The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them. I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.
Today’s task: write about women’s wellness. After years of researching and writing about all aspects of health and wellness at my day job, this should be no problem, right? Sure, I can give you facts and numbers, statistics and health screening recommendations, but is that what you really want? I’m guessing you get enough of that stuff from your doctor.
So I think what I should really be writing about is the ton of bricks that hit you when you become a new mom, and how to take care of the new person you’ve become.
This past 2 years have shaken the very foundation of everything I’ve ever believed about health, and they’ve caused me to challenge my own thinking on the subject of what “wellness” really means. My last pregnancy came with unexpected challenges. Then came my recovery, with even more challenges of its own.
I’ll spare you all the details, because I think the real point is so much bigger than my own personal health. As women who choose to become mothers, we go into this whole thing knowing about 1% of what’s going to happen to us. Our bodies go around the world and back again, and then we recover, integrate that baby into our lives, and head back to work and normal life in the shortest timeframe we can possibly manage.
We sleep in snippets, seeing every hour on the clock during the night. We rely on coffee, or sugar, or sheer willpower, to stay awake because the kids might be different ages, or sick, or not even close to napping so we stay awake all day and do it all again that night. The calendar is full, or maybe there’s just no sitter or money for a copay, so we push off our own doctor, dentist and eye appointments for another time. And extra things that are good for us, like bubble baths or hour-long walks or dinner with the girls, well…someday we’ll pencil those back in.
Have you ever taken care of everyone else all day only to realize that the glass of water you poured hours ago is still sitting on the counter, untouched? That’s what I’m talking about. And the prescription meds I take for thyroid and blood pressure? I’m lucky if I take them once a week.
I know. I know…
So what kind of wellness advice would I give to a new mom? Remember that there is more than one infant in the house. The new you is in her infancy, too, so treat her gently. Sleep. But that’s impossible to do without help, so take help when it’s offered. I won’t tell you to just let the housework go, because that’s annoying, so again – ask for help. Prioritize healthy food for yourself, not just for your kids. Find a few meal options that are easy and health-focused, and make them a lot. Be active. Jump rope outside with the baby monitor. Feel the sun. See your friends (really, not just on Facebook.) Treat yourself and pat yourself on the back. Let the baby fuss for a minute so you can brush your teeth. Drink water. Use your support system, and then be that support system to the next mom in line.
Those are the back-to-basics health goals I’ve been trying to recapture, but even so, the state of my health just got to be more than I could ignore this month. Even after training for and finishing my first half marathon (which I thought would be my ticket to feeling better) I still feel...bad. Just bad.
Which brings me to my biggest piece of advice for new moms when it comes to health: you matter more than your kids, so when it comes to your health, treat yourself accordingly. This past week, I took my own advice and scheduled all the health screenings I had been putting off – a mammogram, a Pap test, a bone density screening, bloodwork to check my thyroid and blood sugars, and finally, a colonoscopy. (Sounds like a party, I know.)
None of those things are a whole lot of fun, but they’re all due. And while it’s easy to put them off, all I need to do is look at those little faces I see every day and what I need to do is clear.
Because while it’s really easy for me to neglect myself when I’m busy or tired or overwhelmed, my kids’ mom is not so easy to overlook. They need her, and it’s my responsibility to make sure she’s healthy, well and happy for many years to come.
I may not know everything about health and wellness, but the one thing I know for sure is that screenings are where it’s at when it comes to being proactive about your health. To find out what women’s health screenings are right for you, visit the Women’s Health section at MolinaHealthcare.com, because there are times when you need to come first.
Do you go for regular health screenings? Have you had trouble taking care of your own health since becoming a parent?
This post was brought to you by Molina Healthcare.