Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

Your Health Matters

A Mother's Health Tasks
One of the biggest tasks of the mothering job involves making important health decisions for our family.  It's often mothers rather than fathers who become informed on health issues.  Mothers make the appointments or purchase the medications and/or health supplements.  In addition, food and diet are often at the forefront of every mother's mind.  What's for breakfast?  Is it going to be that sugary cereal or something more nutritious?

Your Own Health
The interesting thing that can happen though is that mother's own health gets overlooked.

I was, relatively speaking, "old," when I started my own motherhood job.  After age 30, I noticed my body starting to decline but didn't have my first child until I was 35.  Sleepless nights and the manual labor involved with the solitary care of little children (husband at work 40 hrs/week & away on business trips) can take its toll on any woman, let alone an "older" mother.  I found that in addition to migraines, insomnia and depression/anxiety, I was plagued with catching a cold every few weeks. 

Natural Alternatives
Being committed to nursing, I sought out natural alternatives for my health.  Nowadays, there are some medications that are compatible with breastfeeding.  Instead, 10 years ago, I found a supplement that helped me (and my children) deal better with colds and viruses.  Supplements have helped my husband and kids (and cat) in many ways.  Later I found homeopathy which supported my family's health both physically as well as emotionally.  You don't have to be "old" for your body to get worn down by mothering.  Check out a wonderful book full of natural alternatives: "Nurture Mom", where the author coins the term: Depleted Mother Syndrome.

Western Medicine
If you can't find a natural alternative that works for you, western medicine can be a lifesaver.  You don't need to stay miserable, sick and depressed.  As I said, there are some medications that are compatible with breastfeeding.  In addition, sometimes it's more important for a mother to take medications and bottle-feed her baby rather than suffer herself.  And it can be better for the rest of the family if mom is feeling healthy and happy.

The biggest help of all for your health, can be diet.  It took me quite awhile to be convinced that one of the major contributors to migraines was chocolate.  I just didn't want to give it up!  But now I know that sugar, chocolate, wheat, eggs, dairy, soy and nuts aren't good for me.  I do better in all ways if I cut back on these foods or stay away from them altogether.

If you're struggling with your own health challenges and can't seem to find a solution, I definitely recommend looking at diet.  Refined sugar is the biggest contributor to my own tendency toward depression/anxiety, insomnia and migraines.  Sugar is addictive and hard to give up, but if you want to be happy and well, just try cutting out that one thing.  Look at labels and try it for 5 days.  Won't hurt to see what happens.

Exercise is also helpful, and not only for your physical health but for your mental health as well.  Even if all you can do is get out for a short 15 minute walk 3 times a week - make it a priority.  If you can find a friend to walk with, it will help you commit and will solidify a friendship too because walking and talking go together.  There is a yahoo group in Santa Cruz that meets regularly for walks.  Check out the yahoo groups on this page or look in Growing Up In Santa Cruz parent newspaper for details.

Helping Yourself Helps Your Family
Caring for your health is so important.  It will give you the energy to live your life with joy.  Don't worry about spending healing money on yourself - if you're like me, you will use whatever you find to help your kids and husband too.

Here are some health resources:
Supplements:  (sorry, you'll have to copy and paste, they don't allow linking to them)
Doctor (if you don't have health insurance):
Depleted Mother Syndrome:
Natural Help for Depression:

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Please feel free to email or call me with any questions regarding the above.  Also remember that I am a psychotherapist, not a medical doctor, so please contact your own physician prior to making any health decisions.

2007 Allison Gilbert, M.A., L.M.F.T.; Free Tips

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