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Why make a Postnatal Plan?

A lot of us prepare for birth and make a birth plan, we also perhaps make a wedding plan. We plan for a honeymoon and a big holiday and usually a house move as well. We plan for all these life changing events and having a baby and starting a family is one of those life changing events. It is amazing that lots of us don’t think to plan ahead.

Why don’t we make a plan for life after birth? For those first few months, the fourth trimester, when you’re struggling with sleep deprivation and when it can be a bit overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make a plan as we do for other huge events in our lives?

Reasons to plan ahead include:

  • Establishing what is important to you.

  • Enabling you to explore your thoughts and feelings around parenting and newborn baby behaviour.

  • Exploring any fears and worries, anything you can look into before hand to make yourself more confident.

  • Thinking about what kind of support and help you might need so that you’re fully supported.

  • Your wellbeing and recovery matters,

  • Overall it helps you to have a more positive experience and who doesn’t want that?

Some of the topics to include in your plan could be:

  • First few days at home with baby and visitors come knocking when you’re tired and emotional. Think about who you’d want to visit you (if anyone) and when they do come, how long would you want them to stay for? Could they bring some food or do some chores when they’re at your house? Do you want to have to look after visitors when they come, getting up and down making cups of tea, whilst they hold your sleeping baby, then they leave and you’re left with an awake baby and feeling exhausted yourself? Thinking about that in advance can be very helpful so that you have only the people you want and you can even set limits for how long they can stay.

  • Think about how you can prioritise sleep, rest and self-care and what kind of things you need as a person that works for you and put those things in place ahead of time. For example, could you take it in turns to sleep / rest, could someone come and help with baby so you can both rest / sleep? What do you enjoy doing? How can you still incorporate that into your life so that you can take time for yourself?

  • Nourishing food is needed postpartum. The last thing most of us feel like doing when we’re tired and don’t have a lot of time is cooking, unless that’s your ‘go to’ happy place. Perhaps you can think in advance how you can batch cook beforehand and have a freezer full of meals you can grab. Maybe you could ask friends to pick things up for you or set up a meal train? When they visit could they bring food? If it’s possible, perhaps you could get some online deliveries set up in advance as well?

  • How do you want to feed your baby? What do you know about feeding babies and all the things surrounding that. If you’ve never seen anyone feed a baby then to be able to explore that beforehand and get an idea of how you want to feed your baby and what that might look like is a good idea. Also if you’re part of a couple then to be on the same page with this can be hugely beneficial. Having these discussions ahead of time, researching, undertaking courses, watching videos, reading books and understanding the support available will all help to prepare you for feeding your baby.

  • What practical and emotional support might you need? Who is on your team? Who can help out? If you don’t have family nearby, are there friends you can call on for help? With regard to emotional support, is there an antenatal group you can attend or is there a local group you can go to with baby and other mums, possibly a breastfeeding support group too? Somewhere you can go for support in those early days.

  • If you have older siblings it’s a good idea to think about the support you might need. Can other people help out? Particularly at tricky times, like the morning, lunchtime, tea time, bed time? Can someone help take your other child to nursery or school. All of those kinds of things that can just be hugely helpful to think about beforehand.

  • Relationships can change after baby. How might a baby affect the different relationships in your life? If you have a partner, think about how having a baby might affect your relationship and what you each might need to thrive in the fourth trimester? How can you help each other and both rest?

  • It can also be useful to have a bit of a checklist of things that might need to be done after baby is born. Think about items you might need to buy in advance and also think about local services and experts that you might need during the postnatal period.

Having a baby is a life changing event. Those early days do fly and if you can bond as a new family and have just a little bit of help and support and not have all these other pressures too, it just takes the edge off a bit. Sometimes I think the biggest obstacle to us seeking that support is feeling that it’s a bit extravagant and luxurious or we can’t ask for help but the wellbeing of everyone in the family unit is at stake and planning ahead is only going to benefit your family.

It’s always good to make a plan!

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