As a birthing person, you and your family spend so much time preparing for labor and birth. And this is time well spent! That said, the postpartum period deserves time, energy, and attention too. A lot of new parents share with us that they need more help postpartum than they thought they would.
Society has done a good job of convincing us that if we can do it ourselves, we should. Especially in the dominant United States culture, there is a push for individualism and independence.
However, the postpartum time, the adjustment to life with a new baby, requires community and support. This is the time to slow down, ask for help, and trim away the extra stuff. In other words, you will need time to connect with baby, get to know and fall in love with them, AND figure out what everyone’s new roles are. On top of all of this emotional and logistically processing, your body also needs time to heal after pregnancy and birth.
WHO IS A POSTPARTUM PLAN FOR?
Sometimes, new parents focus all of their energy on baby, assuming that all help they get should be focused on the baby. This is simply not true! The postpartum period is very much about you and your partner (if applicable), too. Postpartum care is about supporting you in feeling comfortable with this new gig (or chapter) of parenting. As a birthing person and a new parent, you need to be cared for and nurtured too. Perhaps this means that someone else cooks for you (and delivers food to your bedside!). It might mean that someone holds baby so that you can rest or take a shower.
HOW DO I CREATE A POSTPARTUM PLAN?
During your pregnancy, we invite you to take time to consider some of the needs you might have once baby has arrived. Take stock of your preferences and the people who are already in your support system. Explore some of your concerns with compassion, seeking to understand who or what you’d like to turn to for help. Because, remember, it’s important– necessary, even– to rely on community during the postpartum period (and beyond).
The following are questions that can support you in creating a postpartum plan that you can trust and believe in. Know that this can be a work in progress; it can change and grow as you do. But, it’s a starting place. An idea of who and what you can count on. We suggest writing or typing it out.
1. Support team: Who is your support team?
•Lactation consultant or breastfeeding/chestfeeding support group
•Doula (birth and/or postpartum–day or night)
•Primary care doctor
•Friends and family
2. Parental Leave: Who long do you have off work? If you have a partner, how long do they have off work? How do you want to coordinate time off work– together or staggered?
3. Mental Health: Are you familiar with postpartum mood disorders (PPMD)? What is your risk of PPMDs? Who can you seek support from if it comes up?
4. Sleeping arrangements: Where will the baby sleep? Short term? Longer-term?
5. Supplies: What supplies do we need?
Items for baby
Snacks for the birthing parent
Recovery care items (nipple pads, peri bottle, witch hazel, etc.)
6. Visitors: When will we have visitors? Who do we most want to visit? Is there anyone we need space from? And what expectations do we have for our visitors and how will we communicate these?
7. Financial considerations: What budget changes do we want/need to make? Do we want to add any insurance policies? What is the deadline for adding baby to our insurance?
8. Baby care: How will baby care be split if you have a partner? Are there skills we need support with?
9. Birthing parent care: What things do you do for self-care? How will you make sure you can tend to yourself and your needs during the postpartum period?
10. Meals plans: Who is feeding you? Can you ask a friend to set up a meal train? Do you have meals you’d like to cook and freeze ahead of time?
11. Household: What kind of help might you need? What can you outsource? Who can help– friends and family, doulas, or a housekeeper?
12. Siblings: If you have older children, what do they need? Who will help with them during the birth? How will they get to school and activities?
We realize that this is quite a bit of information to consider. Take it one step at a time. Furthermore, you can begin perfecting the skill of asking for help by asking someone (a partner, a doula, a friend, for example), to walk through this plan with you. ABG is here to help, as well. You can book a virtual or in-person consultation to help create your postpartum plan.
Thank you to Austin Baby Guru for this wonderful information!