Planning Your Postpartum, As Important As Planning for Birth?
Part of what drew me to my career in birth work was the overwhelming portrayal of postpartum or the fourth trimester as a daunting and feared period for mothers. To say that this very special time is presented negatively is an understatement. You can witness this yourself by searching “postpartum” on any search engine, where you’ll be bombarded with countless fear-inducing articles and information.
The thing about postpartum is that it truly deserves preparation. Unfortunately, it is not discussed as much as it should be. I genuinely believe that if we support mothers in a way that excites them about this time, we can avoid the intense anxiety that often surrounds it.
Preparing for postpartum goes beyond just having frozen meals on hand, although that can certainly be helpful! It involves breaking oneself down and then rebuilding oneself anew. I say this because becoming a mother, especially for the first time or when transitioning from one child to two, is a profound rite of passage. It marks one of the most significant journeys a woman embarks upon in her lifetime.
When to start planning for postpartum?
The best time to begin is early on in the third trimester. This gives you several weeks to connect with your community and support system when your baby arrives. You can plan for who you’d like to be able to visit (or not), who can support you with household tasks, dog-walking, perhaps school runs with your other children, or even know who can extend a listening ear when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
This is also the perfect time for you to discuss with your birth attendants what they offer when it comes to postpartum check-ups, recommendations for a postpartum doula if they do not offer that level of care, lactation support resources etc.
There are many decisions to make at the point of your baby’s first breath to their first 24hrs outside of the womb. What can get overwhelming is not knowing about the plethora of choices you have until you’re in active labour working on getting your baby out.
Part of making an informed decision is parents are not waiting until the last minute to discuss these choices. Whether immediate skin-to-skin and delayed cord-clamping of 30mins plus is a non-negotiable, talk about these things. Understanding the benefits and risks of certain interventions and procedures can help you feel confident when the time comes because you know everyone is on the same page when it gets to that point.
Supporting a nourishing postpartum
Recovery from birth is not nearly long enough, at least in the West. Throughout my travels, I’ve been exposed to cultures that supported mothers having several weeks of rest and recoup so that they can gently enter motherhood feeling strong once more.
In my opinion, there’s also a lot lacking when it comes to nutrition and rest education for new mothers. The amount of fuel needed to promote optimal breastfeeding, warm, nutrient-dense foods that will help prevent complications while nourishing the needs of you and your baby, and my favourite rule of thumb is not being used nearly enough for ‘several days in the bed, several days on the bed, several days near the bed’ post birth. Making early preparations with your birth team can help you create a tangible plan to help make your healing plan a reality and continue this journey on the right foot.
Of course, we make the best decisions when we’re well-rested. A new baby can turn your sleep schedule upside down, but how can we work with this to prioritize the overall needs of your growing family?
One topic in the birth world that I believe isn’t discussed nearly enough is the varying studies and beliefs about co-sleeping. This can mean sleeping with your baby in the same bed (highly recommend checking out breastsleeping safety from the book, Safe Infant Sleep), a sidecar extension to your bed, or in their own crib but within the same bedroom. Parents report having a better quality of sleep, increased bonding with their babies, feeling confident in their ability to support their baby’s needs, and helping with the anxiousness of separating mom and baby.
I think it’s important to get familiar with all of the different ways you can support the sleep of yourself and your baby, find what’s best for you, and understand how it can be safely executed. These are great topics to bring up with your doula!
Many are unaware that having a nursery isn’t the only option, and that it isn’t always necessary to get up and leave your bed/bedroom to nurse and soothe your young child. There are amazing resources available on the varying cultures that have always coslept and don’t have an increase in infant mortality, SIDS, etc., which is amazing news for parents curious about exploring this postpartum decision.
There are only so many things I’m able to discuss in this post, but for a thorough deep-dive on supporting and nourishing your postpartum, enjoy my free Postpartum Care guidebook ‘Why We Prepare’.
Postpartum is a time of immense transition and transformation for new mothers. It is a time not only of physical healing but also of emotional, mental and spiritual nourishing. It is important to be supported during this period so that you can enjoy the precious moments with your newborn and make the most out of your postpartum recovery.
From preparing your home to stocking up on supplies, there are many things that you can do to ensure that you have a smooth postpartum transition. This article will provide tips on how to prepare for postpartum life in order to make sure that you are well-supported throughout this journey.
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January 9, 2024