In the Birth Doula interviews I do quite regularly with new couples, I quickly learned that parents spend very little time focusing on anything other than the birth itself; and that makes sense! Birth is pretty all consuming. Media, family and friends tell us about the horrors and pains of birth, so how could someone possibly think of anything else?
My work as a Postpartum Doula though, has also consistently reminded me about the importance of setting aside some intentional time to focus on what your life will look like after the birth. I often advocate for the importance of preparing for post-birth, before the baby arrives, since after the baby arrives there’s no time, physically, or emotionally, to take a step back and try to organize things. The postpartum period often isn’t spoken about, frankly because no one has the energy to talk about it. Nights turn to days, turn to nights. And everyone is shocked by it. Your sister isn’t going to complain to you about not sleeping, if she had time for that, she would just sleep.
So how can you practically do it? That’s the trick. Is there any way to really know what things will look like?
Firstly, I think it’s extremely important to fill out a postpartum plan. A thorough plan, like the one I created, downloadable for free here, is a good start. A step by step plan will help you think about all those little things that can easily fall through the cracks.
Take a childbirth course for it. Make sure the childbirth course you chose also encompasses the postpartum period. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that most hospital courses don’t. It’s all very nice and well, until they boot you out the door, weary eyed, 2 days after birth- with a tiny human screaming at you. Yes, he’s yours, you get to take him home, with no adult supervision.
Hire a Postpartum Doula now. Ok, most Postpartum Doulas can’t commit before the baby is actually born, but do your research now. Find out who there is in town to help you, the going rate, and who’s recommended. Even start saving now, so you have the option of hiring later.
There is definitely some truth to the fact that no matter how hard you try to prepare for postpartum, it will still come as a shock. We can’t make transition easy, but we can definitely make it easier by preparing ahead of time. Read books, hold babies, and get sleep now, while you can. It’s going to be an exhausting adventure, but the most rewarding one, yet!