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October 12, 2023

5 things to Prepare Emotionally for Postpartum

I just brought home my second child and have been working through all of the emotions that come from giving birth and bringing home baby. Along with the physical healing that needs to happen, the hormone shift post-partum can be jarring.

As someone who has struggled with mental health in the past, feeling prepared for the post-partum period was important to me. I have seen so many posts about setting up your space for baby, how to breastfeed, etc. but I don’t see many about preparing for the emotions that come with this lifechanging moment. I wanted to have a plan so that I could reach out for help and those around me would know how to offer help.

When we are in the thick of emotional turmoil, it is difficult to access the logical part of our brains and know what we need. Communicating this in advance can make it easier to ask for help. Here are 5 things to explore as a starting point for preparing emotionally for postpartum. Working with your medical team and communicating your concerns with them is also important.

1. Know Yourself

Knowing what is normal for you and what feels strange, how might your partner know you are not ok? What are your risk factors-do you have a previous mental health diagnosis, what are your hopes and fears about postpartum and delivery? How do you know you need time and space? What are barriers to you asking for help?

2. Identify your support system

Your medical team and counselor are there to support you even after you deliver. This can also include friends and family you would feel comfortable asking for help. It can also be important to know who is not in your support system, perhaps there is a well-meaning friend that offers help but is not someone you would feel comfortable with in such a vulnerable time.

3. List things that can help

When you are feeling emotionally tapped out, what do you like to do to recharge? Do you need a girl’s night out, or a quiet night in? Does getting outside in the fresh air help? What is your favorite dinner? Your comfort tv shows?

Identifying things that are helpful ahead of time can make it easier to communicate what you need when someone asks what they can do to help in the moment.

4. Practice Communicating your Needs

Letting those in your support system know that you may be asking them for help and what they can do if/when you ask. You can even write down some things that would be helpful and share it with your support system ahead of time. This can also be a good way to practice asking for help when you need it.

It is also important to communicate with your medical team & counselor, if you are experiencing more pervasive mental health struggles postpartum, what interventions are you open to. For me, I did not want to start with medication, meeting with my counselor and trying talk therapy was a first step I was more comfortable with. I communicated this with my doctor and she was very supportive and explained when medication may be a necessary intervention. Although I did not experience the need for medication, it was comforting to have a plan.

5. Be kind to yourself

This s**t is hard! Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are unpredictable, having a plan and solid support system can help you feel more comfortable reaching out for help. If you don’t think you have a solid team behind you, communicating that to your medical team and asking for counseling referrals is a great place to start!