Getting to know Arianna Taboada
Meet Arianna Taboada, mama to one (a seven month old who has decided he loves the beach just as much as she does), wife to a documentary filmmaker husband, resident of Playa del Carmen , Mexico, maternity leave planning and postpartum consultant, and creator of the Postpartum Eco-Map.
Before I tell you about her Eco-Map, let me dazzle you with her resume: Masters in Social Work, Masters in Science in Maternal-Child Health, 3 year fellowship through the US Maternal and Child Health Bureau (specialized training for health professionals), and health educator (pregnancy prevention, HIV education, intimate partner violence) for 8 years. She recognizes that the transition to motherhood is both an exciting and a vulnerable time. In working with new mothers, she has learned that the support networks a mom has (family, community, etc.) greatly influences both her and infant during this transition. Arianna notes that by setting up the support network for a positive postpartum experience, she is able to affect/prevent health outcomes much further down the road.
“In a sense, one-on-one work with women is still about the bigger picture of healthy families, and healthy communities. I particularly love working with women on the topic of maternity leave and transitioning back to work.” – Arianna
I am a huge fan of her Postpartum Eco-Map (it’s similar to my postpartum support list I created with my third pregnancy). This is (roughly) a 45 minute exercise that will help you set up your support network for your postpartum period. It helps you identify what you (think) you will need the first couple days postpartum, how to create boundaries with certain people, find local resources in your community, and define your intimate support network. You work through three different support systems (family, community, and professional). With each system, you identify individuals that are a positive support, support that doesn’t serve you well (stressful or uncomfortable), and weak support. Once you have categorized your support individuals into the three tiers of support (positive, personally stressful, and weak), you set up a list of tasks that each tier can do for you.
Positive support individuals are the people that you know you can count on guilt-free and stress-free. These are the people that you ask to organize a Meal Train, help clean your house, come sit with baby while you take a shower or rest. I cannot say enough about utilizing this tier of support. There is NO reason that any new mom should be “doing it all”. The postpartum period is a beautiful, transformative experience, but it’s also messy and stressful.
Don’t make your postpartum period any more stressful than you have to: utilize these positive support individuals.
Personally stressful support individuals require more forethought. These are the people that you know will want to “help”, but their help may stressed you out and/or make you uncomfortable. These are the people you set up boundaries for; make a timeline on when these individuals can visit (after 4 weeks), set up other ways they can help (go to grocery store, walk dog). People in this category may also require your partner to help you discuss these boundaries with them (when you have someone backing you up, it makes it harder for individuals to take offense). Remember, your partner is there to support you and what you will need during this vulnerable time. For example: if his mother is going to stress you out, he needs to set up boundaries for her visits: tell her she can visit for a half hour a week (with your partner present), and walk the dog when she’s there. So, even if it is emotionally stressful for you, you get some positive support (walking the dog) with it.
Remember, boundaries are a good thing. As your parenting journey continues, you will realize creating and sticking to boundaries are important (um…hello terrible two-temper tantrums).
Keeping YOUR postpartum period YOURS is important for your transition to motherhood.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: you need to take care of yourself in order to better take care of your baby.
Set up for your postpartum period, your future self will thank you.