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As a mom who completely overlooked the warning signs of my crippling postpartum mental health that started halfway through my first pregnancy, I’m here to help you start planning for postpartum even if you’re still pregnant.
What so many expecting women don’t realize, is that their mental health can be greatly affected before the postpartum period.
Postpartum is referred to as the time period after birth until about 6 to 8 weeks after, but we all know postpartum is really an ongoing stage.
It’s often talked about like it’s a dark cloud, but it’s often overlooked that that dark cloud could’ve been following you around throughout your entire pregnancy.
You see, both seasons of motherhood (pregnancy and postpartum) come packed with challenges. Some ending in sweet bliss, with others ending in sadness, anger, and sometimes, even depression.
Understanding how your mental and emotional health can be impacted by pregnancy and postpartum is crucial for a mom to be.
The good news is that there are many ways you can set yourself up for a positive experience and have the help you need in the palm of your hands if and when needed — that’s what you’ll learn today!
Steps to planning for postpartum
I know you’re thinking, how can I plan for something that hasn’t even happened? Simple, you gather the resources and information you need so that you’re not running around searching for it in the heat of the moment. Here’s what I mean:
1. Make a postpartum plan
Everyone will ask mom if she made her birth plan left and right. Is mom wanting natural labor? Will mom get an epidural? I mean trust me, some people are genuinely interested, but others are just plain nosey.
What this question doesn’t do, is it doesn’t address the fact that mom should ALSO be focusing on planning for her postpartum experience via a postpartum plan.
Honestly, most moms I know have told me they didn’t even have one. They just “winged it”.
So, here’s some things to think about when making your postpartum plan:
- How will you and your partner divvy up your time (who will be in charge of what tasks — with baby and/or around the house)?
- Who will be responsible for cooking or getting food while you recover?
- Will anyone be free to give you a hand with your baby (who/what’s your relationship with them)?
- Do you have all the supplies at home needed to help recover from birth?
- Are you familiar with who to call for help if you feel like you’re becoming down and depressed (beyond the baby blues)?
- Do you have resources available to help you work through common postpartum challenges (such as the PPD Workbook or the Postpartum Recovery Journal)
2. Have a support circle or system in place
As a mom who keeps her circle of friends pretty small, let me tell you, I’ve never longed for more mom friends after becoming a mother myself.
There’s just something about connecting with other moms who just get it.
However, if you’re still in the early stages of building those motherhood friendships, making sure you have your partner, family, and current friends in your circle is key.
Don’t let everyone in though. Make sure to select those you can completely trust and confide in should the time arise (and it very well will happen).
3. Discuss any concerns ahead of time with your partner
Most new parents are no strangers to relationship problems after their baby arrives.
This isn’t due to ill intent, it’s just parenthood is a huge adjustment for both mom and her partner.
Some of the ways you can start working now to try and prevent some of these obstacles is to:
- Make sure you’re on the same page with one another (who will handle finances? who will handle household chores? if mom is breastfeeding, can partner take over making meals? — things like that)
- Don’t neglect your relationship. I know it seems obvious, but the relationship between parents is often the first thing to get set on the back burner. Taking time to hold hands around the house, stop for a 6-second kiss or even watch a movie together can be small bonding activities that hold your relationship together throughout this new change.
- If your relationship has already had some significant challenges, Id encourage you to seek out couples therapy or to check out Dr. Tracy D’s Be Connected monthly relationship-building subscription. Her subscription is so amazing (I know because I’m a subscriber) and has helped me connect with my husband 100x better now as parents than ever before!
4. Know who you can contact if help is needed
Did you know there are legitimate resources available for mothers during postpartum should she need more support than just a friend or family member?
The list below contains a few of those resources. Save them and keep them on hand.
- PSI (Postpartum Support International) Helpline: 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) You can leave a confidential message at any time and a trained volunteer will return your call quickly.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- SAMHSA National Helpline (24/7, 365 days/year): 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Postpartum Progress (an informative website that provides support and in-depth information for postpartum moms.
5. Be prepared to give yourself some grace
Oh mama, this one is so important. Your body and life is literally going to go through such an impactful change.
You will feel exhausted and blessed all at the same time.
This special time is one to take slow and steady. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t your “old self” right away. Sometimes, you may not find her for some time and that’s ok.
Take the time to show yourself patience, love and understanding as you recovery and journey through this wild ride known as motherhood.
Looking for more Postpartum support and tips? Look below