Posts Tagged ‘boundaries’

Should Dads Be in the Delivery Room?

Friday, August 19th, 2016

should dads be in the delivery room?A recent article in the Huffington Post brought up a question that many modern parents probably thought had already been put to rest in the 70s: Should dads be in the delivery room?

Trends surrounding childbirth tend to follow a pendulum swing. From the days when women endured natural childbirth because there was no other way, to knocking women out with ether while their baby was delivered, to natural childbirth, to the height of C-section popularity. Birth experiences even vary widely within one  mother’s experience with multiple children. One thing is certain: there is no one right way to have a baby, for any couple. For that reason, the trend of having dads in the delivery room may well be worth re-examining. Many people also consider allowing siblings to be present during birth, and these are worthwhile considerations for that decision, too.

Here are a few points to consider when deciding how to wrap your head around how childbirth might go for you and your spouse:

  • Birth is a stressful situation, even when everything goes textbook perfect. It may be hard for your partner to see you in pain and not be able to help. Consider how you each react to the other’s stress, and what impact that might have on the labor process. Relaxation and oxytocin help speed labor up, while stress and cortisol slow labor down.
  • Would other people (in addition to your spouse) in the delivery room make the situation worse or better? A doula might be helpful for facilitating involvement. Other family, like adult siblings and parents may or may not help, too.
  • Does your spouse handle needles and/or blood OK? it’s possible that they may need to leave during certain parts, like administering an IV or epidural, and return when it’s over.
  • Consider where your spouse might stand during delivery that might allow them to offer support but not be overwhelmed.
  • Think about decisions like whether or not they want to help catch or cut the cord ahead of time.
  • Birthing classes can be helpful at giving your spouse helpful suggestions for how to assist during labor.

My husband passed out at the sight of needles and would shut down in a stressful situation, so we worked with a doula from early on in my pregnancy. She tagged him in on and off during labor, allowing him time to help and also get away during the process since it was long and overwhelming, and I felt safer knowing I would still have support if he needed medical attention.  I also decided no one but us and the doula would be at the birth. I had never really thought about this until I got pregnant, but once I did, there was no question. I knew additional family and the associated travel plans–on an unknown timeline, no less–would be stressful for me. It was disappointing for some, but I held my ground. It was one of the first times I felt a mother instinct.

In the end, only you as a couple can decide what’s best for your family. You may end up making some unconventional choices, or at the very least, not making the choices you imagined you would before you got pregnant. If you think family or friends will not be supportive of those choices, you can choose not to discuss the topic with them. Remember, it’s your body, and your birth. This is a time to be selfish and think about your health and what’s best for you.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 


You Can Wean at Any Age

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

YOu can wean at any age. One of the things no one tells you as a new mom is that you don’t have to tell anyone anything about how you choose to parent. Ever. Even if they ask you politely.

This is important, because as a first-time mom, everyone has questions for you, and you’re expected to answer them. You’re excited, they’re excited. It’s all very innocent, until the advice comes rolling in. There’s nothing wrong with advice. Many people feel they are being helpful, and sometimes they are.

But some people are not well intentioned. They care about control. They want you to do what they think is right by their opinion because it makes them feel smart and important. These people need to be weaned, and if you don’t know how or that you have the right to enforce informational and emotional boundaries, they can make you miserable.

For me, it was hard to start drawing boundaries. I had always been an over-sharer, and aside from making things socially awkward now and then, it was never really a problem. But once I had a baby, I felt like I couldn’t even make my own decisions anymore. Advice came at me from all directions, and the expectations that came with that advice weighed on me. I felt like I was letting people down, and I was floundering to find my footing as a mother.

So if you don’t learn to find your mother instinct or can’t hear it because other people are drowning it out, you end up bitter towards the people whose advice fails you and desperate for someone whose advice works. In the end, the only person who can raise your child is you.

What Does Enforcing Boundaries Look Like?

If you’ve never learned to keep boundaries, it can be difficult when you first start. When you feel the urge to talk about something off-limits, you have to stop yourself. You have to think ahead in the conversation, and have responses ready to go for some people. You simply can’t bring up some topics any more. The relationship with that person changes. But if they’re hurting you because you have been open with them, then it needs to change.

Sometimes, it might feel like lying. When I was at the pediatrician’s office and he asked if my daughter was sleeping through the night, I knew that he was looking for problem areas. The fact that she was not sleeping through the night at 8 months was not a problem area for me. So I said yes, she sleeps fine.

Sometimes it means keeping quiet when you would normally share something. I do this a lot when I see hot topics posted on Facebook, or when I’m in a group of people who all have the same view on politics or religion. If I think I can share something that would lead to meaningful discussion, I do. If someone asks me a pointed question about my thoughts, I share only if I think my opinion will be respected. Different people will set different boundaries. Mine even change depending on my level of patience or resilience that day.

How to Tell if You Need to Enforce Boundaries with Someone

There are a few ways I learned that certain people in my life needed boundaries:

  • They punish you for decisions or opinions that you believe in. This could be in the form of pouting, the silent treatment, embarrassing you in front of other people or online, or passive-aggressive behavior.
  • They don’t trust you. If someone constantly thinks you’re lying, is asking other family members about you, is stalking you on Facebook, or looking at your phone or email when you aren’t there, you need to enforce boundaries until there is open trust, if not longer. Mutual trust should be a cornerstone of any relationship.
  • They are constantly following up with you. When someone is following up on advice they gave you, they aren’t treating you as an adult. Knowing you’re going to be followed-up on creates pressure and stress, and when you have a new baby, you don’t need any extra stress.
  • Your relationship with them affects other relationships. It’s not your job to make anyone happy. We can’t even do that for our kids sometimes. So if someone is trying to make you fix other situations, other relationships, or change something in your life to make them happy, they need boundaries. Your baby and your family is your top priority. You shouldn’t ever be made to feel guilty for putting them first.
  • Your relationship with them affects your mood. No one should have the power to make you feel upset, stressed, or like you aren’t good enough just because of what they say. If there is a real problem that needs to be addressed, then that’s different. But if you feel stressed out by or depressed because of someone else all the time, then you need to re-examine that relationship.

When my oldest daughter was little, we were struggling with getting her to sleep in her own bed. She went to sleep fine, but woke up every night and wanted to get in bed with us. This lead to hours-long struggles that left me feeling exhausted in the morning. I lost my patience with her during the day and I felt like a terrible mom. Why couldn’t she just sleep in her own bed? What did we do wrong?

I was researching toddler sleep issues on, and one suggestion was that you should ask yourself, “If no one else knew about our sleeping arrangements would I still want to change anything?” The answer was no. She was 3. I was fine with her sleeping in our bed at night if she felt scared. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to hurt anyone, and that one day she would probably sleep through the night in her own bed just fine. That question made it clear exactly what the answer to our problem was. It wasn’t my daughter’s night waking. It was  listening to other people’s advice.

It was such a great reminder that my decisions on how to raise my children don’t affect people outside our family. I should be free to make these decisions about what is best for my family on my own, with my own research, without feeling pressure from outside parties. That is my right as a parent, and yours too.

If someone is trying to take that right from you, then it’s time to wean. Don’t talk about parenting with them. Enforce your boundaries and live a happier, less stressful life, confident in your choices and your abilities as a mother.

Erin Burt is a mother of three girls and freelance writer who lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Shutting Down Busybodies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Shutting Down BusybodiesWhen I was pregnant with my first child, a friend of mine broke her leg. Within a week, she was complaining about how, just because her injury was visible, people asked her all sorts of invasive questions about what happened, how long she had to have a cast, and other personal questions. I couldn’t help myself. “That’s exactly what it’s like being pregnant!” I wailed.

With your first pregnancy, you’re so excited to finally start showing. Shortly after, you realize the downside to having that perfect little baby bump: The questions. Babies bring out the crazy in people. And I don’t mean you as parents. Parents adjust fine. It’s the moms, dads, grandmas, aunts, uncles, coworkers and friends of those parents that seem to lose every social grace they ever learned the moment they encounter a woman with a baby. Here are the questions you get immediately following the birth of your first, second, or later child:

First baby:

  • So when are you going to have another?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy next?
  • When are you going to wean him/her?
  • Have you lost the baby weight?

Second baby:

  • Are you getting him fixed? (Oh yeah, they mean your husband.)
  • Are you going to have your tubes tied while they’re “in there”?
  • Are you guys done having kids?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy?  (You only get this one if you have two children of the same sex.)

Third baby:

  • How many ARE you planning to have?
  • Are you guys done now?
  • Are you going to get a bigger/car house?
  • Are you going to try for a girl/boy?

People aren’t very creative. I can’t tell you how many times I heard these same questions—both from people I was close to and people I barely knew. The fact is, you don’t ever have to answer these invasive, very personal questions if you don’t want to. Not even if it’s someone who expects to know or thinks they have a right to know. It’s your business and your business alone. That said, it’s easier not to answer them if you have a few responses ready, and that is what I learned to do.

There are basically three ways to shut down a busybody:

1. Give a ridiculous answer. You can make it a joke and avoid having to give personal answers by just being ridiculous.

Q: How many are you guys planning to have?
A: Oh, I don’t know. A litter? A herd? A squeal?

2. Deflect the question.  Turn the question back around to them.  They’ll either react in horror or give you an honest answer because they were really just wanting to talk about themselves anyway.

Q: What kind of birth control are you using?
A: What kind do you use?

3. Politely ask for some privacy. This works better if you are one-on-one, especially with someone older than you. You don’t want to be seen as telling them off in front of other people, but it’s totally appropriate to ask for some space, and it may prevent you from these lines of questions in the future. If you use one of the first two approaches on someone and they keep asking you questions, default to this one the next time.

Q: How many are you guys planning to have?
A: That’s a pretty personal question.

I found that although I was kind of a weenie with setting boundaries before I had kids, I had no qualms about it after. I had a newfound need to protect my family, and that included our private affairs, like family planning, how I felt about having all girls, and how long I planned to nurse my babies.

People generally don’t like when you set a boundary in a relationship because you’re asserting yourself, and that shifts the power distribution. These responses help set boundaries with people who are too invasive, but it won’t work unless you are consistent.

It’s hard, but don’t give up. Having healthy relationships is not only good for your emotional health, but your kids will learn how to solve problems and resolve conflict from you. Knowing how to handle pushy people will help them assert themselves and stand up for what’s right when they need to the most.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.