Pregnancy is a critical time in our lives, and postpartum (specifically the first year) can be full of beautiful chaos. Parents are simultaneously finding out who they are as a parent, adjusting to a new version of themselves, and raising a child all at the same time. One way to get ahead of this intense time of growth (for the child and parent alike) is to create a postpartum plan. The creation of this plan should typically happen before the baby is born, but there's never a wrong time!
What is a Postpartum Team?
Postpartum parents have a very unique set of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. To tend to those needs, having a community of support and an identified postpartum team is beneficial. A postpartum team is a collection of family, friends, and care providers created to support the diversity of a birthing person's needs during the first year of postpartum. Your postpartum team is just one of the many postpartum essentials needed to nourish your body, mind and spirit.
The Four Postpartum Team Groups
The postpartum team can be broken up into four smaller groups working together to create magic. These four groups can be divided into advice, home, wellness, and joy. (Note: someone may often be in more than one group!)
During the first few months of postpartum, everyone has an opinion. You’ll likely find that many people want to share what they did, what they believe you should do, and while well-meaning, may not always be helpful. Of the people you may receive advice from or their opinion, there will most likely be a small handful that you know will hold space for you. These people will be there for you to vent, provide helpful and non-judgmental feedback and guidance. These people will be your advice group! ...These people can range from parents to nonparents, elders in your community, and friends.
Your home team will provide support to keep your home in a place of comfort and, ultimately, keep your home functioning as your ability to do so shifts. For many people, a postpartum doula leads the home team. Postpartum doulas provide emotional and physical support during the first few months of the postpartum period. Even without a postpartum doula, there are other people included in the home team, such as your partner(s), a loved one who can provide housekeeping and/or meals, and professionals such as gardeners, house cleaners, grocery deliverers, and other services that offer ease and space for focusing on self and baby.
TIP: If you need help asking for and accepting help, write out a list of things that need to be done (such as cooking a specific meal, folding laundry, washing the floors) and hang it on your fridge. That way, when your home team comes by, you can refer them to the list instead of directly asking for help).
Now, let's talk wellness. In our society, much of postpartum wellness is focused on the physical recovery of pregnancy. However, many other forms of wellness are central to a postpartum parent's wellness, such as mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Your wellness group will include medical and non-medical professionals supporting your healing and sustainability. On the medical side, this group might consist of your OBGYN, pediatrician, pharmacist, or pelvic floor therapist. Non-medical providers include spiritual care providers, mental health therapists, and body workers. Having a wellness group ready to meet your evolving needs can be vital to moving through the highs and lows of the postpartum period.
And finally - do you have a friend who knows nothing about parenting but can make you laugh until your stomach hurts? Do you have a family member whose presence always includes random dance parties where you can move your body without judgment? Or maybe you have a friend who keeps you up on the world outside your postpartum bubble and reminds you of your selfhood? Your joy team is there to provide you with joy in whatever ways you feel called to. Postpartum can be challenging, and there is no denying that, but you still deserve joy, even if it's for a minute out of the day or a child-free weekend away.
TIP: It can be easy to lose sight of what brings you joy when you are adjusting to life as a new parent, so it can be helpful to write out a list of things that bring you joy (movies, music, places to visit, etc.) that you and your joy team can refer to for ideas.
Next Steps to Building Your Postpartum Team
As you read this, do you have your team members in mind? Wonderful. The next step is letting your desired team members know you are giving them the opportunity of a lifetime, aka joining your postpartum team! Explain to them what group they are in and why you picked them. Most importantly, ask them if they have the desire and capacity to fill that role for you. Be aware that some of your desired team members may be unable to be on your team for different reasons, but don't take it personally. The reason for planning is to be clear about your team and add other names to the list if needed!
Now - organize! Hold a virtual or in-person rehearsal once everyone is onboarded to your team. Ideally, this could happen at a baby shower or family gathering, but a virtual meeting is also a great option and can be organized by you or a team member (such as a doula). In that space, create space for folks to introduce themselves if they'd like and to show gratitude for their presence at this time of your life. Also, in this meeting, go over your EDD (estimated due date), things you're excited about, and things you're worried about so your team can feel like they are on the same page. Lastly, provide your team with supportive boundaries that may be important to you, such as calling instead of ringing the doorbell when they arrive and a list of your favorites, including things like your favorite food to eat when you're exhausted and in need of comfort.
Congratulations, your postpartum team is ready to go and has been equipped with gratitude, a specific role, a list of boundaries, and ways to support you!
The postpartum period is a magical time filled with challenge and success. Support is necessary for the well-being of postpartum parents and their children. Creating a postpartum team can be a significant component of having available resources and support. The need to utilize your team and its resources may ebb and flow as your capacity changes, and that is expected.
Remember, you are always worthy of care, community, and support. To learn more about postpartum care visit our Mommy's Bliss 360 section of our website.
This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.