Listening Mothers shows new moms they’re not alone

Classes are offered across the Puget Sound region, including in two locations on Mercer Island.

Motherhood can be overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. To help new families cope with stress, become more attuned with their babies and find a community of like-minded people in the same situation, Mercer Island resident Yaffa Maritz founded Community of Mindful Parenting and Listening Mothers.

“It’s a big role change,” said Ferda Celen, a Listening Mothers facilitator whose group meets at Mercer Island Pediatrics. “It’s not just the physical, emotional and sleep issues, it’s the relationship  with themselves, their baby and their partner.”

Listening Mothers provides a safe, non-judgmental environment that promotes openness and mindfulness. Mothers learn breathing exercises along with mindful practices like gratitude and self-compassion. The research-based curriculum can help “turn the present moment into a pleasant moment,” helping mothers struggling with similar things share ideas for how to cope with them.

There are groups all over the Puget Sound, mostly in Seattle, though facilitators are looking to expand to more locations on the Eastside and South Sound. One group meets at Mercer Island’s Stroum Jewish Community Center. Groups are comprised of five to 10 mothers with babies ranging in age from six weeks to four months, and meet once a week for eight weeks. The fee is $195, and scholarships are available.

“We practice skills, share experiences and build connections and relationships,” Celen said. “It’s not just a teaching group, it’s a support group.”

It’s also not a therapy group, Celen said, though facilitators, many with backgrounds in social work or mental healthcare, are trained to look for symptoms of more “fragile situations” like postpartum depression, and provide referrals, Celen said.

Many of the relationships continue after the group sessions conclude, Celen said.

“They build their little village,” she said. “It’s fun to see how the babies are growing.”

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