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Mother's Day 2022: How Does Motherhood Affect A Woman's Life, Emotionally And Physically?

| Reviewed By Sneha Krishnan

Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year. Mother's Day 2022 falls on 8 May. The day honours motherhood and maternal binds, celebrating mothers' role in society. It is believed that the modern Mother's Day celebration first began in the US and was founded by Anna Jarvis.

Motherhood, in short, is exhausting, inspiring, draining and purpose-giving- all at the same time. A woman's physical and mental health is greatly impacted by motherhood. As any mother will tell you, motherhood is a constant juggling act - it drains you one minute and then fills you with joy the next. During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes, and once the baby is born, you don't get much sleep for a long time.

According to a number of studies, a mother's health profile differs from that of women who haven't given birth [1]. The benefits of motherhood are unexpected, as are some of its risks.

In the event of Mother's Day, let's take a look at how motherhood can affect a woman's health - all the good and the bad!

How Does Motherhood Affect A Woman's Life?

Let's start with the bad side, yeah?

The 'Bad' Side of Motherhood

1. Higher risk of stress

Stress is one of the health risks associated with motherhood. Women with children often rate their health as worse, and their fatigue levels as higher than those without children - and single parents are particularly affected by this. However, biologically, mothers are given a boost to help deal with that stress [2]. Oxytocin is a protein that stimulates labour contractions and milk let-downs during breastfeeding. In addition, mothers and even fathers have higher oxytocin levels, which suppresses cortisol, a hormone released during stressful situations.

2. Higher risk of obesity

Weight gain is another unfortunate health risk associated with motherhood. While it can be difficult for moms to find the time for exercise and healthy eating, it's worth trying. In addition, researchers have found that pre-schoolers' activity levels are directly related to their mothers' levels of physical activity - another reason for mothers to try and get some physical activity into their routine [3].

Now, onto the good side.

The Good Side of Motherhood

1. Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases

Mothers who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease - studies have shown that women who breastfeed for at least 12 months in their lifetime have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes than those who never breastfeed [4].

2. Reduced risk of breast cancer

According to studies, women who have children are less likely to develop breast cancer. This is because the maturing of breast cells during pregnancy may prevent the cells from becoming cancerous. Pregnancy also reduces exposure to hormones associated with breast cancer [5].

3. May develop the brain

According to a study of rats (mothers), your brain might grow with each child. For example, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the hippocampus, a part of the brain that governs spatial memory and learning, physically grows [6]. Thus, being a mother may help your brain develop. Fascinating right?

4. May improve longevity

According to a study, women who have given birth have a reduced risk of death, despite a mild increase in the risk of being overweight, having diabetes, or having hypertension. Studies in different locations have shown similar results in women with more than four children - the reasons for this effect have not been fully explained. Still, other studies in different locations have shown similar results [7].

And The Confusing Side of Motherhood

We've gone over the good and the bad side; now, let's look at some of the 'weird' impacts motherhood can have on the female body [8].

1. Feet may become bigger

Women's feet change significantly during pregnancy, so it's very common for new moms to complain about needing new shoes. According to a 2013 study, pregnant women lose foot-arch height and rigidity, resulting in longer feet [9].

2. Presence of residual DNA

This can actually be considered a good side of pregnancy. Several studies have shown that pregnancy can reduce the symptoms of chronic autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis for some women, which may be due to foetal-maternal microchimerism. In addition, several mothers have some cells from their children embedded in their bodies due to microchimerism, a condition where a mother retains some of the DNA of the children she has borne. These foetal cells may also protect the mother from some cancers, including breast cancer [10].

On A Final Note...

A mother's bond with her child comes with both health benefits and risks, but any mother will tell you it's totally worth it.

Sneha KrishnanGeneral Medicine
Sneha Krishnan
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