The Importance of Postpartum Planning
These days, modern expectant parents are overloaded with information when it comes to childbirth. They attend childbirth classes, read books about what labor will be like, they hire a birth doula, and they practice labor skills. They can spend hours researching options for their birth plan... and they should! The birth process is so important!
Then the baby arrives. Now what? Now parents are befuddled. What’s the plan now? What do we do now that baby is here? There needs to be as much attention given to postpartum planning as there is for birth planning.
Now, it’s important to note that some things can not be planned. For instance, you cannot plan what temperament your baby will have. You can't know which breastfeeding positions your baby will latch the best with for the first 6 weeks. You can not plan which type of pacifier you are going to need because you don't know which one the baby is going to take - or if they are going to take one at all!
However, what you can plan is an environment that caters to you having time to figure out all of these things. This is where postpartum planning comes in.
The first several postpartum weeks should be focused on spending time with your baby. This is a sensitive time where you both recover from birth and learn how to breastfeed. You get to know your baby's personality. You might even take out a comfortable baby carrier and put baby in it for a walk around the block. You catch up on some sleep, and heal from birth. Your first several weeks at home with baby should NOT be full of of demands and stress. "Have I eaten today? Who is coming to see the baby today? Is the house a mess? Have I showered in a week?”
What all moms need is a postpartum plan, so here are a few simple things you can do to plan for the postpartum period.
1.) Hire a postpartum doula. The postpartum doula is a professional that cares for a new family as they transition during the postpartum period. Her expertise is in helping and affirming new mothers, and creating an environment where moms can relax, heal, and just be with their new baby.
2.) Before birth, go through your house while you do regular chores and make a "how-to" list for each of them. What one specific chore makes you feel like the house is in order? Where do you store your bathroom and kitchen cleaning supplies? Where do you store all of your bath towels? Is your washing machine easy to use or does it require a few special instructions? Where is the extra dishwashing soap? Take your instructions, along with a list of chores that need to be done on a regular basis and put them on the fridge. Then, when you have visitors that want to see you and the new baby, they have ready instructions for how to help you out.
3.) Make extra meals during your pregnancy and place them in the freezer. When you cook dinner during the last few months of pregnancy, cook a double sized batch, and freeze half of it. Crock pot meals are especially helpful since they are so simple.
4.) Set very clear boundaries about visiting times. This is a time for you to focus on recovering from birth, resting, and bonding with your new baby. It is NOT the time to be entertaining. Set visiting hours and communicate them clearly to your family and friends what their allowed visiting times are.
5.) Have a trusted friend or family member organize a meal train for you. There are many different ways to do this. Some people will use a free website like www.mealtrain.com or something similar. Others will organize one on their own. With a meal train, you have the first several weeks - or longer - of dinners covered. Then when friends and family come to drop off your dinner, they can also help with chores because you have a list on the fridge!
6.) Be flexible. It's tempting to speculate during pregnancy what the postpartum time is going to be like. You cannot fully understand what it’s like to help a new tiny person adjust to life outside the womb. It never goes exactly how we think, so be ready for unexpected changes.
Having a baby is the biggest life change you’ll ever experience. Plan to give your baby and yourself as much rest, grace, and attention as possible for several months after birth.