Becoming a new mom is a beautiful and transformative experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. The demands of caring for a newborn, adjusting to a new routine, and recovering from childbirth can be overwhelming. In the midst of these changes, your health can often take a back seat. This is where the concept of boundaries comes in. When we are able to set and hold boundaries with ourselves and others, it can be a powerful tool to help us new moms to navigate the postpartum journey with some balance.
What Are Boundaries for New Moms?
In the realm of self-care for new moms, boundaries act as invisible lines that hold limits of what is acceptable and comfortable for you. Think of them as a set of personal guidelines that help you navigate your interactions, behaviors, relationships, and daily life more smoothly.
Boundaries come in several forms:
Physical Boundaries: These define your physical comfort zone. For example, who you are comfortable with visiting your house during postpartum recovery, when and for how long, This can also apply to your babies physical boundaries since they are not yet able to set their own boundaries. How close are you comfortable with people getting to your baby.
Emotional Boundaries: These protect your emotional well-being. As a new mom, it's essential to recognize your emotional limits. Emotional boundaries help you express your feelings honestly and respectfully. It's about understanding and communicating when you need space or support.
Time Boundaries: Time is a precious resource, especially for new moms. Setting time boundaries involves managing your schedule to prioritize self-care and rest. It's okay to say no to additional commitments or delegate tasks to make sure you have time for yourself.
Intellectual Boundaries: When people respect your intellectual boundaries, you feel heard, understood and valued. You feel like your opinion and what you bring to a conversation is taken seriously.
Material Boundaries: These protect your possessions. Do you feel in control of what you wear, your privacy around your phone is respected, you are able to feel comfortable being able to have the material items taken care of just as you would care for them.
The Difference Between a Rule, Threat, and Boundary
It's crucial to differentiate between rules, threats, and boundaries. These terms can sometimes be confused, but understanding their distinctions is vital for effective boundary-setting:
Rules: Rules are rigid directives that often come with consequences for not following through. They are typically set by someone in attempts to control someone else's behavior. In the context of self-care for new moms, rigid rules can create stress and limit people from hearing your request. For example, telling someone what they have to do, or can't do to make you and the baby comfortable is a rule, not a boundary.
Threats: Threats are aimed at influencing someone's behavior as well, but with a negative consequence attached to it. Threats can strain relationships and do not promote healthy communication or mutual respect. As a new mom, using threats with your partner or loved ones can lead to unnecessary tension and misunderstandings.
Boundaries: Boundaries on the other hand, are about open and honest communication of your needs and limits. They are not punitive but serve as a way to protect your well-being while maintaining respectful relationships. Boundaries allow you to express what you are comfortable with and what you are not, without threatening or controlling others. They are a way of telling others what you will do in response to their behavior. You are not trying to control or threaten, just expressing your limits. For example, if you tell people to not call after a specific time, you would just let people know that you are going to put your phone on do not disturb and then answer missed calls and messages in the morning.
By understanding these distinctions, you can set boundaries that promote self-care, nurture healthy relationships, and reduce stress.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Now, that we have an idea of what some boundaries are in motherhood, let's explore how you can set healthy boundaries as a new mom:
Identify Your Needs: The first step in boundary-setting is knowing where your boundaries are! A lot of times, you know when a boundary has been crossed when you feel uncomfortable. Take a moment to reflect on times where you felt uncomfortable in the boundary categories. What makes you feel balanced and well-cared for?
Communicate Clearly: Effective communication is key to establishing boundaries. We want to be assertive, not passive or aggressive, or passive-aggressive. We want to make sure that the other person hears up clearly without being distracted by our tone or volume. You deserve to be heard and respected.
Prioritize Self-Care and Health: Understand that setting boundaries is a way of protecting yourself. It is how you take care of your health and your families health. Setting boundaries healthy is not being selfish. Prioritizing your well-being allows you to show up as the best version of yourself for your baby and your loved ones.
Learn to Say No: It's okay to decline requests or commitments that feel overwhelming or don't align with your priorities as a new mom. Saying no is a healthy way to protect your time and energy. When we speak assertively and set healthy, rather than rigid of porous boundaries, we do not have to be rude when saying no.
Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or support groups to lean on. Sharing this new way of setting boundary with others can give you valuable insights and motivation.
Adjust Boundaries as Needed: Remember that healthy boundaries are not set in stone. As your circumstances and needs change, your boundaries may also change. Be flexible and open to reassessing them when necessary. And remember to always listen to yourself.
Incorporating boundaries into your postpartum routine may take time and practice, but it's a transformative step towards self-care and well-being. Embrace the power of boundaries, and let them guide you on your path to mastering self-care as a new mom.
Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing specialized and compassionate mental health support for moms postpartum. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!