It’s a New Year and time to get your priorities straight. If you think your kids’ health is exponentially more important than your own, you may want to rethink your philosophy on a healthy household. The truth is a healthy mom sets the stage for healthier families because it all starts with you, mama.
When you were pregnant and growing your beautiful baby inside your womb you probably treated your body as the sacred vessel it was. You saw your OB on a regular basis, followed medical advice more or less, and did your best not to put your baby at risk.
Once your baby was born, all your focus shifted to your baby’s needs for healthy growth and development, starting with breastfeeding. You followed the protocol for well check-ups and probably had your baby vaccinated on the recommended schedule.
But what about your nutritional needs? Your well checkups? Opportunities to protect your mental, emotional and physical health and well-being?
All too often the arrival of a baby (and then a few more) leads to the deterioration of a mother’s health. While it may appear this shift is towards the instinctual nurturing of being a good mother, it is in some ways to the detriment of your baby and entire family.
A healthy mom is the foundation of a healthy family, but moms are put at a disadvantage from the get go. Pregnancy often depletes the body of essential nutrients including calcium, folic acid, iron and zinc, to name a few. And the leaching continues during breastfeeding as well. This is one reason why a wholesome diet and prenatal vitamins are so important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Now, ask any mom and she’ll gladly give up her nutrient base for her baby, that’s not the question. It’s what happens after childbirth that becomes the issue. Mothers tend to put their needs aside in order to care for their babies and the nutrients and energy they need to rebuild are forgotten. This puts a mother at greater risk for illness because her immune system is weak. So when germs enter the home (as is common with babies in day care or preschoolers), mom is more likely to get sick.
To top it off, sleep deprivation that is so common in early motherhood further weakens the immune system and can contribute to postpartum depression and other mental and emotional issues. That’s not to mention that lack of energy and feeling exhausted all of the time makes caring for a new baby very very difficult.
When a mother ignores symptoms because she is focused on her children, not only is she continuing to feel poorly and not be the best mom she can be, but she’s also at risk of the problem becoming more serious. Plus, she’s setting a bad example for her children.
In all of the tasks of mothering, work, household chores and other life responsibilities, moms are not prioritizing their health by visiting doctors for regular check-ups. They are also not exercising, eating nutritiously, finding ways to relax and spending time doing things they enjoy as much as they should. And when this happens, sadly, it’s not only moms who suffer; It’s children too, the very people that moms are trying to protect by ignoring their own health needs.
A healthy mom realizes that the cycle of health and well-being for her family starts with her. That’s why prioritizing your health is so important this year. When you have a health concern, address it. If you need a mental break, take it. When you need more sleep, sleep. Eat when you’re hungry. Work out your stress with exercise.
It sounds simple, but we know finding the time for all of this is hard. However, if we said it’s in the best interest of your children, you’d do it. So next time you can’t find the time for your own needs, think about how it directly affects your children. Then we know you’ll see the value.
Cheers to being a healthy mom this year!
Sources: Parents and Huffington Post