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Many people talk about their birth plans, and all the choices they’re exploring related to the labor and delivery process. How many people talk about their postpartum healing plan? Arguably, you have more control over a postpartum plan than you do a birth plan. Wherever you are in your motherhood journey, there’s always benefit to talking about how to build your support system.
1. Build Your Support Network
Think through who’s going to help you when you’re resting and feeding a newborn. This free lying-in plan from Earth Mama Angel Baby is so helpful for just pre-planning and thinking through what your support system might look like in those early weeks, when you’ll be sleep deprived and a printed reminder list will be helpful.
Other ways to plan for support
- Do you plan to breastfeed? Meet with an IBCLC prior to birth if possible to establish a relationship and take a breastfeeding class.
- Put things for you on your registry. Examples: a fund for postpartum doula hours, gift cards for a cleaning company, babysitting for older kids if needed, Doordash and similar gift cards, the Bellies Inc. Ab System for postpartum core support and healing (You can get 10% off with this link!), Frida Mom items, gift certificates for your favorite massage/spa treatment. You deserve all of these.
- Establish with a counselor or have resources/support groups at the ready like Postpartum Support International’s online support meetings.
2. Prioritize Resting
Your job for the first month if possible is to rest, nourish your body, and nourish your baby. Preparing nutrient-dense freezer meals in advance is one of the best ways to do this if you don’t have a mom/auntie/sister coming to cook all your meals for you for a month.
In addition to eating well, hydration is key for lactation and keeping your body working well. LMNT is my favorite no-sugar electrolyte drink. I personally drink it daily.
Use Lily Nichols’ books for reference on nourishing meals. And maybe share recipes with people who want to make you meals post birth. Think: lots of collagen and fat. Soups and stews your grandma would make you.
Read The First Forty Days. I believe this book is essential for learning about just how important the postpartum period is. It provides incredible insight into how to heal well, and rest how you should during this “fourth trimester.”
Give your body grace. You just completed the most challenging, labor-intensive, mentally-demanding feat of all humanity. You brought another human into the world. It took you approximately 10 months to grow a baby, so it should at least take that long to recover. You’re a new version of you, and it takes time to explore what that means. Having abundant grace and love for yourself in this period will serve you well.
3. Return to normal life slowly
Know that however you choose to parent, sleep, feed, and care for your baby, you’re doing a good job. Being a parent is a hard job, and there are many ways to do it!
Journaling and writing down your questions for your provider is helpful for when you’re sleep deprived and can’t quite remember what you were thinking at that 3 am feeding.
As far as exercise goes, there is step-by-step guidance in the Core Confidence Program that comes with the Bellies Inc. Ab Wrap, my online Postnatal Core & Floor Reset Course, as well as in the interview with Julia Di Paolo, Pelvic Floor PT, on the Resource Doula Podcast.
My top recommendations for early postpartum movement:
- Spend lots of time on the floor with your baby, which helps you mobilize your hips in new ways, and getting up and down off the floor will build strength.
- You simply start with breathing, and slowly progress from there. Glute strengthening is one of the keys to a better core. Think: bridges, clams, leg lifts.
- Walking is a great exercise. Get outside for short walks (10-15 minutes) around 2-3 weeks postpartum.
- See a qualified Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist around 6-8 weeks postpartum. Find one near you.
Hopefully you're feeling ready and inspired to start building your postpartum support plan.