Taking stock before the stork: using permaculture to plan with pregnancy

Permaculture approaches to landing during pregnancy.

By Priya Logan

As a birth doula and mother of fifteen years and counting I often see and distincly remember how it is to view your pregnancy and impending parenthood, or expanded family, through a lens of duty to your responsibilities and often a profound narrowing of resources and energy.

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For most of us it can feel overwhelming to be faced with an archetypal expectation of what a parent should be or how they should feel even if we know that those ideals are narrow or there are many ways to approach anything.

When my youngest daughter was born I started studying permaculture — I had been involved with the transition towns movement in the previous years but hadn’t thought much about the inner mechanisms or design principles. It was exciting to discover all these amazing tools and methods that could be endlessly adjusted and reinvented and ultimately were about intimacy with ones own projects and life.

During the initial Permaculture Design Certificate course one of the design and analysis tools that we use was the input and output analysis — this has been adapted perhaps from economists Wassily W. Leontief’s process of the same name. What I love about doing this on a personal or larger project is that it snaps us out of the illusion or tired assumption that we are on a predetermined linear track and hands us back some of the joy and ownership to make our own way without comparison.

Doing an inventory whilst we are expecting and even getting into the habit of doing and redoing them will ground us in our immediate lived experience rather than letting us flounder unsure of our needs and resources.

Look at the image below and freewrite your needs wants — then resources and roles.

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Did anything surprise you ? Was anything a need that seems to be lacking or non-existent? This is just the first step of course but bringing these energies into visibility is an important one. After we do that we can start to make solid plans which are firmly rooted in reality. These are therefore likely to have an abundance of power and energy behind them.

Next you can separate the inputs and outputs into categories: material, physical work, emotional etc. During pregnancy and early parenthood make a solid plan to prioritise your needs and wants. Much of what you are craving will change and sometimes expression and acknowledgement will cause the desire for something that feels absolutely essential to dissipate. Other times you can honour what the need is in many different ways.

Have a look at what of your needs are being met and how and what people, places, activities in your life fulfil many needs? These are to be cherished and prioritised — your personal sun sector as they would call it in permaculture.

What outputs do you have that overlap with fulfilling your needs? A need for exercise and being outdoors could, for instance, be met by also completing a task for a neighbour or walking to work. Start making the connections and plugging the leaks for more energy and power.

Over the past years I have been working on tools that use permaculture wisdom for the childbearing year and beyond. This includes ways of mapping out our layered complexities and discovering hidden resources and interests as well as strategies that enable us to clearly see energy leaks and transform them.

Stay in touch for more — and let me know how you get on with the exercise and any thoughts or suggestions!

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