So, I’ll start by answering the obvious question: What the heck is an eco-map?
Simply put, it’s a visual tool that helps us assess our connections with family, community and social networks, paying special attention to the quality of these relationships.
And it’s been the foundation of my postpartum planning as I navigate through my last trimester. (Yup, last trimester….where did the time go!?)
Where did I learn about the eco-map?
It was 2006 and I was working as part of a positive youth development program in Inglewood Unified School District in Los Angeles — shoutout to my Angelenos in the crowd!
I was initially trained to use the eco-map to help the young people I worked with identify and build the support system they needed to succeed in their high school years.
The youth I worked with had a lot of challenges.
Many went to bed hungry and came to school hungry.
Many were affected by the pervasive violence in their neighborhood.
Many had responsibilities and breadwinning duties that went beyond what a 15 year-old in the US might typically face.
But they also were highly motivated, intelligent, and resilient.
They knew what they wanted and sought out support, tools and guidance to get them there.
The ecomap was one of those indispensable resources for getting from A to B. Since first learning how to use the tool nearly a decade ago, I have continued to call on it throughout my professional and personal life.
I have used the eco-map in clinical mental health setting, in yoga therapy settings, with new mothers, and most recently, for me.
I adapted the traditional eco-map into an extensive postpartum planning process and have relied on it immensely during the 4-6 month timeframe my pregnancy.
Like the youth I worked with back in 2006, I knew what kind of postpartum experience I wanted, but was struggling with how to really identify what that meant in terms of concrete planning I needed to set up to bring my postpartum dream to life.
Now that I’ve used this tool with myself and others, I figured, why not share?
So, I have made a DIY version of the workbook, along with a free e-course to go along with it for you to use in your own planning.
I also want to be transparent. While “planning” doesn’t conjure up a particularly emotional experience, the eco-map gets into some challenging territory.
That family member who insists on being around right after birth but who you know deep down in your hearts of hearts that you REALLY don’t want around?
Yeah, we are going to finally brainstorm what to do about them.
Or the nagging feeling that the peaceful postpartum experience you desire is not financially possible?
We’ll go there.
This type of planning is impossible to do without touching on the whirlwind of emotions that pregnancy and postpartum brings up.
I want you to know you are not the only one who may be “feeling all the feelings” as you think about this transition.
Reach out for support.