Creating your postpartum care plan is one of the most important steps you can do to prepare for your baby’s arrival. One thing I see time and time again, is parents who do everything “right” to prepare for the birth, only to realize too late that it isn’t over once the baby is born. In reality, it is just the beginning. There is a steep healing curve postpartum, that can make or break your health as a new mother. In my post Postpartum Care: Mom’s Ultimate Guide, I outline everything you need to know to have a happy and healthy postpartum experience. In this post, I will outline the important factors to consider when creating your postpartum care plan ahead of time, so that when your baby arrives, you will have everything you need, ready to go.
In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss! Learn what to expect postpartum and be prepared to have a healthy and strong recovery. I remember when I was pregnant 16 years ago, all my friends showered me with positivities and blessings and told me how great being a mother would be. NO ONE gave me the heads up that postpartum can be really hard or how to prepare. It never even occurred to me to create a postpartum care plan. After a very difficult birth, I was utterly depleted and my recovery time was very slow. Moral of this story: Prepare for your postpartum recovery at least as much as you prepare for the birth.
Organize your support system in advance. Once the baby arrives, all bets are off. It is very difficult to do anything once you have your baby in your arms. You will need help with meals, laundry, cleaning, dishes and possibly childcare. Please don’t be shy to ask for the support you will need. Relatives and friends generally love to support, or plan on hiring a postpartum doula. I highly recommend hiring a Ayurvedic postpartum doula (Ayurdoula) if at all possible. They are highly trained in the art of natural rejuvenation of mother and baby. Whatever you choose, please consider having a point person that can organize your support team for you, so you can focus on resting with your baby.
It is a good idea to have a plan in place for the first 24-48 hours with your newborn. I recommend having someone on call to start some postpartum rice porridge or well-spiced bone broth soup, once your labor is progressing. Having a strong digestive tea on hand to spark your digestive fire, is also a good idea. Are you planning a hospital or home birth? If a hospital birth, what things should you plan on bringing with you? If a home birth, would you like to take a bath with your baby after the birth? What would you like to do with the placenta? Do you want complete privacy, or would you like your support team helping directly after the birth? These questions are worth reflecting on while creating your postpartum care plan.
Create a well thought out shopping list, and buy everything in advance. This includes the essentials, such as: food, spices, ghee/sesame oil, teas, herbs, sitz-bath, hot water bottles, massage oil and insulated thermos (or two). Other things you may consider are extra heaters, electric tea kettle, blankets, books (while resting with baby) and remedies for common postpartum problems like hemorrhoids and cracked nipples.
Gather as many postpartum appropriate recipes as you can. Postpartum digestion is a big deal and can make or break a healthy postpartum recovery for you and baby. Click here to check out my postpartum recipe page.
Have you thought about receiving postpartum massage? Ayurveda recommends receiving sesame oil massage every day during your postpartum window. Self massage works, but nothing beats a Ayurvedic postpartum massage! Consider your options before the birth. It is wise to practice self-massage while pregnant. Not only is it highly beneficial during pregnancy, but being comfortable with the flow and routine in advance, will make it that much more likely you will incorporate it into your postpartum routine. Having your partner learn and give oil massage to you is even better. Or better yet, hire a professional. Most women don’t think about massage until after the birth, when they realize how much they need it. Unfortunately, it is much harder to make that initial contact once baby has arrived. Daily baby massage is 1 of the 2 most important steps you can take to ensure your baby’s radiant health. I highly recommend incorporating this into your postpartum care plan and learning baby massage in advance of baby’s arrival. Lots of mothers (and fathers) practice on stuffed animals and dolls in order to be more prepared when baby arrives.
It is important to establish a daily routine. Most likely you will feel that your brains have turned to mush, so having a regular flow to follow will help relieve undue stress. Having a daily rhythm is also very grounding for both you and baby and will help you both create a healthy pattern of eating, sleeping and pooping
It is also good to consider unforeseen circumstances. If you are planning a home birth, what if you need to get transported to the hospital? What would you like to have with you? It’s not impossible to have a unplanned C-birth, what extra support might you need then? Do you have a backup plan if your support person/team gets sick? While you don’t want to dwell on too many “what if’s”, it will serve you well to consider and plan for unforeseen circumstances.
Now that you have considered all the important aspects of your postpartum care plan, it is time to prepare your own! Pull out a sheet of paper and write out your postpartum care plan. Involve your partner if you have one. Keep it on the fridge as a reminder. I recommend having everything planned out and ready to go, 2-3 weeks before your due date. By being properly prepared, you will set the framework for a healthy and happy postpartum recovery!