During the Leader Bag Q&A last month, I was asked how I prepared for postpartum the second time around. Did I do anything differently? How did I handle it knowing I had postpartum depression the first time around? Such good questions that I loved answering but felt like I had so much more to say. So today I'm expanding on my answer and sharing ten ways that I prepared for postpartum round two.
Ok, this one might sound cheesy, but it really worked for me. Throughout my pregnancy, I would spend time doing a big picture visual of what I hoped my postpartum period would look like. It gave me something to work towards, and having that clear picture in my head gave me a list of tangible steps to make that vision reality.
I was terribly unprepared the first time I gave birth and did not fully anticipate just how much we would not want to cook. Even when we had the time, we just felt so exhausted that it was the last thing we wanted to have to do. In our house, Daniel is the chef. He does all of the cooking, and I do mean all of it. We have pretty specific eating habits, so we found ourselves in a situation where we didn't want to cook but didn't want to compromise. We ate a lot of things that didn't make us feel good, and we didn't want to repeat that the second time around. To prepare more, we planned out our meals in advance, at least a few weeks worth. We made a few dishes to freeze as well. We also sat down and agreed on things we were willing to change for a short time.
This one is huge for me. There is so much pressure when you are having a baby to have visitors in and out starting right after birth. I tried setting a clear expectation before giving birth the first time, but many of my wishes were ignored, and I felt very overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Leading up to birth the second time, I made it clear that I would not allow any visitors until at least a week afterward. I arranged for everyone from both of our families to all come to town on the same day and stay for a set number of hours. That may sound extreme, but it was one of the best things I did. We had food out so that people could eat and kept everything very casual. How you plan to do visitors after giving birth is so different for everyone. Some people like having a house full of people around, and some of us don't. If you fall into the latter group, it can be stressful to have to vocalize your desires with other people, especially because there might be pushback. But this is a crucial time to put your needs first and do what is best for you and your baby even if that means fending off visitors for a little bit.
This ties right into the conversation about visitors, but setting boundaries for yourself and your baby is important. Again, it can be hard because we all know how people can be with their opinions. The more that you allow for other people's needs and not yours the more worn out you will feel. Everyone recovers differently, and what one person might feel up to doing soon after birth might completely wreck another. Saying no to things is more than ok. I said no to a lot more the second time around.
This one is a bit controversial. There are a lot of opinions for and against placenta encapsulation. I can only comment on my experience. I had mentally planned during my first pregnancy to arrange for it and just never got around to it. It was on the checklist but never got done, and it was one of my biggest regrets. The second time around, I planned for it much much sooner and paid for it in full before I was even halfway through my pregnancy. I had a great experience with my pills and would absolutely do it again. If you are considering it, then make sure to consult your birth team as well and seek any medical advice you need.
Say It Out Loud
There is a lot of power in saying the unsaid. I allowed myself to say all of my thoughts out loud no matter how random or off they seemed. I made sure to speak my fears or worries to Daniel frequently, just whatever was on my mind so that he always understand where I was mentally.
I was still in therapy from postpartum depression and anxiety after having my son when I found out I was pregnant the second time. I stayed in therapy throughout my entire pregnancy and continued until I was about ten months postpartum. It helped me tremendously. I was more in tune with how I was feeling and had plans in place for myself should I begin to show signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety again.
Daniel and I did a few joint sessions together during my last month of pregnancy so that we could make sure we were on the same page. Daniel talked with my therapist about what he would do if he began to notice red flags with me. It also felt really good for us both to share with someone our disappointments from our first experience and how we were hoping for different outcomes this time around.
Plan of Action
This time, I was not going to be caught off guard by postpartum anxiety or depression. I knew what to look for, and I had a plan for myself if I began to see signs. I went over that plan with my therapist, midwives, husband, and other close people in my life several times. I felt so much relief knowing that I had a team in place and that other people were looking out for me.
Lists Lists Lists
I made alllll the lists the second time around, which if you know me isn't surprising, but the first time around I didn't know what to expect. This time I did, so I wrote it all down. Lists of supplies I needed to have, appointments I needed to make, my support team (midwife, therapist, chiropractor, lactation consultant, etc.), meals to make, literally all the things. It helped me feel more prepared. Obviously, things can change based off of different circumstances, but it was still nice to have a base from which to work.