Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
Tomorrow is a day to celebrate mothers. An irreplaceable relationship exists between mother and child. Studies indicate a mothers’ health, both good and bad, varies from women who have never given birth.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), having children can lower the risk of breast cancer. Being pregnant reduces exposure to certain hormones linked to breast cancer. NCI also reported that breastfeeding can reduce cancer risk because the maturing that breast cells go through to produce milk may prevent cells from becoming cancerous.
Another advantage for breastfeeding mothers is a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Those breastfeeding over 12 months in their lifetime have shown a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
While we joke about brain fuzziness that new mothers often experience, research shows your brain may actually grow with each child. The part of the brain responsible for spatial memory and learning called the hippocampus actually increases in size during pregnancy and motherhood.
A 2012 Australian study followed the female population of a small rural town for over 16 years. It showed that despite a small risk of being overweight, diabetic, or suffering from hypertension, women who had given birth had a reduced risk of death during the study. Plus, it showed an even lower risk among women with four or more children.
There are health risks associated with motherhood. Stress and fatigue can be true in any situation, but can be more concerning for single parents and new mothers. While complications of parenthood may seem more stressful, interestingly biology gives mothers a chemical boost to help deal with that stress.
The body has a built in coping mechanism which is a protein called oxytocin that aids in milk letdown during breastfeeding and is sometimes called the “love hormone” because it is known to promote tender behavior. Mothers have higher levels of oxytocin which suppresses cortisol, a hormone released in stressful situations.
Obesity is another concerning health risk for mothers. Preventive Medicine concluded for each child a woman had, her risk of obesity increased by 7%. Finding ways to exercise and eat right can be difficult for new moms, but is very important.
On the lighter side, a reaction that affects some mothers is a need to buy new shoes. No, this is not because they have an urge to shop, but some pregnant women lose foot-arch height and rigidity resulting in increased foot length.
Women with chronic autoimmune conditions may experience fetal-maternal microchimerism, a condition in which a mother retains some DNA of the children she bore. In these cases, symptoms from things such as rheumatoid arthritis improve. However, other diseases such as lupus, may worsen because of the presence of foreign DNA. Diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves disease can be triggered after birth, possibly because fetal cells lodge in the thyroid and attack the mothers body. This Sunday, let’s celebrate all the moms around the world. They are priceless.
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Business and Professional Women of Nevada County presents “An evening with Ashley Morris,” who is the organizing director at the ACLU of Northern California at 6 p.m. on June 16 via Zoom.