Let's talk about after baby. (Hopefully, you have a Salt-N-Pepa song stuck in your head now. You're welcome.) If you are expecting, I'm sure you've spent hours contemplating baby's birth. You've probably taken childbirth classes, hospital tours, and, if you're really on the ball, even written out a birth plan. And all of those things are incredibly important, but how much time have you spent thinking about what comes after the birth? Do you have a postpartum plan?
Say what?! Yes, a postpartum plan. I know, you're probably thinking you can't possibly take on one more task before the new arrival. But stay with me on this one. Time spent planning before baby comes will be time you could spend sleeping after baby's here. And you'll be thankful for any extra minute of sleep you can squeeze in. So what should you consider when making your postpartum plan? Here are some helpful tips to get you thinking.
- Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed, setting up a dedicated feeding station prior to delivery is a great idea. Put together a basket that has essentials like burp cloths, diapers, and wipes. Better put an extra onesie in there, too. If you're nursing, keep a bottle of water and some snacks in there to keep you hydrated and nourished. You might as well throw in the remote control, your iPad, or a good book. Sure, you'll spend plenty of time just bonding with and staring at your miraculous creation. But this miraculous creation eats A LOT in the beginning, and you might get bored. Just saying.
- Also, if you plan to breastfeed, it never hurts to have the number of a good lactation consultant on hand. The last thing you want to do is to be frantically Googling during an emergency. A good postpartum doula will always have a list of referrals handy for you and can certainly help you with this part of your postpartum planning.
Eating (For You)
- This is so important. You need to nourish yourself with healthy meals and snacks postpartum to keep your energy up and your recovery moving along. Of course, calling in a pizza is easy (and, if we're being honest, delicious), but you don't want to subsist off take-out alone. So, around 34 or 35 weeks, start to stock your freezer with meals that can be reheated later. If you're making soup for dinner one night, double the recipe and stick half in the freezer. On a Sunday or any day when you have some extra time, put together a lasagna or other casserole and then, that's right, put it in the freezer. If you can do this once or twice a week leading up to delivery, you will be well-supplied for that first month or two postpartum. And if you're scratching your head for ideas, Motherline's Pinterest board has you covered.
- If this sounds like too much work, then consider a meal train. I know you have that one super-organized friend who is dying to help out in some way. Point her to a website like this one or this one and then watch her go! You'll be rolling in casseroles, quiches, and other tasty items for weeks after delivery.
- It's important to really spend some time thinking about where baby is going to sleep when you come home from the hospital. I know that your nursery would knock Martha Stewart's socks off, but how often will your newborn actually sleep in her crib during the first few weeks? The answer: not much. The reality of newborn sleep is not nearly as pretty as that fancy, new crib. Your new baby will most likely be up every 2-3 hours to eat, around the clock, for weeks. To save your sanity, consider a co-sleeper, Moses basket, or pack-n-play, so baby can sleep in your room during the newborn phase. The less up-and-down you have to do at night means the quicker you can get back to sleep. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends room-sharing to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Check it out here.
- It's also worth planning out now how you and your partner are going to tackle those sleep-deprived nights. Will you feed the baby and then hand him off for your partner to change? If baby needs some extra soothing to get back to sleep, will you and your partner take turns doing this? Consider keeping a diaper-changing station next to your bed, along with some low-lighting, to further avoid unnecessary sleep disruptions. Trust me, it's better to work all of this out now, than when both of you have been running on a week-long sleep deficit.
- Are you going to welcome a revolving door of visitors from cousins to former co-workers to that nice, elderly lady down the street? Or do you want to limit who has access to you and your new family during postpartum recovery? Consider changing your voicemail message to say (nicely, or course) that the family is hibernating and you will call them back when you're feeling up to visitors. Or hang a sign on your front door that reads, "Shhh...baby sleeping," to ward off unwelcome drop-ins.
- You and your partner may also want to discuss ways for visitors to be most helpful to you. During prenatal consults, I often help families create a "How to Help" list, which consists of things like folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, allowing mom to shower, etc. I then suggest they hang this list on the fridge and unapologetically direct visitors to it when they ask if the new mom or dad needs anything.
So, now have you given some thought to your postpartum plan? Aren't you feeling more relieved already? I believe that a good postpartum plan is just one more thing you can have to help ease your transition into new parenthood. What else helps ease the transition? A postpartum doula, of course! In fact, when you work with Motherline, we spend time during every prenatal consult listening to you and helping you devise a postpartum plan that is tailored to your needs and concerns. Sound nice? Then give us a call and let's talk about after baby.