An Icebreaker about the Postpartum Period

Today I taught about the postpartum period. I want to cover three areas under this topic – physical recovery, emotional adjustment and PPMD, and lifestyle changes / tips for coping with life with a new baby.

Over the years, I have done this as a lecture and as a grab bag exercise, I’ve had new parents visit class to talk about what the experience has been like for them, and I’ve had students read a series of quotes about the postpartum period (note: this just covered emotional stuff and lifestyle changes, not the physical recover topics).

Today, I tried something new, invented in the car as I drove to class.

I did a brief introduction, saying: “We’ll be talking about the postpartum period, after baby has arrived. I’m guessing that you have been hearing stories and advice from friends, family, and co-workers about this – probably some positive stories and some horror stories – some helpful advice and some not so helpful advice. I’m going to divide you into three small groups, and I want you to share with each other what you have heard about these topics.” Then I wrote on the board:

  • Physical recovery after birth
  • Emotional adjustment
  • Lifestyle changes – getting enough sleep, self care, juggling work and baby, housework, relationship changes

I let them talk in their small groups for about ten minutes. It was a lively discussion – this was week 3 of a class series, and we’ve been doing a lot to build community so, I knew they’d be willing to join in.

I then brought the group back together, and we talked more about each thing – what they’d heard, what they wondered, then I added more details.

If I lecture on this, it tends to take me 15 – 20 minutes, but in some ways that feels both too long a time of dumping information on them that they don’t yet know that they need, but at the same time, it feels like I skim over the basics but they don’t really connect / sink in as much as I’d like.

Today, it took ten minutes for the small group time,and about ten minutes to review together where I was able to cover all the content in a good level of detail. I felt that

  • it was a successful community building exercise that they enjoyed
  • during the discussion time, they realized that although they had lots of tidbits about the postpartum period, they didn’t really know much
  • and that realization then led them to be very engaged / interested in learning more, so they connected more with the discussion that followed – both in terms of absorbing practical information and connecting with it emotionally

Another successful classroom exercise invented on the drive to class!


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