You’ve written your birth plan but what happens next?
You’ve come back from hospital (if you were at hospital) and now left to your own devices. That to me is the scary bit.
So before it happens, did you take a moment to go through those first few days, weeks, months with your partner or whoever is helping you. Did you stop to think about what is important to you, what would you like to safe-guard, what’s in your ‘selfcare package’, what are you concerned about, and share it with your partner so you’re on the same page?
I knew this was so important when my husband said the words…’so it’s an open-door policy right’ when talking about visitors after the birth. He is Greek after all. Absolutely not I said!! Of course I want friends and family to visit, but when you have no idea how the birth is going to go, I wanted to safe guard some quiet time or rather alone time first. I certainly wasn’t going to plan for loads of visitors.
I’m the sort of person who needs space, that’s just me. I know I’m going to need help, I know I’m going to need my Mum as I feel clueless, but if I’m feeling like a bus has just driven over me physically and mentally I think I will need a bit of time.
I know from others they were overwhelmed when the wider family turned up at the hospital. But then I know others who insisted. So we’re all different. (I’ve made it clear to Nick too that he is to share no photos unless i’ve seen them!)
These sorts of chats can evolve too. You can change and adapt but it’s worth having the chat in the first place! You may have had a birth plan that had plan A B C D and more options on, so why not again ensure you and those around you know what you think you will need when the time comes.
The immediate hours post birth…
Some people I know have included the immediate hours post birth in their plan, this might already be part of your ‘birth plan’. Things to consider are the delayed cord clamping, Vitamin K, skin on skin time with the baby. I was even told by friends that they felt it was important that the partner told me whether we had a boy or girl and not to let the doctor/midwife do the honours, so there’s lots of little things that between you and your friends/partner you might be discussing, some will be relevant to you, some not so. BUT for the purpose of this POST BIRTH PLAN I’m focusing on what happens when you get home…
Potential Key Areas:
I’ve included 3 key areas… but you may have other ideas too.
- How you will protect your time/space.
How will you manage your visitors, when are you allowing visitors, are you giving yourself a couple of weeks first before the wider circle arrive? Is this of any importance to you? You may want to spend more time alone as just your immediate family. You’re mainly want to be in your PJs potentially and there are lots of midwives coming round, so do you need anything else? We’re all different.
I have no idea how I’m going to feel, so I want to be in control of the space. Are you and your partner on the same page to visitors? Remember, nothing is set in stone, it’s just a discussion. Within protecting your space, have you discussed the idea of support group vs visitors?
Remember, there’s a difference between visitors and a support group. So who can you turn to, rely upon? Who will come and make you a cup of tea or hold the baby whilst you shower or do the washing. Has your partner taken time off work? In our case, the answer is no. There is no classic 2-week paternity leave for Nick so if he’s not around, who is helping me! Mum you’re on standby!
I’m always thinking about food. You might be more excited about the arrival of the baby. I was more excited about prepping the fridge and freezer.
- What will I eat, how and when?
- What do I like, what’s easy to eat, snack on?
- What’s nourishing for me right now?
- Who will be around to feed me, cook?
This is NOT about following a meal plan or thinking about losing weight, but the practicalities of eating, you will need to keep energy up, and presumably you want to feel as good as possible albeit potentially battered and bruised, emotional and tired.
I love biscuits and cakes and I can eat them all the time. But all cake baking ingredients are out of the house. There are no biscuits in the house. And I don’t want to fall into the trap of just eating crap. I repeat I love CAKE though and by no means am I abstaining if someone brings it round!! And I will happily eat it for breakfast. Haha. I removed the cake making ingredients too because despite everyone telling me you won’t have time to cook, I know I can whip up brownies in 10 min with eyes shut, so it’s safer that there are no ingredients in the house!
I know that being tired and overwhelmed will lead all us of to sugar. Further depleting our energy, fluctuating our mood and making everything just a little bit more difficult. So I want to know I have more nourishing options around me so that the nearest thing to me could be more fulfilling snack and potentially I could make a better choice.
Just to be clear, I’m not putting any pressure on myself to be perfect, I’m not forcing myself to eat in a different way, there are no rules (other than no cake baking in the house) and there is no pressure or guilt when I put my head in a bag of donuts. However, I’m also not trying to win the award of ‘haven’t eaten all day’ or ‘I just survived on biscuits’ which I have heard a lot. This will be my first child. So who knows how I will feel. But I do know what if I have a packet of biscuits in the house, I eat the whole lot. Just saying.
So I’ve batch cooked some healthy no sugar muffins and oat loaf, (won’t last long) and I’ve got the first two weeks of dinners in the freezer ready. Nick will be at work a lot, there’s no classic paternity leave for him, so if I can organise some easy things for lunch too then if I’m peckish I can grab an option. Maybe. Or maybe the whole plan goes out of the window and I just make my way through a box of dairy milk. But I might as well start with a plan…Who knows…ask me in few weeks how this side of things went!
- Movement plan.
I’ve called this section movement but I’m including breath work, and let’s be clear, this is not about losing weight or rushing to post onto Facebook about squeezing back into your old jeans. If anything, this is about understanding the needs of a post-natal mind & body. That rest and recuperation are paramount and will now be your priority (along with looking after a baby). That you might barely leave the house for first couple of weeks, or that potentially you’re in PJs all day means you might have to re-evaluate your expectation on what you thought you were going to achieve in those early weeks. This is thinking up front about how you will feel, what you might be able to do, but without the pressure to be ‘back to your pre pregnancy’ size. That’s the least important thing in the early weeks.
Many people ask when they can start exercising again and a whole post needs to be saved for that. However, it’s also about knowing that there are things we can do in the early weeks if we have the capacity, inclination, and once you’ve processed the birth. Many start with walking. Walking should be slow, controlled, and built up in the right way, remember your body has been through a lot. Alignment and strength may be up the creak. You might be in pain a lot too! So although walking is great, take it easy and again think about it as getting some fresh air at first and stay close to home. However, there are lots of fundamental work that can be done on the mat on the floor at home. Learning to use glutes, breath work, and in time working on that core restorative work. I’ll be sharing as much as possible of what I feel ready to do when the time is right. So whilst I’ve got the time, I’m making sure I have my own programme ready and my expectations worked on.
Across the 3 key areas I mentioned above we could interweave the idea of ‘Expectations vs Reality’
Some of the biggest challenges us humans experience are when our expectations and reality is out of whack. Everything from growing up thinking a man will being us our entire happiness, that the next pay cheque will just really sort us out, that the holiday will bring us such triumphant joy. We constantly think we need more and when things don’t go to plan, everything comes crashing down.
A bit like with birthing plans. Many feel guilt, heart break, failure when the ‘plan’ didn’t go to plan. I’ve heard of people distraught months later by having a C section, not because of the physical pain or longer recovery process but because they saw it as a failure, it wasn’t what they wanted. This constant juxtaposition between expectation and reality is something us humans need to be more confident and competent in exploring and understanding.
Talking about how the practicalities of the first few months will go is key. Talking about how you think you will fee; even more important. Knowing if one of you has concerns, worries, is crucial. Have you asked your partner what they’re concerned about?
I’m an odd ball. I’ve not felt excited the entire 9 months. I know I’m odd. But sometimes I’m far too pragmatic for my own good. When Nick has got excited, I remind him that the beginning stage of being a parent is hard work. I remind him that I’ll be tired and emotional. That he needs to get up at 4,30am and go to work, “so you’ll be tired too”. I repeat to him that the baby won’t want the dad for a bit, that you’ll feel useless and the whole thing is going to be rubbish. Haha. No really that’s how I’ve been talking. The opposite though is thinking everything is going to be jolly and rosy, nothing will be difficult and nothing changes. The reality is that it’s probably more in the middle. So whereas I need to be less ‘we’re doomed’ others may need to address that It is going to be tough. How you roll with the punches is down to the dynamic of you and your partner or whoever is involved in the day to day handling of the child. But understanding expectations vs reality will always be key in life. Start the conversation early!
Likewise, we can apply the ‘expectation vs reality’ concept to our relationship, our social life, our life, our day to day. Whatever is relevant to us.
Use the pre baby time to discuss with partner all these aspects. It’s not so much about a plan of action, but more talking with an aim to explore and realise that things do and will change. Rather than assuming everything stays the same, is it not better to talk about how it will evolve?
It’s a positive plan! Stay positive.
This is a discussion with your partner in a positive light.
And as with the birth, stay open to change and be flexible as we know a life with babies rarely goes to plan.