Postpartum Preparation

November 13, 2023, cassieley

Happy mom in white blouse holding baby in strawberry patterned outfitA few days after giving birth, my midwife came to check on me and my newborn daughter. When she asked how we were doing, I remember replying, “Good! I didn’t know postpartum could be so good!” I had heard so much negativity surrounding postpartum, from dealing with the physical recovery from giving birth to the mental and emotional challenges of such a sudden and dramatic change in hormones and the learning curve of taking care of a newborn. I had often wondered how I would be able to enjoy my new baby when postpartum seemed bound to be bad.

With midwifery care, I had several visits between birth and my final appointment at six weeks, and I loved feeling supported through the early postpartum days. However, new moms often do not have an appointment until six weeks after birth. Especially if this is the case, I suggest making sure you are aware of resources in case you need assistance during that time.

  • Do you know of an IBCLC (international board-certified lactation consultant) who can support you through breastfeeding?
  • Is there chiropractic and craniosacral care in your area for your baby?
  • What mental health resources are available should you need it?

Health Visitor Talking To Mother With Young BabyKnow what resources are available to avoid extra stress if you need these services.

In addition to professional support, I recommend building a strong personal support system. When I was pregnant, I had recently moved and did not have a lot of close family or friends nearby. Even if you are not near family or friends, I encourage you to find community. I connected with people through church and a mom’s group that I joined while pregnant. Fellow mom friends can relate to your challenges and celebrate your successes with you. Additionally, older, more experienced moms often have great advice and encouragement. People willing and able to support you in your postpartum season are essential for your mental and emotional health.

Nutrition during the postpartum period is vital, especially if you are breastfeeding! I was surprised to find myself even hungrier and thirstier than when I was pregnant. Between meal trains, family cooking for me, and freezer meals I had made, I did not have to cook for the first six weeks. If people are willing to organize a meal train for you, this is a great time to accept the help. Mom’s groups and churches will likely be more than happy to help. If family and friends want to know how they can help, perhaps ask if they could bring a meal. If people are willing to bring you food, make sure they can follow any dietary needs you have, and they can stop by at a time that is convenient for you.

Meal Plan list on a blue clipboardEven if you don’t have a lot of support from people bringing you food postpartum, you can make preparations yourself. Postpartum, you will thank pregnant you if you make some freezer meals during the final month of your pregnancy. And it doesn’t need to be difficult – I simply doubled recipes when cooking dinner and froze half. Finally, don’t forget about breakfast and snacks. While I had more than enough dinners supplied, I found myself needing more filling breakfasts and snacks. Next time, I would keep my kitchen stocked with more quick breakfasts, such as frozen breakfast burritos or egg bowls. My favorite snacks to have on hand were chocolate-covered nuts, cheese, Greek yogurt, and Cliff bars. Be sure to have a plan to keep yourself well-fed!

When it comes to postpartum, think about the phrase “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” I’m glad that people are having conversations about the hard topics, but I wish I had also heard from someone that while the postpartum time can often be challenging, it can also be joyous and good. Everyone has a different experience, and your experience does not define you. Check out this postpartum planning worksheet from DONA International to guide you in preparing, and always reach out for help when you need it.