with people that you feel comfortable around while going through all of these changes. If there are people you must see that you don’t feel comfortable around, do your best to limit visits to a set time, or excuse yourself from the room if needed. 

3. Prepare for Pushback - This might be the part that people dread the most about setting boundaries: upsetting people and possible confrontations. Unfortunately, no matter what boundaries you set there will be at least one person who causes you difficulty. You will know best who to expect this type of reaction from and who will be more flexible. Be clear with your expectations, despite the awkwardness these conversations can have. It will be worth it in the end.

4. Work on Saying No - Saying no isn’t always fun, but it can be necessary. If you have a difficult time with it then do your best to keep your responses simple and straightforward. Don’t feel guilty for putting your family’s needs first, before saying yes to every invitation or request. 

5. Develop your Support Team - We all need help, even when we don’t like to admit it. Gather your support team in your mind, and know who you can rely on to help you post-birth. You will quickly realize just how helpful it is to have people who are willing to assist with even the smallest tasks. Aside from the tasks, your support team can help you keep the boundaries you have set and encourage you when you feel the need to step outside of them.

6. Prioritize - If there is ever a time to be selfish, postpartum is at the top of the list. Prioritize your health, both physical and mental, as well as your happiness, safety, and support. You are far more able to contribute to your family when you are properly supported than when you are pushing yourself beyond what you can handle.

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