Don't you have enough work to do planning for your birth and the arrival of the baby?!
Yes, sure you do!
It is also a good idea though to give some thought to LIFE after baby comes. Here's why:
-The immediate days post birth are full of narrowly focused attention (baby's weight gain, wet diapers, sleep issues...) but there are many other things that need to be taken care of for the health, safety and security of the whole family. Planning ahead will make life so much easier. Now, you can keep that narrow focus, knowing that all those other things are being or have been managed.
- It is un known how your labour and birth will go. In other words, we have no idea how you are going to be feeling after delivery. Planning for the unknown is just plain smart. Whatever you have to face post delivery, you can rest assured that your household will keep on humming.
- Life after birth is often just plain hard…planning ahead makes it feel less hard.
- This time in your life is important; some might even say sacred and deserves some fore thought.
Here is a time line of some things you could do to help clear the path for a smoother recover.
Note: This is by no means a definitive list. There are other ways to do this. Use this as a template. Add and subtract things as you like.
SIX MONTHS BEFORE DUE DATE
Request a doula as a gift
Clearly, I am biased here…but it is so true! Having hands on support from an experienced person makes the early days so much smoother. An empathetic listening ear, solid guidance on what’s normal, suggestions and tips to make things easier- these are things the postpartum doula offers. Doula support is mostly uncovered by insurance plans (government or private) so it may be helpful to put aside money this early or to request a postpartum doula package as a baby shower or grandparent gift. Put the word out there that you find this a valuable service and you may just get your wish!
THREE MONTHS BEFORE DUE DATE
Plan your food
You will need to eat as well as you can after birth. Your body just achieved an amazing feat and may very well be sustaining your baby through lactation. What a convenient thing to be able to grab a meal from your freezer, already prepared. You can then just pop it into the microwave for quick heating or into the oven for slow heating. In the months leading up to delivery, cook your meals in double batches; one for today’s table, one for the post birth table. Soups, stews, casseroles, quick breads and muffins freeze well. And/or confirm your plans that you will have someone coming in to cook for you. Is it your mom? Your partners parent? Meal delivery services, like Hello Fresh are all the rage now and are definitely worth looking into.
Plan your sleep
Sleeping when the baby sleeps sounds like such cliché advice but it’s GOOD advice. This means being able to dive into the sleep window of opportunity when it shows up. Baby dozes off at 215pm in the afternoon? So could you! However, lots of people have a hard time sleeping during the day, so use some of these methods to make it easier for you.
Hang black out curtains in your bedroom
Try a white noise machine
Use a fan
Use and eye mask
Adjust the temperature to cooler
Practice napping during the day on weekends and holidays.
Who Will do What?
Who will do household tasks, like laundry, groceries, house cleaning, gardening, grocery shopping, bill paying, feeding pets, etc? Set up systems that help with these things- either hiring outside help, if that is an option for you or asking family and friends to chip in when things arise. It may also be helpful to make a schedule for when things need to get done and who has the honour of doing them. There are many tasks required to make a household run smoothly and this chapter in life requires even more attention- so as to free up the mind and body of the birthing person as they recover.
Mental Health support systems in place
Familiarize yourself with postpartum mental health supports in your community. Look them up, see where they are located, make a list of names and numbers. Are you a group person? A private talk person? Are you someone who does well with practical behavioural suggestions? There are various therapeutic modalities available to you if you find yourself in a place where you need to reach out for help. Explore your susceptibility to the baby blues and postpartum depression. Be honest and put some measures in place to make it easy to reach out to someone if you find that you need to.
SUPPORT FOR BREASTFEEDING
Just as with mental health, breastfeeding can be a source of challenge in the early days. For the support that you need, your local La Leche League group is a good place to start. La Leche League provides mother to mother support by experienced people and that is GOLDEN. Knowing the location of breastfeeding clinics in your area (some run in hospitals, some free-standing and some run by your public health department) is helpful too. Ask around and look online to get the names of a couple of lactation consultants.
ONE MONTH BEFORE DUE DATE
Baby stuff- READY
Get all baby stuff. Assemble and put in proper place-. Listen, I am a true minimalist when it comes to baby stuff so I am not advocating that you rush madly around getting every tiny item available. There are some core essentials though that babies do need (diapers, a car seat) and some things that although not necessarily essential, make life a lot easier (stroller, baby wrap). You want to make sure that the bare necessities are in place a good amount of time before your due date. The extras can come at any time, even after baby is born.
Stuff for you- READY
Stock up on stuff for YOU- don’t forget the grown ups in the house. Be sure you have all the little remedies we take for granted and need to have on hand if a headache, cold, or indigestion pops up. Stock up on pain relievers, stomach and cold remedies and any other first aid type things you need- what ever these look like for you, make sure you have stuff on hand.
FAMILY AND FRIENDES ON RED ALERT
Now is the time to lock down your arrangements with the folks who will be supporting you in the early days. Does someone need to book a flight? Do you need to prepare a guest room for them? Have your friends/neighbours/co-workers/family members offered to do a support roster for you? Finalize all those plans. On the other hand, maybe you need to communicate with your tribe what your wishes are regarding people visiting after the baby is home. Now is the time to do that. Some folks need as few visitors as possible during this time and it is absolutely ok to set those boundaries. Do that now.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE DUE DATE
Go get your hair done! Nails done! Get a facial and full body massage! Because you ain’t gonna be able to do all that so easily after the baby comes. HA!
Get that hospital bag set up and ready to go.
Do one last inventory: groceries stocked up, house clean and all laundry done. comfy clothes available, clean sheets on beds, bathroom clean, perineum care supplies stocked up (pads, padsicle supplies, sitz bath, Epsom salts, herbs)
EAT/NAP AND WAIT.