A few months ago, I wrote “Creating a Birth Plan,” which is always a great idea to have going in to your birth. Parents love to prepare for the big moment when baby joins the family. It’s an exciting time! However we tend to neglect what happens after baby comes. This is when having a postpartum plan comes in handy. Discuss your postpartum plans with the people in your life so they can best help you. Here is a guide to creating your own postpartum plan.
Meal planning. (All this planning!) Have an idea of what you will eat after you have baby. Most of my clients really love freezer meals. You can take one or two days out of your week (pre-baby) and make up to 30 freezer meals that you can just pull out and throw in a slow cooker for an easy meal after baby. Some churches or groups might even organize a meal train for you for the first week or two after baby. Have snacks stored in the cupboards as well.
Set boundaries. Discuss ahead of time the people you are willing to have visit during the first few weeks after having baby. Keep visitors and baby touching to a minimum as your newborn has a fragile immune system in the first few weeks. Also remember to avoid high stress visitors that could cause more harm than good. Set limits you are comfortable with like “only close family visiting in the hospital” or “please only offer advice if we ask.”
Have a list of people you can call on for help. This is especially important if your partner has to return to work as soon as possible or you are a single parent. Parenting can take a village. Never feel like less of a parent because you have to reach out for help. Babies do not come with an owner’s manual after all.
Hire a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula can be just the thing to help ease you into parenting. Even if this isn’t your first baby, they can help transition the new family dynamic.
Arrange help for chores like laundry, dishes, pet care or any other major chore you normally have. Whether you hire help, ask friends and family, or your partner takes them over. Recovering after baby can take quite some time. Avoid any major work for at least the first six weeks after baby. Longer if possible. If you have other children, arrange for extra childcare should you need it.
Minimize your out of the house visits ahead of time. Avoid planning any major trips out of the home for those first few weeks after baby. Plan to spend up to the first 7 days in bed or a recliner with your baby.
Have a list of numbers for providers you may need, such as a lactation consultant should you choose to breastfeed.
When people ask to help, don’t be afraid to give them a chore. Whether it is bringing groceries or cleaning something at your house. Have a list of things you could use quick help with when a visitor stops by. (Do a chore to hold the baby!)
Plan to “nurse all day long” if you choose to breastfeed. Have a feeding corner set up with a comfy chair, a water bottle, some snacks, and support pillows to rest your arm and baby on while you nurse. If you bottle feed, having a quiet space can still be beneficial for you and baby to avoid interruption and distraction, as well as remind you to stay hydrated by drinking your water bottle when the baby does.
If you find you have other questions about creating a postpartum plan, a doula can help with that!