How to write a postpartum plan
You may have written a birth plan to indicate your preferences for the big day, but what happens when you take your baby home? We help you prepare for the first day of the rest of your life.
Just like we spend months preparing for our wedding day but often neglect to formulate a plan for marriage, we put a lot of time and effort into getting ready to give birth and forget about the postpartum period.
While bringing home a new bundle is one of the most beautiful and emotional experiences in the world, it’s also a period that can be nerve-wracking and destabilizing. But with a little planning and preparation, you can take a lot of the guesswork and apprehension out of the first few months that follow the birth of your baby.
Writing a postpartum plan
A growing number of mamas-to-be are choosing to write a postpartum plan to indicate their strategies and preferences for everything from receiving visitors to preparing meals.
You can either write a postpartum plan on your own (it’s a good idea to include your partner!) or you can get a postpartum doula to help you with it. The plan can be a reference that’s only intended for your immediate family’s eyes, so you can glance at it when needed and let your family and friends know verbally what your preferences are. For example, “We read that it’s a good idea to keep visits under 30 minutes in the first two weeks, so you’re welcome to come by between 2:30 and 3:00pm.”
Another option is to address your family, friends and carers directly in your plan and have them read it. This type of plan might include an introduction that says, “We have taken a lot of time to think about our family’s needs in the postpartum period and we’re so grateful for your support during this time. If you have any questions regarding our plan, please feel free to ask.” All the points would then be written using considerate wording to avoid ruffling your loved ones’ feathers.
There are numerous printable postpartum plans online, so have a look around until you find one that feels right.
Topics to cover in your post-partum plan
Here are some examples of sections to include in your plan, but feel free to add or remove sections depending on your family’s needs.
Baby care in hospital
- Do we want to follow the standard protocol for vaccinations?
- Will our baby be breastfed or formula fed?
- Will we feed on demand or on schedule?
- Will we use pacifiers?
- Do we want frequent skin-to-skin contact?
- Do we want to receive instructions on breastfeeding, diapering, bathing and swaddling?
- Do we want to save the placenta and what do we plan to do with it?
- Are visitors allowed to come to the hospital? Everyone or just close family?
- How many days/weeks after we take the baby home do we want to start receiving visitors?
- What are the best times of day for them to visit and what’s the maximum amount of time they should stay?
- What are some tasks we could ask visitors to help with and should we consider posting a list on the fridge as a reference?
- Should we ask visitors to use hand soap or hand sanitizer when they enter the house?
- Should we ask visitors to avoid wearing perfume?
- Will we allow visitors to hold the baby?
- Should we encourage visitors to ask our postpartum doula any questions they might have during their visit?
If Mom is Breastfeeding
- Should we advise visitors that Mom may need to breastfeed at any time during their visit and that she may not be covered up?
- Should we suggest things visitors can do to help Mom while she’s breastfeeding, such as bring her a glass of water or change the baby’s diaper?
If Mom is Napping
- Should we ask visitors to help Mom get some rest by taking care of the baby if they can, but waking her if the baby needs to eat?
- Should we ask visitors to keep the house quiet during this time?
- Should we suggest other things visitors can do to help while Mom sleeps?
- How many hours of sleep does each family member need to function normally and how will we go about trying to achieve that?
- What essential supplies will Mom need in the first few weeks: maternity pads, several pairs of underwear, comfortable pajamas, water bottles around the house, healthy snacks, magazines, etc.?
- How do we plan to keep Mom well-nourished and hydrated?
- What types of music and TV shows will we find uplifting?
- What other self-care practices does each family member need to follow to stay positive and happy: bath, meditation, reading, massage, walks, etc.?
- What are each partner’s expectations of the other during this period and how do we plan to communicate our needs to each other effectively?
Meal preparation and chores
- How do we plan to feed the family nutritiously in the first couple of months: previously prepared freezer meals, healthy meal services etc.?
- Who will do each household chore and when? (create a detailed list)
- Who will look after our other children’s needs: feeding, bathing, school pick-ups and drop-offs, etc.?
- Who will keep track of our postpartum appointments and all our other engagements?
- Who will look after our pets?
- How will we ensure our children and pets accept the new baby?
List of important contacts
- Who are our postpartum care providers and what’s their contact info?
- Which family members and friends can we rely on for help and what’s their contact info?
A prepared family is a happy family. Enjoy this special time!