Today I’ll share my 9 strategies to prepare for postpartum with baby #3. My preparation for the postpartum period with baby #3 can be divided into two basic categories:
1 – Logistical preparation (5 strategies)
2 – Emotional preparation (4 strategies)
Our Baby #3 is due in a few weeks (full term pregnant belly happening over here, as you can see in the photo above!). I’ve been deep into preparation for postpartum for about the last 2-3 months (I’ve been nesting SO hard this time around!). Since I’m writing this post BEFORE the baby arrives, I thought I would share some of my planned strategies. We’ll see AFTER the baby comes if those ideas were helpful, and I’ll plan to write a follow up post.
I know that not everyone is situated the same as us (living overseas from family, etc). But maybe something will be useful for you in your own postpartum plan for baby #1, #2, #3 or more! I’ve seen a fair amount of postpartum plan blogs for first babies, and sometimes for second babies. But the postpartum preparation resources seem to be a bit fewer for baby #3.
I’ve mostly tried to think through our previous postpartum experiences and create an intentional plan based on what did and didn’t work for us.
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A Little History from our Previous Postpartum Experiences:
Postpartum with Baby #1:
With Mara’s birth (our first), we were living at the ministry base where my husband works, so lunch and dinner was included in our housing costs. It was really, REALLY nice to not have to think about food planning, acquiring, or preparing, particularly in those early days. Gabe, Mara, and I shared a bedroom with an attached bathroom, but otherwise we didn’t have a lot of space.
I had an episiotomy with Mara’s birth, although once the initial pain of recovering from that wore off, I felt good. But it was pretty difficult to get comfortable for the first week or two, and then for a long time after that certain movements or positions (like sitting in the car) were still painful. But my energy and stamina felt fairly normal.
However, breastfeeding was very difficult with Mara – we didn’t quite get her latch right to start with, and by the time we figured out how to help her latch better, my nipples had a lot of damage already done to them. I also found out I had Reynaud’s syndrome of the nipples, and that caused excruciating pain for many weeks. And I also got mastitis when Mara was about 4 weeks old, and it just felt like one hurdle after another.
Emotionally, it was a very difficult time for Gabe and me, because we were both trying to figure out how to troubleshoot this ongoing problem and identify whether this was normal or whether we needed specialized care, so there was a lot of frustration and bickering.
Because we lived in a community setting, though, there was a lot of people checking in on us and available to help (if they could). I remember feeling emotional, but I don’t recall feeling what I would describe as the postpartum blues or an isolating situation postpartum.
Postpartum with Baby #2:
When Jemma’s birth happened (our second), New Zealand went into a strict lockdown the day after she was born. We had really amazing friends that asked us to come and live with them so they could help take care of us. Again, we didn’t have to think about food and meals, it was just THERE (thanks to my friend Jules’ hard work every day!).
My episiotomy scar reopened, and I also had an additional (labial) tear (not deep, but quite long), so following Jemma’s birth, I had a fair amount of stitches. I also had a Stage 2 bladder prolapse. I found Jemma’s recovery physically harder and longer – the stitches drove my NUTS as they healed, and the vaginal heaviness/dragging from the prolapse was really scary and frustrating. It was probably 6-8 weeks after Jemma was born before I felt like my body could handle standing up for longer than 30 minutes at a time without feeling prolapse symptoms.
Emotionally, it was such a huge blessing to be living with our friends (who had two kids at the time) and have their empathetic ears to listen as we processed the experience. It was a weird time, though, since it was Covid and that generated a bit of anxiety and frustration and grief around the limitations and differences of that postpartum compared to Mara’s. Gabe and I found ourselves frequently at odds (again) as he tried to understand what I needed, and I felt betrayed by my body and fearful of whether I would ever feel strong and “normal” again. And although we were with friends who were wanting to help and support and serve us, I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t contributing enough to the household, and put pressure on Gabe to help more to make up for my deficiency.
So with those two previous experiences in mind, we’ve put a LOT of intentional thought and preparation into postpartum with baby #3:
Logistical Preparation for Postpartum with Baby #3:
In talking together, Gabe and I identified five different logistical strategies we want to implement into this postpartum experience:
Postpartum Logistical Strategy #1: Easy Food!
I’ve made about 20 freezer dinners. My goal is to not have to think much about grocery shopping or cooking for the first month. My sister also arranged a meal train for us. So we may be able to go even longer than the first month – hallelujah! Some of my freezer dinners will be enough for two meals, and obviously, my husband can do simple meals with little need for forethought or prep (eg: pasta with a can of red sauce, fish tacos with fish sticks and a pre-made salad kit, etc).
I’ve tried to think through nutrition for the meals, including having meat in many of the meals. This is not always a priority for me – I’m very happy to primarily focus on vegetarian meals most of the time – but I also know that my body feels pretty depleted after births. I also am STARVING in the first weeks postpartum. I want to be filling my body up with fuel to help it rebuild itself, take care of the baby via breastmilk production, AND be hearty and longlasting, so I’m not reaching for sugar-filled quick carbs (which I usually very much WANT when I’m sleep deprived and hungry!).
Dinners are often a stressful time around here (as I’m sure they are in most households with small kids) because everyone is hungry and tired and it is usually the most involved meal of the day. So I’ve tried to make sure I’ve done all the chopping and measuring and ingredients gathering (for the most part) for a variety of meals (we do have duplicates of some of these, as I tried to prepare them in batches). This will hopefully help easy the chaos and rising tensions in a household that already has a hormonal Mama, two small kids adjusting to some drastic changes, a newborn trying to figure out life on the outside, and an Abba who is trying to hold it all together! My freezer dinners include:
Lasagna (several kinds)
Chicken, Rice, and Broccoli casserole
Beef Barley Soup
Veggie-rich Bolognese Sauce
With each of these, I figured either Gabe or I could handle pulling something out of the freezer to thaw and whipping up a side (rice, pasta, salad – whatever fits the meal) . Mostly, I didn’t want Gabe to have to do the planning and executing of the cooking aspect of the meals while also juggling the kids’ late-in-the-day needs.
Morning times are not my husband’s strongest thinking time, and our kids usually wake up full of energy and ready to EAT as quickly as possible! So I figured if I put together some easy-to-prep breakfasts, it will be a real blessing to the household. My ideas are:
Partially-prepped Oatmeal Bakes (all that needs to be added is the wet ingredients)
Partially-prepped Sheet Pan Pancakes (again, just add the milk and eggs)
Veggie+Eggs Muffins (pre-baked and frozen, so they can be easily pulled out and heated up for a quick, filling breakfast)
Partially-prepped Chia-Oatmeal overnight bowls (just add milk and fruit)
Hearty Breakfast muffins (several flavors – pumpkin, banana, blueberry, etc – with lots of oats and whole wheat flour and nuts and seeds)
We also do a lot of oatmeal and smoothies and toast around here, all of which Gabe is very capable of doing even when he’s sleep deprived and doesn’t have a recipe. And I picked up some boxes of muesli/healthier and heartier cold cereals to have on hand as well.
Since some of the frozen dinners require some additional ingredients when they are put in the crockpot, and since it’s nice to just have these things on hand to add to meals if needed, I’ve also loaded up on:
chopped tomatoes cans
tomato paste cans
beans (we usually use dry beans, but Gabe wouldn’t know off the top of his head how to prep them, so cans are easier if he’s going to be the primary food putter-together-er!)
flour (wholemeal and white)
coconut and olive oils
Frozen Food Staples:
I did a freezer restock of the common frozen foods we reach for to round out meals or to throw together simple breakfasts or lunches, such as:
spinach and kale (for smoothies)
fruit (berries, bananas, applesauce cubes, etc – some of these I’m making in advance – also for smoothies)
And some easy to prep things like chicken nuggets and fish sticks
And lastly, I’ll be getting some easy-to-eat snacks and pre-portioning them into snack zippy bags so I don’t have to open large bags and cause the packaging to be all crinkly-sounding in the middle of the night when I’m starving at 3am! This will include things like:
trail mix (with almonds and dark chocolate and craisins!)
smoosh balls (or frooze balls)
roasted, salted peanuts
dried fruit (mango, dates, raisins, craisins, plums, peaches, etc)
sour patch kids (I have LOVED eating sour patch kids after both births!)
Postpartum Logistical Strategy #2: Maximize Sleep
Our house is pretty small and not terribly noise-proof from one room to another. As we all know, sleep in those early days postpartum is often already a challenge… Without having the additional interruptions of energetic toddlers or joyfully-singing preschoolers!
So we decided to set up an alternative sleep space for me and the baby. We have a bedroom-sized cabin disconnected from our house (our “bonus” room). It won’t be the most convenient to go to the bathroom (since I’ll have to go inside the house). But because of the sound barrier, I should be able to go to sleep at the time I want/need to. This will also make for easier naps while the baby is napping, regardless of the rest of the family’s schedules.
We figured this will be for at least the first 5-7 days. And then we’ll see how the routines and my rest are going from there. This also means that Gabe should be able to mostly get a full night’s sleep while primary parent to the older kids. In the past, postpartum has been a really tough time for us regarding sleep. So it was one of the first priorities to our strategy for postpartum with baby #3.
Postpartum Logistical Strategy #3: Childcare Help
I’ve asked at the ministry where Gabe works if anyone is available and would like to take Mara and Jemma on a 60-minute walk once a day for the first few weeks postpartum with baby #3. I communicated a set time each day for the walk, so the walkers can plan that in to their schedules.
This feels like a real luxury! If it works out, hopefully it will provide an opportunity for Gabe and me to have time to process how we’re doing. We know we may need to strategize some changes in real time, without being interrupted by the kids. I assume such conversations will NOT be happening after the girls go to bed since I’m going to try to be sleeping whenever the baby is sleeping from 7pm to 7am!
Since I struggled with postpartum anxiety after Jemma’s birth, I’m trying to budget and plan toward having someone come watch the girls 2 hours a week from about 2 to 6 months. It is going to be a stretch on the financial side of things for us. But I think having a scheduled time each week when I know the girls are having fun with someone else and I can catch up on tasks or catch a little more rest or just be able to sit in a quiet space with only one person needing me may help me maintain perspective for those hormonally turbulent months.
Postpartum Logistical Strategy #4: Housecleaning Help
I’m going to try to have a friend come do a quick clean of the house every other week for the first two months. A tidy-up can help my mental resilience, which we are pretty good about doing at the end of each day. But knowing that my floors are mopped and my toilet is cleaned regularly will help me not stress about trying to do that myself.
For more long term, I’m hoping to continue having some housecleaning help for the first 6 months. I think even a once-a-month deeper clean will help me feel like I’m on top of our household maintenance.
Postpartum Logistical Strategy #5: Physical Recovery
I didn’t pay a lot of attention to physical recovery with Mara – just doing what came naturally. With Jemma, I should have taken more time to rest initially. Instead I assumed I’d be fine acting like I had after Mara’s birth.
So for this baby, I’ve communicated to Gabe my plan is to generally try to follow the 5-5-5 rule. With the sleepout as an option to rest and sleep, I should be able to get plenty of horizontal time. And by trying to delegate or create a plan for the household tasks and childcare, I can adhere to the rest plan!
I’ve also purchased a sitz bath, witch hazel, a peri-bottle, and epsom salts. I’m hoping all of that will support my body in a quick physical recovery.
Emotional Postpartum Preparation for Baby #3:
Gabe and I both know that the early phase after having a baby is a big adjustment! And we’ve both felt this adjustment emotionally (we’re both feelers!). Historically, our postpartum phases tends to result not always offering the best emotional support to each other. We’d really like this postpartum to not follow all of those patterns! So we’ve come up with our “emotional preparation” list:
Postpartum Emotional Strategy #1: Daily check-ins between Gabe and me
We’re hoping to make this happen during the daily walk that the girls take each day. Primarily, we will be checking in with how each other is feeling. (I’ll post a copy of the list of Soul Words from How We Love’s free resources on our fridge for quick reference.) And then we can identify specific options for improving things that aren’t going well. This may be in the realm of parenting the girls, my physical recovery, breastfeeding, the baby’s sleep, etc. It’s meant to be a chance for us to connect and be a team… Ideally BEFORE we are reaching a stress “blow up” point of frustration or discouragement.
Postpartum Emotional Strategy #2: Prioritizing Sleep for Both Parents
As outlined above, we’re trying something new with the divide-and-conquer strategy of having two sleep locations for the adults. Gabe has always helped me through the nighttimes with a new baby. And I’ve always tried to adopt a normal, adult rhythm (maybe with a nap) during the daytime. This hasn’t been terrible, but it does result in both of us getting broken sleep. And not really a lot of it!
With Baby #3’s postpartum, we’re sticking to more of a Gabe-stays-on-a-normal-schedule for the sake of the older girls. Meanwhile, I will switch to more of a round-the-clock wake and sleep schedule. With the plan to stay IN bed (for the most part) with the 5-5-5 rule, I’m hopeful that I can manage to get 8+ hours of sleep per day. This will help my body recover as well as my emotions be less “frayed” hopefully!
We also know that if either of us is really sleep deprived and tired, everything feels like bigger deals! So trying to make sure both adults get 8 hours (or more!) of sleep per 24 hour period is a way to add a bit of “buffer” to our emotional capacity and maintain some level of resilience.
Postpartum Emotional Strategy #3: Daily girls-with-Dani-and-baby time
I’m hoping to spend at least 20 minutes each day with the girls hanging out with me and the baby. We’ll probably read books, or they can help me with a diaper change or getting the baby dressed, etc. I’ll also try to spend some time individually with the girls. Maybe a few minutes of cuddling Jemma before her nap or having a tea date with Mara. Just so they get a chance to process their days and emotions with me and maintain that connection to me.
Postpartum Emotional Strategy #4: 20-minute Break for Gabe Each Day
This will most likely occur when the girls are having their time with me each day. I think having 20 minutes of time to think your own thoughts when you’re a primary caregiver is SO important. It can really make the difference (at least for me) between a frazzled or calm bedtime! Gabe, as an introvert, will likely find those breaks as valuable as I do. And, I want to help him maintain his sanity as full-time caregiver during this postpartum period with Baby #3!
But as a backup, I’m also working to prep about 10 different “activities” for the girls to do (with directions) that will give Gabe a little bit of a mental break. Things like:
- saving toilet paper cardboard rolls for the girls to draw on and make a “bowling pin” set
- checking out some kids audio books from the library so they can listen to them for a few minutes
- preparing a sensory-bin-in-a-bag for Gabe to dump into a tray for the girls to play with
- creating some templates of flowers or houses for the girls to “color” with playdough
- having the water wow pads and paintbrushes ready to go for some water painting time
Just having some of our normal activities bagged up and easy to set up as a “grab bag” of activity ideas will be helpful. And my kids love doing Miss Linky workouts on YouTube, so that will probably also be part of their daily routine!
Have you gone through a postpartum period with Baby #3? Did you intentionally do anything differently than you’d done with previous postpartum periods? Or, was there something you did postpartum with Baby #1 or Baby #2 (or #4, #5, #6, etc!) that you would share as a helpful tip for me? I love getting your feedback! Please share in the comments below.