If you are pregnant than you’ve thought about the pains of giving birth. In fact, I would guess that is what you think about most. It is so difficult to think beyond birth because the thought of being in that much pain is so scary. And while the thought of giving birth can be overwhelming, a lot of women forget to consider life after birth. Yes the physical pain of birth can and may be severe, but there is also the mental, physical, and spiritual shift and pain of becoming a mom as well. And just like the pain is lessened with the second birth, so does the shift in becoming a mom again but that doesn’t change the fact that a shift of some sort will still happen.
The postpartum period is primarily depicted by social media (like in movies or on Instagram) in a romantic light. If you Google motherhood (fun fact: I just did Google that), you will see many glorious, uplifting photos that are bright and inspirational. If you google postpartum, you will see again many heartening pictures of motherhood sprinkled with some postpartum depression cartoons that don’t actually illustrate what postpartum or postpartum depression actually looks like. On Instagram you may see a whole lot of fit moms who have kept it super tight during pregnancy and started working out again fairly quickly after baby arrived. There is nothing wrong with these images; I am just saying these are the majority of images that exist. And I want you to know, most of the time you aren’t getting the full picture. The vast majority of mothers who are in motherhood or entering motherhood aren’t seeing pictures of what it will actually look like when they experience it themselves.
When you enter motherhood for the first time or again, you give birth to your baby and to the mother in you. Mentally you will shift from the daily routine you were used to (whether that is your single life or life with a toddler/baby/kids), to taking care of your newborn baby 24/7. In the first two weeks with your newborn will most likely be sleeping a significant amount of time. The initial rush of hormones keeps you going, sometimes at very high speeds. You might find yourself shocked at how you are functioning with such little sleep. After roughly two weeks, though, your newborn becomes more alert and is sleeping less and your hormones backhand you across your face. It’s around then that you can feel a crash or collapse of feelings, physical pain, and the like. If you are breastfeeding, you will be feeding pretty much constantly especially around the time the baby starts to wake more. If you are bottle feeding, your demands will be less but you will still adjust to a brand new schedule of feeding, awake time, and sleeping.
At the same time as your emotions are out of whack, you will be building an emotional connection with your little one(s). In the first three months you and your little one(s) are very much one unit regardless of how you feel emotionally and physically. You will be recovering from those severe birth pains and emotional turmoil of hormones while also lifting and carrying a newborn baby rather constantly. How you adapt to these changes can make a world of difference.
Postpartum planning can help you make that colossal shift into motherhood with some level of ease. Planning now can help you set up a system of resources now so that when things get difficult you can quickly pick up something that is already there. Not only that, but planning helps take care of you, the mother, and anytime you take care of a mother, you take care of her children too.
I’m going to list out areas you can start planning for right now. You can also find my Postpartum Planning Worksheet under Resources on my website. Below I will be making suggestions you can use to fill in a postpartum planning worksheet. Remember! You can ask for any of these services at your baby shower! Whether a friend/family member will provide the service or a gift certificate for the service, it’s a great way to get people thinking of how you plan on setting up your postpartum period.
Food and Drink
- Consider hot/warm everything when it comes to food and drink. I take most of my pointers from Chinese healers for postpartum food and drink. I’ve learned a lot from other cultures, and when it comes to food and drink after birth, I love the way Chinese healers prescribe postpartum recovery the best.
- Heat promotes healing by removing excess toxins and hormones from the body
- Allows your body to repair any damage caused by birth
- Keeps things flowing as your body shrinks back to pre-pregnancy state
- Bone broth and stock is terrific source of food and drink during postpartum
- Doesn’t need to be pricey – if you find stock at your grocery store, that works fine (stock uses more bones, broth uses more meat and you get more benefit out of bones)
- You can drink it and should drink it often – keep frozen or in a can or box and can easily be heated up in the microwave or stove
- It can be a base for rice, chicken, lentils and beans, spinach or other vegetables
- Make and freeze soups. Or get cans of soups. Pacific Foods (pacificfoods.com) has awesome soups you can order online and keep in your pantry!
- Make and freeze congee. Congee is awesome. It’s basically rice porridge that you can add meats, beans, and veggies too for a savory dish or you can add milk, apricots, prunes, dates or nuts to for breakfast.
- You can stock up on frozen roasted vegetables and chicken/meat to pull out easily.
- Make and store or freeze bars.Bars are super easy to grab when things get crazy. A really great muesli bar recipe can be found here.
- At a baby shower, you can make part of the event in the kitchen and everyone can cook up meals or other items to put in your freezer or pantry. If you don’t want to do this at a baby shower, you can always invite people over later to do together!
- Create a system of support that will allow you to sleep either during the day or at night. It is difficult to sleep not knowing when the baby will wake up, sometimes it is helpful to have someone there that you trust to give you peace of mind to sleep. Postpartum doulas can help, family and friends can help. Find something you feel comfortable with. You will want to find a person who understands what postpartum is like, can see you in a vulnerable state, and knows how to mother you. A birthing doula will coach you; a postpartum doula will mother you.
- Padsicles! Padsicles is a combination of a feminine pad and an ice pack and especially great for vaginal births. There are plenty of DIY instructions to create your own.
- Herbal remedies. You can use herbal remedies for sitz baths (great for vaginal births), healing salve (on c-section scars), and when allowed baths themselves. The herbal remedies can actually be mixed now and stored (a lot of time they can be stored up to a year)!
- Massage is great for you and baby. Infant massage can be learned ahead of time as well as massage for yourself. It would be better to find someone who could do massage on you, whether that is your partner, friend, or professional it does not matter. Massage on you can consist of abdominal or body massages.
- Some women love girdles to assist with shrinking their uterus and abdominal area. Both your uterus and abdominal will shrink on their own, especially if you are eating and drinking proper nutrition. However, if you have any concern with the shrinking, get a girdle ahead of time.
- Mom groups. Some cost money and some are free. Depending on your budget, locate as MANY local mom groups before postpartum. Write them down including the address, time/days they meet, and any contact information for the groups. If you can, drive by the locations.
- Sometimes there are even pregnancy support groups! If those exist, find them and go to them! They will become even more valuable once people in the group have their babies. 🙂
- Local support for newborn care and breastfeeding. There will be professional lactation counselors and consultants that work on their own or within a hospital or health care setting. If you are delivering in a hospital, call and see if they have lactation consultants on the floor that will be able to assist you. You can also locate at least one professional person who can help outside the hospital and/or find a breastfeeding class to take ahead of time. If you do deliver in a hospital, check to see if they will go over basic newborn care with you. If the hospital does not, consider taking a newborn care class ahead of time.
- Professional help for anyone who may need it. If you’ve experienced any sort of depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, set up professional help before birth. This saved my life. Even if you feel great during pregnancy, make sure a professional is available around the time of your due date. Then once baby arrives, schedule an appointment (even if you don’t want it!). Go to the first appointment (ask friends/family/doula to help get you to appointment!) and decide then if you want to continue.
- Friends and family that can help. A lot of friends and family will want to visit and a lot of times this isn’t helpful. You need to focus on recovery and I would suggest keeping visits that are not helpful to a minimum. If you can get emotional support, watch the baby when you go see professional help, get groceries, or run errands, then have them over! Otherwise, keep visits short until you want to see them.
- Groceries will be needed on a somewhat frequent basis. You may not feel up to it at first. People can help and do the grocery shopping, but you can also have your groceries delivered. Peapod, Amazon, Instacart, Roche Bros., CartFresh, and many more will deliver to you.
- If you’ve never brought a newborn baby (that can’t sit in the seat in the carriage) to the grocery store, there are ways to do this. Some people put a car seat in the carriage either in the seat (this is not safe since the cart can actually tip over) or in the carriage itself (can take up space but is safer). Some people bring a baby carrier and carry baby while they shop.
- At a baby shower, you can ask for gift cards for grocery delivery services.
- Errands when needed. Errands including going to get tooth paste, diapers, a prescription, or random items for baby and you. Perhaps you have people planning to visit. You can always ask them to grab something. Or you can ask people now who would be okay if you ask them to run errands.
- At a baby shower, you can pull together a list and people can write down what they’d be willing to help with. Items can include errands, cleaning and laundry, groceries, taking care of baby, taking care of you, etc.
- Cleaning and laundry. You and your partner can hire out, ask for help, or do it yourself. Maybe you don’t know how you will feel postpartum. That’s ok! You can always pull together names and numbers to hire out and have them handy if you and your partner find yourselves wanting these services.
Additional Support: Oh My Motherhood
- While you can prepare for postpartum on your own, I am also here to help with anything.
- In addition to being a postpartum doula and a breastfeeding counselor, I can also assist before postpartum in your planning process. Things I can help with during pregnancy for postpartum planning purposes include:
- In-home classes that include childbirth education, newborn care, and breastfeeding basics.
- Cooking and preparing broth/stock, bars/breads, soup, congee, herbal teas and bath remedies. I can create these foods with you in your home or I can create them myself and bring them to you either before birth or during postpartum.
- Making padsicles and lotions/oils for massage.
- Locating local resources and gathering resources for you.
- As a postpartum doula and breastfeeding counselor, I can assist with the following:
- Newborn and infant care education
- Breastfeeding support and counseling
- Infant and mother massage
- Emotional support
- Household and childcare assistance
Lots of love to you mommas!