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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Self-Care Strategies for New Moms - by Jamie McManus, M.D., FAAFP

Mothers are the best jugglers—arranging family schedules from soccer games to band practice to doctor’s appointments; planning and cooking healthful meals; and, for many, holding down a full-time job.

We seem to do it all.

Unfortunately, being “the 24-hour woman” comes with a price—chronic stress and its related health issues.

Women today experience more stress at every stage of life, with new moms topping that list of highly stressed women!

The New Moms Speak Out report, a 2008 national survey of women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2005, found 43% of respondents said stress was a major postpartum problem, followed closely by weight concerns, lack of sleep, and physical exhaustion.

As a mom (and grandmother), I have personally experienced some of these same challenges, but I also remember all the wonderful rewards of motherhood that make every part of it well worth it!

Watching my son take his first steps, receiving my daughter’s artistic masterpiece of a Mother’s Day card—or, better yet, being served breakfast in bed by an 8-year-old son with his trusty 4-year-old sister as the sous chef. Who wouldn’t sign up for this joy?

So let me share some of my tips to help you be the best mom you can be by taking exceptional care of yourself so you can do all you want for your family!

One of the most important self-care strategies I’ve discovered is to schedule some personal relaxation time. Even just 10–15 minutes a day, try to sit somewhere quiet and just breathe! You may collect your thoughts or simply let your mind wander, unfettered by any obligations. It will work wonders.
Eating healthfully also plays a crucial role in allowing you to function at your best—as well as dealing with stress. Eating a variety of foods can help you stay focused and alert, and will help ward off colds and even the flu.

Choose whole grain breads and cereals, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean-protein options such as fish or chicken. Milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese provide healthful amounts of calcium and protein, but be sure to choose the low-fat or nonfat varieties.

And it makes good sense to fill in any dietary gaps and shortfalls with a comprehensive multivitamin/multimineral supplement.

New moms also know better than anyone else that tending to a newborn can leave you feeling drained—not to mention with a pile of unwashed laundry!

Well, my very top way to stay energized and manage stress is to make physical activity a priority. Don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box. Instead of Jazzersize®, maybe it’s time for Strollercize®! (Yes, there really is something called Strollercize!)*

And last but not least, we all need a little help now and then.

Seek out social support. Join a local mothers club where you can meet other moms experiencing the same things you are.

New research findings from BrighamYoungUniversityfound that blogging can boost maternal well-being. So if you’ve always wanted to be a writer, now’s the time. You, too, can become a mom blogger and get the feedback and support you need by blogging or using social networking tools.

*All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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“Ignore Your Health & It Will Go Away!”

Wishing you all the best,

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