Like pregnancy and labour, the postpartum period brings with it many new challenges. Not only are you nurturing a new life, but you’re also recovering from the epic feat of childbirth, which takes a significant toll on both your physical and emotional wellbeing. While this time may be taxing, planning this period early on in your pregnancy can prepare you for a smoother, more comfortable postpartum recovery.
1. Write it ALL down
With so much going on, it’s easy forget items you’ll need for yourself after the birth. From important contact numbers to postpartum essentials, clear your head of all the necessities by writing (or typing) it all down. Research everything you’ll need for the postpartum period and make a list, separating your needs from your newborn’s. As your pregnancy goes on, tick off each task and must-buy item one-by-one.
This process can not only prepare your new family with all the physical necessities, but it can also help you feel mentally ready for the recovery period. Having everything you need easily accessible encourages you to deliver with confidence and eliminates any frantic, last-minute shopping trips. If you can, complete this to-do list as early as possible so you can minimise stress in your third trimester and focus on resting and preparing for labour.
2. Cook in quantity
“That’s way too many frozen meals,” said no new parent ever! When making dinner throughout your pregnancy, cook your favourite meals in larger quantities and divide them up into labelled containers. These will be especially useful when pressing the START button on the microwave is about all the energy you can muster up for cooking. When there’s no time to slice, stir or sauté, your future self will be grateful for the range of home-cooked meals packed in your freezer.
3. Prepare to let go
Prepare to dial down your expectations: your hair might go unbrushed and the clothes may go unfolded for a little while. During the postpartum period, you’ll need to give both your mind and body time to recover. This means sleeping when your baby sleeps, proper nutrition and hydration and prioritising your personal needs – all of which rely on letting go of your usual to-dos like, polishing the kitchen bench and looking semi-decent (nobody expects a new mum to be looking their finest). Gradually, the chaos will subside, your body will begin to heal and you’ll find your parenting rhythm.
4. Use your nesting energy productively
Once you’ve bought the necessities and tackled all the essentials, like building the nursery and installing a car seat, ask yourself what else you’re going to need after the birth and what you’ll appreciate having prepared earlier. This could mean stocking the pantry with staples, washing blankets and linens, or making a kit for postpartum body care. Think soothing sprays, nipple balms and warm compresses, and have everything ready to go for when the time comes.
5. Establish your support base
Support comes in various forms. Whether you need someone to shop for groceries, watch baby while you shower or get the breast milk out of your hair, communicate your needs with your partner and keep them aware of how your recovery is progressing. Remember that if you’re feeling overwhelmed or you need some quiet time to yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for it. The postpartum period can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so be sure to establish your support network and accept all the help you can get.