Behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin.”
Because we know moms put their children and families before themselves all year, Mother’s Day is set aside as one special day in May to pamper our mothers. We give them gifts, cards, flowers and treat them to brunch. Maybe we give them a gift card for a massage to ease their tired muscles.
While these are lovely ideas and traditions, this Mother’s Day, we’re highlighting the need to focus on restoring the whole health of moms in our communities. Maintaining whole health means a commitment to regularly tending to your body, mind and spirit. And we want every mom to know that you have permission to put your own health first. Doing so isn’t selfish. You’re better positioned to care for your family’s well-being as a healthy mom. And healthier families equate to healthier communities.
But it shouldn’t be up to moms to do this on their own. Many mothers have been used to going it alone for so long, and they need our support. Let’s learn how we can help nurture the individual and collective health of moms around us, the same way they nurture us, so they can feel the love and encouragement of the community they need (and don’t always know how to ask for). We’re all in this together.
Caring for Moms at Every Stage of Motherhood
As a society that tends toward individualism and personal responsibility, it can be surprising to learn that in many cultures, the wellness of mothers is a primary concern rather than secondary to that of their baby or children. They know that the health of a community depends on the health of families, and that family health depends on the mother’s well-being.
In our fast-paced modern world, we’re more accustomed to focusing on mom having a healthy pregnancy, making sure she stays well with the end goal that the baby is born healthy. We celebrate the baby’s birth day, as we overlook that it’s also their mother’s birth-giving day.
The baby is part of the mother, and the mother is part of the baby, long after the birth. You might say that when a baby is born, a mom needs to be tenderly cared for as if she’s a baby herself, so she stays strong and healthy to provide the very best care possible for her family.
Preconception Mom Care
You can be a mother in your heart long before you conceive and have a baby. There are many moms-to-be right around us experiencing the agonizing pain of having trouble conceiving. There are many others going through psychological pain due to an unplanned pregnancy and the unexpected changes motherhood will bring. These women are mothers, whether conception has happened already or not. They are preparing themselves to be mothers and many have been preparing for a long time.
Here are some things you can do to keep yourself healthy as a mother-in-waiting, or to encourage someone you’re close to who’s thinking about or trying to conceive a baby:
- Live healthfully: Putting your health first long before you plan to get pregnant is ideal. Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and a take a high-quality prenatal vitamin
- Talk to your primary care provider about your mental health: This can be especially helpful for moms who already struggle with mental health challenges, are having trouble conceiving, are facing an unexpected pregnancy or are considered high-risk
High-Risk Pregnancy Care
A mom-to-be will need extra TLC if her pregnancy is considered high-risk. You may be high-risk if you:
- Are older than 35
- Learned you’re having twins (or multiple births)
- Have pre-existing health conditions
- Were high-risk in past pregnancies
If you know a mom-to-be with a high-risk pregnancy, try to do your part in making life a little easier for her on her journey by lightening the load with healthy meals, helping with babysitting any other children (or finding a trustworthy babysitter), accompanying her to appointments if needed, and being a listening ear if she’s feeling discouraged. “Little things” can make a big difference in her morale.
Postpartum Mom Care
When the baby is born, all focus naturally turns to the new arrival by her family, friends and mom herself. But the sacred symbiotic relationship between mother and child extends well beyond the womb. Many moms are left feeling scared, isolated and forgotten as they’re suddenly left to fend not only for their new baby, but for themselves at a very fragile time in their lives. Rally around the new mom in your life and show her that she will be supported.
Postpartum Depression Care
Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can negatively affect mother and child in tangible and sometimes severe ways. It’s more common than we might think because many women feel ashamed that they’re feeling something other than joy, so they don’t speak up. If you’re struggling in silence, break that silence. Know you’re never alone and your feelings are nothing to be ashamed of.
If you’re a new mom or close to one experiencing the following, help her to get the support and care she needs for what could be postpartum depression. She may need medication, counseling, extra support at home or all the above if she’s experiencing:
- Extreme worry and anxiety
- Feelings of isolation
- Feelings of sadness that won’t go away
- Lack of motivation to care for self and baby
- Uncontrollable crying
- Unreasonable or racing thoughts
- Thoughts of harming self or baby
How to Support Postpartum Moms
We’re all busy with our own lives and the details of each day, so it’s easy to forget that the friend whose baby shower you attended and visited in the hospital when her baby was born could still use an extra pair of hands or listening ears. In fact, she needs extra help now more than ever. Here are some tips to keep the support coming:
Ask Her What She Needs
If she says she doesn’t know, offer something specific and do it. You could cook her a meal or keep an eye on the baby while you let her take a shower or a nap.
Boost Her Confidence
She might feel unsure of herself, so explicitly let her know how well she’s doing as a new mom and keep offering and giving support.
Do What Needs to Be Done
As you check in on mom, if you see chores that need to be done, it makes all the difference to step in and help. Do the unwashed dishes, fold the basket of laundry and tidy up. Not only will it help mom physically, it will lift her spirits knowing you care.
Encourage Connection with Other Moms
While support from family and friends is crucial to a mom’s whole health, it can be so healing to connect with moms at a similar stage in their motherhood journey. See if your local community offers breastfeeding support or meetup groups for new mothers.
Get Others Involved
You can plan with others in your friend circle, neighborhood, church community and family to help mom on different days of the week. You can organize a schedule and assign different tasks to specific people, helping her get to doctor’s appointments, doing chores, checking in on her, letting her rest and more. It’s a great idea to set up a Meal Train so she doesn’t have to worry about preparing meals for as long as she needs as she recovers physically, mentally and emotionally.
Quality Care for All Moms
Health equity has to do with breaking barriers to health care historically experienced by marginalized groups because of their socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language and other factors.
Moms of all kinds — whether moms-to-be, first-time moms, seasoned moms, single moms, twin moms, young moms, older moms, grandmothers and more — can rest assured they’ll be treated like the queens that they are as a CastCare SM Member.
Happy Mother’s Day and abundant blessings to our cherished moms. And thank you for all you do to nurture the children in our communities. A primary care provider can help provide the support to meet the unique needs of each mom and her family. Call the Member Experience Center at 855-747-7476 for help finding a primary care provider.