Beyond the Birth Plan: why you need a postpartum plan
It is so common to go into the birth of a baby armed with a birth plan or birth vision. But new parents often do not think to have a postpartum plan. This time is so important for new parents to be taking care of themselves alongside caring for their new baby. Postpartum plans can give partners and loved ones the opportunity to know how they can be most helpful.
Here are some things you can include in your postpartum plan:
1) A Visitors Guide: Brainstorm a plan for visitors. If this is your first baby, you might not know how you want to handle visitors. You may be a person who loves to show off your new little one and is happy to have adult company to chat with as you are healing postpartum. Or perhaps you are someone who wants to bunker down and have it be just you, your partner, and your new little one. You would rather people drop a meal off at the door and not even set foot inside. Whatever you find your needs to be (and it may not be what you thought it would be when you were pregnant!), do not be afraid to voice your opinion on this. Sometimes it is easier to defer to your partner to be the one to communicate your needs to others. So if you decide that you do not want visitors, have your partner tactfully tell that those texting and calling you.
2) Ask For and Accept Help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Help goes two ways. What I mean by this is that people love to be needed and it feels good to receive help. So give your loved ones a chance to be needed by you in your postpartum period. If they ask how they can be helpful, do not hesitate to respond with your needs! This may be asking them to bring you food, having them do your dishes or fold laundry, hold the baby while you shower, run an errand for you (or sit in the car with sleeping baby while you run the errand), or even cleaning your bathroom! We live in a culture that says we can and must do it all ourselves. But the truth is, we need each other and it feels good to be needed.
3) Give yourself permission: Write yourself a permission slip to stay in bed with your baby for a week if that’s what you need. Give yourself permission to go on a walk alone once a day if that’s what you need. Allow yourself to wear your pajamas all day if that’s what you need. Take the time to think about what you need and how you can best meet those needs. Talk with your partner about what you are giving yourself permission to do so they can support you in making sure it happens. Remember, asking for what you need does not discount the action when your loved one responds. Sometimes we forget that people are not mind readers, and it is important to find our voice in asking for what we need.
There are many more things you can add to your postpartum plan including resources such as therapists who specialize in postpartum mood disorders, lactation consultants, and schedules of new mommy groups. You can create a flexible, individualized plan for you and your family, knowing it may be subject to change.
Feel free to comment below about what you are including in your postpartum plan or if you didn’t have one the first time, tell us what you want to include next time!