Mothers often spend lots of time preparing for pregnancy, labor, and that first "golden hour", but most do not prepare in the same way for the fourth trimester, commonly referred to as the "postpartum period".
Don't get us wrong, it's a great to be researching, taking classes, and doing all the things for pregnancy and birth! However, we want to see moms (and our communities) lean into the next part of the journey with just as much enthusiasm and knowledge.
Having served well over 500 area families, our team of postpartum doulas have seen and heard it all! Over time, we've been able to observe patterns in what clients have found most helpful...and what they wished had been in place before baby arrived!
What would you add to our list? Let us know!
1. Have a Plan Before Baby Arrives
Are you going to let the family see baby at the hospital? Do you want friends to wait a few weeks to visit? Do you know what to expect and have supplies on hand, for mother AND baby? Does Dad have a good idea of ways he can help? Do you know what pediatrician you'll be using and understand what decisions you'll be asked to make in those first few appointments?
(If you're feeling overwhelmed, consider taking our BabyBasics course, where we go over many of these things and more so you feel confident about making decisions!)
2. Consider Starting a Meal Train
One of the easiest ways to receive help during your postpartum period is by setting up a meal train or asking a friend or relative do so on your behalf! Our clients have used Meal Train and Take Them A Meal as convenient options which allow others to sign-up and coordinate efforts without you lifting a finger!
3. Have a List of Helpful Jobs Ready
We like to suggest that our clients have a "To Do" list ready to go for any visitors who stop by and want to pitch in! When you're exhausted, it can be hard to remember what needs to be done, so having a simple list (on the fridge or somewhere highly visible) can save you from answering a ton of questions. Focus on the basics, or things that are difficult for mom to do while recovering from birth and/or surgery like:
-Bathroom scrub down (especially the toilets)
-Do a load of dishes or load/unload the dishwasher
-Switch the laundry
-Fold a load of laundry
-Put fresh sheets on beds
-Do a grocery run
_-Start a meal or do some meal prep for future meals (chop veggies, cook meat, start beans soaking, etc)
-Vacuum the main living spacer or wherever mom is hanging out
-Organize the fridge
-Clean pump parts/bottles
-Help mom restock her nursing/diaper stations around the house
-Take the kids on a walk around the block
-Do a craft with children, or take them out to a park
4. Have Supplies on Hand
In the early days of parenting, it can be overwhelming to think about venturing out with a newborn, just to get pads or saline spray for the baby's stuffy nose. Trust us and do your best to stock up on necessary items BEFORE delivery. If you're not in a position to do all the shopping in one big trip, try adding one item to each grocery run in your last trimester. This can help spread the cost out, but also gives time to check the list and verify you have everything you need. We encourage moms to have lots of pads, a peri bottle, some sort of perineum spray, diapers, wipes, and basic paper products on hand.
5. Have Providers Picked Out and Information Accessible
People are often surprised by the number of decisions they need to make as soon as the baby is born.
Alleviate some of that and have your pediatrician and other specialists picked out. Put their numbers and addresses under contact info on your phone.
6. Mental/Physical Health Supports
This may seem simple, but we suggest writing a list of things you can do to support your emotional wellbeing. Write it out and keep it somewhere visible. When you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, work your way down the list as a way to distract yourself and redirect your thoughts. Things like: favorite music or songs, deep breathing techniques, gentle (postpartum safe) stretches, poems or religious texts that encourage you, things you enjoy learning about (documentaries, books, YouTube videos, etc.), even reminders to eat and drink.
It's easier to care for ourselves when we don't have to think much about it. Having a tangible checklist can remove some of the decision fatigue that is common for new mothers!