So you're pregnant.
Perhaps you want to tell everyone straight away. Or perhaps you want to wait until your 12 week or 20 weeks scan before tell people or start preparing for the new arrival.
But at some point you will start preparing for the arrival. You may ask friends/relatives or just search online for 'what do babies need?'. Your list may look something like this:
It is so easy just to focus on what the baby needs when they are born, but what do you need? What is your new life going to look like when baby is here? How do you plan to navigate the first few weeks and months?
This is where a post-partum plan comes in. I recommend that anyone who is pregnant creates one.
Well there are different forms a plan can take. Perhaps you like lists. Perhaps you like spider diagrams. Perhaps you'd like to write it by hand. Or you may like to follow a template.
However you write it down, I suggest you look at the following areas.
Your expectations - take a real hard think about what your life is going to look like when baby is here. You may be thinking about brunches with friends or baby classes. But I want you to go a little deeper than that. I need you to think more about the day to day when your baby is little. Talk to other new parents. How much sleep do they get? How do they really feel? What do they really want? It may be very different to what you initially thought. If you want to breastfeed, talk to others that are breastfeeding. How often do they feed? How much sleep do they really get? I don't want all of this to be negative, just realistic. If this is your first child then I want you to manage your expectations. Because if they aren't realistic, then you may be in for a big shock. Being a new parent is THE most incredible thing but it can take some adjustment.
Social support - You will need people around you when baby is here. Who do you have that it going to support you in this transition? Mum, dad, siblings, friends, neighbours, cleaners, childminders for older kids. Social support can take various forms. And what I may find useful may be completely different to you.
Rest - How much rest do all of your household need to be able to be able to survive and thrive on the average day? How do you manage your sleep/rest? What people can help you? Again, link this in to your expectations and social support.
Food - In order to be the best version of yourself, you need to be well nourished and hydrated. How are you going to ensure this happens? Are you going to batch cook in advance? Are your neighbours/friends/family going to take it in turns to prepare something for you? Are you going to get food to order? Or is there going to be a bit of a mixture of all of the above. Often, people want to do things for you so will feel helpful if you actually allow them to do something practical.
Body recovery - No matter how your baby was born, you will need to recover from this. Rest plays a huge part. It's probably not best for you to go on a hike straight away! In fact, some recommend bed rest for a week and sofa rest for the second week. But also it is very important for you to continue with your pelvic floor exercises! Many like to get a wrap to help support the abdomen. And it is common to get a post-natal massage!
Factors you need to think about when writing your plan.
Visitors - do you want them? when? how many? how long? do you want them to hold the baby? Do you want them to wear masks or wash their hands? how can they support you?
Self-care - How do you ensure that you get all of the care that you need. Whether this is time alone, a lie in, a warm cup of tea, a shower alone or some fresh air.
Breastfeeding - What is normal in those first few days/weeks. How much support you will need. What will that support look like? A glass of water at every feed? Someone else to do all bum changes?
Sharing your preferences - It is inevitable that some people are going to be unhappy about that plan that you have in place. Did they want to hold your baby and you want the fist few days alone?