6 Steps To Creating Boundaries In Pregnancy

Advice from maternal mental health counselor Sowania Germain, MS, LMHC, PMH-C

Written by: Janel Duffy
Posted: March 19, 2024

Pregnancy is a time where it’s really important to create and maintain boundaries for yourself and your family. 


Doing so is beneficial for your personal mental health and well-being, as well as your family’s. However, creating boundaries is hard, and lots of folks are not that great at doing it. Especially when you get the pregnancy hormones involved and everyone else’s sudden (or not so sudden) interest in every little thing you’re doing in pregnancy, creating boundaries can feel really impossible. I enlisted the help of one of BeHerVillage’s maternal mental health specialists: Sowania Germain, MS, LMHC, PMH-C, to create a list of steps pregnant moms can take in order to create boundaries in pregnancy that will last.
Sowania works with pregnant and new moms (and partners) to help them feel resilient and empowered with each stage of pregnancy and postpartum. She has extensive experience in perinatal mental health, trauma and working with the unique dynamics and complexities of mothers, couples and their families. 


According to Sowania, here are 6 steps a mom can take to create firm boundaries during pregnancy


#1. Understand the importance of boundaries


The first step to creating boundaries is understanding why they are important and beneficial. Hearing the word “boundaries” can feel a little daunting. And if you’re a people pleaser or someone who just wants to keep the peace, you might shy away from creating boundaries. According to Sowania, establishing boundaries goes beyond personal well-being, it directly influences the family dynamics. Pregnant moms are often at the crossroads of varying expectations and unsolicited advice from family, friends and sometimes strangers. Creating firm boundaries acts as a protective barrier, shielding a pregnant mom from unnecessary stress, pressure and outside influences that might compromise her peace of mind. Sowania tells us that the nature of pregnancy makes women more susceptible to emotional vulnerabilities– so creating boundaries early on can help maintain a balance and state of inner peace.

#2. Identify your personal boundaries


Sowania encourages her patients to reflect on their own personal needs and desires. But beyond just thinking about them, it’s important to write them down and share them (more than once) with your partner or other close people in your life to help as reinforcement. Sowania also notes the importance of recognizing your personal triggers: situations, topics, behaviors and even people that induce stress and anxiety. Once you identify your personal needs and can articulate your triggers you can start creating your unique boundaries.

Some things to think about as you identify your needs, desires and triggers:


  • The food that you eat in pregnancy and postpartum– you might want to do things differently during your pregnancy than you normally would, without judgment or input from outsiders
  • The amount of time you spend engaging with friends and family– reflect on whether or not you want to spend time and energy with people, whatever you choose is the right thing for you!
  • Touch– maybe you’re fine with people touching your belly, maybe you don’t want anyone touching you
  • Comments on your body or growing belly
  • Where you spend your time– maybe you want to be at home more, or out in nature more 
  • Work– think about if you need to scale back on late night work messages or bringing work home on the weekends
  • People– think about the people who bring you joy and the ones who make you feel deflated, weigh the pros and cons of spending time with the people in your life who don’t make you feel great


#3. Communicate your boundaries effectively


Sowania acknowledges that setting boundaries can be difficult for some relationships. For example if you have a relationship with your mother where in the past you’ve told her every single detail of your life but now in pregnancy you feel like keeping more to yourself– she may have a hard time accepting that you’ve created boundaries around your pregnancy. Sowania offers a technique that she often uses with her own patients– an acronym that helps them express their wants and needs in a way that is honoring your own needs while maintaining respect for others. The acronym is DEAR MAN, and it stands for Describe, Express, Assert, Reinforce, Mindfulness, Appear Confident, Negotiate. Practicing communicating these boundaries with your partner, friend or a therapist can help you feel more confident and clear when stating your boundaries, especially if you know that the people you’re setting boundaries with tend to try and push you in a different direction.


#4. Partner support in boundary setting


Especially in pregnancy, when emotions are heightened and outside opinions tend to flow in faster than ever, your partner’s role is crucial when it comes to creating and maintaining boundaries. Have lots of open conversations with your partner so they know what your desires are, your worries as well as your triggers so they can help uphold your boundaries. This is an important piece of connection during pregnancy and will continue to be important as a couple steps into parenthood. 


#5. Respond to boundary violations


As you come up with your boundaries in pregnancy, it’s important to address boundary violations early and often. You can do this calmly and respectfully, but also firmly. When boundaries are being pushed to the side by a friend or family member it is important to set consequences, and if needed– limit interactions with folks who don’t respect your boundaries. So yes, there can be consequences for even your own family members or close friends. This could look something like : “Mom, we are set on our birth plan and we’re not looking for any outside input. Please respect this, or we will have to refrain from talking about our upcoming birth at all”. 


#6. Seek professional support when needed


Sometimes you need a third person’s point of view to help you create boundaries that really stick. Working with a therapist or maternal mental health counselor can be beneficial in both understanding your own desires and your own needs regarding boundaries, as well as giving you practice and tools necessary to maintain the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and your partner. (If you’re New York based, Sowania is an excellent resource, and you can put her onto your registry!)


I asked Sowania for examples of ways a mom-to-be might consider setting boundaries with her family:

  • Putting a sign up regarding holding the baby: ie, “Please don’t ask to hold the baby, I’ll invite you to hold baby if I feel comfortable” or “Before you hold the baby, please wash your hands without me prompting you”
  • Talk to family and friends in advance about entering your home after you have a baby– maybe you want people to take shoes off, come without any sort of perfume or strong smelling fragrance on their clothes, or avoid smoking.
  • Asking your loved ones not to just pop by after you give birth, and instead wait to be invited.
  • Removing yourself from conversations or situations that make you feel uncomfortable, without feeling like you need to over explain yourself for doing so.


Sowania reminds us that setting healthy boundaries is a process and takes time.


She encourages moms to give themselves grace, especially if they haven’t had much practice setting boundaries. Taking the time to get clear on your own boundaries during pregnancy will have lasting effects beyond pregnancy. Doing so will help minimize stress through external expectations, and will promote self-care and relaxation. 

If you’re local to Long Island and in need of a therapist, or want to learn more about Sowania and her practice, you can find her at her website, and if you’re using the BeHerVillage for your registry, you can find her listed in the registry guide.

BeHerVillage is helping parents like you get the funds they need for the support they deserve! Are you having a baby and are looking for support? Create a registry for support today and get gifted funds directly into your bank account to pay for your support team. You deserve this.

Are you a birthworker who supports new moms? Use BeHerVillage to help your clients pay for your support. Create your free profile here and you can be the best baby shower gift a mom will ever get!
Category: Tips From BeHerVillage Providers & Partners , Getting Ready For Your Baby
Tags: mental health , pregnancy , boundaries , maternal mental health


Check out our FAQ.

Still have questions?

Contact Us