Let’s talk about boundaries! Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for one’s mental health. When it comes to being a momma, it is especially important to prioritize mental health by setting postpartum boundaries. Absent or unclear postpartum boundaries has the potential to lead to mental and physical exhaustion, disappointment, and regret; all feelings that are sure to negatively impact you’re your transition to motherhood, your parental journey and the bonding experience between you and your baby.
What is a boundary?
A boundary is a limit or space between you and another person. Boundaries are powerful when establishing one’s individuality and identity. The identity of a woman is ever-changing, and it makes identifying as an individual difficult. In just a few years, we quickly go from: girl, to woman, to wife to mother. Without ever having the proper understanding that healthy boundaries are important at every single stage for a healthy and happy flow of life.
Identity and individuality are both crucial when we are re-parenting ourselves and raising our children. If we do not have an idea who we are and what we stand for, we run the risk of repeating toxic behaviors, creating mental turmoil and diminishing our life experience.
Setting healthy postpartum boundaries can be difficult when you don’t really know where to start. I compiled a short guide explaining why you need boundaries and how to set those healthy postpartum boundaries to set the tone for your maternal journey. This guide will also help you practice self-care, protect your mental health, and add value to the bond between you and baby.
3 Major Reasons Why You NEED Postpartum Boundaries
Postpartum Recovery is About YOU…
It’s about you healing your body, safely adjusting to hormonal changes, securely transitioning into your new identity, and nurturing a bond between you and your little one. This isn’t just true for new mothers, the transition from, mother of 1 to mother of 2+ is just as important. If those around you cannot accept that or support that, my suggestion would be to hold off on allowing them into your space until you and your little one has safely adjusted, and you can handle whatever energy, demands or distractions might come your way.
It is incredible what our bodies go through during and after birth. Immediately after giving birth, your baby and your body will be very demanding. Your baby will be depending on you for food, comfort and survival and our body will be working over-time to provide for you both. You know the phrase “the world doesn’t revolve around you.”? Well, in this case it does. Your world will be people you allow in your space to assist you with your recovery. If those people do not treat your recovery as the main priority, it may be time to set some postpartum boundaries.
Create The Experience YOU want…
We all know that labor and delivery is unpredictable, and while it is true you can’t control how your birth will go, you can, however, control how you will be supported by creating postpartum boundaries. Labor and delivery have the potential to be depleting, hard, even traumatizing for some momma’s and the ways in which we recover can make or break our entire outlook on motherhood.
In addition to accepting that your postpartum recovery is about you, realize that your birthing experience shouldn’t take away your power to create the experience you desire. Create an experience you’d want to remember by putting yourself first and setting boundaries that will protect the way you want to connect to motherhood. Set into that “Mother Bear” title a little early and take control of your situation.
One way to create the experience you want is by hiring a postpartum doula. Their job is to make sure you are supported during your postpartum recovery period. Your interactions will be contract binding, and your best interests will always be at the forefront of that relationship. Hired help isn’t feasible for everyone. The same can be done by assembling a team of friends and family who can act as your postpartum support team.
Thinking of hiring a doula? Check out this post: Top 11 Questions to ask a Doula before you Hire!
Because You’re Mental Health Depends On It…
Bringing a child into this world can have profound effects on your mental health. A few minutes into bringing baby into this world, there will be a flood of hormones that dramatically alters the functioning of our bodies and the way that we feel. And guess what, it doesn’t stop there. Your hormones will continue to be in over-drive months down the line. One of the things this hormonal rush has the potential to do is make us mommas extremely emotional and, throw off our chemistry enough to put us at risk for postpartum anxiety or depression.
Trust me mama, you’re going to be dealing with a lot, all the more reason to establish postpartum boundaries. Don’t invite the potential feelings of regret, discontentment, uncomfortability, and anxiety add to that list because of the lack boundaries. Establishing postpartum boundaries will make recovery and getting back to yourself much more easier.
What Does Over Stepping Boundaries Look Like During Postpartum Recovery?
During your prenatal and postpartum periods, it can difficult to identify when someone is overstepping or disrespecting your boundaries. During your postpartum recovery, you will probably be encouraged to be more vulnerable or accept whatever help is offered. You will probably be told that everyone helping only has your best interests at heart. Keep in mind momma, your best interests are met when you set healthy boundaries and when those boundaries are respected.
Here a few examples:
Forced company or help – This can be done when someone does something to help or show up to your hospital room or home without asking you first. It can also be done when someone offers help with an open-ended question, or in any way that does not allow you to answer with a firm yes, or no. Yes, help is wonderful when you are sleep deprived, juggling more than one child, and/or overwhelmed, but it should always be on your own terms.
Questioning your decisions – This often done as a way to guilt trip you into changing or loosening your boundaries. This is done by using an existing relationship to express entitlement to you and your time. This is simply not true. Mama, your boundaries are in place for a reason. Anyone who doesn’t respect that doesn’t respect the relationship. Either way, you said what you said.
Unsolicited advice- This can be done by making comments regarding what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your birth, your body and your baby. It is done by mentioning how your birthing and postpartum experiences compares to theirs or someone else’s. All of this has the potential to cause stress, anxiety, lower your self-esteem, and skew your sense of identity and individuality.
It is true that you cannot control what people do or say, but you can communicate your boundaries and hold them accountable when they chose to dismiss them.
How to Set Your Own PostPartum Boundaries
- Be honest with yourself
- Make a list
- Consider these questions:
- 1.What is fair to me and my baby?
- 2.How much privacy do I want after baby is born?
- 3. Who can I tolerate long enough to help me recover?
- 4. Who do I feel safe and secure with?
- 5. Who do I want to visit me in the hospital?
- 6. Who am I comfortable asking for help?
- 7. Who drains my energy?
- 8. Who brings positivity into my life?
- 9. Who respects my wishes?
- 10. What is fair to me?
- 11. What is fair to my baby?
Creating boundaries to protect your postpartum recovery will ensure you mentally and physically heal. Keep in mind, boundaries change as we change and may vary from person to person depending on your relationship. That is OK! Don’t ever take you changing your boundaries as a sign of weakness or defeat momma, it’s not only your right as a woman and a momma, it is your right as a human being.
Finally, when it comes to labor and delivery, you will be the hardest working individual in that room, you will continue to be the hardest working individual during your postpartum recovery period and all throughout motherhood. Establishing healthy boundaries allows you to safe guard your mental health and sanity. It will also keep you nurtured, protected and respected in a way you desire.
Protect your body, protect your space, and protect your baby.