I know, I know -- you're probably thinking, "First a birth plan, now another plan?! I want to be done with this planning stuff!" But hear me out. Planning for your postpartum period is time well spent. When you're in the foggy trenches of early parenthood, you'll thank your pre-birth self for the advance prep work. The postpartum time, like pregnancy, is a time of transition and change. But unlike pregnancy, postpartum needs often crop up with a greater sense of urgency and less free time and brain power to tackle them (thank you, lack of sleep and needy newborn!). To effectively plan for your postpartum period, we've created a list of questions and task prompts to help guide your planning.
Your Postpartum Plan
Consider the many baby-related tasks. How will you divvy tasks up between you and your partner, or you and a family member or friend? If you are breastfeeding, think about other tasks besides feeing that can be delegated. Your baby care team could include you, your partner, a family member, a friend, a postpartum doula, a baby nurse.
- Changing diapers
- Baby laundry
- Soothing or rocking baby
- Buying supplies
- Doctor visits
- Cleaning bottles and/or breast pump (if bottle feeding)
Moms need care, too! Ideally during postpartpartum, mom's only responsibility is to hold and feed her baby. While this isn't feasible for everyone, keep it in the back of your head. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, consider all of the things on your plate. Are you trying to take on too much during a time when you should be recovering and snuggling with your baby? For the following items on mom's care list, consider who will be available to allow her to take care of these needs - partner, neighbor, friend, family members, postpartum doula, nanny.
- Food and drink
- Postpartum or personal supplies
- Time alone or "me" time
Perhaps one of the more important elements of postpartum care, it's good to think about and plan ahead of time for how you will feed your family after baby comes. It's not that you can't cook and grocery shop as you go along, but taking care of at least some of your meals in advance of baby's arrival will free up time and energy for more critical needs, like sleep! Consider the many ways in which you can help your family stay fed.
- Prepare freezer meals in advance
- Start a care calendar to help others bring you meals
- Plan a big grocery shopping trip around 38/39 weeks - purchase freezable or shelf-stable items
- Refine your idea of a "meal" -- grazing, snacking, or non-meal meals all count! The mission is to get nutritious, filling, easy to eat and prepare food into your body quickly!
- Just ask for help! Family and friends often will ask, "How can I help?" When they do, say: "Bring us a meal!"
The same household tasks you had before baby arrived will still be there waiting for you. But in the early weeks and months of the newborn and infant stage, your priorities will change drastically! For these tasks, consider who can help but also, what can wait. Even if it's not to your typical cleaning standard, things like dusting, blowing leaves off the driveway, and deep cleaning the shower can all likely wait a little while. The last thing you want to do is spend precious time (that could be used for sleeping!) working to clean or take care of something that could wait. For things that can't wait, invoke the help of your partner, your family, your friends, an neighbors. Most everyone loves helping out a new family!
- General cleaning
- Yard care
- Walking your dog
- Other pet care
- Paying bills
- House maintenance
- Watering plants
Using your down time in the last few weeks of pregnancy to tackle tasks in advance of baby's arrival will not only help you out tremendously in the postpartum period, it will also help pass the time of late pregnancy. Instead of obsessing over each little possible sign of labor, obsess over filling your freezer with yummy meals and stocking your contact list with friendly postpartum helpers!