Birth Plan Series: What’s your plan for postpartum?

Katie Tolbert
Visitors
The first weeks are a time of enormous change. Are you really ready for visitors? Some visitors are really helpful and will pitch in with housework, but others need to be “entertained.” You know who they are! Be clear about who can visit and when. What will their job be while they visit? Will you just need a set of arms to hold your baby while you get a shower? Do you expect visitors to do chores around the house? Make a list of things visitors can do to help you, post the list, and direct visitors to it when they arrive (post it on your front door).
Your older children
If you have older children, you’ll rightly be concerned about their care. You’ll be quite busy with the new baby and your own recovery. Who will be taking your kids to Little League or to school activities? Can your older kids have play dates with your friends’ children? Who are those friends you can count on?
Food
While pregnant, you can begin stockpiling frozen meals that can easily be thawed and cooked postpartum. Make good use of the Instant Pot to create meals that you can get on the table in a hurry. Do all of the adults in the house know how to use the Instant Pot? What kinds of foods do you want to have around to snack on? You’re going to need a lot of calories for postpartum recovery and breastfeeding, so thinking about your plans for food makes a lot of sense when creating your postpartum birth plan.
Breastfeeding
Where can you get help with breastfeeding if you run into issues? Do you know your local La Leche League Leader? How about a lactation consultant? Once your baby is here, almost all of your awake time will be spent breastfeeding, at least for the first couple of weeks. Have a plan in place for where you can get help if you need it.
Recovery
You need time to recover after the birth. Even if you have an “easy” birth, you still have a lot of recovery to do. Don’t make the mistake of doing too much, too soon. Plan on at least 2 days of bed rest with your baby. Stay home for the first couple of weeks, and plan on taking it easy for the first couple of months. Taking time to recover fully is an investment that will pay off. While you’re bleeding, you’re recovering. Plan on chiropractic care, rest, and gently easing back into your regular activities.
Mental health
Are you prone to depression and anxiety? Mood disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy, and we’re especially vulnerable during the first months postpartum. Do you have a counselor you could call if you need help? Does your partner know how to identify that you are struggling? Ask your midwife for postpartum depression resources. She’s likely to have a list of people you can turn to, as well as educational materials for your partner.
Postpartum doulas
Getting professional help during the postpartum period can be a huge blessing. Postpartum doulas can help you with housework, breastfeeding, and baby care. They’re experts in the postpartum period. You can hire someone to come a few hours a day for a few weeks, and this can give you the time you need to rest and recover. As our favorite doula organization (Virginia is for Doulas) says, “The birth of your baby is just the beginning of it all, preparing for your postpartum recovery as much as you prepare for your birth will ensure that you and your family thrive through that first year and not just survive.”
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