A meal-train is a scheduling tool that allows friends and family to sign up and deliver food to you. This is an extremely helpful resource during postpartum and I highly recommend setting one up. For me, having clear and strong boundaries was really important during my postpartum period, while also being open to support. You can read more about how I set boundaries, and what boundaries I set, in Chapter Three. For me, the combination of boundary setting with my meal train setup was vital.
In some moments I felt like, ‘wow, this is too much to ask of people’ because I had a lot of boundaries and food restrictions. When that feeling crept up, I reminded myself that the people who didn’t think it was too much would be there to lovingly help and, in fact, would love to know exactly what I wanted and needed. I recentered myself and focused on the vision of what my most ideal support looked like. I allowed myself to really dive deep into what the most pleasurable support would be. If you aren’t clear about what your most ideal support looks like, I recommend taking some time to journal and reflect.
When we created our meal train, I included a PDF (which grew into this book) of my favorite recipes along with our usual shopping list. I let our community know that if they didn’t have time to cook a meal, even picking up some groceries would be a huge help - and it was!
Digital Meal Train:
Along with our meal train for our local community, we also decided to create an online meal train. Daren and I have lived many places throughout our relationship which has left us with dear friends all around the country and world. So many people wanted to be a part of our support team after Daelu was born and really, we needed all the help we could get!
Our digital meal train was focused on helping us keep our pantry stocked. For this, we simply created an Amazon Wish List with all of our ideal pantry items and I can’t begin to express how important and helpful this was! We still have food from our digital meal train 3 months later! And we were able to receive items that we otherwise wouldn’t have invested in - because, you know, having a kid is expensive. At one point we had 6, SIX, jars of our favorite cashew butter! A spoonful of that nut butter was the perfect fuel between meals and kept me from getting depleted many times.
Setting Up Your Meal Trains:
There are lots of websites that offer easy meal train set up. We used mealtrain.com, but if you give a quick search online, you’ll find lots of options. Using an online scheduling service is a great way to make meal delivery & dietary instructions accessible and easy to understand.
Another option is to appoint a point of contact. After being hospitalized, our friend Amber stepped in as a point of contact for us. All of the folks who wanted to help us, bring us food, offer cleaning support, or any other gift, contacted Amber to set up delivery. Plus she was able to keep everyone updated throughout my time in hospital so Daren & I could focus fully on healing & parenting.
Amber put out a request call to the group anytime we needed something and was able to pull in resources from those who had space to give. She brought us meals at the hospital and filled our fridge & freezer for when we returned with food from our friends. At a time when we didn’t have much energy to write emails or texts, when we couldn’t keep track of who knew what, Amber’s support made a massive difference.
Before going into labor, it’s a great idea to consider who your point of contact would be if anything were to happen.
Here are some things to consider before asking your ideal point of contact:
Do you feel safe with this person?
Is this person reliable/punctual?
Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable with this person?
Can this person listen deeply without offering unsolicited advice?
Would this person respond well to your boundaries/needs in the moment?
Do you feel comfortable being naked in front of this person? (you never know what situation you might find yourself in or who might see what if it’s an emergency)
Would you feel comfortable with this person in your home when you’re not there
Have a chat with your ideal point of contact before going into labor and ask if they would be available to hold this space for you if anything were to happen.
Sending Out Your Meal Trains:
Before going into labor I made sure everything was prepped and ready for my meal train. I wrote out the emails for both our local community and our community at large, added all the links & documents, compiled all the email addresses, and saved it as a draft. When Daelu was born, Daren added the relevant information that we couldn’t prep ahead (like birthdate, weight, length, etc.) and sent it off to our community.
We waited to send the meal train info until it was time to make the birth announcement to ensure that meals would be delivered during postpartum. If we had sent it out ahead of time with our ‘guess date’ (how I refered to my ‘due date’ because all due dates are really just guesses), there’s a chance some meals would’ve arrived while I was still pregnant. Daelu came early (49w5d) so we would’ve been okay, but for mamas that may go 2-3 weeks past their guess dates, I imagine receiving meals early would be a bummer. Yes, it’s helpful during late pregnancy, but I found it meal support to be vital during postpartum.