Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of your life but it can also be stressful, exhausting and overwhelming! Preparing for a newborn is something a lot of parents don’t normally do. I don’t mean buying the cot, clothes and bottles etc. I mean your recovery, your health, your mindset.
Through my experience of parenthood as well as working with families, I found asking for help is something that’s not often done. Seeking support was one of the hardest things I found after having my 3rd, so I completely understand the anxiety that comes along with it.
The first 3 months are filled with overwhelm, sleep-deprivation and a roller-coaster of emotions. A Postpartum Plan will help you to prepare for different areas of your life which normally get forgotten. This can help to reduce your anxieties, manage your mum-guilt and create a plan that works for you and your family. Here are the normal areas that I discuss with my clients and if you have a partner, I also discuss their role in each as well.
Those first couple of weeks are a great time for bonding as a family, as well as getting used to your ‘new normal’. Sometimes having visitors straight away can cause more stress and anxiety, especially if the house is a mess and you’re either constantly feeding or barely showered. Also, we all have family and friends who are either helpful or have an expectation to be treated like guests. Ask yourselves:
- How long do you want to wait until you feel you’ll be comfortable with visitors?
- Which visitors would be there to help you and which would need hosting?
- Who would you be comfortable feeding in front of?
You can also send a message out to everyone before birth letting them know that you won’t be having anyone visit until you’re ready so they know what to expect.
When we think of a newborn coming into our world, it’s easy to think they’ll just fit into the current family routine but when your baby arrives, it can feel like a roller-coaster. Also, so many mums don’t know the importance of recovering and resting after birth and feel they need to get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible. Planning out how the chores are going to be managed means that it’ll all be under control when you can’t remember what day it is. It also gives you time to rest after birth, allowing your body and mind to recover. Think about:
- What is your priority? For some it might be laundry, for others it might be the kitchen – what are the necessary chores in the house you need done so you’re not stressing.
- Who is going to help you? Do you have older children to help out or is your partner able to take on some regular chores?
- Do you need extra help? Instead of thinking everything will be ok, this will help you to look for help that you need, as well as budget for it.
It’s so important that you eat the right food to aid your recovery but it’s also one of the most common things that isn’t thought about. Making a meal plan and/or bulk cooking are useful ways to help you cook nutritious food with less stress. Also consider:
- Who’ll do the grocery shopping? Do you need to order some deliveries?
- What kinds of food would you like to eat that are also healthy?
- Will someone be cooking for you or do you need to bulk cook and freeze food before birth?
- Do you need extra help and order home-cooked meals from someone locally?
This by far is the most forgotten aspect of recovery but also the most important. Pregnancy, birth and looking after a newborn can have a huge impact on your emotional and mental well-being, so it’s important you make it a priority.
I ask my clients to make a list of organisations and professionals they can contact if they need more support, so when they are feeling low, the details are already there.
Also, understanding the signs of PND so you can recognise them, as well as having someone you can regularly speak to for emotional support.
Your Support Network
This is one of the most important aspects of planning, because it helps us to see who is able to support us in different ways. I ask my clients to sit and write down who they have around them, and what they can help with, such as:
- Who can help with school runs?
- Who can drop off basic groceries?
- Who can come over when you need a shower or a hug?
- Who can you call when you’re not sure what to do?
It also helps to think about what extra support you might need and find out about local organisations and professionals available – such as a doula, a counsellor, breastfeeding support worker.
This is another part of being a mum that usually ends up at the bottom of our list, but something that is crucial to our physical and mental health. I discuss with my clients:
- What classes do you want to go to? Such as yoga, support groups, postpartum exercise?
- What treatments would you need? Like, postpartum massage or reflexology?
- What will you do to take time out for yourself each day?
- Who can help you and do you need extra support?
I’ve created a free Postpartum Plan so it’s simple and easy for you to create yours…