You’ve heard of a birth plan, but what about a post-birth plan? While the birth of your baby will likely be transformative, the stuff that comes after—from feeding your baby to figuring out when or if you want to return to work—can be equally as intense. If you’re pregnant, now is the time to consider what you want for the postpartum period. That’s not to say that everything will go according to plan—probably not even close. But it is good to think through things that you may want before your life is turned upside down by the arrival of your little one.
Stock up on postpartum supplies
As your due date approaches, it might be good to stock up on supplies that can help you care for your body after baby and ease your postpartum time. Here’s a list of things to consider:
- Adult diapers: they handle postpartum bleeding much better than the biggest pads you can buy.
- Pads: once your bleeding slows down a bit, pads are great. Get soft ones with a cottony top, not the plastic topped type, as those can stick to stitches.
- Lansinoh Gel Soothies or hydrogel pads for burns: you can find these at the drugstore and they are wonderful for sore and cracked nipples, which you might experience if you’re breast or chest feeding your baby.
- Nipple butter or cream: ask for a recommendation from a friend and have some on hand for sore or cracked nipples.
- Stool softener: those first postpartum poops can be scary. Have stool softener on hand and take it as long as you need to, so that pooping is comfortable.
- Postpartum bath herbs: you can buy premade sachets that are like large tea bags that can go into the tub for you to soak in. The idea is that they speed healing, but they also smell lovely and relaxing.
- Nursing pads: if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s possible that you’ll need to catch extra milk some kind of way. Disposable and reusable versions of nursing pads are both available.
- Easy to eat snacks with protein and fiber: these is crucial for keeping your energy up in the early days of feeding and caring for a newborn.
- Water bottle: have this on hand to avoid dehydration during early parenting.
Put a policy in place for visitors now
When you have a baby everyone wants to visit, but it’s not always ideal to have tons of people descend on you as you try to settle in with your new family member. Plus, it’s especially difficult to navigate introducing your baby to loved ones during a pandemic. Plan a time to talk with your partner or co-parent to sort out who will be visiting and when and what you will ask of them before they come and while they’re with you. Does it make sense to ask friends and family to wear a mask and get their TDaP, flu, and COVID-19 vaccines before they come?
Consider where out-of-town guests will stay and which guests will be helpful or not. Make a list of chores that visitors can help with and post it in an obvious place. This list might include loading and unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, walking the dog, washing bottles, scooping the cat litter box, or anything else that you as new parents will not want to do because you’ll be busy holding, doing skin-to-skin, and breastfeeding your baby.
Think about sleep deprivation in advance
Plan where your baby will sleep and make a backup plan in case that doesn’t work. Have a realistic conversation with your co-parent about how each of you deals with sleep deprivation and what you’ve learned is helpful and not when you’re very tired. Consider implementing a schedule that allows each person to get a good chunk of sleep while the other person is on baby duty and then switch off.
Leverage your support system
Plan a list of folks who can support you during the postpartum period. Do you have a friend that would be okay with doing a grocery or takeout pickup and not expect to visit after? Do you want to hire a postpartum doula who can help you manage things at home as you settle in? Are there some family members who will be helpful and some who definitely won’t be? Plan ahead and let these people know that you’d like to rely on them after baby comes, if that works for them, too.
Know your options for family leave
If you or your co-parent work, research your employer’s family leave policies before baby comes. Know how much time off work each parent has and plan for different scenarios. If you want to go back to work soon after baby, but are having a Cesarean birth that requires more physical recovery time, what options do you have? Is there any flexibility with your return to work or will your employer expect you back immediately after whatever parental leave you have is used up? It’s okay to feel any kind of way about work after your baby comes, and knowing your options in advance might make those feelings easier to manage.