When you’re expecting a baby, a lot of the planning tends to revolve around the things you think you’ll need: a crib, a change table, a breastfeeding pillow, a pump, bottles, sterilizer, how many sleepers and onesies, receiving blankets, diapers, wipes, a stroller, car seat…the list of things you could buy in preparation for a baby’s arrival is endless.
While you do need some of these things, I’d suggest it’s more important to stick to the basics when it comes to stuff (you will have a better idea of what extras you truly NEED after baby arrives) and plan for what your day-to-day life will look like after baby arrives, or what I call postpartum planning.
I’ve written before about why it’s important to do this: the short of it is because cultures that support women more during this time have lower rates of postpartum mood disorders. Where I live, 1 in 4 or 5 women will suffer from PPD. (Of course, just because you have support doesn’t mean you won’t get PPD, or if you don’t have support, that doesn’t mean you will. But the two are often tied together.) And planning doesn’t mean everything will go perfectly, but it does increase the likelihood of mom feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and isolated, which means she’s more likely to feel peace and joy in motherhood.
So, what does postpartum planning look like? To start, think about a regular day/week in your house and who is responsible for what. Here are some examples to get you started:
- who buys the groceries?
- who picks up the mail and deals with paying bills?
- who takes care of housework such as laundry, sweeping the floor, vaccuming, dishes, cleaning the bathroom?
- who cooks?
- who walks the dog or changes the cat litter if you have pets?
In our culture, we often place unrealistic expectations on moms. She’s at home, so she should do all this work, right? No. She’s caring for a new baby, and that’s a HUGE job. How big of a job? Watch this video to see how many hours you have leftover in a day after you care for yourself, a baby, and do the bare minimum of meal prep and housework (hint: it’s fewer than 10 and you still haven’t slept).
So you need to think about who is going to do the above tasks: is it all going to be dad? Remember, it’s a hard time for dad, too, after baby is born, so he can’t be expected to take on it all. If that ends up being the arrangement, make sure you talk about it first! Don’t just assume: that isn’t fair to either of you. Is there anything you can delegate to other family or close friends? If not, what can you leave? Maybe the mom can still do some of this, but not as often: maybe you can sweep the floors every two weeks instead of once a week. Maybe you can hire a housecleaner once a month. Maybe you order takeout more often. It is an intense but short season: it’s not forever. Housework will keep, and eventually it will be easier to do some of these tasks (think babywearing!).
After you’ve thought about household tasks, try to imagine your life with a baby (which I know can be hard to do until your baby is here – here are some tips on what to expect from a new baby):
- do you want visitors right away? (If you do, ask them to bring a meal when they come! If you don’t want visitors, no apology necessary! It’s your home and family.)
- how are you going to feed baby?
- cloth or disposable diapers?
- where is baby going to sleep? (your baby might dictate this to you!)
- who gets up with baby in the night? (if mom’s breastfeeding, that might be your answer, but maybe dad changes baby first and then returns baby to mom, as an example)
- how will you ensure mom gets enough rest, recognizing she’ll be waking in the night?
- how will you ensure dad gets enough rest, recognizing he might be getting broken sleep but still going to work an eight-hour day outside the home?
- who will mom call if she’s having a really tough day?
- how does the family ensure mom has time for self-care?
I encourage families to create lists: lists of household chores for people to do when they come over; lists of groceries you need; lists of activities older children like to do; lists of healthcare and postpartum professionals mom might need (think lactation consultants, pediatrician/family doctor, pelvic floor physiotherapist, chiropractor, public health nurse, postpartum doula, etc).
Even if you’ve already had a baby, I would encourage you to do this exercise, but instead try to imagine life with a baby and another child, and reflect back on your first experience. What would you have liked to have done differently? What worked?
Whenever I present to new or expectant moms, I tell them it is a strength, not a weakness, to ask for help. I can’t say this enough. Whether you are hiring help or getting help from a family member or friend, you should never feel bad or that you aren’t a good enough mom because you are asking. It’s the opposite: by acknowledging you need help, you are taking care of yourself, and that’s how you will have the energy to take care of others. You are also helping to change the stigma around asking for help and paving the way for moms who come after you: the more we all acknowledge we need help, the easier it is for us to ask.
Motherhood can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone.
If you’d like a FREE postpartum planning outline or a sample postpartum plan, message me below with your preference, and I’ll send it your way!