It is easy to focus on the event of giving birth, but after the baby comes, you will need time to recover. You should only be taking care of yourself and baby. It is easy to find yourself doing too much then become exhausted which can lead to problems with increased bleeding, bonding with baby, establishing breastfeeding, developing infections, and/or illness. Planning ahead for this transition is crucial in the your healing process. You still need to eat nutritious meals, hydrate and get plenty of sleep to recover. It can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions to prepare for recovery time:
Child Care/Work Arrangements
Have I made plans for a leave of absence from work? This not only includes an out of home job but includes your job as a mother or homemaker. What about your husband? How much time off will he have? If you have children, who will be caring for them? If family or neighbors are not available to help, consider talking to your ministering sisters, the Relief Society or even hire a postpartum doula. If you have children, provide a schedule for whoever will be caring for them. Plan to have help for two weeks if you can. You may need more or less than this depending on your healing process but if your bleeding increases, you need to slow down again.
Do you have meals been planned for? Not just the first few days but what do you plan to do after the help leaves? You could prepare freezer meals ahead of time or even ask for freezer meals in lieu of other types of gifts. Be sure to let people know if you have food allergies. Also, who will do the shopping? Having a meal plan can be a lifesaver!
Consider posting a list of the household chores, where to find the supplies and who is responsible for them. If your kids are old enough, it is a wonderful time for them to take on more responsibility and learn new skills. Have them practice before baby comes so you can teach them how you like it done. Be specific in what kind of help you want and don’t be afraid to ask. Consider prioritizing which jobs are most important to have done, the ones that bring you peace of mind. Also, it helps to lower your expectations and let some things go. Housework can wait.
What kind of comfort measures will you need? You may not know if you have not yet had a baby but some women stock up on things they like for their postpartum care like witch hazel pads, padsicles (ice packs for your perineum), sitz bath supplies, breast pump, nipple care etc. The list could go on and on. It can be helpful to keep contact info handy for breastfeeding support and your healthcare provider. It is helpful to know ahead of time what kinds of things are normal for you and baby in those first days so you know when and if to call your provider with a question.
Stocking up on diapers, wipes and other baby supplies is helpful too. It also helps to have all of the baby blankets and clothes washed and ready to go.
What are your preferences for visitors? Do not feel obligated to have more than you are comfortable with and feel free to even set “visiting hours” if it helps. Your needs and the baby’s needs come first. Do not feel obligated to let everyone hold your baby if you don’t want to. You can also ask that they wash their hands or stay away if they are sick, especially if it is flu season.
If you have children already, how can you involve them in caring for baby? Involving them can help them adjust to having a new baby in the home. Be sure to let their babysitter know what their favorite activities are and where they can go for a special outing. How can you help them feel special and important? You can also provide phone numbers for their friends so they can set up play dates.
Allow yourself to spiritually recharge but don’t put high expectations on yourself. You can listen to the scriptures or conference talks or read them on a device while you breastfeed or just find what works for you. Bottom line, find an easy to maintain routine that uplifts you.
This is a time to recover and bond with your baby. Be flexible with how this plays out. Be patient with yourself and your helpers.
Be aware of Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression
How do you want someone to respond to you if you are having a postpartum blues moment? Again, be specific. Do you want them to offer to listen, give a hug, take the baby so you can nap, etc. Your care provider usually covers the signs to look for baby blues or postpartum depression but if not, you can look here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617
Write a Postpartum Plan
You have probably heard of having a birth plan. It can help to have a postpartum plan typed up for the people who will be helping you during your postpartum time.