Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Postpartum Plan I Wish I Had

The man who officiated our wedding gave us some great advice. He said that our wedding day was beyond meaningful but it wouldn't be the best day of our lives. I was a little caught off guard until he explained a bit more. If our wedding day was the best day of our lives then that means every day after that wouldn't even have a chance. This has proven true. We've had way better days since then. Yes, it was wonderful and was the beginning of our life together, but it's just gotten better. We've grown together. We've figured out what our pet peeves are and how to lovingly navigate them. We've brought two children into the world. We've laughed to the point of peeing our pants. At least I have. Thank you pregnancy and childbirth. 
My point is that the first day of something, like getting married, shouldn't be the best day. If that were the case, what would be the point of the journey? 

So much planning goes into the wedding day without giving much thought to life after. I think the same thing happens when having babies. We spend so much energy on how we want to bring a baby into the world (#birthplad) and not a whole lot of emphasis on what happens next (#postpartumplan). I don't think we need to throw birth plans out the window, I just think we need to put more emphasis on a postpartum plan. Let's be honest, to be good mamas, we need to have good mental health. Good mental health doesn't just happen. It takes planning and work. 

My postpartum journey would have gone so much smoother if we/I had done the following before welcoming our babies into the world:

1. Researched therapists in our network 
This might seem silly, but if we would have had a list of the therapists in our network with their phone numbers, locations, etc. I would have made an appointment a lot sooner. In the midst of postpartum emotions, taking a shower or even getting up to go pee can seem like too much, so a large task like tackling health insurance was way beyond me. I would even go so far as to say to set aside enough cash for a few sessions before baby comes so that there's one less hurdle to jump.

2. Established a gratitude routine
I was a mess when I went to the doctor for my routine follow up appointment. I remember my doctor telling me that he didn't believe I was a harm to myself or the baby but there were a few things I could do to help my mental health before looking into medication, which for the record, totally has a time and place. One of those things was writing a gratitude list. I'm not kidding, the simple act of writing down 5 things I was grateful for sparked something in me. It wasn't a magical formula but it gave me hope. It set my mind on the positive when it wanted to focus on all things doom and gloom. I suggest starting this during pregnancy so that when you're home feeding your baby in the middle of the night it won't be totally foreign for you to reach for your journal and jot a few things down.

3. Picked a few people to lean on
Everyone told me to let them know if we needed anything and I fully planned on it but it seemed like a lot to think about when the time actually came. Who was the best person to call? Who wasn't busy? Who really meant what they said? I would call but they're so busy. Like having the therapist list, I suggest having a list of 2-3 people you will call on when you need help. The clearer things are right after having a baby, the easier it is to follow through. Make sure your people know they're on your list and that they're ok with it. Go as far as asking them if there are good and bad times to call on them for help. If you have these conversations before things get tough, then you won't hesitate as much to ask them for help.

4. Defined what makes a good mother
Newborns only need a few things. If baby number 3 comes along, when I'm feeling like I'm not meeting the mark I will ask myself these questions: is my baby fed? is my baby warm? have I smiled and loved my baby? have I prayed for my baby? If the answer to all of those questions is yes then I'll tell myself I'm a wonderful mother who is meeting all of the needs of my baby. If the answer to any of those questions is no then I'll do what needs to be done (feed, clothe, pray for, etc.) and then tell myself I'm a rockstar mom. Anything above any of these things is just a bonus. What do you think makes a good mother? Add those to your list.

I'd love to hear your suggestions, too. What did I miss? What worked for you? In hindsight, what would you tell other new moms?

Thanks for reading! I hope this helps new mamas and mamas-to-be because we're all on this amazing journey together.

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  1. This is so right on! I found gratitude after becoming a mother and it so would have helped during postpartum. I had a great support system of friends who checked in on me. I was lucky in that regard. :)

    1. I love love love this for you! Any tips you'd like to share? Also, sorry for the late response.

  2. What an interesting perspective on life in general. I kinda love what your officiant said at your wedding *about* weddings - though I'll say for me it was definitely the best day of my life so far! I haven't had any children, nor do I plan to, but it's really good to have this focus going into any large aspect of life. Considering the DOING is awesome, but considering what comes AFTER it's been done is also so important!

    1. Stephanie, weddings are so wonderful and we've all go to do what we want to make the day what we want it to be. I think it was maybe the most magical day to date even with having children but yes, I think it's more about the mindset. Thank you so much for reading!!!! I really appreciate it.

  3. Wow, this is very interesting. I'm not a mother yet, but maybe in the future I'll be a mom. When that moment arrives, I will consider this article. Also, I think that a gratitude routine is very important in any stage of life no matter what!

    1. Amen, sister! Gratitude lists change my entire day! Do you have a gratitude practice? Thanks for reading my little corner of the internet.