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Prepare Emotionally for the Postpartum Period in Your 3rd Trimester
Postpartum Planning

Prepare Emotionally for the Postpartum Period in Your 3rd Trimester

Prepare. Seems that word is everywhere as your new baby’s arrival date gets closer. It’s a good word for so many reasons. The more prepared you are for the “after” - emotionally and physically - the more you can relax into those few final weeks or months. As with any big changes, no one ever said “I wish I wasn’t prepared.” Read on to see what our Mommy’s Bliss 360 Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional has to say about getting ready and what you can do “before” to make “after” a bit easier.

There is so much beauty and joy in the postpartum period…but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some difficult emotions to work through, too. We spend so much time preparing for the physical aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum healing that emotional preparation is often overlooked. Here are some things you can do in the 3rd trimester prepare for the postpartum period:

Lean Into Matrescence

Similar to how children enter adolescence, new moms will go through matrescence and encounter many physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and physiological changes after birth. Be as compassionate and patient with yourself as you can while you navigate adjustments to your:

  • Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Family values and relationship dynamics
  • Body image, body function, and intimacy
  • Hygiene, sleep, and self-care
  • Nutrition and physical activity
  • Personal identity and work/home balance

When feelings of doubt or insecurity arise, remember that matrescence is a phase of learning and growth, you’re not expected to have everything figured out immediately, and there will come a day when you feel more confident in your new role as a mom.

Learn About The Baby Blues & PMADs

The Baby Blues refer to hormonal and emotional changes during the first two weeks postpartum that are experienced by most people who give birth. It’s often confused with Postpartum Depression, ​​so recognizing the signs of The Baby Blues is important for understanding your emotions during those early postpartum days and making sure you receive the proper type of support as you recover from birth. ​​Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (“PMADs”) refer to mental health conditions that can onset during pregnancy anytime through the first year postpartum, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Psychosis

It may feel daunting to learn about PMADs, but understanding how the symptoms present, being aware of your risk factors, and knowing the type of treatments available can be proactive steps to take for managing your emotional health throughout your first year of motherhood.

Be Flexible with Your Birth Plan

While writing a detailed birth plan can help you feel more empowered or informed during labor and delivery, and “going with the flow” can help you feel more open-minded about the uncertainty of birth, it can be beneficial for your postpartum emotional wellness to pull from both. Identify your preferences and expectations for birth, while acknowledging that you cannot control everything and it might go differently than you envisioned. Keep in mind that it’s okay if you feel sad or disappointed if your birth experience isn’t exactly what you hoped or planned for – it does not make you a bad or ungrateful mom.

Hold Space for Dual Emotions

New moms are often told to “enjoy every moment” or “soak it all up,” which can sometimes lead to a pattern of self-defeating thoughts when unpleasant emotions arise. For example, you might feel irritable while tending to your baby overnight and think, “I’m such a bad mom for feeling this way.” The truth is – you can and will feel many different emotions about your postpartum journey, and it’s normal for those emotions to seem conflicting sometimes. Practice holding space for the dual emotions you’ll experience postpartum by noticing the many different emotions you feel during pregnancy – like excited and nervous, happy and sad, frustrated and grateful, etc. Reassure yourself that you’re allowed to dislike parts of pregnancy or motherhood, your unpleasant emotions are always valid, and they’re not a reflection of your worth as a mom.

Create a Coping Skills Toolbox

While the postpartum period brings many beautiful and joyful moments, there will be times when you’re overwhelmed and need to regulate your emotions. Take some time before your baby is born to identify healthy and effective coping skills that help you to feel grounded, relaxed, safe, or calm. You could make an actual box with tangible items inside (like grounding stones, essential oils, affirmation cards, etc.), or write a list of activities that help you work through difficult thoughts and emotions (like breathing exercises, meditation scripts, grounding techniques, etc.). The intention is to have coping strategies prepared ahead of time so when you’re in the heat of a tough postpartum moment, you can tap into your toolbox and choose something without having to think too hard about what to do to cope.

Redefine “Productivity”

You've probably noticed during pregnancy that keeping up with certain tasks is more challenging than it used to be, but chances are you're okay with doing less because you recognize how demanding pregnancy is and you view rest as beneficial for your unborn baby. After your baby is born, however, you might feel a sense of failure or inadequacy when you try to get back to your pre-pregnancy level of productivity on top of your new parenting responsibilities. Understand that productivity is going to look different once your baby is born and consider viewing rest during postpartum the same way you view it during pregnancy – important, necessary, and productive. There will be days when you feel like you're not doing enough because it seems like you've "wasted the day away" changing diapers, making bottles, and napping with your baby instead of catching up on chores or emails…but that is still productive. Regardless of what you do or don’t do each day, remember: doing less does not make you less of a good mom, caring for your baby is valuable work, and resting is a productive behavior that benefits your overall health and wellness.

Look Into Postpartum Support Services

Like most new moms, you’re probably dedicating a lot of time and energy preparing for physical recovery after birth – making lists of all the must-have postpartum items, researching best healing practices, and reading all the “what to expect” blogs for postpartum healing – but looking into things that also provide emotional support after birth is an important thing to consider doing, too. Familiarize yourself with the various types of postpartum services available to you, like:

You may find that you don’t want or need some of these services after giving birth, and that’s okay, but in the event that you do…knowing your options and having the information readily accessible can make the process of seeking support during postpartum feel much easier.

This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.

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