Baby Steps Blog

Planning Ahead for Postpartum

I think the advice people get about bringing home a newborn baby sometimes begins and ends with “You will never sleep again”. That is not very useful! (Some people do get, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” which is better, but a post for another day.)

Here are some practical things to think about when it comes to bringing home your new baby. Do some research, make your plans from there.

BS_planning postpartum

List some ways you will get informed about what it’s really like to have a new baby around the house.

You would think this would be simple. But I’m a reader and when I went to Amazon and searched “new baby” under parenting – I had my choice of 5,027 books! That’s just crazy. Although it does reinforce my favorite bit of advice: find a book you agree with, then follow it and tell all and sundry “we are going by the book”.

I like Baby Gooroo and there are other good sites too. If you are already a member of Baby Center, etc – check out their advice for new moms. You might also like to join our Facebook group, Brattleboro New Moms Network.

Name two other couples or single moms with children that you would like to get to know better.

Notice the way I said this. Some people you would like to get to know better! We lost some friends when we had our first – they were okay to hang with pre-kids. But their way of being with their babies, and their ways of talking to kids, just didn’t jive with ours. Talk about the nails-on-chalkboard effect! So look around at work, at church, or at your dance class – and make a couple of new friends. You will be glad you did.

What household responsibilities can you temporarily let slide? (polishing the silver? Wiping the furnace?)

Everyone has a different take on this. There are the Born Organized, and the OMG’s. No matter what, your housekeeping schedule is going to change (after all, babies power feed from 9 P – 3 A for the first month or so, so getting up at 530 to start the first load of wash ain’t gonna cut it). At our house, David and I had this discussion because I felt like I was drowning. So here’s the survival list:

Who will do these chores?

  • Laundry
  • Vacuuming
  • Dishes
  • Cooking Dinner
  • Bills/Banking
  • Take out trash/recycling/composting

Here’s where the other discussion comes in. The mental health and physical health discussion. For us, the list was simple: You can see the tops of the kitchen table and the kitchen counter!

Name two things that ABSOLUTELY must be done for your mental health. (Like – clean counter. Shower wiped down. Clean laundry. Supper at 6.)
Both mom and partner should contribute their two!

And if you haven’t ever seen it, do check out the Baby Steps and house-organization system at Fly Lady by Marla Cilley, her system has been a life saver – wish I’d know about it when my babies were little!

Who could watch the baby while you go out for lunch together?

Because you won’t be going out for dinner for quite a while, and you won’t be up for breakfast! But going out to lunch together is very do-able. Even if it takes a month for you to call this person, ask them NOW. Otherwise they will be bugging you to leave the baby with them while you go out for dinner. And that is too long a period to leave your baby at first – you would miss them too much.

Name two people you can trust, and call on for advice/help.

Keep people off the list who say things like “treasure these moments” while you are pregnant. But think about moms and dads that you know. Some of them sound like lovely, reasonable people to have around. You would like your kids to turn out like them. Other people – well, not so much.

For most of us, our moms are the people we will call first. Hey, we already hear them in our heads, we hardly need to call! And for some of us, that is very good. (I was lucky, I had a mom that loved people in general and she was very non-judgmental. But if you know you want to do things differently from your mom – and you know she’s not gonna like it – think about another mentor-mother for yourself. And don’t be afraid to call. Wouldn’t you love it if someone said, “You are such a good mom – can I ask you a question?”!

Name three nice things you will do for YOURSELF in the first six weeks.

Mom, get a manicure or a pedicure. Or get your hair done. Or go walk around the new Kohl’s for a half hour. You will miss the baby after that. Dads often go for motorcycle rides. Eight holes of golf – okay. Sixteen holes – nuh uhh.

Plan three enjoyable things you will do TOGETHER as a family the first six weeks.

One of the favorite things I’ve been hearing lately is to drive down to Springfield, Massachusetts for Bright Nights at Forest Park. This is held annually during the Christmas season. It starts this year on November 27th, and the price is per-vehicle. (No, I don’t get a kickback!) This is one date the baby may sleep through.

One of my favorite family date outings was to the Montshire Museum with the newborn in a front carrier and the three year old out of her mind with joy.

Babies like hiking as long as they are fed and happy in a carrier. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing too! (See our blogpost Winter Safety for Babies at for more information about being outside in winter with babies.)

What outside activities can you temporarily eliminate? (This is called “de-cluttering your life!”)

By the time I was pregnant with my third baby, I had learned a few things about myself. I knew I had a tendency to say yes to ‘way too many activities! So when I was asked to run Vacation Bible School at a church conference the next summer, I said no. “Oh come on! Your baby will be eight months old by then!”

My reply? No. I cannot do it. “What if there’s something wrong with this baby? I can’t know now how we will be then.” (And besides, I will have an eight month old AND a three year old AND a six year old! What are you thinking??!!)

So if you’ve been looking for a reason to get off the Historical Society’s activities committee, think about your closing statement and dust off your smile.

Prepare yourself for more joy than you have ever had in your entire life. More work, too. And more challenges. And less sleep. But oh the joy!!

If you’d like a copy of a worksheet for these activities, please email me at DKersula@bmhvt.org

Email Updates Sign Up

Fill in your email address below to get email updates when new content is posted to the BMH website.

5 Responses to Planning Ahead for Postpartum

  1. Melody W October 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Dawn-
    This was such a great article. I think sometimes us new moms can place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and it helps to hear “the dishes will still be there, the laundry will still be there. Don’t sweat it. Focus on the things that that you have time for and mostly just enjoy your new baby!” One of my favorites is “if people have a problem with the way my house looks they can clean it for me!!”

    Your post is full of gems I think everyone who has a new baby should read (regardless of if its baby number 1, 2 or 3!) Namely choosing 2 things that have to be done so you don’t go crazy and FlyLady.com. Those two things are life savers in my life. I don’t adhere to the daily FlyLady but when I feel like my life has lost its structure or level of organization I like I go back to that site and start over.

    Thank you Dawn!!!

    Melody

    • Dawn Kersula October 29, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Thank Melody – it’s all about getting back to basics, isn’t it!

  2. Meghan October 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I LOVED this. Bookmarking for (hopeful) future use.

  3. Jocelyn Peknik October 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    My midwives suggested I “room in” for a full week after baby. Literally not leave the bedroom except to use the bathroom. It was kind of wonderful. We camped out, received all our (limited) visitors from there, had picnics on the bed, and stared at the wonderful being we had created. By the end of the week I was definitely ready to get out and wander out to the yard, but if I got tired or overwhelmed, baby and I would retreat back to our “safe zone” of the bedroom!

    • Dawn Kersula October 29, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      What a great idea – we are often too quick to venture out!! I’ve heard this called a Baby Moon….

Leave a Reply