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10 things to include in your Postpartum plan

Because there is no epidural for Postpartum


Birthplans often get all the attention when baby is coming.   Parents think about everything, from the music they want played, to birthing positions, pain management to cord clamping.


What often gets overlooked is what happens AFTER baby arrives.


A postpartum plan is just as important because it helps families prepare for the physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes that come with parenthood.


Most importantly, a postpartum plan can help new parents feel more confident and empowered as they navigate the early weeks and months with a new baby.


If you are wondering what to include in your postpartum plan, read on for the top 10 things that you should think about before baby arrives.


1 . Who is staying home, and for how long?


The decision of how long to stay home with your newborn is personal and depends on a variety of factors such as personal preferences, your financial situation, support network, and work arrangements.


Make sure you fully investigate what benefits are available from your employer as well as government benefits.  Many employers offer a top up to government benefits, additional time off or other perks you should be aware of.  


2 . Visitors


Think about how many visitors you are comfortable with and communicate this to your friends and family. Let them know you appreciate their love and support, and if you want it, you need time and space to get to know your baby.


Most people will understand if you need to schedule visits. Make sure you choose times that work for you and for baby's schedule (be ready to be flexible! That schedule is more of a loose idea for the first few weeks) You can also ask friends and family to help with tasks like grocery shopping or cooking. This is a great way for them to be supportive, without making a lot of work for you.


One exercise you can do is prepare a list of chores or tasks visitors can help with. That way when you hear "Let me know if you need anything" you will have a ready respose!


3 . Division of Labour


Have you heard of the "invisible load of motherhood" ? By having open conversations around all of the tasks that need to be handled in your home, you can alleviate a lot of resentment! This is even more when you have older children to care for as well as a newborn.


What are these tasks? List them all, from feeding, burping, bathing and changing baby to daytime soothing, nighttime soothing, meal prep, grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, dishes, walking the dog, filling out school forms.....the list goes on and on. Then spend time having HONEST discussions about how these things will get done, or what you can let go.


4 . Sleep


New parents seem to worry about sleep, more than any other element of baby care. Its important to remember that babies can't and shouldn't follow our adult sleep schedules.


Parents might need to get creative to make sure that everyone can get enough rest.   Some parents decide that one will feed the baby, and the other can burp, change and resettle for sleep.  Others decide that one parent will handle nights and the other handle days.    

Some key questions:


What might happen that could make you rethink your plan?


Will your plan change when one partner goes back to work?   Will it be the same on work days and non work days?


Lastly, is there someone who can come periodically to make sure everyone gets enough sleep.


5 . Feeding baby


This is a big decision for new parents, and one that requires preparation and flexibility! Breastfeeding or bottle feeding both require support and care.


For parents who want to breastfeed, a breastfeeding course can be extremely helpful.  Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn't mean it is easy! It's a learned skill, both for baby and parents.  A lesson on formula, sterilization and bottle preparation is appropriate for parents who will be formula feeding.  You can take courses before baby arrives, to help you be as prepared as possible!


Most importantly, making sure that you are supported in your choices is critical for success. Make sure you line up support before the big day!


6 . Mealtime


Not for baby, but for the rest of the family! Who is going to be cooking and cleaning up for the family after the baby arrives? Have you stocked your pantry with postpartum healing essentials, like bone broth, oats, rice, spices and whole grains. Food should be soft, warming and easy to eat (and digest).


Now is the time to prepare some meals to freeze, organize a meal train, and make a list of grocery stores and restaurants that deliver. You may find that reaching out to friends and family will provide you with plenty of nourishment.


7 . Siblings


The number one question I get from parents expecting a second child is - how to prepare their first one. Even the most enthusiastic big sister or brother can be very disappointed by the reality of a newcomer taking all of the attention of their parents. Spend some time thinking of ways to help your child(ren) with the transition.


Questions to ask:


Will your child(ren) be returning to school/daycare?


What are ways they can bond with their new sibing?


How can you carve out special one on one time with your child(ren) after the baby comes?


If you need more help, check out my blog post on siblings here.


8 . Pets


They know something is going on. Preparing your pets doesn't have to take a lot of effort, a little planning will help them have a smooth transition from a pet centered life, to being one of the pack. Stock up on pet supplies and arrange help to take care of them if needed for the first few weeks.


Never leave your baby unattended with your pet.


Start using gates to get your pet used to certain areas of the house being off limits before baby arrives.  With the exhaustion that comes from having a newborn, you don't want to start training your pet all over again.


Keep the door closed when baby is sleeping.   If you plan on co-sleeping, and your pet is used to sleeping with you, then before the baby arrives is the time to start the transition.


9 . Self Care


This is often the HARDEST question that I ask new parents. What do you do that brings you joy? How can you recharge?


You were an individual before you were a couple (if you have a partner) and before you became parents. Take some time to think of ways you can find calm and rest, what makes you feel loved and appreciated and what you can do for yourself to find joy.



And showering is not self care - basic hygiene is not self care (although it might feel that way sometimes!)



10. Resources


It takes a village, but we don't usually live in one, and they don't magically show up with the baby. Everyone needs help sometimes, and new parents more than most people.


Who do you know who also has young children or babies? Are there local parent groups or other organizations that can help?


Who are you going to call if (when) something doesn't go according to plan? Just having intro meetings or checking out some professionals will take a big weight off your mind if you need them.


Think about a

Lactation consultant

Pelvic floor physiotherapist

Pediatrician

Nutritionist

Mental health support

Postpartum doula (of course!)


YOU CAN DO IT!


Writing a postpartum plan is a lot of work, but once you do it, you can sit back and know that you have made every effort to prepare yourself for the future.


It is worth repeating - babies don't always follow our plans!    Once your newborn arrives, you may find you don't need all of the resources you found, and you might have missed something you do need. 


Breathe deeply.


It's okay.   


By creating the plan, you are creating a solid foundation for welcoming your baby.      Congratulations, and enjoy the ride.

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Hi!  I"m Cara Benvenuti, the "Doula in Chief" at Lakeshore Doula Services.  I am so thrilled to be following my heart and calling as a doula!  I spent 25 years of my life in finance at some of Canada's largest financial institutions in a variety of roles from advising people on their mutual fund portfolios, to supporting investment management firms.   My goal is to empower women and families to make good financial decisions, and be supported in the journey of new parenthood.

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