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Here's How to Create a Postpartum Care Plan

Here's How to Create a Postpartum Care Plan

Creating and sticking to a postpartum care plan can help alleviate the stresses of being postpartum—even in a pandemic.


According to board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist Jessica Madden, M.D., Aeroflow Breastpumps recently surveyed 394 women about their postpartum recovery experiences and found that 50 percent of moms did not feel prepared with an adequate postpartum care plan, for what to expect, and how to care for their bodies in the first six weeks postpartum. Giving birth is no picnic. And while the result is a one-of-a-kind baby that’s yours to care for and love forever, many new moms feel more overwhelmed than they could have ever imagined. The weeks and months after welcoming a baby are special in so many ways, but they’re also a time when a new mother is in need of an adequate postpartum care plan

Added to the usual challenges and uncertainties are the stress and limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put new moms at a greater risk of developing postpartum mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Parents may have fears and worries about health and finances like never before, coupled with limited in-person support, Dr. Madden says.

What’s more, breastfeeding, lack of social support/isolation, newborn care, and complications/concerns with postpartum healing are also at the top of the list for what many new moms struggle with during the postpartum period. And without the proper care and education, both of which may be harder to come by during the ongoing pandemic and social distancing, even more women are at risk for these types of issues.

So what can new and expecting parents do to set up a postpartum care plan to make all of this a little easier?

Prepare ahead of time

You may want to construct a postpartum care plan 4-6 weeks ahead of your due date to coordinate help in conjunction with quarantining or social distancing. If you want a grandparent or other caregiver to assist you at home, ask them to quarantine for the recommended two weeks before watching your older children, and then quarantine yourself, your partner, and your new baby once you’re home from the hospital in case you inadvertently bring home the virus. Think about how you’d like to manage meals, cleaning, errands, and childcare and then discuss with your partner who will take care of everything and how they will do it safely and responsibly. Then schedule regular self check-ins throughout your calendar, every couple of days or so, to see how you’re doing.

Be gentle and kind with yourself

Now is the time to give yourself a healthy dose of patience and understanding. Set expectations low and appreciate the fact that you have more going on now than ever before, with less than normal, if any, assistance.



“Remember that you are in the midst of one of the biggest physical and emotional transitions of your life,” Dr. Madden says. “Try your best to view this postpartum period as a time for rest and recovery.”

This means putting aside productivity goals and instead sleeping as much as possible (including when the baby sleeps if you can!), getting outdoors for some fresh air and movement outside of the house, and practicing self-care in whatever ways feel good to you, whether it’s taking a quiet bath, reading a good book, or chatting with a friend on the phone.

 

Ask for help.

Reaching out and requesting help is sometimes easier said than done. It can be hard to rely on family, friends, or professionals, maybe for the first time. But asking for assistance is key to saving your sanity and making the postpartum period more manageable.

“If you have a tough time asking others for help in real time, let loved ones know that you will need their help during postpartum before the baby arrives,” Dr. Madden suggests.

You might ask your partner to help with specific household or baby tasks ahead of time, or enlist extended family, friends, or neighbors in a meal train to drop off food for your family. Having these conversations early and often will help you get into the habit of requesting and accepting help.

Go online.

Do some online research to learn about and take advantage of resources for new moms, Dr. Madden says. This can include virtual visits for lactation and breastfeeding support, like the brand new service SimpliFed, therapists who specialize in maternal mental health, such as Postpartum Support International, and online support groups and sites for parents of newborns and women navigating the fourth trimester. 

 

Ask lots of questions.

Take the time to ask your OB or midwife any questions about your postpartum recovery during any virtual or in-person visits. Dr. Madden recommends questions such as:

  • What are the normal changes that my body will go through during this time, and what changes/symptoms should I consult a you or another medical professional about?
  • What supplies should I stock up on to help with postpartum healing?
  • Are there medical devices I can use to help with recovery?
  • What signs of postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety should I look out for?
  • How can I best prepare my partner and loved ones to help me during the first six weeks postpartum?

Taking these types of proactive measures may help new mothers prepare for recovery. In fact, Dr. Madden is hopeful that postpartum care plan after the pandemic will include more frequent check-ins from health care professionals, ensuring that new moms have the necessary support in place to help them through this vulnerable time.

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Whitney C. Harris

Author: Whitney C. Harris is a freelance writer and NYMetroParents' Manhattan and Westchester calendar editor. She lives in Sleepy Hollow, NY, with her husband, a toddler, and a dog. See More

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