Self Care: Setting Boundaries
Self Love: Upholding them, no matter who it ruffles.
These words dipped into my soul as I read them off a massive screen in East Wintergarden, London. I was attending the Self Love Summit, which included a full day of amazing guest speakers. While none of them discussed pregnancy directly, so much of what I learned could be applied to any aspect of life- including pregnancy and early parenting.
Self Care is setting boundaries and self love is upholding them.
This was said by Peta Kelly and I immediately reflected on them in relation to my own life. How often do I create boundaries that I know will benefit me and are what I really need, yet I don't uphold them? I used to struggle with this more regularly, especially with family, but I am getting better!
SETTING BOUNDARIES BEFORE & AFTER PREGNANCY
Setting boundaries is one thing, but sticking to them tends to be the more complicated bit. Sometimes soon to be parents find that EVERYONE wants to know their business. How are you? How is the baby? Do you know what you're having? Have you decided on a name? Unsolicited advice and birth story regurgitation can also be rather intense throughout all of pregnancy. So can the daily "check in"s when you reach the end of pregnancy and everyone in your contacts wants to know "did you have that baby yet!?" Setting boundaries and upholding them is a great way to relieve stress, create a more positive pregnancy and prepare for birth on your terms. Do you know what I find easier? Laying the boundaries bare before anyone has the chance to test them.
For example... "Yes, we are pregnant! It's such an exciting time for us. We are keeping a few things private until we meet our little one, including the sex and name. We like the idea of this being just between us for now."
Some people also avoid potential boundary issues by intentionally giving a delayed estimated birth day that's later than reality. Others give an estimated birth day month.
Your baby is here and now everyone is hoping to see you and your baby (but mostly the baby) as soon as possible.
This is where boundaries come in and if you have a partner you are sharing your journey with, I recommend you discuss your wishes and be on the same page. If you are the person giving birth, I also think your opinion weighs a touch more heavily here. You're the person who is going through more physical recovery so you decide what feels right for you and what you are ready for physically and emotionally! You’re looking after a baby AND RECOVERING. Things to think about: how soon following birth do you want to see people, where would you like them visiting you (straight away in hospital or once you return home) and how frequently. And while this might seem like common sense, remind your family and friends not to accidentally announce your birth on social media before you do, if that matters to you.
I read an awesome postpartum boundary-setting post on facebook and it went something like this...
"We are home with baby and already snuggled into our lovely postpartum nest! I am taking time to rest and I have enjoyed delicious food brought to me by friends + family. If anyone would like to visit, please let (partner) know! We welcome short visits and we would like to be sure to stagger them over the upcoming days and weeks. Visits that are accompanied by an offer of food or household help move up in the priority list (wink)! If you aren't feeling well or are ill, please share your love here on social media until you feel better, and can then visit. Thank you so much for all of your love and well wishes!"
To me, this is perfect. Recovery, rest, food, short visits, STAY AWAY if unwell and don't bother new mom with messages, get in touch with her partner. This feels much more managed than a throng of people coming at you with meet the baby requests all at once.
You may ruffle a few feathers with your wishes. Some people may not understand your need to set these boundaries and if they do, that is on them and not you. I think so often we apologise for setting boundaries that are in our best interest when there really is no need. If you want to explain why your choices are important to you, you can, but this also is not a requirement and can be emotionally draining if you just don't want to go there.
You don't have to apologise for keeping any aspect of your life (or your baby's) private.
You don't have to apologise for wanting time to rest and recover.
You don't have to apologise for doing things on your terms.
Enjoy your pregnancy, birth and early parenting! You've got this!