With a postpartum plan, you can help to reduce stress in the postpartum period. Read on to find out what a postpartum plan is, why it’s important, and how to make one. Read to the end for a special bonus – my incredible How to Postpartum Like a Boss workbook!
The Focus on Birth
Check out any article about pregnancy and how to prepare for birth, and likely you’re going to see some variation of a “birth plan.”
In fact, there’s almost a hyper focus on birth.
And yes, absolutely it is an important day. It’s your baby’s BIRTH day. It’s the day you birth your baby and fully enter your journey into parenthood. That’s huge!
But, and this is a big but, it’s only ONE (hopefully) day.
Once you bring that baby home, it’s for life. Well, the next 18-ish years anyway.
It’s a big change, becoming a parent. One that can take you by surprise no matter how much experience you have in your past with babies and children. No matter how many babies you’ve already had. And it’s not just a big change for the one who birthed that baby – it’s a big change for everyone in the family. This change can rock your world if you’re not prepared for it. It can affect your mental health, your emotional health, your physical health, and any of your relationships’ health. When your expectations of what the postpartum period will look like does not match your reality, it can be really difficult to cope.
But rarely do you see folks talking about planning for the postpartum beyond making a bunch of freezer meals, stocking up your pantry, and making sure the nursery is ready for your baby.
And frankly, that’s bullshit.
I want to change that.
I want to spread the message that it is absolutely important to plan for the postpartum. Just as important, maybe even more so, than planning for birth. We can’t just slide into the postpartum and expect everything to go perfectly. And planning for postpartum is way more than stocking the freezer and making sure the nursery is ready for your baby.
Why should you plan for the postpartum?
Look, I get it. When you’re pregnant, the To Do list seems incredibly daunting. Everywhere you look something is telling you that you need to do something else, buy this, do that. Build the crib. Decorate the nursery. Pack the hospital bag. Buy the diapers. And don’t forget to send out thank yous for that baby shower. And now here I come in telling you to do yet another thing. Enough already, right?! But trust me when I tell you – you WILL benefit from making a postpartum plan.
When you bring your baby home, that’s when shit gets real. Literally. It can be so overwhelming for both you and your partner if you don’t have systems put in place already. A postpartum plan helps you to get those systems in place and puts all the resources that you might need in one place. When your baby is here and you’re struggling, do you really want to have to search around for help? Do you want to start to feel resentful about how your support system isn’t helping you in the ways that you need it? Do you want to have to figure out how to feed yourself when you can’t even figure out how to get to the bathroom by yourself? A postpartum plan also gets you and your partner on the same page and makes your expectations clear – which can significantly reduce any resentment that might otherwise develop. Missed expectations are often the start of many issues.
Speaking of partners – if you’re in a romantic relationship, you may not be thinking about your relationship at this point. I know I didn’t. But that was wrong. Stats around relationship satisfaction are not that great. In fact, research done by The Gottman Institute shows that relationship satisfaction declines by 67% after children. Yes, you read that right. 67% of folks said that they were less satisfied with their relationships after having a baby. That’s huge! And while this research was focused on heterosexual couples, it is still a significant number to be aware of.
Making a postpartum plan for the Fourth Trimester helps us be mindful about the postpartum time. It gives us guidance for when we may feel lost, and it helps others to know how they can help us. And like a birth plan, a postpartum plan isn’t something that we necessarily follow to the letter. Instead, it’s the process of making it that is most important. Making the plan helps us become aware of what we want, and it gives us the opportunity to share that with our circle of support.
Some things to Include when making a postpartum plan
- Rules for the babymoon – what do you want your first few days postpartum to look like? What are your boundaries when it comes to visitors?
- How do you want your village’s support – you have to figure out what you want help with so that you can tell people how they can help you. People want to help – they just don’t always know how.
- Task division – set realistic expectations for all of the usual household tasks. Who’s going to do what? Who’s going to make sure YOU get fed?
- Relationship with your partner – how are you going to keep that connection strong?
- Lists of family and friends – who is available to help, how can they help, and when can they help.
- List of professional support – just in case! It’s important to be prepared. You don’t want to have to find this information out while you’re in the depth of postpartum depression.
- Places to go when you feel isolated
- List of things that make you feel well
You may be asking, “but how do you plan for the postpartum?”
Well, I’ve got you covered.
Click here for your FREE copy of my comprehensive Postpartum Planning workbook “How to Postpartum Like a Boss.” This workbook is a postpartum game changer. I’ve put all of the things that I have learned through the years into it so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way. It will help you feel ready and confident!
Love Sarah XOXO