Post Birth Plan
Preparing For Postpartum Recovery
You’ve spent 9 months preparing to meet your babe. You plan, prepare, and dream about your birth and those moments of first meeting your child.
You create your birth plan, select your support team, maybe even prep some meals for the first week postpartum.
However, something we don't help mothers prepare for very well is their postpartum recovery.
The postpartum period is a time of tremendous adjustment. It’s very common to have high highs and low lows during your transition period. It’s common to miss your old life while being entirely in love with this new little human.
Developing a post-birth plan might help with this transition.
For comparison, mothers and babies in China receive 30 days of total support. Food is brought to them so mom and baby can rest. In Indonesia women get 40 days of support and care. In addition to having their physical needs me, mothers are gifted with rituals to help mark their transition into motherhood. The mother's midwife visits her daily and offers full-body massages, therapeutic baths, and healing herbs.
Moreover, in the United States, we get one 15 minute visit at six weeks postpartum!
Let's develop your post-birth plan, so you have physical support and emotional care as you transition into motherhood. Here are several questions to take with and guide you as you prepare for your postpartum recovery. These questions start at the very beginning of your journey and extend to 6 weeks and beyond.
Post Birth Plan
1. Do you want skin to skin immediately after birth?
The benefit of immediate skin to skin is physiological and psychological. Your baby will regulate its heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and blood sugar via your body. Your chest is your baby's new incubator. If your baby comes out and needs resuscitation or additional support to make the transition to life outside the womb, most interventions can be done skin to skin. Find out how your provider approaches this type of scenario.
2. Would you like to delay newborn procedures to protect skin to skin time?
You can request for all newborn procedures to be done skin to skin. There isn't any need for baby to be taken away, other than to get a birth weight.
3. Do you want visitors within the first 6 hours of giving birth?
Think through who you would like present after giving birth. Do you want to bond as a family? Do you want to shower and relax before having visitors? Set some ground rules with your family or friends before you give birth so you don’t get any surprise visitors right after you deliver! Or designate a family member or friend to be in charge of ‘directing traffic’ so you don’t have to think about who is coming to visit.
4. Who is bringing you food?
Yes. Food. It’s so important. Go ahead and dream about that first meal after giving birth. It’s heavenly. Designate someone to be on food duty so you don’t have to think about who is going to cook, run out, or order in a meal.
5. Will you have access to a lactation consultant?
Most hospitals have at least one lactation consultant on staff, but typically they don't see every mom, only the ones with breastfeeding complaints. If you deliver outside the hospital setting, you may have to coordinate with an outside lactation consultant for support if needed. Some breastfeeding classes are helpful and informative, while others are not. I would recommend learning more about breastfeeding before the arrival of your infant so you know what's normal and what should be evaluated by a lactation consultant. *I do offer in-person or virtual breastfeeding courses.
6. Do you have a NuRoo shirt to do skin to skin while being hands-free?
The NuRoo shirt is a game changer for postpartum recovery. You get to bond and be close to your baby, while also being able to feed yourself.
7. What’s in your birth bag?
Some suggestions: shampoo, conditioner, slippers, hair brush, herbs that support postpartum recovery, your favorite foods or teas. Most hospitals provide you with ice packs, belly support binders, lanolin, breast pump if needed for in-hospital use, medication for pain. If you are delivering at a birth center or have a home birth, check with your provider on what postpartum items for which you should be responsible. Please take a look at my postpartum essentials list for more ideas!
8. If you give birth in the hospital, how many days do you want to stay?
Some hospitals require at least 24-48 hours, while others allow you to leave earlier if you and baby are stable. Some women like having care around the clock as they recover from delivery and get to know their newborn. Others would prefer to be in the comfort of their own home. Talk to your provider ahead of time to get a realistic picture of your time in the hospital.
9. What happens if you and baby are separated?
Talk to your provider about how they manage a NICU admission if this were to happen. In the unlikely event that you and baby separate after delivery, start pumping within the first 6 hours, ask about early skin to skin (it's best for you and baby even in NICU!), and expectations for feedings while in the NICU.
10. If your hospital offers to take the baby to the nursery for the night, should you take them up on their offer?
If you are planning to breastfeed exclusively, it is best not to have your baby go to the nursery. While it may be nice to get a few hours of sleep, early separation can impact your milk supply causing long-term milk supply issues. The first month of life, your baby should eat as frequently at the breast as he or she likes. It will set you up well for the coming months!
11. What kind of help do you want at home?
Are you comfortable having others in your home to help you adjust? Do you like time to yourself? We like to say "sleep while baby sleeps" to help you recover from birth, but that can be difficult to manage if you have other kids in the home or if you have a hard time relaxing with others in your house. Imagine how you want meals, cleaning, baby care, self-care to go when you get home. You might change your mind once your baby is here, but taking a bit of time to think through what your postpartum support will look like is a great place to start.
12. Find three people you can call for help throughout the first year of life.
It will be tremendously helpful if you have three people you trust and can rely on for back up during your baby's first year of life. This may be a grandparent, a sibling, a friend, a mom you met in your birth class. As long as you feel you can call them, voice your need, and receive in-person support, you'll be in great shape. If you recently moved or aren't in a position to obtain help from those you trust, there are postpartum doulas, postpartum support classes, and baby classes where you can reach out for help. There's also me :) I'd be happy to assist you as you transition into motherhood by supporting you one on one or by helping you find support locally.