Mother’s Day occurs in early May, perhaps one of the loveliest days of the year. Mother Earth is in her full glory with every damp patch of dirt producing life – an appropriate time to celebrate the mothers in our lives.
The ticket to motherhood is a steep one. Nine months of physical and emotional challenges, with somewhere around 12 hours of exhausting, painful labor as the grand finale. No butterfly has struggled more mightily to reinvent itself.
And, after all of that, most mothers are reluctant to be celebrated, which is part of their very nature.
The mothers of the world create no less than the next generation of humans. But at what personal cost, you might wonder. Is motherhood, no matter how rewarding, a positive thing in terms of her long-term health?
Starting with health care during pregnancy, every aspect of having a healthy infant starts with a healthy mom. The obstetrician goes through the mother’s diet and health habits more thoroughly than ever before. And the mother usually listens better than ever before. This often precipitates long-term, positive change, which results in better long-term health.
A history of healthy pregnancies is associated with decreased breast cancer risk. Ovarian, endometrial and even lung cancer risks are reduced by pregnancy. It seems the reduction in unopposed estrogen is responsible for this benefit.
Multiple Sclerosis is reduced by nearly 50% in mothers.
All in all, motherhood is associated with positive health outcomes.
But who are we kidding this Mother’s Day? A mother is much more than a womb.
Mothers are great vessels that hold sorrow, large and small, unburdening their young to explore and grow. They are the cheering section that inspires us to go fast and reach far. They civilize the Neanderthal in us, and teach us to listen.
And Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, Dorothea (83).
It is one of the great ironies of life that many of us do not fully appreciate our mothers until we are well into adulthood, and she into old age.
Wishing all of the women and mothers out there great health and happiness this Mother’s Day.
Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.