Planning for Postpartum
You have the footie pjs, diaper rash cream, breast pump, the nursery is all set up, and you’ve written up your perfect birth plan. Baby arrives and they're perfect! Now what?
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to plan for the postpartum time period. It is a time to prioritize your own needs as a mother and focus on bonding with your baby. It is a time to rest and be in tune to your physical and emotional well-being.
Write out your postpartum preferences. Just like your birth plan, it is a good idea to have a postpartum plan. It will help keep your priorities during this time in the forefront of your mind. It will help you organize the needed support ahead of time and keep everyone on the same page.
Give a copy of it to you partner, your mom, your sister, your best friend - let everyone know what to expect so that they can provide the support you actually need.
Do not feel guilty for focusing on yourself. In order to care for your family, you have to take care of yourself. You have just birthed a tiny human being and your body needs time to heal. It is important to take that time to rest and bond. I’ll say it again: Do not feel guilty for any of this! Other people will always have expectations about how you will handle this time period. Well meaning friends or family may tend to get excited to see your new baby and forget all about you and your partner. But it’s not about them.
Ask for help. Add meals to your baby registry, start a meal train, or ask someone to help you organize nourishing meals. This alone will be a huge help in keeping you off your feet and will allow you to focus on yourself and your baby without having to worry about what everyone will eat. Ask for help with house cleaning, taking care of older siblings, and plenty of hands are always willing to hold baby while you take a nap. Assess what your needs really are and what will enable you to focus on healing and bonding, then ask for help with those things. As mothers we tend to be very passive about our own needs. We hate asking for help. Don’t let this be one of those times. Rally a support team before baby is here to ensure that your physical, mental, and emotional health is taken care of.
Set boundaries. Take some time to think about who you want to keep close in the postpartum time period and when you will be ready to be around other people. How do you want other people to meet your baby? Do you want them to come over one at a time or would you prefer to plan a “Sip-and-See”? What will be best for your family? Figure that out and stick to it without guilt!
Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions may come. It is important to process your emotions as they come and pay attention to them. You may experience emotions that you did not expect and that is okay. All of your feelings may be a bit overwhelming, so it is a good idea to have someone you can talk to. As someone who tends to process things internally rather than outwardly, I have found writing my thoughts and feeling down to be very helpful. It doesn’t really matter how you choose to process these emotions, the important thing is that you don’t just push them down and expect them to go away.
Whatever your postpartum plan/preferences look like, remember what it is all about - healing and bonding with your infant. While easier said than done, try to get the rest you need mentally, physically, and emotionally. I promise it will contribute greatly to a positive postpartum experience.