woman in white crew neck t-shirt carrying baby

After you have a baby it seems like everyone you’ve ever known wants to come see him/ her. It also seems like everyone you’ve ever known has an opinion about how to parent. It can be overwhelming to set boundaries, both physically and when it comes to their opinions. But you get to decide what you’re comfortable with, and you get to decide how to parent your child. This post will help you feel more comfortable and empowered to set boundaries after baby with your family and friends.

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Do I Need to Set Boundaries?

It’s up to you! And it depends on your friends/ family. Because newborns don’t have a very strong immune system and haven’t had all of their vaccinations, most parents want to limit the amount of visitors for the first few weeks. You also may want some time and space to bond, to not have to worry what you look like, or be fully clothed (if you’ve breastfed you get it)! So you can decide who you want to come over, how often, and for how long.

For my oldest, we did not allow anyone outside of immediate family to come over for the first month. Partially because Adeline was born in March and it was still cold/flu season (not to mention COVID). But it worked out well, because I was an emotional mess for the first few weeks and would randomly cry. So I didn’t want to have to feel like I was hosting anyone or worry about being polite. For my second, we allowed more people to come over, but still kept it pretty limited for the first month or so.

This is of course just physical boundaries, but there are a few different types of boundaries you might want to set when you have a new baby.

What Boundaries Might I Need to Set?

There are a few different types of boundaries you might want to set:

Physical Boundaries

As I mentioned above, you may want to limit the amount of people who get to visit. You may also want to limit who gets to hold baby. Remember, you are allowed to do this! You get to make the rules.

Some people prefer that no one kiss the baby, or that they wash their hands before holding.

Unsolicited Advice

You learn quickly that everyone has an opinion about just about everything to do with your baby; how to dress, how to feed, diaper changes, etc. It can get exhausting and frustrating.

Going Against Your Wishes

Worse than giving their opposing opinion is when people just straight up do something you’re not comfortable with. This typically happens once babies are a bit older (feeding them something you’re not comfortable with, using a device you’re not comfortable with, swaddling them incorrectly, etc.) but it can happen any time.

Sometimes, crossing these boundaries is well intentioned or unintentional, and sometimes it’s because they think they know best. Regardless, you are mom and you get to decide what you’re comfortable with.

Okay, So How Do I Set Boundaries After Baby?

Decide What Your Boundaries Are

First, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with. I suggest talking to your pediatrician about any concerns. Ours let us know about visitation and making sure people were keeping their distance, washing their hands etc if they were going to be around her in the first few weeks. Talk to your pediatrician if you need help deciding about sleep, swaddling, etc, so you know what you’re comfortable with.

Let Everyone Know Ahead of Time (When Possible)

For the things you can tell everyone about early, do so. Without apology. Let everyone know if you want to wait for visits, or you want everyone to wash their hands, or refrain from kissing, etc.

Hey, I can’t wait for you to meet the baby! Right now, our pediatrician said it’s best to limit visitors since she doesn’t have much of an immune system yet, so we’re only having our parents visit for now. I’ll let you know when we allow more people to visit!

Inform or Remind Gently but Firmly

If something happens on the spot, you can let them know kindly, but firmly. So they know you appreciate them trying to help, but you have already made this decision as mom. Sometimes you may be interested in someone’s advice which is great! If not, remember you are mom and you get to decide what you are comfortable with.

That’s great that naps in the crib worked great for you! I’ve talked to my pediatrician/ done my research and we decided we’re okay with contact naps for now.

Express Appreciation (When Appropriate)

If it’s a situation where someone is genuinely trying to help, not try to convince you they are right or they know better, make sure you thank them! Having a baby is overwhelming, and sometimes a well-meaning mom, mother-in-law, or friend knows how it feels to be a new mom and wants to help. If that’s the case make sure you acknowledge appreciation for the intention, but don’t feel like you have to give in.

Oh thank you so much for doing all of the dishes! We actually don’t put the baby’s bottles in the dishwasher because the instructions said not to, but of course how would you know that! I really appreciate you doing that for me.

Dealing With Pushback

Okay, so you set your boundaries and let everyone know. But sometimes, that’s unfortunately not enough. For example, you may say you want to limit visitors because the baby doesn’t have a strong immune system and you get a response like, “Oh but I’m not sick!” Or you might set a boundary about how you prefer to do things and you get the classic, “That’s how I did it and my kids are fine.”

If this happens to you make sure you stand your ground. You don’t have to give in to something you’re not comfortable with just because someone else wants you to.

I know you’re not sick, it’s really just a precaution! I’m sure he’d be totally fine, but just since he’s so fragile we want to take precautions. We can FaceTime in the meantime!

When in doubt, blame the pediatrician! Ours even told us to do that.

I know, it’s crazy how the guidelines change so frequently, but this is the current recommendation. We talked to our pediatrician about it, so this is how we’re going to do it.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, remember, you are mama and you know best. It can be tough to set and enforce boundaries after Sometimes we want advice or opinions from others, but when we don’t, we don’t. Simple as that! You’re doing amazing mama.

What other boundary issues have you had to deal with as a new mom?

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