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 be…alone.
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.
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
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
See “Interview: Katharina Dalton, MD: Progesterone and Related Topics” in International Journal of Pharmaceutical
Compounding, Sept/Oct 1999: 2.
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.
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
Mothering the Mother of Many, will be released later this
year. You can find out more about her
current projects at www.skvalenzuela.com and follow her on Twitter at
@skvalenzuela. She and her husband and
their six children live in Dallas, Texas.