Simple tips for preparing for a positive postnatal experience, in pregnancy...
Can you ever really prepare for the POSTNATAL PERIOD? It’s a HUGE transition where we are navigating birth recovery, sleep deprivation, a rollercoaster of hormones, getting to grips with feeding, our postnatal bodies (the list goes on!) all whilst caring for a new little person with round the clock needs! A lot of it requires learning on the job - and a fair amount of ‘winging it' speaking from personal experience! BUT there are lots of things that can be done in pregnancy to make that transition easier and smoother… ⠀⠀⠀
Food prep: Batch-cook meals and snacks to put in the freezer and organise a big food shop delivery for that first week, with meals that are quick and easy to heat up or assemble, and plenty of nutritious snacks to keep you going. You could also get a friend to organise a ‘meal train’ for the first weeks after birth.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Stock up on a few essentials to aid recovery e.g. Giant maternity pads / pants, painkillers, peri bottles to help perineum recovery, breastpads, nipple cream, Epsom salts.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Work out a solid plan for visitors: Be clear about your needs and expectations before the birth, and don’t be afraid to say no. Factor in enough time to bond as a new family unit, and have some visitors booked in when your partner goes back to work. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Make a list of all the tasks you do daily/weekly and work out which of those can be outsourced - professionally or to willing friends and family for the first few weeks including cleaning, cooking, looking after other children etc.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you plan to breastfeed, find out where you can get breastfeeding support locally (e.g. lactation consultant, drop-in breastfeeding clinics, tongue-tie practitioner). Also check out the free antenatal breastfeeding course by La Leche League GB.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Do your research about what to expect, to understand the range of intense emotions that can arise postnatally (which are completely normal!). The early days are a rollercoaster of hormones, emotions and exhaustion. Add to that birth recovery, sleep-deprivation, and the new overwhelming responsibility of a new person to care for and it's easy to see why it can be pretty intense! Giving birth is a huge transition, and we absolutely cannot expect the same of ourselves as pre-baby.⠀
Be prepared for the postpartum ‘baby blues’. Around the time your milk comes in on Day 3 or so, you might feel tearful, irritable, overwhelmed, anxious, sad, or all of the above. This is normal and caused by hormones. It will most likely pass very soon - line up some feel-good movies and treats for these few days. And if you are struggling, help is available - have a chat with your midwives or health visitor, or reach out to the amazing PANDAS Foundation.
Give yourself permission in pregnancy, to prioritise rest, recovery from birth and bonding with your new baby - these are the most important things and more than enough to be getting on with!⠀
Make a list of 10 small things that you enjoy doing so when you get an unexpected pocket of time postnatally, just pick one from the list. Commit to having a small chunk of time for you every day (where your partner/family holds your baby for a few minutes). It can make such a difference to mood and energy levels. ⠀
Have a think about how you will be supported postpartum. Be prepared to ask for help and accept offers of support. Your loved ones want nothing more than support you but they may not know how to!