When I talk about postpartum planning with my clients, I give them the metaphor, “The birth plan is the wedding and the postpartum plan is the marriage.” I also reinforce that just like a wedding, anything can go in a different way than you hoped. A birth plan is simply a wish list. When that wish list doesn’t go the way you envision, it can be difficult managing the feelings of disappointment that come with it. The birth of a child is one of the most incredible moments in a person’s life, but what happens after that moment is when the postpartum plan comes in.
So what is a postpartum plan?
A postpartum plan has everything in place for postpartum support with the hope that most of the resources will not need to be used. With changing hormones and sleep deprivation, it can feel impossible to research the specialists that you might need in the moment.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are the number one complication of pregnancy where 1 in 7 women will be affected. When we add other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, the number jumps to 1 in 5. Having a postpartum plan is one factor in reducing the risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It can also help women know that everything is ready and in place should a postpartum mental health issue occur.
What is included in a postpartum plan?
This will be different for each person and their own individual needs. When I work with my clients to develop a postpartum plan we include the following basics.
- Perinatal Psychiatrist
- Postpartum Doula
- Lactation consultant and support groups
- New Mother’s Support Groups/Parent & Baby classes
- A list of people in the individual’s life that they can depend on for support
Additionally, we may work together to have other support providers in place that specialize in working with pregnant and postpartum women such as a pelvic floor physical therapist and/or postpartum acupuncturist.
Once baby arrives, we work together to create a personal wellness plan to see where the gaps may be in self-care and put the support from the postpartum plan into action. I also continue to screen and assess for any perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that could show up during the first year. With the preventative plan in place, we hope that postpartum complications won’t occur, but if they do we’ll be able to act quickly to prevent unnecessary suffering.
Comprehensive care is vital for the well-being of mothers. The way they feel emotionally and physically will have a huge effect on the relationship they have with their baby. We must do better to support mothers. As the saying goes, “It takes a village.”
If you or someone you know is pregnant and wanting additional emotional support, please feel free to reach out and contact me.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.