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What is a Postpartum Care Plan: Everything You Need to Know

You’ve attended all of your appointments, followed your doctor's orders with militant discipline, installed the car seat, and triple-checked the contents of your hospital bag –you’re officially ready for delivery. But how much thought have you put into what comes afterward? Just as you would write up a birthing plan to feel more confident and prepared for delivery day, having a postpartum care plan helps to secure those same feelings. In the grand scheme, you’re in the parent phase much longer than you are in the expectant parent phase, so setting yourself up for success in the long haul just makes sense. So what is a postpartum care plan? And what should you include in yours? We’ve gathered some information and suggestions for you here.

What is a Postpartum Care Plan?

A postpartum care plan is picking up where you left off with your birthing plan –it’s your goal and focuses for once you bring your baby home. The transition into parenthood can be a tricky one to navigate if you feel unprepared, having a postpartum care plan to reference with your partner can help you ease into parenthood as a united front. It’s important to note that this should be a framework and address the big issues so you’re not bogged down in the details, but can still remain flexible. If there’s one thing you learn fast after becoming a parent, it’s that your well-thought-out plans sometimes end up being nothing more than a mere suggestion. Regardless of how closely you follow your postpartum care plan, having the conversations we suggest below can be beneficial for new parents.

What Should I Include in a Postpartum Care Plan?

Parenting Roles- Establishing roles in the early phases of parenthood are important to avoiding burnout and resentment. When emotions are on high and sleep is at an all-time low, taking the time to communicate how you’re feeling seems like a daunting task. If you establish your expectations before hitting this phase it’s easier to redirect and remind yourself and your partner of your roles. Are you exclusively breastfeeding or can your partner help with bottle feeding? Who is on midnight diaper duty? Will someone handle the daily housekeeping tasks? What about grocery shopping? Establishing expectations limits the stress of wondering who is responsible for what, and the feeling of doing everything on your own. 

Visitation and Boundaries- Letting your friends and family know before delivery what your intentions are regarding visitation can help to limit the awkward or unexpected drop-ins and undue stress they can cause. If you want people to respect your privacy while in the hospital and not visit until you’re home and settled, that’s fine. If you don’t want other children visiting to limit your newborn's exposure to germs, establish those boundaries. Every single visitor will understand –especially those that are already parents. Fellow parents will remember how daunting the early days were and how unsure they felt as they settled into their new roles. After all, this time is about bonding with your baby and establishing a routine that you’re comfortable with. Anything (or anyone) that inhibits that can wait.  

Recovery- Your expectation for care following delivery is something you can discuss when mapping out your postpartum plan. Purchase items to aid your recovery ahead of time –keep them stocked and readily accessible for when you return home. A perineal cleansing bottle, Postpartum Sitz Bath, heavy-flow maxi pads, witch hazel pads, numbing spray, comfortable clothes, nursing bras, and tops, are things you’ll want to have in abundance. Plan accordingly!  

Food and Hydration- It might not seem possible to neglect basic needs like food and water, but between the rocking, shushing, swaddling, feeding, and caring for your newborn, your needs are easily forgotten. Grocery delivery services are helpful but can get pricey. Before your baby arrives, think of meals you can make in advance and freeze. If you have friends and family in the area, asking someone to set up a meal train can be beneficial –if that’s something you’re comfortable with. Hydration is critical to recovery and milk production. While you’re in the hospital you’ll have nurses steadily refilling your ice water, purchasing a timed water bottle to carry with you throughout the day is a helpful reminder to drink adequately once you return home.

Family Planning- When it comes to family planning –discussing with your partner and your healthcare provider how to navigate sex in the postpartum period is super important. Do you want to become pregnant again? If so, how long would you like to wait until you become pregnant again? If you don’t want to become pregnant you’ll need to have a plan for birth control. Do you want something semi-permanent like an IUD or implant? Or more permanent such as a tubal ligation? If you have a c-section, do you want them to complete the tubal ligation at that time? All of these questions can be addressed while drafting your postpartum plan.

Preparing for Postpartum Emotions- Throughout your pregnancy you’ve experienced a flood of hormones and subsequent mood swings. If you thought it would end once you delivered your baby, unfortunately, you were mistaken. This rollercoaster of emotion won’t stop until your hormones return to your pre-pregnancy state –which can be anywhere from six months to one year from delivery– so preparation and supplementation during this time are key. Stocking up on our Postpartum Mood Gummies that provide essential vitamins for postpartum hormonal and emotional support is a great way to prepare for your return home. Also, having a quality postnatal vitamin with adequate Vitamin D for mood support (like our Total Postnatal + DHA) on-hand is great for your postpartum health and lactation. Plan accordingly so you can begin taking these supplements as soon as possible. 

If you’re eager to learn more about the postpartum and recovery periods, we suggest checking out:

What is Postpartum and How Long Does it Last?

Postpartum Recovery Tips Your OB-GYN Wants You to Know

Understanding Your Fourth Trimester: Just the Facts