Believe it or not, a little planning and preparation can make all the difference in enjoying postpartum life. Your days may soon be full of spit-up, sleep deprivation, sore or leaky breasts. But I promise, there are ways to make those things much less stressful!
Throughout your pregnancy, you’ve spent so much time planning for a baby. Relatives and loved ones have spent their time gifting you with gifts — for your baby. The thing is, we can’t forget about you, either. As if pregnancy and parenting didn’t already have enough moving pieces, postpartum preparation is not one to skip.
How to Prepare for Postpartum Life
Now that you’re ready to take steps to prepare for postpartum life, how exactly can you make it happen?
1. Establish boundaries.
Visitors will be blowing up your phone to stop by and meet your baby. Your social media notifications will be off the handle with questions like “How big is baby?” Or, “Are you breastfeeding?” And much more. Establishing healthy boundaries with friends and family is important to prevent being flooded by your loved ones after birth.
Healthy boundaries can look like:
- We will not be accepting any visitors after the baby is born until we have settled in at home.
- We are only allowing my parents and siblings to visit us after the baby is born.
- Please do not ask about visiting the baby. We will let you know when we are ready.
- I would appreciate it if you do not ask how we plan to feed our baby.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent everyone from getting their feelings hurt. But it’s important for YOU, as you’re recovering, to set those boundaries so you can recover peacefully without any unnecessary worries or stressors.
2. Have help lined up.
You might think you have to do this whole motherhood thing on your own. I promise you, you don’t! If you have friends or family you feel comfortable with, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many things they can do to help. For example, they can watch your baby or even help you keep the house a little tidy for you. If you don’t have local support available, you can look into various ways to hire postpartum help.
3. Gather supplies for your postpartum recovery.
Recovery supplies will vary a bit depending on what type of birth you had. However, the staple supplies you will need regardless of how you deliver include:
- Peri bottle
- Postpartum pads or discreet underwear
- Tucks Witch Hazel Pads (great for hemorrhoids too!)
- Perineal ice packs (you can still be sore down there from all the pressure even with a cesarean delivery)
On top of gathering postpartum recovery supplies, you’ll want to be aware of exactly what tasks you’ll need to tackle after birth. You can check out this postpartum to-do list and start checking off those boxes, as well as make a postpartum plan!
4. Prioritize sleep.
You will be exhausted to a whole new level. I thought I knew what sleep deprivation was between working long 14-16 hour shifts in a busy animal ER hospital and then commuting an hour back home before going back to do it all over again. It was a few years after I left my field of work to the time I had my first baby. But let me tell you, postpartum sleep deprivation is a whole new experience. And I understand the concept of “sleep when baby is sleeping” sounds ridiculous, but it’s important.
It’s important because you need every minute of sleep and rest you can get in those early days — not just for your sanity but also to help your body heal and recover too! So make yourself a plan or motto to help you prioritize your sleep. For instance:
- Sleep comes before chores, always.
- If my partner is home, I will ask them to take the baby for the first two hours of the day so that I can get two hours of sleep.
5. Prepare your meals in advance.
Freezer meals will be a lifesaver during the postpartum period. This way, all you have to do after the baby arrives is throw the freezer prepped food into a crockpot, oven, or pan. Then, give it a quick cook, and bam, food is ready! What’s even better is they’re effortless to make! Need some inspiration on what meals to prepare? Check out these crockpot chicken fajitas!
When I had my second baby, I began prepping my freezer meals around the 36 to the 37-week mark of pregnancy. After my little guy was born, I had about a week’s worth of freezer meals ready to cook. If you can, I’d aim for two week’s worth of meals ready to go in the freezer.
6. Surround yourself with lots of support.
This is a little different than having help lined up. The thing about postpartum is that you may not always need physical help, but you will often need someone who will listen and be a shoulder to lean on. Many moms brush off the early signs and symptoms of things like postpartum depression for various reasons. Many moms feel embarrassed, ashamed, or alone. Support matters. Your mental health matters. You matter. And that’s nothing ever to be ashamed about.
Before baby arrives, make a list of five trusted individuals you know you could turn to for support. Then, reach out to those individuals and let them know you added them to your list of postpartum support people. If you feel like nobody you know would be a good choice or prefer not to talk about these things with friends or family, you can always utilize resources such as the PSI Helpline 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD).
7. Planning to breastfeed? Take an online class.
How many times has someone told you breastfeeding will be wonderful and feel completely natural? The thing is, it’s a brand new challenge, one you’ve never experienced before if this is your first child. And like anything new, there will be some learning curves, some big and some small. The best way to combat those challenges is to make sure you have taken a breastfeeding class. I’ve found online breastfeeding classes to be just as, if not more, informative than in-person, but it depends on your learning style.
8. Set clear expectations with your partner.
Partner roles will greatly vary once your baby arrives. You will both be learning how to parent, you will be physically recovering from birth, and your partner might feel isolated from you. All of these new changes will be happening all at once during postpartum life.
One way to minimize any added pressures on the both of you is to identify what roles you’ll be taking as new parents. For instance, I had planned to breastfeed, and I wanted my partner to help with the late-night wake-ups by changing our baby’s diaper, burping him, and placing him back down to sleep. That would allow me to wake up, feed the baby, and then go back to sleep myself. We didn’t do this all the time, but at least three or four days out of the week, he would go above and beyond helping me with those late-night feedings.
We also agreed he would take the responsibility of keeping our toddler busy while I was with the baby, or he would be the main one to cook once our freezer meals ran out. Then, once we got into the swing of a good routine and I felt healed after birth, we started sharing a lot more of the workload. This delegation helped us focus on what needed to get done and support each other throughout those early days of parenthood.
Lastly, give yourself some slack. Planning for a baby is no easy task, let alone trying to prepare for postpartum life. If you can’t knock off every item off this list, that’s okay. But try to pick your top three and work on those as a priority. And don’t forget, you’ve got this, mama.