Nine months has come and gone and you’re patiently awaiting the imminent arrival of your baby. Much of your preparation efforts have gone into being ready for birth and being ready for the baby at home with a new crib, new clothes, blankets, toys and all the gizmos and gadgets that make it feel like your new role as parent will surely be easier because of them.
As a postpartum doula and childbirth educator it seems to me that what commonly gets lost in the shuffle is the preparation for you as new parents once the birth is over and that euphoric post birth state has settled into, “oh my gosh,
I am/we are now fully responsible for this new person”. In an instant your whole world has changed and you are living in the unknown hour by hour while your hormones are also trying to adjust to new baby free body. It can be an incredibly overwhelming time.
As a culture we need to shift our parental planning from 90% birth prep to 90% postpartum prep. The process of birth is important and you should be educated about it ahead of time but the postpartum period also comes with many unexpected twists and turns that can be helped with some prep work before baby.
Here are some simple ways to get prepared for what’s to come.
Organizational planning –
Source some mom and baby groups and postpartum support groups during pregnancy. It is less overwhelming to have that information ahead of time than to trying to find it while also navigating life with a new baby.
Take time to plan what your days might look like in terms of when you can find time for yourself and have someone else take care of the baby, even if that is a 10 minute walk outside on your own.
If you have a pet, organize care for them for the first week or two after the baby arrives so you don’t have the added pressure of taking care of them too.
Physical planning –
You don’t need a baby swing right away, a baby monitor or even a crib. Diapers, wipes, diaper cream, a few onesies, receiving blankets and maybe a newborn baby carrier are good items to start with.
I’ll keep the food part simple. What would be easiest to eat with a baby in your arms? You could prepare some food during pregnancy that can be frozen or ask for some freezable food as baby shower gifts. Better yet, start a meal train with some friends!
Organize diapers, wipes and a change of baby clothes in your night table so you don’t need to go far or anywhere to change baby when you’re resting in bed.
Mental planning –
Make a list of a few people who you trust and you can call when you need someone to talk to or if you need someone to come and be there for the baby while you nap. Reach out to them ahead of time and ask if that would be okay for the next little while.
Keep a list of postpartum anxiety and depression symptoms readily available to reference for you and your support people. Often times people don’t know that they are exhibiting symptoms so they don’t reach out for help and it helps if other people are aware of what to look for too.
Have a list of local professionals who you can reach out to if you need support (lactation consultant, doctor, public health nurse, telehealth, massage therapist, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor etc.)
Talk to your partner about boundaries. It is so important to be on the same page before the baby arrives especially when it comes to things like when you are going to accept visitors.
Write a letter for your front door asking that any deliveries be left without knocking or ringing the doorbell so you and baby are not startled awake from sleep.
The point here is that there’s a lot to think about outside of what birth will be like and what type of baby monitor you might need.
We no longer live in a world where the number one priority sounds like, “well, your baby is healthy so everything is fine”. We are (thankfully) living in a time where the health and support of new parents is just as important as the baby so why not prepare for that too?
It’s likely that no baby swing is going to relieve you of the feeling of isolation at 3 in the afternoon but a friend or a support group will, so go ahead and plan for it. It’s better to be over prepared than not ready, right?