Question of the day: have you planned for your postpartum recovery?
Introducing a fun new blog series:
The Postpartum Doula ABCs.
We’re going to dig in to 26 different topics over the series, all from the perspective of a postpartum doula (and mom of two).
Let’s get started with A for After the Baby Arrives.
You’re About to Have a Baby…Then What?!
You’ve probably given a lot of though to your birth. Maybe you’ve read books or taken prenatal classes, followed every pregnancy account on Instagram, googled everything from “How will I know I’m in labour” to “Baby born on the QEW” (I PROMISE, this hardly ever happens!). Maybe you’ve even prepared a birth plan (I like to call them “strategies”) with your doula.
Have you considered planning for the postpartum period? Some call it recovery; some call it the fourth trimester. It’s a time in your life when you’re recovering from birth, caring for a brand new baby, and figuring out your family’s new normal. It’s equal parts magical and terrible, and that’s totally normal.
I’ve blogged before about how unmet expectations for the postpartum period can challenge new parents. We’re going to learn more throughout this ABC series about specific topics including breastfeeding, mental health, sex after baby and “two under two” but I love that we’re starting with the basics – a postpartum plan will help you to have the smoothest transition possible. I can’t tell you how often new parents say they wish they would have thought through some of their options (I’ve been there too!). We just don’t talk about this enough.
What is a Postpartum Plan?
There’s no specific template you need to follow to put together a plan for after your baby arrives. Your postpartum plan could include any aspect of life for the first few weeks after birth and speak to anything that will help you to get your needs met, to care for yourself and for your baby.
This. Is. So. Important! One of the most powerful keys to caring for your baby and coping well in the postpartum period is being cared for and caring for YOURSELF. Being a new mom is hard! Your well being should come first; everything else tends to fall into place – or, problems are more likely to get resolved – when you have great support.
Questions to Ask Yourself as you Plan for the First Few Weeks with Your Newborn
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Who will visit your home in the first few days? What kind of boundaries do you want to draw around visiting? Will you block off certain times when you would prefer to be on your own rather than entertaining? Are you comfortable asking your visitors to bring food, or help out around the house when they visit? Remember, you’re the boss here. In a perfect world, the only visitors for the first little while would be the ones who genuinely help you when they’re over.
- How will you feed your baby? Who will you reach out to if you need extra support with this? Have numbers and resources on hand before your baby arrives so you can intervene quickly if you’re having trouble without having to turn to Google at 3 a.m.
- What will *you* eat in the first few weeks? Can you cook and freeze some meals and snacks in the weeks before birth? Will someone take over some of these household duties? Can you arrange for meal delivery or organize a meal train with friends and family?
- Who will care for your baby after he/she arrives? If you’re under the care of a midwife, the midwife will be the baby’s main care provider for the first 6 weeks. Otherwise, you will need to arrange for your baby to be seen by your family doctor or possibly a pediatrician.
- How will you get rest? What’s your plan for where your baby will sleep and how you will get rest? Sleep deprivation is no joke, people. We have evidence to say that mothers who get more rest in the postpartum period are less susceptible to perinatal mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.). So, think through the logistics of sharing responsibilities between partners and other helpers in the home. This goes for after one partner returns to full-time work, by the way; infant sleep is an ever-evolving adventure.
- If you have other children and/or pets, how will their needs be met? Is anyone available to help out with their care? How can you set up your home to accommodate the new baby while still involving and nurturing older siblings?
- Who’s in your “village?” Who can you call on a bad day when you just need to talk? If you’re taking a lengthy parental leave, what’s your plan for getting out of the house? Babies are awesome, but one of the most common surprises of maternity leave is that it can be VERY isolating. You might not be planning to join a bunch of mom and baby classes or communal stroller walks in the first couple months (no rush!), but give some thought to the importance of getting out of the house and spending time with other grown ups.
How does that sound?
What comes to mind when you think about the postpartum period? How are you planning for after the baby arrives? What’s the most important part for you?
Of course, we’re here for you. If you’re interested in learning about Postpartum Doula Support, be in touch and we’ll set up a time to chat over tea to find out how a professional extra set of hands in your home can help you to have a smooth recovery and transition into the next chapter with your baby.
If there are any specific topics you think we should cover in this Postpartum ABC series, leave a comment and we’ll get down to business!