Setting Boundaries in the Postpartum Period

Babies and Bumps

January 14, 2024

As someone who’s been through the whirlwind of welcoming a new baby, I want to share a bit of heart-to-heart advice about something crucial yet often overlooked – setting boundaries when you’re recovering from birth, bonding with baby, figuring out this “new parent” thing, and adjusting as an expanded family unit. It’s a rollercoaster – the fourth trimester is overflowing with joy, fatigue, and a whole new level of love. Friends and family will be knocking at your door, eager to meet your little bundle of joy, and while their intentions are golden, it’s so important to carve out your own space and pace.

Let’s dive into how you can set boundaries that resonate with your heart and help you navigate this beautiful, chaotic time in your life. Below, I’ll share some ideas for “house rules” during your postpartum period, some polite ways to say “no” (so hard for most of us!), and ideas for what to say when your loved ones say, “let me know if there’s anything I can do for you” (hint, there’s a lot!).

Heartfelt “House Rules”

  • Scheduled Visits: Let’s be real, time becomes a blur with a newborn. Set visiting hours that work for you. It’s OK to tell folks, “We’d love to have you over between 2 and 4 p.m.”
  • Brevity is Key: Long visits can be exhausting. Gently suggest, “Let’s keep our visit cozy and short. I’m still adjusting to the new sleep schedule.”
  • Cuddles on Your Terms: If you’re not comfortable with everyone holding your baby right away, that’s totally fine. A simple, “We’re keeping baby cuddles close for now, but we’ll let you know when we’re ready,” works wonders.
  • Sacred Quiet Time: You need those peaceful moments. It’s more than OK to say, “We’re having quiet time between these hours to help us all rest and bond.”
  • Sanitize, Please: With a newborn, hygiene is paramount. A friendly reminder like, “We’d appreciate it if you could sanitize your hands before holding our touching the baby,” is perfectly reasonable.
  • No Surprise Guests: Unannounced visits can be overwhelming. Encourage a heads-up with, “A quick text before you drop by would really help us manage our day.”
  • Help with Purpose: When folks offer help, be specific. “Could you help with some laundry?” or “We’d love a home-cooked meal if you’re up for it,” are great asks. (I have more ideas for you below!)
  • Emotional Check-ins: You’re on an emotional journey. It’s OK to communicate, “I might need some space to process and recover these days.”
  • Food for Thought: Dietary needs are real, especially if you’re nursing. A gentle, “We’re trying to stick to certain foods right now, so here’s a list of what would work,” is a good approach. You can also try sharing a list of ingredients or types of cuisine to avoid.
  • Your Parenting, Your Rules: Unsolicited advice might come your way. Feel free to say, “I appreciate your input, but we’re trying this method for now.”

Polite Ways to Say “No”

  • “Thank you so much for offering, but we’re trying to keep things simple and quiet today.”
  • “I really appreciate your willingness to visit, but I’m taking some time just for me and the baby right now.”
  • “Your support means the world, but we’re not having visitors hold the baby just yet. Soon, though!”
  • “It’s kind of you to suggest that, but we’ve decided to go a different route. I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind.”
  • “Today’s not a good day for a visit, but let’s chat next week and set something up.”

Inspiration for What to Ask for When Help Is Offered

  • “A home-cooked meal would be amazing, especially something that we can easily reheat.”
  • “If you’re heading to the store, here’s a list of essentials we need. It would be a huge help.”
  • “Could you lend a hand with some household chores? Even something small like doing the dishes would be a big relief.”
  • “Would you be up for watching the baby for a short while so I can shower or rest?”
  • “If you could walk our dog, that would be incredibly helpful.”
  • “Help with the older kids would be fantastic – maybe a playdate or homework help?”
  • “We’re trying to organize baby stuff, so an extra pair of hands would be great.”
  • “Running a few errands for us would lift a big weight off our shoulders.”
  • “Meal prepping some freezer-friendly dishes would be such a blessing.”
  • “Sometimes, just having someone to talk to makes all the difference. A little adult conversation goes a long way.”


Setting boundaries isn’t about keeping the world at bay, it’s about creating a loving, peaceful space for you and your growing family. It’s OK to ask for what you need and say no to what you don’t. This time is precious, and you deserve to experience it in a way that feels right for you and your little one. Remember, every family’s journey is unique, so tailor these suggestions to fit your world. You’ve got this, and I’m here cheering you on!

Founder & President, Babies & Bumps

Monica Infante

Monica founded Babies & Bumps in 2013 to inform and empower new and soon-to-be parents. Over the past decade, B&B’s footprint has grown to include 13 cities – today, she and her team plan, promote, and produce more in-person maternity events than any other series in the U.S. Babies & Bumps also offers digital resources and hosts online events throughout the year to serve parents everywhere. She lives in Rochester, NY with her husband and two children.

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