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MOTHER’S HEALTH

When we talk about mother’s health, a lot of factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic, are there which affect them. When we take mothers as a whole community and not just the conventional mothers, we could identify some common factors, which we are going to discuss in broad headings of:

1. Nutrition

2. Sexual health

3. Pregnancy

4. Lactation

5. Mental health

6. Spiritual health


Hi Dear lovely mothers, I hope you all are keeping well. I am a mother of three kids and a working woman too. I am a doctor by profession. So today through Janitri, I thought of sharing with you all about mother’s health, the knowledge I have gain all along my journey to motherhood. Some are personal, some scientific, some from friends and some from my patients.

When we talk about mother’s health, a lot of factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic, are there which affect them. When we take mothers as a whole community and not just the conventional mothers, we could identify some common factors, which we are going to discuss in broad headings of:

1. Nutrition

2. Sexual health

3. Pregnancy

4. Lactation

5. Mental health

6. Spiritual health

1. NUTRITION: The nutrition of mother is not only limited to her diet after childbirth and lactation period. It goes back way behind, to the time she had plan to have a baby. A would-be-mother has to prime herself with good nutrition even before conception of her child. This is because her body will be shared by the growing embryo in her womb. As the embryo developed into a fetus, it extracts its nutrition and other needs from the body of the mother. Thus the pre-pregnancy period plays a crucial role for the health of a pregnant woman. It also prevents a lot of minor illnesses during pregnancy like, anaemia, joint pain, pica, skin dryness, nausea etc. Diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, iron, calcium and vitamins should be taken by expectant mothers.


2. SEXUAL HEALTH: It also plays an important role in a mother’s health. Healthy sexual practices boost a would-be-mother confidence. So what are healthy sexual practices? Well to start with, adopting a single sexual partner by both the woman and her partner so as to avoid STDs and other diseases. It is alarming, as to how these diseases can cause conception failure and miscarriages. Many women may sometimes lose confidence to bear children and eventually may end up infertile. Though we have to keep in mind there are a lot of other causes for infertility.

Personal hygiene should be practice by both partners before and after copulation. Genitals hygiene like proper washing of the private parts, fresh underwears etc. should be maintained. Avoid having sex with full bladder for woman, as it may cause urine retention and later infection leading to recurrent UTI and cystitis. After-sex hygiene should be followed regularly by washing the private parts with water or mild soap. Avoid having sex during menstruation.

Sex during pregnancy can continue except during the early stage (first trimester) and very late stage, that is, beyond eight months.

A healthy sex life can keep couples lively and steady. This will enable them to build a strong and harmonious family.


3. PREGNANCY: It is a life changing phenomenon for a woman affecting physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. All women irrespective of class and their preparedness to embrace motherhood, almost feels the same way at the first realization of her conception. There is joy and fear! Beyond that each woman tries to rationalize to face the consequences of carrying the baby to term and give birth. But whatever her decision pregnancy will surely impact her health. A mother carries a great responsibility for herself and the baby in her womb. The bonds begin there!

It is aged old saying that pregnant mothers need a lot of good food and rest. But this is seldom true for working mother. Irregularly timed eating, incomplete diet, improper rest all affect a working mother’s health. This can lead to anaemia and easy fatigability. This in turn will affect the growth and development of the fetus inside her womb. Inadequate water intake can lead to dehydration, skin dryness and even urinary tract infection (UTI).

Antenatal check-up and tetanus vaccination is a must for all pregnant women. Antenatal advice should be followed as far as possible. Sometimes due to a lot of physiological changes and stress during pregnancy, many latent disease may be unmasked into frank diseases like mitral stenosis, diabetes, hereditary thrombophilia, glomerulopathies, cardiovascular diseases etc. So any exaggerated feelings and symptoms should not be taken lightly. They should inform their obstetrician. Lack of confidence and confusion due to the physiological and hormonal changes in a mother’s body can lead to depression or pregnancy blues. So it is always good for friends and relatives to talk and encourage expectant mothers.


Abortions and miscarriages can have negative impacts on mothers. No amount of justification and sympathy can make them forget it. Life will go on with scars in their mind. That is the reason why she remembers them even long past the events even in her old age. Repeated abortions or miscarriages can affect her physically due to blood lost leading to anaemia. Retained product of conception may lead to infection and pelvic inflammatory disease(PID). Sometimes a woman can become infertile due to tubal blockage.


4. LACTATION: It is the purest form of feeding. Breast milk is the most sterile and nutritious feed for a baby provided the mother is healthy and not taking any medication that can affect the baby. It creates bonding between mother and child. During lactation period a mother should have proper diet and should drink enough fluids as she should have enough reserve for herself after feeding the baby. A healthy mother will raise a healthy baby!

Care of the breast during lactation is very important. Breast engorgement can occur due to various reasons like poor latching, pre-mature baby, poor feeding, over production of milk etc. It should be treated immediately by expelling all the retained milk with hot fomentation and manual expression. The baby should be fed on both breasts alternatively to avoid breast engorgement of the unfed side. If not treated early it can lead to mastitis and fever. Poor latching of the baby can also lead to nipple crack which is a painful condition, which in turn may leads to poor feeding (maternal factor) of the baby.

Working mothers and mothers who cannot breast feed can expressed milk in a sterile condition and can refrigerate it for a whole day to feed their babies. Breast milk can be refrigerated for more than 6 months.


5. MENTAL HEALTH: A mother goes through vast psychological changes from the time of conception to post delivery. The physiological and hormonal changes, the environment around her, and the stress of childbirth and lactation, and any related morbidities can all have a great impact on her. If a mother does not find support in her family and care givers, it may lead to post partum blues and even psychosis. A woman should be treated with kindness and gentleness during her pregnancy and post pregnancy periods if we want a happy mother!

Rest and sleep is also very important. It will reduce mood swings in a new mother whose circadian cycle is already altered due to lactation.

Post child bearing period, mothers are involved with the welfare of her children and family. Therefore they burden themselves with more than their own problems. The stress for them becomes multiple which result into anxiety, often overlooked by the family members. It is a good practice for family members to give mothers a day off once in a while. It would mean as acknowledgement of their sacrifices and dedication.


Mothers should be allowed time for herself and outings once a week, apart from her daily chores and works. She should take personal care of herself and groom herself as much as she can. This will give her confidence and inner joy. A confident woman can take better care of her family and work.


6. SPIRITUAL HEALTH: It is also an important aspect of women. Most mothers are true spiritual leaders in that they inculcate their children and families in their own faith and beliefs. They mould their families in their ideologies. Thus mothers have a great responsibility for their own spiritual correctness and strength in order to impart them to their children. This in turn will help in the growth of a better society.

In the end, much as I would like to discuss more under each headings above, it is not possible to do so. Each heading is a vast topic in itself. I have consciously left out personal care and fitness, as these are usually more often discussed under various women fitness programs and articles. I hope you all have learned something today. Do share it with your friends and love ones, so that we can build a healthy and a happy mother’s community. Let everyday be a Happy Mother’s Day. Keep your head high and keep smiling.


Dr.Irine Beypi


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