fbpx

How to plan for your postpartum

Ah, the newborn days. While parents often laugh off this period of wild hormones, relentless sleep deprivation, and surviving on caffeine alone, it’s really not funny at the time. It’s brutal. Everything (your body, your sleep, your relationship, your sanity) is thrown out of whack. 

Amy Pasfield, mother of two, nutritionist, postpartum doula, Founder of Mother Unearthed, and general postpartum wizard/expert, knows this firsthand. She shared some excellent advice with us on how to plan for your postpartum.

Set expectations

As mums-to-be we’re often encouraged to make a birth plan so that labour happens as close to our wishes as possible. Obviously, anything could happen, but it’s about setting your expectations so when you’re in the moment you can refer to something to help make decisions.

The same goes for your postpartum plan. Amy put it like this:

“A postpartum plan allows a family unit to maintain a sense of calm and control in an otherwise chaotic time. It’s created for the purpose of making sure that the mother especially is well rested, nourished, cared for, and will have everything she needs to make her first forty days as smooth and restful as possible. It prevents miscommunication, unfair expectations and allows the family to have a plan for the most unpredictable time of their life.”

Plan for visitors

No one likes annoying, pokey visitors at the best of times. Least of all when all hell has broken loose in your household with the arrival of a new baby.

Amy highlighted the importance of including visitor boundaries in your postpartum plan. Consider things like how soon after the birth you’d like visitors, best times of the day for them to visit, tasks they could help with, and hygiene practices.

Identify how you’ll get help

Do not – we repeat DO NOT – think you’re expected to navigate this crazy time on your own. 

Amy admitted, “Mothers in the Western society are expected to be ‘everything’ to everyone and then be quiet when we fail and realise we are only one person.” 

Help is everything for a new mum. So ask for it, whether it’s from health professionals or your friends and family.

While it can be hard to ask for help after you’ve had a baby, Amy said, “in most cases, people just need to be told what they can do.”

Stock up on postpartum essentials

Here are some of Amy’s go-to’s to help make you more comfortable while you recover from birth.

  • Maternity pads and/or disposable undies
  • A peri bottle (a bottle of warm water that you can use it instead of wiping after going to the toilet – very handy if you experienced tearing during birth and had to get stitches)
  • Breast/perineum ice packs (to help with engorgement pain or inflammation)
  • Breast pads (to soak up leakages once your milk comes in)
  • Nursing bras and nipple cream (if you’re breastfeeding).

Read what other mums wish they had ready at home after birth here.

Make a list of useful postpartum services

Amy suggested making a list of local healthcare practitioners and services such as: 

  • Postpartum doula, to ensure your needs are met including nourishing meals, newborn care and sleep education
  • Lactation consultant, to provide breastfeeding support and assistance
  • Nutritionist or Naturopath, to ensure postpartum nutrient needs are met
  • Acupuncturist, to assist with hormone balance and postpartum depletion.

Plan your first 40 days at home

“The term ‘the fourth trimester’ was coined by paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp,” Amy explained. “It suggests that you should try to recreate, for another 3- 4 months, the kind of environment your baby had in the womb.”

This allows babies to make a gentle adjustment to life outside of your belly, and may involve lots of baby wearing, skin-to-skin and staying at home. But this period is also about taking care of you.

“The point is that for the first 6 weeks it is essential you feel rested, nourished, and supported,” she said.

Consider sleep arrangements

“Sleep deprivation is the most common struggle mothers complain of during the postpartum period,” Amy shared. In fact, “on average, each new parent loses 109 minutes of sleep every night for the first year after having a baby.”

Ouch.

In your postpartum plan, consider “how many hours of sleep each family member needs to function and how they will go about achieving that,” Amy suggested. 

Treat yo’self

She also recommended making a list of what essential supplies for self care you’ll need in the first few weeks. Things like: 

  • Maternity pads
  • Several pairs of underwear
  • Comfy PJs
  • Water bottles stationed all around the house
  • Healthy snacks
  • Magazines
  • All seven seasons of Gilmore Girls to binge on (okay we added that one).

Self care can help boost your oxytocin levels too, which is a big plus for postpartum mothers. This wondrous hormone can make breastfeeding easier and improve mental health. 

Amy suggested learning about how to boost oxytocin levels, whether it’s “laughter, warmth, skin-to-skin, self care practices… Anything that you love can boost your happy hormone and bring joy to your day.”

Organise meals and chores

Amy also encouraged mamas to consider meal preparation and household chores. This may involve stocking up on previously prepared freezer meals, or looking into healthy meal delivery services. Plan who will do each household chore, and when. 

“Create a detailed list of who will look after appointments, pets, etc,” Amy said.

Manage your emotional and nutritional needs

“The hormonal changes, the shift in identity, relationship changes, and the huge learning curve that comes with motherhood can have an overwhelming impact on a mother’s emotional wellbeing,” Amy told us.

That’s why it’s essential to have a plan in place for nurturing your emotional wellbeing postpartum. This should include things like getting support with rest, joining a group of like-minded mamas (oh, hey Mumli!), and having people check in on your mental health.

Amy also recommended stocking up on nutritious foods in order to avoid postpartum depletion. Your postpartum plan should prepare you for keeping yourself nourished and hydrated. (Sorry but yes, that means you’ll need more than coffee – nutrition is so important for your postpartum recovery!) 

Oh… and don’t forget your partner

If you have a partner, chances are they’ll be struggling during this period too.

“A mother’s mind is fixated on learning how to care for her baby during the first few months and it can often leave the partner feeling a bit lost, isolated, and unsupported,” Amy said. “In the postpartum plan, it is essential to discuss with your partner what they need to feel best supported in their new role and how they can support you in return so that it gives them a purpose. “

Importantly, discuss how you’ll keep communicating in the postpartum period. There’s no doubt that sleep deprivation and new parenthood can put strain on a relationship, but by planning in advance you can identify any issues that may come up and avoid yelling profanities over whose turn it is to change the nappy.

What are your top postpartum planning tips? Share with the Mumli community in the comments below.


Expert Contributor: Amy Pasfield

Mama to two darling girls, Holistic Nutritionist, and Postpartum Doula. I’m a relentless advocate for the wellbeing of Mothers, striving to create a world where Postpartum Depletion was prioritised after birth and Motherhood and Martyrdom no longer existed hand in hand. Mother Unearthed is a holistic model of care provided at a time when women need it the most.

Make motherhood easier, with Mumli.

Discover, share, and save everything you need in one place.