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Practicing Mindfulness Can Help New Parents Ease Stress, Exhaustion

Mother meditating while holding new baby

The early days of life with a new baby are full of adventures and learnings, but pose plenty of challenges for parents. While welcoming a newborn into your family is an exciting time, it also can be a time of stress, frustration, exhaustion and even boredom. 

Molly Weingrod’s course, Mindfulness for Parents with Babies, is a class made to open up the conversation with this new-baby life experience.  A six-week introduction to mindfulness meditation practice at Penn’s Solutions for Women, the class explores how mindfulness practice can be useful and supportive — even transformative — for parents with babies.

“Living with babies and children is intense! They have so many needs, we have so many responsibilities; they are growing and evolving, and we are, too,” said Weingrod, who has taught mindfulness to expectant parents for several years, but more recently developed the class specific to parents of new babies. “Mindfulness practice can help us cultivate space in our lives to be present to the myriad joys and challenges of being a parent and person, and it can really lower the stress level at a time of deep change, and life reorganization or reorientation.”

Why Mindfulness?

While leading classes for parents-to-be, Weingrod and her teaching partner, Carol O’Donoghue, found themselves repeating this line to their pregnant students: “If you think this is useful in pregnancy or labor and birth, just wait until parenthood!” she said. “That’s when it’s really gonna come in handy!” 

Molly has put the practice to work in her own life as a parent, too.

“I have young children and am aware of the fact that mindfulness practice has been a game changer for me as a person and parent,” she said. “My awareness has broadened, my capacity to grow and cultivate compassion, patience, and presence for my family and myself has expanded, and I have been able to make deep, sustainable change on negative habit patterns that, before, I wasn’t even aware were there.”

Who Can Benefit?

In short, anyone can benefit from mindfulness practice.

“Truly!” Weingrod said. “It is a never-ending investigation into, and exploration of, the human mind, body and experience.”

Curriculum for the Mindfulness for Parents is modeled on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction curriculum and its adaptations, so it can be particularly useful for people who are feeling a considerable amount of stress in their lives — or heightened anxiety.

“So basically, it’s for most of us,” Weingrod said. “It is particularly useful, as well, for those who want to become more conscious in their lives as people and parents, and would like to explore that with guidance, or in community.”

And it’s something that has the potential to benefit you for your entire life, in any area, and can be practiced to meet your individual needs.

“Mindfulness is something that needs to be practiced and cultivated, like a garden, in order to see its impact and results,” Weingrod said. “It is a way of looking and seeing and being — the doing will be different for each of us, as each of us and each of our children are unique, but the practice is accessible to us all.”

What does Mindful Parenting Include?

The series of classes is a “jumping off point for further exploration and understanding,” Weingrod said. “It will give students a foundational understanding of mindfulness practice, and create a basis for practicing and benefiting further for the rest of your life.”

Each class includes the following components:

  • An introduction to and practice of a new form of mindfulness meditation
  • Exploration of and conversation around the practice experience, and applications for parenthood and life
  • A lesson about the intersection of parenthood and practice
  • Brief, accessible mindfulness practices for new parents to take home and try 
  • Attendees are welcome to bring their babies along, too.

“This class is meant to be as accessible as possible, so we have constructed it such that parents can learn to practice mindfulness while they are doing their regular life with their babies,” Weingrod said. “It’s not the same as sitting quietly meditating on a mountaintop, but then again, that’s not what we spend most of our days doing at this point, so we might as well start with where we are!”

How to Register

Cost is $175 for the six-class series, and each series of Mindful Parenting classes is open to 12 people. Registrants are welcome to attend as couples or as individuals, and pre-crawling babies are also invited. 

Register for Mindful Parenting or any of the classes offered by Solutions for Women, here.

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