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  • Chicago Birthworks Collective

Your Newborn, Visitors, and Setting Boundaries

Follow these tips to keep your visitors at bay while you adjust to your new normal with your baby

About nine or more months ago, you embarked on your parenthood journey and your little one has arrived! Now, you’ve settled in at home, and overjoyed in-laws and first-time aunts and uncles are eager to meet the new member of the family. Who can blame them? Yet sometimes that rotating door of friends and family can feel overwhelming. Mama, you’re not alone.

It’s not uncommon to want a little privacy or quiet time to soak in the sweet moments.

Balancing the push and pull of visiting loved ones vs needing quiet can be tough, but we’ve got your back. We’ve been there before, so rest easy, we’re prepared with great strategies to ensure this time will be one of joy and not frustration. Here are our tried and true tips for setting clear boundaries when it comes to family, visitors and your newborn.

Plan ahead

When it comes to establishing boundaries, planning and communicating ahead of time rather than in the moment helps avoid hurt feelings and additional stress. Connect with your partner and make sure you’re both on the same page about how to respond to inquiring visitors and what rules you want guests to follow. Ensuring that you and your partner agree and communicating these rules to guests in advance will help minimize future conflicts. Of course, you always have the option to change your mind once you find a new rhythm.

First, decide how soon after the baby comes that guests are allowed to visit and for how long at a time. Then, let loved ones know your plan, along with any house rules you want them to follow. For instance, rules might include who gets to hold the baby, other safety precautions to prevent guests from bringing in germs, and limiting visits to a 30-minute maximum so as not to interfere with your breastfeeding schedule or any other must-dos as a new mom. This will help avoid uncomfortable conversations and set expectations from the start.

We know that your village wants to be there for you and your baby. Another way to let friends and family get involved is by coming up with a list of other ways to support your family that doesn’t involve a long visit. For example, dropping off dinner, running errands, or loving on the newly promoted big brothers or sisters is a fantastic way to let your village lend a hand.

Be honest and direct

Mom, you’ve got a lot going on right now. You’re keeping a new baby healthy, your body is recovering, going to tons of appointments, and the list goes on. You’re probably tired and the last thing you have energy for is a difficult conversation and managing someone else’s feelings. While it can be difficult to push back on family members who may be authority figures in your life, establishing healthy boundaries early lays the foundation for a thriving family. It’s hard work, but preparing for these talks ahead of time will be a huge help.

In these conversations, be direct, honest, and kind—even if you’re telling a loved one something they won’t want to hear. By setting clear boundaries, you’re avoiding any confusion or disappointed expectations. Think about how you’d like to have the information communicated to you and go from there.

If you need help, try the compliment sandwich. This lets you buffer the not-so-great news with two compliments or nice things to say. For example, “Thank you so much for thinking of us. Unfortunately, we’re not having visitors over at this time. However, we always appreciate your support and know how much you care.”

Stand your ground

Like in any village or community, hearing the wisdom and stories of others can help you make informed decisions about what’s right for you. However, that doesn’t mean you need to take every piece of advice and put it into practice. At the end of the day, you know your child best. You can do this! You are the perfect person to make those decisions for your family.

Then, trust in your own choices and advocate for your right to make them. For example, if you’re planning on breastfeeding, and a family member or friend doesn’t understand why and pushes you to formula-feed because that’s what they did, calmly state that your decision has already been made and is not up for debate. Your partner can also help communicate and reinforce these boundaries. Remember, what is best for one family is not best for every family.

Don’t let others make you feel guilty

Setting boundaries with your family can sometimes leave loved ones feeling offended or forgotten. A negative response, whether getting defensive or putting you down for your decisions, can leave you feeling guilty. Mature conversation can always help guide these feelings into a safer and more positive space. Yes, you can try to understand where your friends or family members are coming from, but never feel guilty for making decisions that benefit your child. Ultimately, your responsibility is to create a safe environment for your baby, not to manage someone else’s emotions.

Setting boundaries with friends and family can be tough—however, they are necessary. Work with your community before your birth to create a wonderful postpartum experience full of support and respect. These conversations will establish a more positive experience for your child and leave you feeling empowered during what can be a wonderful time in your family.

Are you searching for a community that will help you navigate through these tough conversations and other postpartum topics? Join The Village on Facebook. Contact us here for more information.

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