Postpartum by definition is the 12-week period immediately after you have had your baby. But it is so much more than that, and it is not talked about or prepared for nearly enough.
Preparing for postpartum is as important as preparing for birth or creating your registry.
When you’re pregnant, you spend a bulk of your time planning for baby. What do they need? Where will you put it? How should you decorate the nursery?
I find that we often think that this part of planning is preparing for postpartum, but truly preparing for postpartum is so much more than that.
So, if we dig a little deeper, exactly what is postpartum?
Postpartum is the time after your birth where you are sleep deprived, healing, learning, and bonding with your baby. You are managing new emotions, your fluctuating hormones, your new life, and your new identity.
Postpartum is a lot to manage.
If you learn about what to expect, prepare as best you can, and ask for help, you can have a much better experience.
Here are a few tips to help you with preparing for postpartum:
#1 Do your homework
Hearing other people’s stories can be helpful. Talk to people you trust and know will not push their opinions on you. Ask them about their experience, what helped them, what did they wish they knew about postpartum, how would they do it differently? Just remember that everyone’s experience is going to be very different and nothing is one size fits all.
Listen to podcasts and read books. There are so many great podcasts out there that talk about all things birth and postpartum. Find one you like and dive in. There are also some great books that dive into all things postpartum: the physical, mental, and emotional.
#2 Learn about the healing process
I find that a lot of moms forget that they will be physically healing during postpartum. Your body goes through a lot to birth your baby and sometimes you feel like you got hit by a truck after birth. Your body needs rest in order to heal, but you have to feed the baby every 2 hours. It is almost like a cruel joke. This is why preparing for postpartum really helps.
When you are talking to your people, or listening to your podcasts, pay close attention to what physical products they used to heal and what the healing process was like. What will you need for your healing kit? How can you help expedite the healing process? What does the healing process look like if you need a Caesarean birth? How can you prepare for that just in case?
Know what to expect and how to best manage it.
#3 Learn how to ask for help
We have all heard the phrase, “it takes a village.” Where is this village? Do they just show up or do you have to call them?
Planning for postpartum support is important. Ask your friends, family members, co-workers (whoever would be willing to help you out) to help support you. It can be a phone call, a food drop off, watching the baby while you shower, doing your dishes, etc. Whatever it is, every little bit helps and know that people truly want to help you.
But know that helping you is not them holding the baby; It is giving those people specific things to do.
If you do not have family locally, you can look into a postpartum doula for support or look for a local moms group to become a part of. Moms help moms, and just getting to know other moms going through the same things is immensely helpful. It is so nice to know that you are not alone and that this time will not last forever. It feels like it might, but it won’t. I promise.
As you prepare for the arrival of your baby, ensure that you are preparing for postpartum as well. The more you plan and learn about the process the more prepared you can be for whatever comes up during this challenging yet precious time of your life.