7 Things to Do Now to Make Postpartum Easier
If I am going to be perfectly honest, when I read the positive test for this pregnancy I was not moved to tears of joy, like I was with our first pregnancy. I was scared shitless.
I wasn’t scared for pregnancy, birth, or adding another tiny human to our crew, but rather for that transition through early postpartum. The first few months, and maybe year, postpartum was really hard. Beyond the big life adjustment that is becoming parents, I struggled with symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety for much longer than I realized. When we became pregnant this second time, I felt like I’d JUST gotten back to feeling like myself physically, emotionally and mentally; I was terrified of losing that.
In light of that, during this pregnancy, I’ve focused a lot of mindset work and preparation for postpartum. My partner and I have talked a lot about our first experience: what worked well for us, what caught us off-guard and where we need more support this time around. From seemingly silly things, like not knowing I’d need menstrual pads, to more serious needs like parent support groups or lactation support, we’ve put together a list of things we are getting in place now to make our early postpartum experience easier.
Early postpartum is a big transition, regardless of whether this is the first or fifth baby. It is filled with an array of emotions, wonderful bonding, snuggles and connection, but I think it’s a disservice not to share that more likely than not there will be struggles and this will look and feel different for everyone.
So you won’t find things on this list like “paint the nursery” or “buy 50 swaddles”. The goal of this list is to make sure we have the physical and emotional support to heal, connect, and navigate the tough times in early postpartum.
7 Things to Do Now to Make Postpartum Easier
1. Set-Up a Meal Train
A meal train is a great tool that allows friends and family to support you in the early days of parenthood by signing up to bring you a meal. Getting this set-up ahead of time allows you to customize when and what you’d like to magically appear on your porch. It also helps prevent 8 people from bringing you lasagna during the first week of parenting and have nothing set up for week 2 or 3.
2. Stock Freezer Meals
Stocking the freezer with a variety of easily defrosted meals is a lifesaver. Soups, stews, broth, and mashes all freeze and defrost well. We store soup in silicone bags in the freezer and pop that giant ice cube out into the slow cooker to reheat.
3. Hire a Postpartum Doula
This is well worth the investment. A postpartum doula is a trained professional there to support parents in the early days of parenting with evidence based support with infant care, feeding, physical and emotional recovery and more. Some doulas provide sibling support as well. If you’re in the Portland area check out Portland Doula Love to find a doula that meets your personality, needs and budget.
4. Make a Joy List
Make a list of activities that you enjoy; that make you feel like YOU. My partner and I both compiling the following lists: activities we enjoy alone, enjoy together, some that cost money and some that are free.
For example, listening to podcast and taking a walk is something free that I enjoy alone. Going out for brunch is something we enjoy together. Carve out time each day for something on your joy list.
5. Create a Postpartum Plan with your Partner.
Identify how you want to feel during the first few weeks, months and year postpartum. What do you want and need in place to support recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding? What does leave look like for your family? If you want guidance creating this plan, reach out to your local BIRTHFIT Regional Director for support. We walk through this exercise in the BIRTHFIT Prenatal Series.
6. Identify your support team
Who can you call when you’re ugly crying on the kitchen floor? Who can come over to listen and you don’t worry about cleaning the bathroom?
Who is on your professional support team? Midwife, chiropractor, acupuncturist, birthfit coach, therapist? Write down names and phone numbers and identify when and what would be a good sign to call in extra help.
What support groups are local to you? Don’t wait until you’re in the thick of it to start to search for new moms’ groups or find that postpartum movement class. Ask your OB or Midwife if they recommend any groups. If you’re in the Portland area, be sure to check out the parent support groups at Portland Doula Love or come hang out with me at BIRTHFIT NE Portland for all your movement and nutrition needs
7. Ask for help
Identify areas where you need additional support and make the ask now rather than in the moment. Do you have attention loving pets? Ask a few friends to take them to the dog park. Do you have other kiddos? Set-up some playdates. Consider asking for help with housework or setting up a fund for a few house-cleaning sessions.