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How Can Being a Mom Improve Health?

There are a number ways to improve your health. Exercise regularly, eat right, quit smoking. You likely know more ways.

Another for the list is: be a mom!

Being a mom can help improve your physical and emotional health.


Benefits of Motherhood

We won’t deny motherhood has ups and downs. Sleepless nights and spit-up on your favorite blouse are a couple of downs.

Motherhood also has some amazing rewards, including:

  • Reduced Risk of Cancer — Giving birth earlier in life enhances this benefit. If you’re 18 to 25, or even 25 to 30, having a baby can measurably reduce your risk for breast cancer. After age 30, the odds of breast cancer are about the same as a woman who didn’t give birth.

    Why the cancer risk reduction? It’s a combination of factors.

    Pregnancy appears to change breast cells. The pregnancy change makes them less susceptible to other changes that can result in breast cancer. When a woman becomes pregnant at a younger age, her immature breast cells are vulnerable to cancer-related changes for less time.

    Pregnancy also results in hormonal changes that appear to help prevent breast cancer. Among the changes is a drop in the estrogen levels and an increase in the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This is the hormone home pregnancy tests measure.

    Breastfeeding can reduce your cancer risks. Nursing your baby prevents certain precancerous types of cells from developing in the breasts. To achieve this positive result, you’ll want to breastfeed for several months. Over your lifetime, each year you breastfeed, you reduce your breast cancer risk by 4 percent. And if you have a family history of breast cancer, nursing may reduce your risk for developing breast cancer before menopause by up to 60 percent.

    Breastfeeding also postpones ovulation and fertility and the associated higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which tend to prompt tumor growth.

    Along with the factors we’ve already mentioned, women who have children reduce their risks of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. Nursing a baby reduces these risks even more.

    Caution — Being overweight puts you at greater risk for breast cancer. Losing pregnancy weight can reduce your risk. The risk is greater for women who gain more than 33 pounds compared to women who limited their pregnancy weight gain to between 25 and 32 pounds.

    Always consult with your health care provider for guidance on a healthy pregnancy and post-pregnancy weight for your pregnancy.
  • Reduced Incidence of Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroids and Polycystic Ovaries — Medical researchers aren’t sure how pregnancy affects these female disorders, but the correlation has long been noted by many women’s health professionals.
  • Increased Motivation to Choose a Healthier Lifestyle — A recent poll found a good percentage of moms say they put bad health habits behind them. More than half say they’re working to eat better, exercise more, drive more carefully, wear their seat belts and see their doctor when they have a physical or mental health concern.

    Most moms also said they’re reducing smoking, drinking and risky pastimes.
  • Enhanced Mental Health — When mothers are compared to childless women, moms often fare better on measures of personal satisfaction. Moms also report less isolation and loneliness. If you have good relationships with your children, that adds to the mental health positives.

Many of these types of lifestyle enhancements can be renewed when a woman becomes a grandmother. The lifestyle positives can also be sparked when a woman has a new niece or nephew, or even when a good friend has a child.

Ask your family and friends for their ideas for making motherhood happier.

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, ask your health care provider about ways you can improve your health before, during and after pregnancy.

Meet the Author

Betsy M. Winga , MD is an OBGYN at Aurora Health Center in Two Rivers, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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