You may have heard of a birth plan, but have you heard about a postnatal plan?

In our culture we are often focused on the birth, and most of all, on the baby. It is clear from the focus antenatal classes have, there is preparation for the birth, and also preparation for the postpartum, but the postpartum aspect is usually mostly focusing on babycare rather than on the mother’s needs (and I should know about it because I taught antenatal classes for several years). It is also clear from the presents expectant and new parents receive, which are also usually all for the baby.

It didn’t used to be this way. In every culture around the world, there used to be (and still is in many cultures even today), a period of at least a month post birth during which the new mother didn’t lift a finger. The community (usually female relatives), rallied round and took care of her household, so all she had to do was rest, eat nutritious food people prepared for her, receive healing bodywork treatments, and get to know her new baby. Compare this to what we get in the Western world: two weeks paternity leave, and then you’ve on your own.

Because we no longer live in a culture that understands and supports the need for recovery post birth, writing a postnatal plan is a fantastic way to ensure that there is support in place for after the birth, and that you aren’t alone trying to meet your own needs and the intense needs of a newborn baby (as well as running a house, and maybe looking after older children too).

I love this quote by Jojo Hogan, a postnatal doula who created the Slow postpartum movement.

If birth is like a wedding day (lots of planning, high expectations, being the centre of attention, lasts for about a day or so, get something special at the end), then the postpartum should be like a honeymoon (Equal amounts of planning and investment. Time, space and privacy to relax, bond and fall in love. Lots of people and services around to care for and look after you and a peaceful and blissful environment where all your needs are met for a few days or weeks).

As you would plan for your honeymoon, it is well worth putting plans in place for your baby moon, i.e. creating your own postnatal plan. Just like planning for birth, this isn’t about having a rigid plan. The magic isn’t in the finalised plan, or to have a ‘perfect’ plan, it is in the process of exploring options (some of which you may not even know exist) and getting informed so that you can have an experience which is as positive as possible, regardless of what happens.

I use this analogy: you need to find what’s in a buffet, before you decide what you’d like to eat (I explain this process in my blog called The buffet curator).

You don’t know how you’ll feel in advance. You don’t know what curveballs life might throw you (for example: your birth might happen sooner or later than you expected, it might unfold differently from what you had hoped, you might need to stay for a while in the hospital, your baby might need to stay for a while in the hospital etc).

So just like for birth, it’s worth having thought about all the options, so that, regardless of how your birth unfolds, and how your baby comes into the world, and how you end up feeling once you’re home with your baby, you have at least some form of support in place.

You may encounter people who dismiss your idea. “You can’t plan birth ” is a common phrase used to dismiss birth plans. Because a postnatal plan is an even newer concept than a birth plan, you may encounter some dismissiveness or negativity. People might say “what’s this newfangled thing, we didn’t need that in our time” or “you don’t need that” from people who don’t understand the point, because they did not do it themselves. Some of my clients who have written postnatal plan have encountered reactions from relatives who even said “I didn’t have support, I just got on with it”, implying that they suffered, and you should too. Therefore you might need to choose carefully who will be part of your postnatal support team, who to discuss it with, depending whether they are likely to be supportive or dismissive. In the vulnerable tender state of new motherhood, the last thing you need is being criticised for your choices. After all, you just single handed grew and birthed a whole new human, and you should be revered as the goddess that you are.

How to you write a postnatal recovery plan? It’s simple really, because a nurturing postpartum boils down to 4 pillars: Social support, Rest, Food and bodywork.

Here is a list of these topics with prompts, which you can use as basic to start write your postnatal plan.


  • Help with household (chores, cooking, cleaning, other children etc make a list of potential helpers)
  • Visitors-list them/how to manage them so they do not interfere with rest/write a “new mother and baby sleeping” note for the door.
  • Naps/sleep when the baby sleeps/early nights/sleep with your baby
  • Relaxation: techniques and apps


  • Batch cook and freeze
  • Who can make/bring you some/meal trains
  • Deliveries (supermarkets, take away meals, frozen, fresh, meal boxes)
  • Nutritious non perishable snacks
  • Use a sling so you have your hands available to make yourself something to eat.


  • Postnatal massages/closing the bones massage
  • Specialist manual therapists such as osteopaths, chiropractors, and physiotherapists
  • Wrapping your pelvis/abdomen
  • Keeping warm

Social support

  • Friends, family, neighbours
  • Hired help (doulas, nannies, cleaners…)
  • Online support (social media, WhatsApp groups…)

Planning for the unplanned:

You might want to include a part on navigating possible curveballs. For instance if you end up giving birth by caesarean when this wasn’t part of your plan and what your recovery might look like if that’s the case.  If you end up having a longer than expected hospital stay after the birth, or if your baby needs to stay in hospital for a while.

There are many ways to create a postnatal plan. You could write one, and you could also make a mindmap or a vision board, of draw something or whatever other modality appeals to you.

You can download a free postnatal recovery plan template as a PDF on my website front page.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, feel free to browse my blog for more posts on this topic. My book, Why postnatal recovery matters has a whole chapter on writing a postnatal recovery plan, and my online course How to prepare for a nurturing postpartum, has a whole module on it.

This coming Tuesday 28th of June I am also running a free Webinar called How to prepare for a nurturing postpartum.

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