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Do you have a postpartum plan?
If you are pregnant and planning for a new baby, make sure that creating a postpartum plan is at the top of your priority list!
You ABSOLUTELY need one! Here’s why…
Free Postpartum Plan Printable Worksheet included!
As a postpartum doula, I meet a lot of new moms who wish that they had been better prepared. When I meet prenatally with new parents, I often try to help them to understand the importance of a postpartum plan.
Many expectant parents spend most of their preparation time planning for childbirth and getting the nursery ready, but few parents really “get” the need to prepare for a postpartum recovery.
That is unfortunate because most new moms that I talk to tell me that they were totally unprepared for the challenges of the postpartum period.
Avoid These Common Postpartum Challenges!
While I don’t want to scare you or cause unnecessary anxiety, I want you to understand that you simply have NO CONTROL over how your pregnancy, labor, delivery and early weeks postpartum will go.
You may have an easy labor and recovery, or you may have lots of challenges to overcome.
The fact is… Most new parents face challenges. Period. Especially fatigue.
Having a postpartum plan is like having an insurance policy. If you have it, you may not need it, but if you don’t have it, you may really need it (but it will be too late to create one.) You will need to scramble for help.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I spent many hours preparing for the birth. We read books on pregnancy, took childbirth classes and practiced breathing together.
As we prepared our home for the baby’s arrival, we purchased a crib, bassinet, baby clothing and other essentials. We even took a breastfeeding class. We were ready…. or so I thought.
Being well-prepared for the labor was very helpful and I was blessed with a relatively easy labor and birth, (especially for a first baby) but I was not prepared for what would happen in the days and weeks to follow.
I was totally unprepared for postpartum
I don’t remember learning much, if anything, about postpartum recovery.
Because of this, I was surprised and disheartened when my postpartum recovery seemed harder than the actual birth! I was swollen, sore and bruised in my “lower regions” and I was experiencing “after pains” that I didn’t expect.
In general, I was stiff and sore as if I had just run a marathon. (because in many ways I did!) In the grand scheme, these were minor complications that I now know are quite normal, but at the time seemed overwhelming…. probably because I was so sleep-deprived and hormonal.
In addition to my birth recovery, my little daughter had latch issues which caused me excruciating pain when nursing, and I was experiencing fatigue like I had never known.
My husband had to go back to work after the first week and I was left to care for the baby and myself with very little sleep or help. It was a very emotional and exhausting few months for me!
Looking back, I think at least some of my suffering could have been avoided. Better preparation and planning for the postpartum period would have helped tremendously!
Even though I was well-prepared for the birth, I was unaware of the need to prepare for the postpartum period.
Thus, I had very little preparation for the so called “4th Trimester” of pregnancy.
How a Postpartum Plan Can Help
How does one prepare ahead for the days and weeks following birth? The best way is to plan for the worst and expect the best! Is this a “gloom and doom” approach? No. It’s being prepared and realistic.
If you end up not needing everything that you planned for, you can always make changes and adapt the plan.
For example, if you have arranged too much household help but are starting to feel like you want more privacy, you can always cancel some of the extra help.
A Postpartum Plan Helps You Set Realistic Expectations of the Postpartum Period
Many new parents are unprepared for the challenges that face them following the birth of a child.
They are not aware of the demands of caring for a newborn, healing from childbirth and how lack of sleep will affect them. They expect that the transition period will only last a couple weeks before life returns to normal.
The reality is that the adjustment, both physical and emotional, lasts with some intensity for the first three months following birth; and any parent of a baby or toddler will tell you that the challenges don’t end there.
Creating a postpartum plan will give you permission to rest and recover.
When you create a postpartum plan, you acknowledge that caring for your baby and recovering from childbirth are your #1 priorities. You understand that everything else is someone else’s job and that’s the way it should be!
A Postpartum Plan Will Prevent You From Pushing Yourself Too Soon
Before your baby’s arrival, understand that it will take time to recover from your birth. Whether you deliver vaginally or via cesarean section, there is a guaranteed 6-week recovery period.
You may look healed on the outside, but inside your uterus, there is a wound where the placenta was once attached.
This wound is rather large and needs to heal. The site of the wound will continue to bleed for a few weeks post birth. Many women try to take on too much in the weeks following birth.
When we don’t get enough sleep/rest, we can delay this wound’s healing. Those who deliver via C-section have an exterior wound as well!
If you have just delivered a baby…You. Need. To. Rest. Period… No excuses! Plan accordingly!!
When you create a postpartum plan, you are reminded that you need to let others help you. Not only that, but you PLAN for that help!
A Postpartum Plan Helps You Get Rest!
Have you ever heard of the 5-5-5 postpartum recovery rule? Here it is: 5 days IN the bed, 5 days ON the bed and 5 days NEAR the bed.
Women who follow this advice get the rest and bonding time they truly need during postpartum recovery. You can’t get this kind of rest without help!
Learn more about the 5-5-5 postpartum rule here.
Getting sleep during the early weeks is SO important too, for both parents! See this post to learn some new parent sleep tips to get the rest you need!
Many first-time moms make the mistake of assuming that they will recover faster than they actually do.
Even if you feel great in the first 6 weeks, resist the urge to do too much! I learned this the hard way. (But I was a slow learner because I literally had to relearn this after every baby!)
My Big Postpartum Mistake 🙁
I am a slow learner. I made this same mistake after all 5 of my babies…
At about the 3 week postpartum mark, I would start to feel good. My lochia was drying up, my baby and I were in a good breastfeeding rhythm and I was starting to feel like my old self again.
Unsuspecting, I would start to resume normal activities again: laundry, dishes, cooking, errands, etc.
After the second day of pushing myself…. Boom! It would hit. The Mack truck!
The first thing I noticed was a feeling of extreme fatigue. I mean really, really tired.
Next I would feel a hot spot or painful lump in my breast and before I knew what hit me, I would spike a really high fever which came on very fast. I had never felt so sick in all my life.
In fact, after my 4th baby, I felt so sick that I was convinced that I was dying. I actually said goodbye to my husband and asked him to find someone to breastfeed my baby after I was gone!!
What I am describing is mastitis or a breast infection. It is a very common postpartum complication and one that I hope you will avoid.
You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way!
While most of us think that things like this will never happen to us, (and besides… I am too busy to get sick) I am here to tell you that you are likely to have at least one physical set back, so don’t be surprised if this happens to you.
Many women feel like they have been blind-sided by difficulties during their postpartum time.
That is likely because they were not properly educated about postpartum issues and the need for postpartum rest and planning.
When we take a childbirth class, we are taught about potential complications of labor or delivery, but we rarely receive proper preparation for the postpartum period.
Read, read, read and talk to other moms who are willing to have frank discussions with you regarding their own postpartum recovery period.
You don’t need to be overly concerned, but instead, be informed and prepared!
In addition, you need to plan on LOTS of time to rest and recover. In order to do this, you MUST have help with household duties. I recommend a postpartum plan.
What Exactly is a Postpartum Plan?
You may be familiar with a birth plan. A postpartum plan is a bit different. It helps you to plan for a smooth transition adjusting to your new family dynamics in the first few weeks.
For starters, it lists the various household duties such as meals, laundry, dishes, diapers, feedings and assigns a person or persons to handle the tasks.
It is a worksheet for parents to complete together before baby arrives, helping you to get organized and plan the help you need.
For example, when considering meals, it encourages parents to discuss who will prepare the meals? Will there be any meals delivered by friends and families? Will there be take-out meals? Freezer meals? Etc.
A postpartum plan is also a discussion regarding other details of life with a newborn… how do we feel about visitors? Would we want to establish any boundaries with visitors? Who will be our main support people? What will be their roles? Should we hire a postpartum doula? What are Mom’s plans for self-care? What are Dad’s plans for self-care? You get the idea.
How to Create a Postpartum Plan
The good news? You don’t need to come up with the questions yourself. I have already created a postpartum planning worksheet for you!
All you need to do is print it out and start your planning.
All the questions and planning requirements are in this worksheet! Get your printable postpartum planning packet below…
FREE Printable Postpartum Planning Resources!
Plan ahead and have an easier postpartum recovery!
In this FREE postpartum packet, I have included my favorite postpartum organizational planning tools: a Postpartum Plan Worksheet as well as a Postpartum Checklist to help you get organized and ready!
You won’t forget any important details with these great planning guides! The Postpartum Plan Worksheet will help you and your partner dialog and create a plan for your recovery time.
The Postpartum Checklist is a doula-made pregnancy “To Do List” and shopping list, designed to prepare you for life with your newborn!
Consider hiring a postpartum doula!
A postpartum doula is a specialized caregiver trained to care for women who have just given birth.
Skilled and trained in breastfeeding, newborn care, and common postpartum issues that women face, she provides valuable education and assistance to new parents, “mothering” the new mother and giving her the much needed support and TLC that she needs during the postpartum period.
When you hire a postpartum doula, you will receive support and practical help that you will need in the days and weeks following the birth of your baby.
She will be on hand to answer your questions about breastfeeding, cord care, circumcision care, and other newborn-related concerns. She will also lend a helping hand with household tasks such as dishes, meals and laundry, giving you time to rest and bond with your baby.
Many new parents also hire postpartum doulas to provide overnight care for the baby while they get the sleep they so desperately need!
You can find a postpartum doula in your area here.
Sleep deprivation is a HUGE problem for new parents. Unfortunately, most new parents don’t get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can be a contributing factor to many postpartum complications such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and mastitis.
Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure that you prioritize sleep and do all you can to prevent sleep deprivation.
Having a postpartum plan is a great place to start! Learning some great sleep strategies will also help!
30 Easy Sleep Strategies for New Parents
Having a newborn is hard! The greatest challenge for most new parents is loss of sleep.
How can you get more sleep with your newborn? Is it even possible? Yes!
… but you need to be strategic…
Good news! I have helps dozens of new parents figure out how to get better sleep with a newborn and I decided to put all these tips and strategies into a short eBook.
This is NOT your average book on baby sleep, but an easy step-by-step, hands-on survival guide for new parents!
In my book, I teach new parents how to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.
I have compiled all my favorite doula tips and strategies into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents.
This quick read is a very affordable eBook that will be a game changer for your family!
Other FREE Planning Resources for Your New Baby!
If you are pregnant, this is the time to begin planning for your new baby’s arrival!
What do you include on your baby registry checklist?
How do you write a birth plan?
How do you hire a doula?
Who will be helping you during your recovery time?
What should you include in your postpartum plan?
How about a newborn care plan?
How do you set up a meal train?
What are some easy freezer meals to make ahead?
What should you pack in your hospital bag?
These are just a sampling of the kind of planning you will need to do!
But don’t get overwhelmed! The work of planning isn’t really so bad because I have compiled some great FREE resources for you here.
Download these free worksheets and email courses to get you started with all your planning needs…
I recently wrote this blog post with TONS of free pregnancy planning help. Check it out!
This FREE 5-Day Mini Course will help you get ready for postpartum. Includes my free postpartum plan packet, how to organize help, how to create a sleep plan and so much more!
Many new parents don’t know about the importance of a newborn care plan. If you are planning a hospital birth, this plan walks you through all the important decisions you will need to make regarding the care of your new baby.
Wow! This is such a great resource for pregnant mamas! Subscribe to Alli’s and Trina’s amazing FREE new mom planning course and get weekly email updates and reminders so you can stay on course and plan for your new baby. Type in your due date and email address and you’re all set! Their weekly emails will both inspire and motivate you as you get ready for the big day!
Although not free, this affordable planner is one that I want to bring to your attention. As a postpartum doula, I am VERY excited to recommend this great planning resource! Why? Because I have witnessed so many new moms who are not prepared for their postpartum recovery and consequently have a much more difficult time recovering and adjusting to motherhood.
The Nesting Planner is a complete planner for pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and newborn care. It is loaded with printable checklists, worksheets and other planning tools. It will help you get organized and stay on track throughout your entire pregnancy. You will never miss a step with monthly checklists and reminders that easily itemize what must be done before the big day! Check out the Nesting Planner here.
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