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How to Set Boundaries When Welcoming a New Baby



Connecticut new parents
New parents can take time to bond with their babies alone before inviting others into the home.

Boundaries are an essential part of any relationship. As the old saying goes “good fences make good neighbors!” The hardest boundaries to establish, however, are those with family. This is especially true when kids are involved. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, fourth cousins on your mother’s sister’s husband’s side of the family, it seems like there is no shortage of relatives with opinions when a pregnancy and birth are announced.


Healthy boundaries can make the difference between peace and war in the family. How can you set boundaries and keep the peace with your friends and family? This article will share five simple steps that will help you set the boundaries your family needs.


Start Early

While it is never too late to set boundaries, the earlier you can set them up, the better. Once the baby arrives, you and your partner will be exhausted and overwhelmed. This makes you a prime target for boundary pushers. So, talk about boundaries well before your baby comes. Pregnant bellies seem to be a magnet for some people, so enforcing your own personal boundaries is a good place to start. You have a right to decide who gets to touch you, and the same will be true about who gets to touch the baby. If you tend to be more reserved or struggle expressing your feelings to others when they invade your space, work on building your voice now and talk with your partner about what they can do to support you.


Decide What Boundaries to Set

What boundaries should you set? That will depend entirely on you and your family situation. Here are some questions to consider in three categories of boundaries:




Connecticut Grandparents

Physical Contact

Who is allowed to hold the baby? Who can hold them seated vs standing or walking around? Do you want people touching them or kissing them? Who is allowed to change their diapers or bathe them?


Photos

Who is allowed to take photos? Can pictures be posted to social media? If so, by who? Do you want their face shown? Who can share pictures? Is there anyone you don’t want to have pictures shared with? What kind of pictures do you want to allow? Are you comfortable with pictures of your baby in the bath, or while being changed, or potty training once older?


Information Sharing

What details about your pregnancy, delivery, and the baby themselves do you want others to know? Who will you share intimate information with, and who will only get information as

needed? What information do you not mind being widely known, and what information do

you want to keep private? What details about the baby do you want to share on social media? What details could potentially be harmful if shared? These are just a few questions that you and your partner may wish to discuss when deciding what boundaries to set. Based on your personal circumstances, you may have other concerns that require some boundaries to be established.


Share Your Boundaries with Others

Once you’ve decided what boundaries to set, you need to make others aware of them. For family and friends who will be an active part of your life, let them know the boundaries well in advance of the baby’s arrival. Choose a time when everyone is relaxed. Depending on your circumstances, preferences, and personalities, you can inform people in person or over the phone, individually or in a group. It would be best, however, to deliver the information in spoken format, as text can often be misconstrued. When discussing your boundaries, be clear, but kind. Show empathy for how others may feel, especially your parents and in-laws. They raised you and your partner and may have strong feelings about their grandchild, but you are the parents now and you have a right to set the boundaries you want. Just be kind. Explain the boundaries, address any concerns they may have, but don’t give in to pressure to change the boundaries that you and your partner have agreed on.


Enforcing the Boundaries

The boundaries you set will be tested. How you enforce them may make or break the peace. As in all things, be kind but firm. At times, a reminder of the boundaries in advance of a family gathering may help. Other times, you will need to enforce the boundaries with a simple “no, don’t do that.” You know your family members best, so think about who will need extra reminders, who might need more clarification, and who just needs to be told “no.” Not everyone is entitled to an explanation, so don’t feel that you need to constantly defend your parenting decisions.


Enlist Help

Build a team who will help you maintain your boundaries. Each member can have a valuable role. Of course, you and your partner are the primary ones who will set and enforce your boundaries. But trusted friends and family members, including older children, can be enlisted to confirm your boundaries. Take some time in advance of events that you know will push your boundaries to prepare your team. Help each member know what they can do to support you when you begin to feel overwhelmed. During the early weeks at home, postpartum doulas can help provide guidance and feedback as you are setting up the healthy boundaries your family needs to succeed.


For many of our clients, their doula is in the home caring for the new baby before even

the grandparents come to visit. Your first few weeks postpartum are for you to heal and for your immediate family to bond with the new addition. We recognize the special privilege we have of being invited into your home at this vulnerable time. If you are expecting a new little one, contact us to see how we can help.

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