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Mothers of Many Challenge #1: Quiet Time

by Shannon K. Valenzuela, PhD, LCCE

As we continue our series on mothering the mother of many, I want to dive right into the first challenge: finding “quiet time”.

Quiet time gives moms a chance to step away from their myriad responsibilities and just bealone. This is an opportunity for meditation or prayer, relaxation, gentle exercise – basically, for refilling the well. It’s important for moms to have a daily routine that incorporates quiet time, especially in the time just before and after birth.

Why? A constant, hectic schedule without respite or balance elevates levels of stress hormones – and these are not friendly to labor! Lowering stress before and during labor can make an enormous difference to a mother’s birth experience. Stress can also compound postpartum difficulties like depression and anxiety. Elevated levels of stress can block a woman’s ability to process progesterone[i], a hormone whose levels plummet after the delivery of the placenta, and progesterone deficiency can be a major cause of postpartum depression.[ii] Quiet time can help the mother manage stress, and this is critical for her health and well-being.

Prioritizing quiet time is a challenge for all mothers, but it is especially difficult for the mother of many. She can barely escape to the bathroom by herself without someone needing something! Depending on her situation, she may be juggling the needs of toddlers and teenagers and everything in between. She may be homeschooling, which means that she manages all of these needs all day. If her older kids are in school, she cares for the little ones without the help of her older kids. Suffice to say that trying to find half an hour to meditate may seem downright impossible to the mother of many!

Because it seems impossible, she may be tempted to downplay its importance. As Aviva Jill Romm points out in Natural Health after Birth, “[r]unning on empty doesn’t serve anybody in the long run, but it is easy to do when you spend all your time giving to others” (81). Moms can’t give what they don’t have. It’s important for caregivers to affirm for the mother of many that she needs and deserves time to recharge her batteries while acknowledging the challenges she faces.

A late pregnancy/postpartum strategy session for mothers of many should involve brainstorming ways to find quiet time. Here are a few possibilities to get her thinking:

· Could dad watch baby and get the kids ready in the morning so mom can shower and meditate or write in her journal?
· Could grandma, a friend, or a postpartum doula come over in the afternoon while the little ones are napping to help with chores and give mom a chance to take a walk or sit outside and enjoy a cup of tea?
· Could dad put the kids to bed to give mom some time to unwind?
· Is there a chore routine for the older children? If the kids handle dishes after dinner, for instance, then mom could take a walk or read a book.

Mother’s quiet time will be an ongoing need – as important for the family well-being as nutritious meals. Moms should be encouraged to work with their partners to develop strategies for finding quiet time that work with their unique family dynamics.

In the next post we’ll take on Challenge #2: Taming Supermom Syndrome!

[i] See “Interview: Katharina Dalton, MD: Progesterone and Related Topics” in International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding, Sept/Oct 1999: 2.

[ii] For a review of the studies on progesterone deficiency and PPD, see my article “The Power of Natural Progesterone: Treating Hormone-Related Postpartum Depression” in Midwifery Today 103 (Autumn 2012): 22-25.

Shannon K. Valenzuela is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, trained birth doula, and freelance author. She currently teaches baby care and childbirth preparation classes at Texas Health Resources - Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. Her book, Mothering the Mother of Many, will be released later this year. You can find out more about her current projects at and follow her on Twitter at @skvalenzuela. She and her husband and their six children live in Dallas, Texas.

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 10/23/2012 10:40:32 AM



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