When most people think of preparing for baby, it's usually all about the baby - do you have enough diapers? clothes? a car seat? Those who think beyond the "stuff" may also arrange to have someone come help those first few weeks, they may even stock their pantry beforehand. When you've had your first you already know what to expect and prepare better for the second time around. You're a veteran and you got this. Or do you?
No matter what number baby you're on and what your personal situation looks like there is some prep I found to be very helpful and applicable to most. There were also things I wish I accounted for or was told about and I'd like to acknowledge those for next time. I put my postpartum "preps" into three general categories - baby needs, physical family and mother needs, and mother's emotional needs.
Baby is usually well covered. At a bare minimum baby needs unrestricted access to mom, some diapers, a few outfits, and possibly a great lactation consultant for the duo should there be problems.
Physical family and mother needs is where gaps in prep start to be seen. You may plan to have a good family member or postpartum doula or friend come to visit or even stay with you shortly after baby and figure they'll take care of everything. That can be very helpful but unless they are there 24/7 and seasoned mind readers there are still things you can do to make it even easier on yourself.
For at least the first few weeks, delegate household tasks *ahead of time*. You don't want to worry about yelling at someone to do those dishes when the pile starts to bother you. Make your expectations clear to your helpers before baby comes.
Meal prep and stock your pantry. Even if you hire an awesome postpartum doula or your mom is coming to stay. There will be times you're left alone and hungry and will be very grateful you have those nuts in the cabinet or can just drop some hearty homemade frozen soup into a pot and have a great lunch.
Think of ways to spend time with older siblings and the baby. You don't want to make it baby vs them. Individual time spent with each child daily is a noble goal but most likely will add stress if baby happens to need you during that time. (For example I started paint time with my toddler before baby came and after birth I simply put baby in a carrier and continued to have "paint time" with him.)
For mother specific needs: stock up on pads, arnica pellets, and place giant water containers everywhere in the house you and baby may be. Nursing will make you very thirsty and there's nothing worse in the moment when you sit down, parched, with your rooting newborn, no water nearby, and you're out of earshot of your helpers. On the same note - you may want to keep phone chargers and books all around.
Most importantly: think about longer term than just the first three weeks. Those early weeks are actually easier than the later ones: baby sleeps more, you're resting (hopefully), you have help. When help typically drops off at the one month mark that's when it really gets tough. Baby is nearing or in their biggest growth spurt and you're coming out of the birth fog. With one baby you may have already felt up to cooking and doing chores well before your helpers left and were fine with it. You can also rest or nap when baby sleeps. When you're on baby number 2+ the naps and rests are much harder to come by.
Mother's emotional needs are usually not addressed at all and those are a minefield after the huge hormone shift during birth. Don't fight it. You can be upset, happy, overwhelmed, and everything in between all at once. You may think it's no big deal - you already had a baby. You're already a mom. But you've never been a mom to the new number of children you now have. It is an adjustment. You became a mother to this new person all over again. Each birth transforms you. Let it. This is where there is a huge gap in postpartum care and where post partum depression or anxiety starts. Birth needs to be processed. Your new role understood and supported. Find a way that speaks to you and use that outlet to help you. Write down your birth story, join a new mom group, meditate on what you really want in your life. This is one thing that is hard to prep for since you may not know ahead of time what you'll need but it is good to keep in mind that your emotions are valid and support is there.