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Having babies can be weird. It can be amazing, easy, hard, traumatic, transformative, terrible, fun, exciting, all rolled into one.
From getting pregnant to a year after your baby is born (so we are talking almost 2 years) you might feel all the feels several times a day. It seems weird that we choose this. But for some reason that human being that you carried inside you and now carries your heart with them, is totally worth the ups and downs and ins and outs.
As Doulas, April and I have learned a lot about how to help you make these 2 years more enjoyable and less stressful. One of those ways is to have a Postpartum Plan.
Yup. We are trying to make Postpartum Plans just as popular as a Birth Plan. We want you to think of the PostPartum Plan as you would a Birth Plan. Why are you making a Birth Plan? I hope your answer is along the lines of,
"The birth of my baby is important to me and I want all of those involved in the process to be on the same page and accept and listen to my wishes as much as possible."
you might also say something like,
"I know that birth plans don't always go as planned, but in the process of becoming educated about how I want my birth to unfold, I am empowered with information and I know how to stand up for myself and then I can have the most positive experience possible."
This is how we want you to feel about a postpartum plan. A postpartum plan helps you to feel educated, supported and honored during the few months after having a baby. This is a truly important time for the both of you. Your 3 main jobs for at least a month after having your baby is to;
I know, I know, for some reason there is an invisible "medal" for all of the women that "bounce back" right after having a baby. We call them "super woman" if they are out running errands the day after having a baby. We say things like, "you are amazing" if they are back at work a week after giving birth.
We make these judgements about these women and we are making a judgement about ourselves. And for some reason we have decided that it is good to get on with our lives as normal, even though our bodies, minds and homes are anything but normal.
It take the body 6 months to regulate all the hormones from pregnancy and birth. It take your uterus 6 weeks to come back to normal size and the wound from the placenta to heal. It can take that long to figure out a new normal with the new addition of a baby that needs so much of your love and attention.
What I am trying to tell you is this. Postpartum is such a beautiful time in your life. Especially if you can honor the space of healing, nourishment, and connection with your baby. The ability to rest when someone else is doing the laundry is the actual super power. Snuggling and bonding with your baby while the dishes pile up in the sink is also just as amazing.
Your baby grows so fast and your body will eventually heal. Creating a postpartum plan will free your mind and release your "mom guilt" so that you can do your 3 main jobs. REST, HEAL, CONNECT.
Ideally, BEFORE you have your baby or soon after your baby is born.
First, make a list of all your responsibilities inside and outside of the home.
Go through all of your responsibilities and give them a realistic time frame of when you will go back to them. I don't want you telling yourself that you are sure you will be able to "handle it". Take literally EVERYTHING off your plate. If you set this expectation for yourself and for everyone else, you will feel so much less pressure and your cortisol levels will be lower. Plus you now are in control of when you feel up to adding these things back into your life. And if it is earlier than you thought, awesome!
Second, sit down with your partner and see what of your responsibilities your partner can help you with. They need to be realistic in what they think they can do as well.
Third, ask your support system (family, friends) to cover some of the responsibilities. Now when your sister-in-law says "let me know what I can do!" you will know that you can ask her to pick up your 4-year-old from preschool at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Fourth, anything that you can't get covered by your partner or your support system, hire it out! You will be so surprised at how many people would LOVE to be paid for the things you are unable to do. If you are immediately thinking "I couldn't afford that", stop, think outside the box! If your partner is now taking on all the inside chores ask the 12-year-old kid down the street to mow your lawn for $20 bucks a week. He would LOVE that! If you need to nap and your two older children need to be entertained ask your friend if you could pay her $20 on Wednesday mornings to take your kids for 2 hours so you can rest. She will be thrilled for the extra cash!
Fifth, you might realize that particular responsibility isn't that important and it is fine to cancel for the next while until you feel more up to it.
Lastly, what in your life will trigger stress for you? Make sure you take those things into account. For example, if people staying at your house after the baby is born causes you stress, come up with a plan on how to make it less stressful. We have a common list of stress triggers you can download here
Everyone will have a more realistic expectation of you AND themselves. You all know that it won't be forever (except your partner doing laundry, see if you can keep them on that forever).
We know that things happen and the plan will have to be modified as you go along. THAT IS OK!!! Plans change. Situations change. It doesn't make the plan obsolete, just that you have to modify. No problem!
So make sure to download your free Postpartum Stress Triggers pdf and get to making your plan!
Tell us if you made a plan and how it helped.
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Education is KEY to setting yourself up for your best possible birth. Knowing your options and how to advocate for yourself makes a huge difference.
With the main reason people develop hemorrhoids is from pressure in the bottom, it seems unlikely many women will experience pregnancy and birth unscathed.