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Postpartum Planning as an Act of Self-Care

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Preparing for your baby may be at the forefront of your thoughts as you near the end of pregnancy/adoption, and rightfully so! You may have already developed a bond with your baby and cannot wait to hold them in your arms. Baby’s arrival may also mark an abrupt shift from preparing for baby to caring for their every need. This shift can be dramatic and unsettling for some families with the new addition. What will happen after the baby arrives? How will you care for yourself while you are caring for your new baby? A postpartum plan can help your family think through and come up with answers to these questions and many more.

A postpartum plan outlines what you/your family will do and resources you will access after baby arrives and within the first three months of baby’s life (the 4th trimester). Taking time now to think about and plan for how you will get your needs met during postpartum is invaluable. Here are six self-care questions to consider as you plan:

How will you get enough sleep?

Sleep is a HUGE concern for families with newborns. Newborn sleep is different than adult sleep. Once the baby arrives, you will have to adjust to new (oftentimes shorter) patterns of sleep. The traditional advice is to sleep while the baby sleeps. Although this works for some people some of the time, what is your plan for sleep if this does not work for you or your family situation? Who can you call upon when you desperately need a rest? Take inventory of your resources for getting enough sleep and add to your list as needed.

How will you get enough nutritious food?

Eating is key to maintaining good health and the energy required to care for a new baby. Cooking nutritious meals may not be easy after a new baby joins the family. Who will cook? Who can provide the family with nutritious meals for at least the first two weeks after baby’s arrival? What healthful snacks do you want to stock up on before baby comes? Take inventory of your resources for getting nutritious meals and add to your list as needed.

How will you organize your space so that if feels comfortable?

Taking care of a newborn can be time-consuming. Spending hours organizing and home keeping may not be possible as everyone in the family may be busy filling other roles and responsibilities. If overstuffed laundry baskets and a sink full of dirty dishes make you feel uncomfortable, think about how you will address these tasks in your postpartum plan. Who will do the laundry? How will you keep your home tidy? Take inventory of your resources for feeling organized and add to your list as needed.

How will you find time to relax?

Parenting stress is real and difficult to avoid. It is important to find ways to work with the stress that comes along with having a newborn. Using practices that helped you manage stress and increase your level of comfort during pregnancy, childbirth, or other life events that required your full attention and energy can help you during your early days, weeks, and months of parenting your new baby. When will you set aside time to relax? What helps you relax (a warm shower or bath, massage, or a short walk around the block)? How will you organize a sacred space for yourself when you need a quick recharge? Take inventory of your resources that support opportunities for you to relax and add to your list as needed.

How will you connect with other people?

After your baby arrives, you may begin to feel that you spend most of your time with the baby. You might start to miss the company of other adults. It is important to create a network of people you have something in common with (they may have newborns, too!) and can spend time with them on a regular basis. Who will you keep in contact with after the baby is comes? What parent groups are you interested in joining and are there opportunities to meet virtually? Take inventory of your social networks and add to your list as needed.

Who will help you?

You are going to spend a lot of time caring for the baby. You will need lots of support (physical and/or emotional) after the baby arrives. Who will help care for you? What family members can help and what might you need their help doing? What close friends can help and what might you need their help doing? Will you explore the possibility of having postpartum doula who can provide nonmedical support to your family after your newborn arrives? Take inventory of your resources for self-care and add to your list as needed. DONA International trains and provides a directory of postpartum doulas who can support you. Blossom Family Life Practice offers this postpartum doula service to families in the Detroit Metro area and virtually.

Planning for baby goes beyond their birth/adoption. To set your family up for success, plan for self-care during postpartum. Do your best to arrange the support you will need in advance. Because when you are cared for and at your best, you are better able to care for and spend quality time bonding with your new baby.

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