Updated: Jun 14, 2022
What is a postpartum plan?
A postpartum plan is a map. It is a guide that shows you how to navigate early parenthood and recovery from pregnancy and childbirth.
No two pregnancies are alike, and no postpartum phase is the same. This means that all postpartum plans must be unique and catered to the individuals who use them. In addition, the plan you come up with will depend on your personal preferences, cultural norms, finances, employer's maternity/paternity leave policy, and many other factors.
Why do I need a postpartum plan?
Most people who haven't given birth don't realize what they are in for during the postpartum phase. As a society, we don't talk much about what we can expect postpartum, so we don't plan for it.
Some things happen in postpartum that hold true for every person who gives birth. Pregnancy and childbirth are depleting, and so everyone needs to rest postpartum. You will experience the most significant hormone shift of the human life cycle, which will trigger mood swings. Whether you've had a c-section or given birth vaginally, you will be bleeding for at least 3 weeks and often for longer. Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, your breasts will begin producing milk. Every postpartum body needs time to physically heal.
Other experiences are not universal but are relatively common and likely to occur. These include things like infant feeding issues, sore and cracked nipples, breast engorgement, sleep deprivation, constipation, hemorrhoids, pain, perinatal mental health challenges, and overwhelm.
It's a lot.
Especially when you consider all this is after you've already gone through 40 weeks of pregnancy. Not to mention the delivery.
When you plan how you want your postpartum recovery to play out, you eliminate many possible stressors ahead of time. It is much easier to have a postpartum doula already scheduled and ready to support you from the beginning than to scramble to find one when you're totally maxed out. Having your home set up as the sanctuary you want can allow you to begin resting and recovering peacefully right away. It doesn't take much to ensure you can have an easier time postpartum. But you do need to know what you're planning for and who your support people will be.
Historically, there have been practices and community support for the postpartum period in all cultures across time and place. There is a reason for this. Birth recovery is a major, life-altering event that requires rest, proper nourishment, comfort, supportive relationships, and time to physically heal and rebalance hormones.
Currently, at least in the United States, we focus so much on the birth itself, but we neglect what comes next. Postpartum might actually be the more significant event. After all, this is the time when you transform into a parent.
One of my favorite quotes about postpartum planning comes from Jojo Hogan of the Slow Postpartum movement. She says, "If birth is like a wedding day – lots of planning, high expectations, you being the center of attention, lasts around a day or so, get something special at the end – then the postpartum should be like a honeymoon – equal amounts of planning and investment, time, space, and privacy to relax and bond and fall in love, lots of people and services around to care for and look after you, and a peaceful and blissful environment where all your needs are met for a few days or a few weeks!"
Do future-you a favor. Plan for your postpartum period. You wouldn't want to skip your honeymoon!
To find out more about postpartum planning and support, contact Sweet Peas here, or give us a call at (925) 768-3720
Sweet Peas is proudly partnered with Be Her Village, an online baby gift registry that puts cash into your account to help you pay for the postpartum support you need and deserve.
You can access our BHV partner profile here.
And available now...Village In A Weekend, a postpartum planning mini-course from Sweet Peas.
Sweet Peas has released our postpartum planning mini-course, “Village In A Weekend.” This is a simple step-by-step guide to building your postpartum support system in one weekend. To learn more or to enroll, click here.