You’d be forgiven for thinking there can’t be many health benefits of motherhood – after all, pregnancy and labor can be tough on the body, and that’s before the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and emotional trauma when your little one runs into the wall (that’s happened to everyone, right?!). And when your lovely little toddler is running around refusing to put trousers on, or screaming in the supermarket, it’s all too easy to wonder what on earth you were thinking…so here’s the top health benefits of motherhood. Trust me, they help in those dark moments!
Parenting shop Mothercare recently released the results of a survey that suggest new mums push a buggy 750 miles in their first year as a parent – that’s almost the length of the UK! Not only is walking a great way to lose weight, but pushing a pushchair also builds muscle. There’s even a number of fitness classes involving pushchairs becoming more popular, which makes this one of the great health benefits of motherhood – and it’s a great way to be social, too.
Studies have shown that new parents tend to go on a health kick – especially mums who breastfeed – and the effects last a lot longer than you’d thought. While most families will relax with a take-away every now and again, parents tend to choose healthier diets once they’ve got little ones. Not only does that make you feel better, but it’s sure to boost your hair and skin, too.
Research conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggested that childless adults become ill twice as much as those who have children – and the astounding results were said to be due to the development of a “mental toughness” when raising kids. So while your little one might appear to bring home every bug going, you can rest assured that your immune system will do well.
Having kids means you have to learn to do everything again. From learning how to make bottles and change nappies to discipline methods, distraction techniques and even teaching your child to walk, your brain is constantly developing – and when homework begins, your brain gets even more of a boost. Properly engaging and learning keeps the brain healthy and young, and has even been linked to preventing mental decline in old age.
We’ve all heard that breast is best for babies, and a million and one reasons why. But did you also know that it’s excellent for you? Recent NHS figures show that breastfeeding cuts breast and ovarian cancer risks, and breastfeeding mothers are less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease. There’s a whole number of charities who can help with breastfeeding, including experienced nurses who can help with latch problems, so it’s definitely worth getting in touch with them if you need help or support.
Yep, having children means you spend much less time enjoying soaps, bars and cinemas, and much more time outside. Whether it’s learning to walk, running through the park or practicing a sport, kids love playing in the great outdoors, and parents get much healthier through this too. A blast of fresh air is one of the best cures for a low mood, and increased oxygen improves concentration. That’s before mentioning the massive increase in Vitamin D, which is vital for good bone health. Just don’t forget the sun cream!
Whether it’s having a few too many at the weekend, lighting up a cigarette or staying up far too late and missing valuable sleep, everyone has a bad habit. But it seems that once we become parents, we are much better at fighting them. Smokers are three times more likely to quit smoking during pregnancy than at any other time, and most parents don’t start up again. Figures for alcohol are very similar. There’s a whole variety of support available for people who are trying to kick a habit, so – parent or not – don’t be afraid to take it! It’s probably one of the most amazing health benefits of motherhood.
Of course, parenthood isn’t easy. There are plenty of downsides – long lie ins, anyone?! But it’s all worth it in the end, and it’s amazing to see how it benefits the body, mind and soul. Have you noticed any health improvements since you had children? I’d love to hear about them!