Postpartum Planning: A Plan for the Fourth Trimester

There are baby registries, baby showers, birth plans, and the list goes on, all to prepare for the birth of your baby. How many people ask,  “What is your postpartum plan?”

As a birth and postpartum doula, this is one question that I always ask. I remember my doula asked me, “What are some things you do on a daily basis for self-care?” I wrote down working out, skin-care routine, etc. She asked if taking a shower and brushing my teeth were important. I laughed because, of course, they were important who wouldn’t have time for that? She sweetly smiled, giggled a little, and said, “Just write down everything.”

Then she said, “Pick three of them and to make sure you do at least one of them every day after you have the baby.” Now I was the one laughing because I couldn’t imagine not washing my face and brushing my teeth. Obviously, this was before I had kids. Taking the time to sit and plan for the fourth trimester is essential. When planning there are three main areas to think about food, the home, and you.

Setting yourself up food wise is invaluable, and there are three main ways; freezer meals, grocery delivery, and a meal train. Have a friend or your mom over to help prep a week or so worth of meals for the freezer. Pinterest is a great resource. My favorite website for freezer meals before I became vegan was The Family Freezer. For my second son, I made and froze soups, enchiladas and prepped veggies. 

One of my favorite presents during the fourth trimester, homemade bread!

Snacking is an essential part of motherhood. You can also make and freeze granola bars, lactation cookies, and roasted nuts. The fourth trimester is a great time to utilize grocery delivery for fresh items. I love using Instacart. You can write in the notes how you like your produce and they will text you with questions during the shopping trip. They also sell gift cards, which can be great to ask family and friends for!

If meal prep is not something you want to do setting up a meal train is a great option. Nowadays, it is super easy, all you have to do is send friends and family a link! I would suggest setting it up for every other day so that you don’t have too much food. I have enjoyed using Give in Kind or Meal Train. Give in Kind is great for subsequent babies because you can add other wanted items beyond delivered meals. This is great for people who aren’t having a baby shower or want a less traditional registry. Meal train is easy to use and the very basic form for setting up a meal train.

Getting all the baby snuggles!

With my first son, I wanted just my husband and me at the house when we came home. Luckily, my mom knew I would need more support. If you don’t have someone that can fall into that nurturing role without added stress, then budget for a postpartum doula. Having a postpartum doula come over at least two to three times a week gives you the designated time to pause and reflect on how things are going. What needs to be done? Have you eaten or showered? How can we set up for success until the doula returns? A postpartum doula will fill in wherever she is needed so that the mom can focus on taking care of herself and the baby. 

Giving yourself the time and space heal is so important. It can be hard to say no to visitors, so setting up some rules for visitors with your partner can make it much easier. I once heard if the visitor is not coming to bring food or help around the house then they can wait. It may seem a little harsh, but aren’t the people who know your favorite dish or that will jump in and wash the dishes some of your closest friends? Another idea is set a time limit on visitors letting them know ahead of time that baby will nap around this time, so they can come by for a short visit.

Sometimes it is hard to ask for help because as moms we feel we must be superheroes, but showing our kids and partner that we are in fact a human is so important. So make yourself a priority, set money aside in your budget, and ask your loved ones for what you need. So many times people want to help, but they simply do not know how.  For every mom it will be different, it may look like a postpartum doula, a maid, grocery delivery, postpartum massage or all or the above.

Take time to write out a postpartum plan. Set yourself up to be TAKEN CARE OF during the fourth trimester, so what little energy you do have can go into enjoying those baby snuggles. 

For more tips on the postpartum period check out Kristin’s post The No-nonsense Guide for Postpartum Moms.

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Hannah was born in Colorado and raised in Kansas. While attending Kansas State University she met her husband, Ben. They moved to Kansas City in 2011 and couldn't imagine calling anywhere else home. Currently, they live in Columbus Park with their sons, V and Chauncey. When she is not chasing almost two-year-old V around and wearing Chauncey (2mo old), Hannah is supporting families as a birth and postpartum doula. Her happy place is in her kitchen preparing food for her family. While breastfeeding V she had to stop eating and drinking dairy. Since she was never really a fan of meat, this led her to plant-based cooking. For the past two years, her family has been primarily plant-based, which has opened up a whole new way of looking at food and cooking for her family.