A great postpartum plan is often an afterthought at best, if at all. Parents-to-be are likely to have a labor and birth plan; an adoption plan, or at the very least, a “go bag” when the time is imminent.
Why postpartum plans are important.
Before baby comes home, parents-in-wait have time, energy and a clear head to make decisions for what comes next. Often, this time is spent on what can feel like very exciting decisions. The color of the nursery, the type of stroller to buy, choosing baby names and how to install the car seat to name a few. So while you have a clearer mind that is not riddled with sleep deprivation or a sudden drop in hormones, it’s the perfect time to think about you! Whether you’re the birthing parent, adoptive parent or supporting parent, you need a plan to make this next chapter easier.
A baby’s “fourth trimester” is one that is full of growth and change- all outside the womb. Up until now, all of baby’s needs were met without the pregnant person (or anyone) doing much at all. But now that the baby is earth-side, parents need to do it all to keep their baby alive. As a result, life gets demanding overnight. This quick turn-around can catch new parents off guard if they don’t have a plan in place.
A great postpartum plan can help you deal with some of the new decisions you will be faced with.
It can be helpful to write a list of all the responsibilities and decisions you make on a daily or weekly basis. Household chores, for example, may include cooking or meal prep, grocery shopping, laundry, taking out the trash and house cleaning. Other tasks may include bill paying, caring for older children and carpooling. Pet duties may include dog walking, pet feeding, litter box cleaning and vet visits. Another list for the birthing parent may be names and numbers of their support team. This may include a postpartum doula, lactation counselor, or friends and family who can lend a hand. And yet another list may include names and numbers of professionals, just in case you need them, such as an ENT, chiropractor, pelvic floor specialist or psychologist, specializing in postpartum health.
Maternity, paternity or family leave is not a vacation.
You may not be punching a clock, but if you have any down time, you’ll most likely spend it sleeping and eating; feeding, cuddling and generally tending to your baby. Your great postpartum plan can off-load some of your responsibilities or give you the structure to create the support team should you need it. When you get your own needs met, you’re in better shape to take care of your baby and rest easy.