Mothers put their children before anything-if you’re a parent, this probably isn’t news to you! The love, commitment and protectiveness we feel toward our children is truly transformative. But how much are moms sacrificing in the name of maternal love?
The degree to which moms are neglecting their own needs in favour of their families’ is impacting both their day-to-day wellness and long-term health goals. The worrisome results of a recent survey reveal that Canadian moms are not taking great care of themselves, instead prioritizing other responsibilities and the health of their children at a personal cost.
So what are moms foregoing in favour of their family duties? The research found that mothers will put off visits to the doctor, exercise and personal pursuits to better serve their children. Moms also make healthy eating a bigger priority for their families than they do for their own diets.
These are troubling findings- though easy enough to believe and understand. What’s important for moms to remember however, is that self-care is an important part of being a good parent. Here are some reasons why.
1. Taking care of yourself will lower your stress. Getting too wrapped up in your maternal duties can cause major burnout. Between bake sales, daycare, soccer lessons and laundry, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Without planned breaks you not only lose some of your personal fulfillment and pursuits- you can also begin to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel with no end in sight. The tasks and chores and everyday trials will never stop- so you need to. Instead of waiting for a break, take one. This will help you calm down, refocus, and return to your other tasks with more clarity and balance.
2. You’ll boost your energy. When you stop making things like nutrition, sleep and exercise priorities in your life, your energy is (unsurprisingly) going to dip. So don’t think of these things as sacrifices for the greater good- see them for what they are: unfair denials to yourself that will prevent you from being an active and energized parent. You need to fuel and strengthen your body properly for one of your most important jobs: being a mother.
3. You’ll see a rise in your mood and an increase in your patience. A rested mom is a calm, rational and patient one. You may not realize how a lack of sleep, a sore back, or low blood sugar are affecting your mood –and by extension, your parenting. Prioritizing your health will help you to keep a clear head, which is important in your role as disciplinarian, adjudicator and teacher.
4. You’ll set a positive example. Think about what your personal neglect is communicating to your children. By making their health a priority but not your own, you may be unknowingly teaching them double standards, or suggesting that their learned behaviours end with adulthood. Try taking a more holistic approach by demonstrating that things like good nutrition and sleep schedules are important for kids and grown-ups alike. In adulthood we also often mimic the parenting styles with which we were brought up. If you’re stretched too thin your children may come to view this as a normal expectation of parents and adults.
5. You have a responsibility to yourself and your family. Being an active, available, present parent requires that you be healthy. If you want to be around for your children for many years to come, it’s never too early to start taking your health seriously.
If your toddler or baby has caught a bug, you’re probably experiencing a horrible helpless feeling. It’s upsetting seeing your little one succumb to illness of any kind, and it can also be stressful determining how to administer any sort of treatment that is completely natural and non-invasive. Further, you don’t just want to soothe your baby; you want to treat the illness. Fortunately there are a number of tricks and treatments that have proven effective at not only helping your child feel better, but also strengthening immunity to avoid future illnesses.
Here are some of the best natural medicines for treating your baby’s symptoms.
Steam: Warm, moist air can help to treat coughing, so consider putting a humidifier in your baby’s nursery. This will also soothe your baby’s throat and nose if they are dry and irritated.
Bath: A warm bath is an effective and gentle way to clear your baby’s chest and sinuses of congestion. Consider adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil into the tub, or rubbing the oil gently onto your baby’s back.
Postural drainage: If your baby has a runny nose, it’s a good idea to drain it. This will quickly help clear some of the mucous and make breathing easier. You can use a natural saline rinse, or try postural drainage. Hold your baby on your lap face up, with your hand held firmly under the neck. Angle your baby’s head down so that it is slightly lower than the chest. Tap your fingers firmly in the middle of the chest; this will gently loosen the mucous lining your baby’s lungs.
There are also a number of steps you can take to improve your child’s immunity and overall health, to prevent future illness. These include:
> Breastfeeding for as long as possible. Breast milk contains important nutrients and antibodies to keep your baby healthy.
> Washing your toddler’s hands for him or her. When children are too young to do it properly, wash their hands for them with plenty of soap and warm water.
> Strictly avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell- this includes you. If a family member is sick, keep them away from the baby not just until they feel better, but until they are completely well.
> Introducing solid foods that are rich in nutrition. Make sure that your baby gets the requisite amounts iron, vitamin C and other nutrients to promote health. To read more about introducing your baby to solids, read our blog post on the subject here.
If you are concerned about your baby’s health, or observing symptoms that make you anxious or confused, don’t hesitate to seek peace of mind by speaking with a health practitioner. It’s time to go to the doctor if:
> Your baby has a fever, especially under 3 months of age.
> Your baby is coughing up mucous that isn’t clear or white.
> Your baby is vomiting consistently.
> You notice a rash anywhere on the body or face accompanying your baby’s illness.
> Your baby or toddler is showing signs of pain.
Lastly, always make sure that you and your baby are always clothed appropriately for the wind, snow, rain, or whatever else Mother Nature is throwing our way. For more on this topic, check out our post “Dressing an Infant for Winter Weather.”
This post is brought to you by Maya Hammer. Maya Hammer is a psychotherapist in private practice at Thrive Natural Family Health and the Health Psychology Clinic. Don’t miss Maya’s recent interview about postpartum hypomania, or “the baby pinks,” on CTV Canada AM
Dads Get the Blues Too
by Maya Hammer
It is common for women to suffer from depression and anxiety following the birth of a baby. About 10 to 20% of women are diagnosed with postpartum depression. What is less common, however, is our understanding of postpartum depression in men. Recent research has found that 10 to 25 % of new fathers may suffer from depression. Dads or secondary caregivers experience stress related to feeling rejected after the arrival of the child, relationship or marital dysfunction, burden of financial responsibility, grieving pre-baby freedom and lifestyle, or feeling overwhelmed by partner’s postpartum depression.
Paternal postnatal depression (PPND) is often overlooked because, generally speaking, men don’t express suffering the same way women do. For example, men may not acknowledge feeling sad, guilty, and hopeless. Here are some symptoms to look for in men:
- Increased anger and conflict, violent behaviour
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Frustration or irritability
- Lower threshold for stress
- Risk-taking and impulsivity
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, pain, digestive problems
- Loss of interest in work and hobbies
If these symptoms are familiar to you or a loved one you can get help through therapy and naturopathic or psychiatric medication. For more information, check out postpartummen, a website for men suffering from PPND and in the book Postpartum Depression for Dummies, by Dr. Shoshan Bennett that has a section on depression in fathers.
If you are a dad and your partner/wife is experiencing postpartum depression, you can find helpful information at postpartumdads and The Postpartum Husband by Karen Kleiman.
Another great resource is Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell. This book helps to examine how past issues, including trauma or how you were raised as a child, impact your ability to parent.
Seeking alternative health therapies and treatments can be a leap of faith for some new patients. If you’re unversed in naturopathic medicine and holistic healing, you might be hesitant about your first encounter. Before you make an appointment, it’s important to clarify about Naturopathic philosophy to help you better understand what Naturopathic Doctors do!
Since patient-practitioner relationships in naturopathic medicine are built on trust and connection, it’s important to have a better understanding of who we are and what some of our beliefs are, rather than simply the treatments we offer. Hopefully these will translate into some serious considerations in favour of consulting a naturopathic team, but more importantly it will help you conceptualize naturopathic philosophy.
Make yourself at home at Thrive Health!
We’re warm, friendly, and family-oriented. Our commitment to organic, holistic and nature is all-encompassing, and extends to the atmosphere we create in our office. That means that when you walk into our clinic you should feel comfortable and at home. Your kids too!
We really want to get to know you. Before we treat you, we need some details –and we love the process of getting acquainted with patients! In addition to telling us the usual health history, we like to know about your lifestyle, work, diet and even things like your home life if you are comfortable to share. We want to know about your concerns and questions too- we’re here to learn about you as a person, not a patient.
We want to treat the problem, not just the symptoms. While we do have treatment options that help reduce discomfort and pain, we’re most interested in finding the underlying or root cause of whatever is ailing you or your child. Also critical to naturopathic philosophy is helping teach you about improving your health rather than simply diagnose. This way we build on your everyday health and long-term healing rather than simply short term treatments. Which brings us to our next principle…
We don’t just want to get you healthy; we want to keep you healthy! Naturopathic medicine is as much about prevention as it is about treatment. In fact, we believe that prevention is a powerful “drug” for many of the acute conditions and ailments that patients commonly suffer from. We’ll help you to improve your entire lifestyle to optimize your present and future health. We invest in our patients and look out for their psychological and physical wellbeing.
We (like you) try and avoid pain, side effects, invasiveness, and chemicals! It’s our goal to treat you gently, naturally and effectively. We understand that you want to minimize risk to your health, the health of your children, or the health of your unborn baby. We take these objectives seriously. Know that you’re in good hands and that treatment doesn’t have to be unpleasant; it can in fact be soothing and relaxing.
Naturopathic medicine and alternative therapies can provide you with a very unique brand of care. It’s particularly useful to examine these options if you’re in a position where traditional medicine isn’t working for you. For example if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or looking to treat an infant or young child, you’ll likely want to avoid synthetic medicines and invasive practices. We can help you find the natural alternatives that will work best for you and your family.
Naturopathic care is also a great way to facilitate and support a journey to better health for those who experience ailments and discomfort that has lasted a long time but remained undiagnosed or unchanged. If you’ve long suffered from fatigue, aches, pains or digestive distress and you’re tired of it, a naturopathic team will help you to start identifying the problem. Even if you are sticking to a more traditional medical treatment plan for a specific condition, naturopathic care can be an effective way to supplement your other remedies and therapies.