The Importance of Planning and Preparing for Postpartum By Joelleen

The Importance of Planning and Preparing for Postpartum
The postpartum period is a profound and unique phase in a parent's life, one that will forever be etched in memory. The importance of planning and preparing for postpartum cannot be overstated. It has far-reaching implications, impacting not only physical health but also mental, emotional, and even spiritual well-being during the transformative experience of early motherhood and parenthood.
Nutrition for the Postpartum Parent:
Let's begin with the basics - food. Planning what your postpartum meal plan will look like for the birthing parent and immediate family is both practical and essential. The postpartum period is a time of healing and nourishment, particularly if breastfeeding is part of the equation. Additional calories are required to support the increased demands of breastfeeding and to replenish the nutrients depleted during pregnancy and birth.
All too often, I hear couples say that their postpartum meal plan involves having the partner take over cooking duties. While this is one way to manage, pre-planning and delegating the task, whether to your "village" or meal provider services, can make the transition to parenthood, especially for first-time parents, a lot smoother.
Key planning points include identifying who in your support network can prepare meals, how often you'd like this assistance, and the logistics of meal drop-offs. It's also crucial to communicate dietary preferences, allergies, and any specific recipe requests.
Consider preparing foods ahead of time, such as soups, stews, curries, and bakes, which can be frozen and provide much-needed nourishment, especially for the breastfeeding parent. Stocking up on pantry items can also reduce the need for frequent grocery trips, and the Elan House of Wellness Dry Pantry Range offers a convenient and nutritious option for postpartum meals.
Breastfeeding Nutrition
Hydration is essential. Aim for three to four liters of water daily. For those who struggle to meet their hydration goals, electrolyte powders, warm broths, or flavored teas can be a delightful solution.
In terms of food, an extra 300 to 500 calories per day are needed to support breast milk production and ensure that the milk is rich in essential nutrients for the baby. These extra calories can be consumed through an additional meal or three substantial snacks throughout the day.
Focus on protein-rich meals, especially in the morning, but ensure that all main meals are well-balanced with around 25 to 30 grams of protein, depending on your body weight. Additionally, single-handed snacks are a lifesaver in the early days of parenthood, as they acknowledge the realistic challenges of meal preparation with a newborn.
Advice from Dr. Oscar Serralach
Dr. Oscar Serralach, an integrative GP specializing in postpartum well-being, has worked with families for many years and authored the book "The Postnatal Depletion Cure." He observed that many parents in his community felt depleted for up to seven years after giving birth, leading him to focus on nutrient-dense foods to rebuild the birthing parent.
Dr. Serralach's approach to postpartum planning centers on three key pillars:
1. Deep Rest (1 Month): Minimizing visitors, prioritizing horizontal rest, reducing to-do lists, and organizing postpartum support for meals, cleaning, and childcare.
2. Deep Support (100 Days): Establishing a roster for meals, housework, and childcare, particularly for families with older siblings. Don't forget that partners need support too.
3. Prioritizing Sleep (1 Year): Emphasizing early bedtime, supporting sleep with supplements like magnesium, minimizing exposure to blue light, seeking early morning sun, avoiding stimulants, especially in the evening (sugar, caffeine, screen time).
Becoming a parent and caring for a newborn is demanding, making it easy to lose touch with oneself. It's vital to carve out even the smallest daily rituals to stay connected with yourself during this transformative time. Dr. Serralach's framework for self-care, though more attainable after the newborn phase ends (around four months), can help support your nervous system and reduce the risk of postnatal depletion.
While the idea of comprehensive postpartum planning may seem overwhelming, especially for first-time parents, it's a manageable process that can significantly enhance your postpartum experience. The Elan Postpartum Planning Workbook is a valuable tool to bring all aspects of your postpartum journey together.
This beautifully designed workbook empowers you to anticipate and prepare for the changes you'll face during postpartum, using the five wellness pillars as a guiding framework. Remember that professional support is also available, with many doulas specialising in postpartum planning and offering their services both in person and virtually.
In conclusion, planning and preparing for postpartum is not only a wise decision but a crucial one. By focusing on nutrition, lifestyle changes, self-care, and reducing the mental load, you can navigate this transformative phase with confidence and grace. Embrace this beautiful, challenging, and ultimately rewarding period with a well-thought-out plan for a healthy and nurturing postpartum experience.
Author – Joelleen Winduss Paye, founder of JWP. 
IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Naturopath, Midwife & Educator
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