This past weekend I set about sharing postpartum plans with my partner and parents. The conversations were great opportunities to discuss our expectations, reflect on what worked last time and problem-solve some sticky areas. As the time for postpartum planning winds down I find myself feeling nervous and excited about what the postpartum period will bring, and I am trying to settle into this waiting period with peace and anticipation.
Expectations – Since we’ve been through this before (my parents stayed with us for about 10 days after the birth of my first) we have some idea of what works and what doesn’t. That also means we are all coming into this postpartum experience with different expectations. What became clear in the process of sharing postpartum plans is that everyone brings their own perspective and they do not all match. We were all present for the postpartum period the first time, but we have all taken away different memories. Even though it feels selfish at times I’ve tried to be really clear about what I hope the postpartum period will look like. These conversations are of course complicated by the fact that I don’t know what it will be like with a toddler. I also don’t know what my mood and physical recovery will be like. So things that worked and felt necessary last time may not be relevant this time. After a 45 minute conversation with my parents I feel like we are only slightly more clear on a plan, but that’s ok.
Here are some things that I shared.
- My hope is to mostly stay in bed and snuggle with the new baby in the first week.
- It was really helpful not to have to think about food and to have people just cook, shop, and meal plan.
- I would like to spend time with my 3 year old and hope to do so by reading books, watching videos, or playing a little in bed while new baby is sleeping.
- It’s really important that my 3 year old doesn’t feel totally replaced by new baby so I hope she gets lots of extra love and attention from grandparents. We also want to make sure she’s still getting attention from mom and dad.
- I’ll try to put a list of helpful things people can do on our fridge like cleaning, walking the dog, making food.
The most helpful things I heard from my parents were:
- We are basically your servants for the time we’re there so we will do whatever you want.
- Just let us know if things are working.
- If there are times that you need a break from us just let us know.
- Please don’t worry about offending us or hurting our feelings – we want to be helpful.
- Do you have freezer space for the food we’re bringing?
What I am learning about sharing postpartum plans is that there is really only so much you can plan for. We’ve got some general guidelines, but so much still seems up in the air. That can be challenging for all parties involved, especially for a family that sort of likes to have things planned out. I think the most valuable part of sharing my postpartum plan is just practicing having conversations about sticky issues. I know that my parents come up to help with a vision of what they will do and some ideas of what will be helpful. In the same way my partner and I have these ideas in our head too. So, talking them out ahead of time helps everyone get on the same page and clarify any misunderstandings. Having these conversations ahead of time also helps us lay the groundwork for having similar conversations in a more stressful time.
At 39 weeks pregnant I am running out of planning time. My partner and I have talked through our hopes and expectations for the postpartum period. I’ve put many meals in the freezer, I’ve collected all my postpartum supplies, and I’ve shared my postpartum plans with those that will be supporting us immediately after birth. All that is left to do is relax into the space of waiting for baby to arrive. During this time I am working on being healthy, getting rest, and opening myself up to all the possibilities of birth and postpartum. Next time you hear from me our baby may have already arrived! If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter click below so you stay up to date on all the NMP updates.