Who will be part of your care and support team postpartum? This article breaks down why you need a postpartum care team, who to include, and how to assemble it.
For the fourth trimester – the first three months after a baby is born – you’ll need hype-people to check on you physically and emotionally. Maybe your care team – outside of your medical providers – will entail your partner, parents, best friend, and an older sibling who has three babies. Keep reading to learn more.
Why do you need a postpartum care team?
In the United States, a birthing person has a baby and is usually home within a few days, even after a surgical birth. At six weeks, or earlier with a midwife, the parent has a check-up; if they’re “lucky” and have parental leave, that person is back at work around twelve weeks later.
A great support network helps your healing occur more smoothly, so you’ll have the chance to rest and bond with your new baby.Gigi Vera Vincent
This standard makes postpartum healing seem like something that magically happens in a few months. Still, the physical and emotional toll of having a baby takes longer to recover from than six or twelve weeks. A great support network helps your healing occur more smoothly, so you’ll have the chance to rest and bond with your new baby.
Your postpartum medical support team
OBGYN or Midwife
Depending on your preferences and risk factors, you’ll need an OB/GYN or Midwife to meet with you while pregnant and help deliver your baby. This relationship should be patient-centered, meaning that the person listens to you and values your feelings and concerns; you should trust this person and feel comfortable asking them questions.
A truly great childbirth or newborn class can make you feel educated and confident. Having evidence-based information beyond how to change a diaper or bathe a baby empowers you and gives you realistic expectations.
Bonus points if the organization you choose also has postpartum support. I took my childbirth, newborn care, mommy and me, and toddler classes with the same woman, and I still have a relationship with her and other parents I met in those classes.
If you choose to nurse, you might need a lactation consultant. You’ll hear over and over that body feeding is natural, but that definitely does not mean it’s easy; breastfeeding successfully takes work and support.
Before giving birth, go to a lactation class because a lactation consultant will educate you about latch, positioning, and more. In the hospital or birthing center, ask a lactation consultant to come and check on you. If possible, add a support group or class to your resource list.
Pelvic Floor specialist
In France – pelvic PT is included as standard postpartum care. Seeing a pelvic physical therapist will give you a wealth of knowledge. You’ll get tips for breathing, picking up your baby, or going to the bathroom (mine told me I was doing this wrong, which was a shock). A pelvic physical therapist can also treat diastasis recti issues or the very common, but never discussed, incontinence.
After creating and birthing a baby, your body will be exhausted. Plus, feeding, picking up and holding a baby, and falling asleep in a rocking chair (again) all take a toll. The necessity of caring for our bodies postpartum is not emphasized enough: your shoulders, back, and pelvis.
Always carrying my babies in the same position made my body lopsided, so a chiropractor was essential. Seeing a chiropractor postpartum can help your body heal and strengthen your core and pelvis.
Seeing an acupuncturist postpartum provides medical and mental support. Research shows acupuncture relieves stress and anxiety; it can help you feel more rested, which you definitely need with a newborn. And one study found acupuncture can increase milk production. If you’ve never had acupuncture before, postpartum can be a great time to try it.
Your postpartum mental support team
Partner or support person
If you have a partner or main support person, spend time discussing your postpartum plan and expectations. This person should be your champion, check on you mentally and physically, and give you a break. But, remember, you’ll need a lot more than just one person to do these things, as will your partner.
A doula gives essential support and education. A birth doula or a postpartum doula can be a labor coach, an advocate, an educator, a helper, and a listener, and a guide, and doulas give you time to rest and bond with your baby.
Someone to help you
Ask a close family member, friend, or neighbor to come over and give you a break. While you might be tempted to spend this time cleaning, you should shower, nap, or go somewhere (I usually spend mine with a vanilla cone and a great book in the McDonald’s parking lot).
It would help if you also asked or hire someone to help you clean and make or bring food. The first few weeks should be spent focusing on bonding with and learning about your newborn, so if it’s possible, ask for (and accept) help.
Someone who’s been there
Having a friend or relative who has children is a necessary source of comfort and education. I was lucky enough to have a relative who had older children and a best friend with a son a few months older than mine, and texting them in the middle of the night or complaining about naps or pooping made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Therapist or support group
Find a local postpartum support therapist or a new parents group; maybe sign up for a class while still expecting. According to one resource, eighty percent of birthing people experience the baby blues; fifteen percent of birthing people experience postpartum depression. Yet, we don’t talk about it. Make a plan to talk about it.
If you’re looking for a postpartum support group, check out the Postpartum Together support groups for new moms. You can save $20 on groups with code HP20 at checkout.
Tips for assembling your postpartum care team
- Follow social media accounts that post about the fourth trimester
- Follow social media accounts for local businesses providing postpartum support
- Make a physical copy of your postpartum care team and share it with your support person
- Inform people on your list of how they can support you
- Download this free Postpartum Prep and Recovery Guide
The above is an extensive list of helpers, and hopefully, you won’t need all of them. But, do future-you a favor and, instead of frantically Googling “how to get my baby to latch” at two in the morning, be prepared with a postpartum support team.