geburts abc

Planning Your Postpartum

When a baby is born, so is a mother, each unsteady in their own way. Matrescence is profound, but it’s also hard, and that’s what makes it human.
Alexandra Sacks, psychiatrist and author
TED Residency Talk “A new way to think about the transition to motherhood”

Why Should I Plan My Postpartum?

Traditionally, the first forty days (or about six weeks) after birth were considered a special time. This has its roots in realising how important this time was for the health and wellbeing of mothers, babies and families. In modern times, preparing a postpartum plan can help you carve out the first six weeks after birth and think about all that lies ahead after your baby arrives. Making a general and flexible plan for your life postpartum has the same benefits as making a birth plan - thinking about all the things that lie ahead, considering and discussing all the options, preparing for the first few weeks and getting ideas on how to deal with challenges. Another benefit of a postpartum plan is to realise how important the time after birth is for your health and for your family, and to prevent you from pushing yourself too soon. It also helps you prioritise your wellbeing and mental health, your rest and your relationships.

Things to talk about and plan in advance
Many things should and can be decided in the months before baby arrives. If you have a partner, take time to discuss some of these issues; if you are a single parent write down a plan as best you can and identify where your sources of support are.

Taking postpartum preparation classes - both you and your partner are venturing into a new experience that you need to learn about. Having information on what is normal for your and your baby’s health postpartum and knowing the basics of breastfeeding and baby care can make your life postpartum transition much easier.

Talk about your parenting styles - share stories about your own childhoods’ and your parents’ parenting styles, talk about the kind of parents you’d like to be and what you need to do to meet those goals.

Talk about your roles postpartum - this will be an ongoing conversation that will evolve as your baby grows and your circumstances change. Things that you need to talk about and agree on are your career paths, and how you will divide up tasks like meals, chores and running the household. You should also discuss your expectations regarding who will take parental leave and when. The division of responsibilities should be clear, at least for the first few weeks, and you should revisit these topics regularly taking care to be open and honest. Respectful discussion and clearly stating your needs are very important for the health of your relationship during postpartum and beyond.

Making a financial plan - what are your savings available for use during baby’s first months, what will your income be, what benefits will you be able to use and what are your expected expenses going to be? What services are you willing to pay for and what services will you ask your family to help you with? Are there any things your family can purchase for you as gifts? Knowing an approximate budget can make this often expensive time easier for your household budget.

Babymoon – the original babymoon was not a trip to an exotic destination in late pregnancy, but a time to bond and be with your baby and family. Are you planning on spending some time together
alone as a family after baby’s arrival where you will limit visitors and spend most of your time bonding as a family? What vacation time and parental leave will you be taking immediately after baby’s birth? How will you make this period as meaningful and stress-free so you can concentrate on becoming a new family?

Try out the 7-7-7 postpartum rule for the first weeks after giving birth:
Spend 7 days in the bed
Spend 7 days on the bed
Spend 7 days near the bed

What regular routines will we keep up - what are your priorities for your own self-care, things that you would like to continue after baby arrives (for both you and your partner)? Think about long showers or baths, meditation, massage, reading, sports activities, hobbies and other things you do for yourself. Are these balanced between the two of you and how will you prioritise?

How will you communicate expectations - what do you expect from each other postpartum, and how will you communicate changing needs and expectations as time goes on?

Ideas for your official postpartum plan
Your postpartum plan should be written much like your birth plan is. Make sure to include your partner and loved ones in preparing it, coordinate some parts of it with them and have it in a visible place that they can access after birth.

Visitors in hospital, birth centre and at home - decide who can come and visit you right after baby is born and how long they can stay. Having your partner and closest loved ones know who you’d like there (and who you wouldn’t) means they can help limit visitors and visiting times. You don’t have to accept any or all visitors, and can respectfully tell them to come in a few weeks.

Social media plan - who is allowed to post about your birth first, and will there be any posts with your baby’s photo and personal information.

Your postpartum healthcare providers - who are your postpartum care providers, how much do their services cost (have you budgeted for them), are their services covered by insurance (and how does this work), what are their contacts and working hours? Have this information available on hand.
family doctor, massage therapist, physiotherapist, postpartum doula, psychologist.

Mental health support - how can you access mental health support if you need it? Who are some recommended mental health professionals available to you, and what is their contact information?
Are there friends you can call who are willing to be a shoulder to cry on and sympathetic ear if you need it?

Infant feeding support - how will you be feeding your baby and where can you find support for your choices if you need it? What friends and relatives will support your feeding choices, and who can answer your questions about infant feeding and give good advice? What are the contacts of your local breastfeeding support groups and places where you can rent equipment and supplies if you need them?

Your support team - what family members and friends can you rely on (and for what), what is their contact information and availability. Are they available in the evenings to help care for older children or at night to help with night-time parenting? Is anyone able to move in for a few weeks? Prepare a schedule of when different people are available to come in and help, especially if grandparents will be taking vacation time after baby’s arrival. Coordinate with them so you have support for the first 4-8 weeks.

Postpartum lasts much longer than three weeks – although everyone is around in the first few days after baby arrives, the real challenge for mums comes when everybody goes back to (their) normal lives. Ensure that support is balanced over baby’s first eight weeks of life, and beyond.

Community support - what services are available in your community, when are they available and how can you access them? Think about services like parent support groups and mum and baby groups, family centres.

Essential items for mum for the first few weeks - make a list of the things you will need during postpartum and the exact brands you like so that your loved ones can replenish your supplies as needed. Think about maternity pads, underwear (including disposable underwear), breast pads, comfortable pyjamas and lounge clothes, healthy snacks, movies and series to watch, magazines and books to read. When it comes to clothes remember that you will be bleeding and leaking milk for the first few weeks after birth and need to do laundry more frequently – have additional lounging tops and bottoms at hand so you always have something ready to wear.

Essential items for baby in the first few weeks - make a list of things you need for baby and kinds you like best so loved ones can bring them to you. Think onesies, diapers, wipes, diaper cream. If you’re
using cloth diapers, adapt the list.

Meals - how do your partner and you plan on feeding your family nutritiously and easily in the first few weeks after birth? Will you be preparing freezer meals or asking family and friends to deliver meals (in either case, make a schedule). Make a list of nutritious and affordable take-out and delivery options. Also make an ongoing grocery shopping list that you can use for online shopping, delivery services or ask family and friends to get for you postpartum.

Sleep - what strategies will you use to ensure that you are all getting enough sleep? Will you divide parenting duties at night, will you ask for live-in help overnight if you become overwhelmed?

Chores - who will handle which chores and errands around the house? Will you be hiring an external cleaning service to come into your home every two weeks or a laundry service that can provide some help, calling a volunteer service or ask a loved one to come in and handle the cleaning and laundry?

Postpartum appointments and healthcare - who will handle postpartum appointments and healthcare, who is in charge of making appointments and organising attendance?

Support for older children - who will care for older children during labour and birth? What are your older children’s specific needs (kindergarten, school, extracurricular activities), who can ensure they are getting to these activities, who can spend quality time with them, what events do they have in the first weeks and months postpartum that are important, what things do you want to make sure you do with them, what strategies can you use to bond as a family.

Childcare for older children - who are family and friends who you trust to help you with your children when you need some time for yourself or time as a couple for rest and renewal? What professional
caregivers can you contact and when are they available?

Friends who have kids about the same age as ours - who has children of a similar age of your friends and family, how can you use them as a support network?

What happens when everyone returns to work - what childcare support is available, what will the plan for housekeeping and chores be, what are your main concerns? Do you have to apply for kindergarten / child care before the end of your maternity leave?
This list is not exhaustive and you should think about all the needs you may have for the postpartum period and include all that information in your postpartum plan. All this information should be readily available for any members of your support team at any time. It’s not up to you to organise everything in this plan, the point is to define and share responsibilities. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all yourself.

• Talk about your wants and needs for postpartum with your
partner and make a plan at least a month in advance
• It’s important to set up your support team for the first 4-8 weeks
postpartum in advance
• Have a list of the professionals who will be supporting you at
hand, including contact information
• Have a list of items you will need (especially those that need to be
replenished) on hand
• It’s ok to ask for help