Last week we discussed creating a birth plan. And now that you have that all taken care of, you can just sit back and relax until that little bundle arrives and call it a day!
Whether this baby is your first or your tenth, pregnancy and labor have a way of guzzling up so much of your attention and it's easy to forget to prepare for life after your little guy or gal is earthside... and soon enough, parents then realize (or remember) how overwhelming the early postpartum time can be.
Between all the newborn care and juggling your usual daily tasks, it's not hard to imagine life quickly and easily feeling out of control for a bit. So, just as a birth plan helps your care providers know how you prefer to be cared for during labor, a postpartum plan is an equally important tool to ensure that your loved ones will know what you need after the birth for a healthy and happy transition into this new chapter of motherhood.
Perhaps you're thinking that asking for help is hard, for one reason or another, and that you don't know where to begin. Here, I have broken down the basics of how to prepare for this sensitive time - and during prenatal appointments, I will go over any remaining concerns or details with you as you wish.
Think of your Needs:
Will you have laundry piling up? Pets that need to be fed or walked? Will you need a break to take a shower or nap? Older children that would like some play-time? Knowing beforehand what needs to be done will make it easier to have them done!
Give visitors a list of 10-15 minute tasks to do. If you have a particular way of doing something, prepare to have it written down for people (so you don't have to expain it every time for every visitor); or, prepare to let it go just for those first few weeks. If you're allergic to or don't like certain foods, or prefer certain brand items, make sure people are aware before they come.
Send out an e-mail or letter to all anticipated visitors before the baby comes with a list of what you want help with so you don't have to answer the question "what do you need?" a million times at every visit (you may want to also consider posting the list on your front door after the baby arrives). Feel free to go ahead and give some people a designated to-do list -- perhaps one of your friends lives right next to the grocery store and could be in charge of picking up your family's favorite items each week; or maybe your brother has a knack for yard care. Use people's availibility and offers to help to your advantage!
This is a sensitive time for you and your family. Most people will understand that and don't want to add any unneccesary burdens. Perhaps on some days, you'll be delighted to have a never-ending train of people coming through; but don't be afraid to request short visits and lots of privacy, or ask people to leave or come back at another time if that's what you need. Whatever feels comfortable and allows you to be at rest with your new family - do it!
A wonderful addition to your postpartum plan may also be to hire a postpartum doula. Just as a birth doula before and during childbirth can help you find current evidence-based information and support you emotionally and physically, a postpartum doula can give objective support as you transition into life with your new baby, breastfeeding and newborn care help, and emotional support.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. With all there is to be done without a baby, it's no wonder that help is welcomed with one. Embrace this upcoming time, and all the help that comes with it. Happy planning!