How to expect the unexpected and still plan for it all
Getting ready for a baby to come can be a lot of fun. It can also be a bit disorienting for new parents. Where to begin? Is it just about making sure there are diapers in the home? What needs to be covered? How do you really prepare for postpartum?
You have probably heard plenty of people talking about how to develop a birth plan, an important part of your experience bringing your new baby into the world. But once the baby arrives, things get very real, and planning for the postpartum period should not be overlooked. Planning ahead and learning about what to expect can also help you to enjoy the first months with your baby more and ease some of the shock of your new reality and identity. Here are five areas to plan around and a few of our favorite tips on how to do it.
What should I prepare for postpartum?
Shop ahead for the not-so-fun items
Healing from giving birth is a bit messy and starts immediately. One of our best tips to prepare for postpartum is to have a few of the important items in the home well before you go into labor. Some of these items include:
- Sitz bath
- Squirt bottle
- Maxi pads
- Tucks pads
We have created an entire shopping list for you. Get it on our blog post “What mom really needs in the first weeks after birth” and start stocking up!
Know what to expect emotionally
One of the things that we have heard from the new moms in our community is that one of the top struggles of the postpartum period is managing emotions. Knowing that your emotions will be all over the place is a valuable way to avoid some of the stress that comes along with it actually happening. It will also allow you to plan ahead for a bit of extra support.
In the weeks and months after you may feel:
- Stressed and/or overwhelmed
- Blue, or just not yourself
Not only are your emotions likely to change, but they may also change rapidly and you may have a very hard time understanding why. When you feel tears you may be unable to explain them. You may lose your temper with your mom or partner and feel horrible because you never lash out at them.
All of this is normal and all of it is real.
To prepare for mood swings in the postpartum period first just expect it to happen. Have conversations with your partner about what you have learned about mood swings after birth and chat about how you will cope with it as a couple.
When it happens, seek support from other moms. Text someone who has gone through it. Have a phone call and one of those great heart-to-hearts that female friends have when they can relate to something so personal. Talk it out, get support, and even learn to laugh about it a bit.
Experts and professionals suggest that a woman’s mood will start to stabilize around six weeks postpartum. If you feel that things aren’t returning to pre-baby levels or are concerned that you are experiencing more severe anxiety or depression than is typical for the postpartum period, it is important that you speak to your doctor or get other help. Here are some resources for you to look into getting the support you need:
Use your nesting impulses to make meals to have ready in the freezer. Regardless of how much you might look forward to UberEats and the meals your friends may bring by, you can’t rely on either for all of your meals and you WILL be glad to have things just waiting to be heated up.
If you’re not sure what you’d like to prepare grab some ideas here.
Get help or prep your back-up plan
Babies are unpredictable, as is the process of healing from giving birth. It is hard to know what is going to happen in the postpartum weeks (expect the unexpected!). Having a list of professionals that you can turn to if a little extra help is needed can prevent a lot of stress if the situation arises.
A few numbers to have handy:
- Postpartum doula
- Lactation support
- Housekeeper (or ask a friend if they may be willing to provide a bit of backup here)
- Pet sitter/dog walker
We have put together a complete list of possible back-up to have ready on our guide “Creating a Postpartum Plan.”
Don’t over-plan or over-commit for the first few postpartum months. Even if you’d really like to just take a couple of weeks off from keeping in touch with clients or even if you’d really love to have grandma visit the first month, keep things open until you get a feel for how you are settling into your new life. Having a baby takes a lot out of a woman and taking care of one is full of challenges and requires a ton of energy and attention. You won’t want to add to your stress by adding on responsibilities that are optional. And because there are the emotional considerations to keep in mind, you want to avoid feelings of disappointment or self-judgment if you discover that you can’t do everything that you had hoped.
Just enjoy the time with your baby. Add things on as you are ready.