Did someone call for a parade? It might feel like one after the birth of your baby. A never-ending amount of people are parading through your house to see the new baby. They mean well, but you’re probably itching to get into your new routines. You’ve barely recovered from the birth of your baby and can already feel the added stress from in-laws and friends.
Boundaries are essential, but what options do you have when setting them? It might feel challenging, but you can establish your boundaries early to ensure everyone understands. You need to put you and your baby’s needs first and theirs second. Part of this is communicating your needs through the six types of boundaries: physical, emotional, time, sexual, intellectual, and material.
Having birth is a life-changing event, AND people need to understand that.
You just had a baby, and everyone’s focus will be on that new baby coming into the world. The baby wasn’t the only thing born that day – a new mom was.
Communicating your feelings to in-laws, visitors, or even your parents may be tricky. Planning is challenging because you might not know how you’ll feel after delivery.
Preparing a loose game plan for reasonable visit times and family arrangements is necessary. If your partner returns to work immediately after birth, you’ll most likely be the host, welcoming team, and asked to be the tour guide for everyone visiting.
You don’t have to be all those things. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to – or anything that will take your time away from the baby.
All boundaries aren’t created equal. Boundaries happen when you can sense yourself wanting and needing to have limits. Boundaries set our time, energy, and space with another person.
You should know the six types of boundaries to help set and understand what healthy boundaries look like. Let’s look into each one.
What are physical boundaries?
A healthy physical boundary may sound like, “I’m feeling exhausted from breastfeeding. I need to sit down now.”
For a physical boundary, you’re defining needs for personal space, touching, and your physical needs like rest, eating, or drinking need to be met.
Letting people know you don’t want to be touched or just want to eat is OK. This is you communicating your physical needs at that moment.
What are emotional boundaries?
A healthy emotional boundary may sound like, “I’m having a tough day with the baby. Do you think we can talk about this later?”
For an emotional boundary, you want your feelings and energy respected. If you have an in-law over – they need to understand just how much emotional energy you have to share with them and their needs.
Emotional boundaries require you to know who you can share sensitive information with that will react positively to it. Will they express an interest in listening to you? Do they respond poorly?
There are emotional boundary violations that you may have experienced after having the baby. Does your mother-in-law dismiss and criticize your feelings? Has your partner asked you to justify feelings? Both of these are emotional boundary violations.
Communicate honestly and openly when there are violations and voice when you feel overwhelmed.
What are time boundaries?
A healthy time boundary may sound like, “The baby and I won’t be able to make the BBQ this weekend. Is there another time we could get together?”
Time is money. In your case, time is baby. It’s essential to take control of how others use your time. Time boundaries aren’t just with visitors. This could also be at work, at home, with your partner, or in social gatherings.
Understanding your priorities and dedicating your time to those before others is a healthy way to keep yourself from over-committing. Instead of potentially showing up late or having to cancel – you can set time boundaries early that will help your relationship with others and set proper expectations around how often the baby will be on board.
What are sexual boundaries?
A healthy sexual boundary may sound like, “I don’t feel like having sex tonight. Could we just watch a movie instead?”
Setting your sexual boundaries always includes consent, agreement, and respect. Communicating with your partner about what sex looks like after giving birth is probably one of the first boundary conversation you’ll have.
Your body is still recovering from birth, and while your partner may not understand that your sexual desires aren’t there (or assume you don’t want to have sex anymore, which isn’t true), communicate these points directly. You should never be pressured into engaging in unwanted sex. Sulking is another sexual boundary violation where your partner (for this example) mopes around from not engaging in sexual activities. It’s not OK.
What are intellectual boundaries?
A healthy intellectual boundary may sound like, “I understand that we disagree, but you shouldn’t trivialize me with your words.”
Sometimes you might not want to describe how your body feels. There’s a time and a place for that. Intellectual boundaries are about considering if the time is right for you to talk about something. You’re setting boundaries around your thoughts and ideas. It’s important to understand the differences between healthy and unhealthy discourse with others. You don’t need to accept a harmful opinion. You can let that person know you don’t condone talk like that.
If someone can’t have respectful discourse with you, set a boundary by distancing yourself from them or cutting them off. If it’s a family member, explain how their opinions affect you and why you don’t want them around your baby.
What are material boundaries?
A healthy material boundary may sound like, “We don’t have any extra money to lend you. Could we help in another way?”
Material boundaries are just that – your material things. Understanding what you can share and what you can’t is setting a healthy boundary for your relationship with others. No one can reasonably think that everything can be borrowed… can they? Especially if they often return those things broken or in bad condition. Understanding what you can share and what you can’t is setting a healthy boundary for your relationship with others. You may also see others use possessions as a power to manipulate positions.
The more you set boundaries, the more those close to you will respect them. They didn’t just give birth to a baby – you did. While the family may mean well and not know they’re overstepping boundaries, providing them with feedback will help make it clear – mama needs time to herself.