Mothers-to-be are often urged to create a birth plan. Many indeed do that! It’s easy to find all sorts of templates for how to create such a plan. But I was unable to find more than a paragraph or so about why it’s important to have a birth plan. And there is no how-to or why-to article about creating a postpartum plan!
Luckily, you won’t need a how-to guide. Erin Huiatt, author of the Postpartum Plan Workbook, has given you a ready-made track to run on. (Just fill in the blanks.) But even if you listen to my podcast episode with Erin, I want to give you a little more motivation to actually go and do what Erin has mapped out for you.
Here are five reasons why you should create a postpartum plan:
1. Helps establish a “big picture” approach
Very often, it’s easy to get mired in the day-to-day, short-term actions and reactions. Planning ahead with a postpartum plan helps the mother, the family, and the caregivers to get a grip on the big picture for the long haul.
2. Focuses attention on desired outcomes
Research (especially in the educational psychology field) shows that written plans are more likely to result in the desired outcomes. Just having “things” floating around in your head doesn’t result in anything different happening. Having a plan helps to motivate and focus your attention on what you really want to achieve.
3. Establishes a basis for the healthcare team
You’ve heard someone say, “I thought she wanted X,” while the other person says, “Oh, no, I thought she told me she wanted Y.” For sure, this is more of an issue during labor than during the relatively calmer postpartum period. But given a sore bottom and a screaming baby, you might not be in the mood to communicate in an exemplary way. A written plan avoids that, and it increases cohesion among all of your paid and unpaid caregivers.
4. Helps anticipate problems and cope by gaining control
Let’s face it. Things can and do go wrong. Having a plan helps to at least gain control of the aftermath. And who doesn’t want as much control as possible? Yet, without a written plan, we give up a large percentage of control.
Author Sean Covey says, “If you decide to just go with the flow, you’ll end up where the flow goes, which is usually downhill…”
5. Provides guidelines for decision-making
Decisions are future-oriented. If you want to eat kale and quinoa during your postpartum period, be sure to put that on your grocery list. If not, you may end up with a Big Mac and fries. (When things start going downhill, you and your family will start cutting corners to meet even your most basic needs.) If your friends offer to bring food, be sure to put “gluten-free” on your plan (if needed) before the whole neighborhood brings you lasagna and brownies.
Of course, Erin gives you space to write down tasks for the well-meaning relatives who want to take over. Having a written list of chores is more likely to be perceived as a think-ahead preference, rather than an after-action criticism.
A Postpartum Plan: Don’t leave the hospital without it.
You wouldn’t walk off without a plan for taking a vacation. Nor would you walk off without a plan for celebrating a wedding, earning a credential, planting a garden, or birthing a baby. So why would you walk off without a postpartum plan? That fourth trimester could be the most exhilarating time of your childbearing experience. Make the most of it!
Tell me: Why do you think a postpartum plan is important?