What is a Postpartum Plan and how do I write one?

Postpartum Plan

In those early weeks postpartum, time will become elusive. Your schedule will no longer be based on actual time but instead on feedings, burping, diaper changes, crying, infant soothing and all things baby related. Do you know what to expect from this time? 

Perhaps you’ve heard friends talking about sleep deprivation, extra stress, or even going into “survival mode” until someday eventually coming out on the other side. This idea of “surviving” the newborn stage is common in our society, but what if we told you that you don’t have to just survive to have a new baby? It’s true! You can THRIVE through early parenthood, and creating a postpartum plan is the first step.

You’ve likely heard of a birth plan—a tool we often recommend to our birth clients that helps to clarify priorities, preferences, and back-up plans for labor and birth. As birth doulas, we know the importance and value of birth plans; as postpartum doulas, we know that postpartum plans are just as crucial but far less thought about.

The reality is, postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders are extremely common after having a baby, and in some cases they can even be life threatening. So why don’t we, as a society, focus more on preparing for the drastic changes that come with bringing home a newborn?

The reality is, postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders are extremely common after having a baby, and in some cases they can even be life threatening. So why don’t we, as a society, focus more on preparing for the drastic changes that come with bringing home a newborn? I suspect that doing so would lead to lower rates of postpartum depression and anxiety, healthier and stronger marriages (and other relationships)and many parents feeling more confident in their parenting skills. 

You might be asking yourself, “what is a postpartum plan?” Just as a birth plan is there to help you think through all your birthing options and to communicate your priorities to your birth team, a postpartum plan will help you to clarify your priorities for after birth, and to help set you up for postpartum success. 

At Omaha Birth & Babies, we are knowledgable about postpartum options and about common needs and struggles of new parents—we can help you craft a postpartum plan that will be practical, personalized, and empowering.

So exactly how do you create a postpartum plan? The following questions can guide you in creating a plan that fits your family’s needs and sets the stage for a successful and enjoyable postpartum experience. And you don’t have to do it alone! At Omaha Birth & Babies, we are knowledgable about postpartum options and about common needs and struggles of new parents—we can help you craft a postpartum plan that will be practical, personalized, and empowering.

In the Hospital

  • Do we want to do the sacred hour?
  • Will we do delayed cord clamping?
  • Will we delay the first bath?
  • Will we do the Vitamin K, Hep B & eye ointment? 
  • Will we circumcise?
  • Will baby be breastfed or formula fed?
  • Will we feed on demand or on schedule?
  • Will we use pacifiers?
  • Do we want to encapsulate the placenta?

Visitors

  • Are visitors allowed to come to the hospital? Family only? Close Friends?
  • Will we have specific visiting times? What will the times be?
  • How many visitors will we welcome at a time?
  • How long can the visitors stay?
  • How can our guests help us?
  • Who is likely to be most helpful and who will primarily just want to hold the baby?
  • Will we ask them to wash their hands, wear a mask, or not visit at all if they have a cough or runny nose?
  • Should we ask visitors to avoid wearing perfume?
  • What role will the grandparents have? 
  • Who will we need to set boundaries with?
  • Will we ask company to leave during breastfeeding?

Self-care

  • How many hours of sleep does each family member need to function normally? 
  • What bathrooms will Mom use postpartum? Will each bathroom have essential postpartum supplies? (ie maternity pads, mesh underwear, peri bottle etc).
  • Where will Mom nurse and nest at? Will snacks and water bottles be readily available in those areas?
  • How do we plan to keep Mom well-nourished and hydrated?
  • What are my expectations of my partner during the adjustment period? What are their expectations of me?
  • What other self-care practices are important to Mom? To Dad?
  • What is important for Mom’s (and Dad’s) mental health? 
  • What professional/s will we contact if Mom begins experiencing signs of postpartum depression, anxiety, rage, etc?
  • Will we hire a postpartum doula?

Meal preparation and household tasks

  • How many freezer meals will we prepare before baby is born?
  • How many meals do we plan to freshly cook each week?
  • Will we have a meal train? For how long?
  • Will we use a meal delivery service?
  • Will our postpartum doula cook for you?
  • Who will look after our other children’s needs?
  • Who will keep track of mother and baby appointments? 
  • Who will do grocery shopping and errands?
  • Who will do the laundry and other light housework?

Bonding and caring for your newborn

  • Will we do skin to skin?
  • Will we baby wear?
  • Will the baby sleep in our room or in the nursery?
  • Will we swaddle the baby at night?
  • Who will care for the baby overnight?
  • Will the baby go to daycare if Mom returns to work? When?

Breastfeeding Support

  • What are our breastfeeding goals?
  • Have/will we take a breastfeeding class?
  • Does our pediatrician have lactation support on staff?
  • Will we use a breastpump? Which one?
  • What are our breastfeeding concerns or questions?
  • Do we plan on offering a bottle? If so, at what age?
  • Is our postpartum doula trained in lactation?

Going back to work

  • Who will be going back to work and when?
  • How will we prepare to go back to work?
  • Will we have to work from home while on leave?
  • How will I prepare for my partner to go back to work and/or vis versa?
  • What kind of support is needed for the transition back to work?

List of important contacts

  • Who are our care providers and what’s their contact info?
  • Who can we call for support when we need it? (Include professionals like doulas, lactation counselors, etc., as well as family members and friends who we’ll feel comfortable asking for help)

This is not an extensive list, but rather a jumping-off point for conversations about your priorities and needs. Feel free to expand on any of the questions and also consider any unique circumstances, challenges, or needs your family might have. Similarly to a birth plan, researching and writing your postpartum plan is often even more useful than having it. (But do keep it handy! Your postpartum plan can be hugely helpful when things get stressful, and it gives helpers like your doula helpful information about how best to support you.) Ultimately, though, the process of identifying your postpartum needs and priorities ahead of time will help you go into parenthood a little more prepared and with realistic expectations, and that alone can make a huge difference in your experience.

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