| MOTHER NURTURE |
A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships Mothers today juggle more tasks, work longer hours, and sleep less than their own mothers did. Yet the self-healing revolution has overlooked the most significant issue in the lives of some twenty million women: how to cope with the relentless, sometimes overwhelming, stresses of raising young children in the twenty-first century.
Only Mother Nurture: considers the long-term well-being and health of mothers explains how women can become physicially depleted and actually ill as a result of the demands and stresses of raising a family today identifies the Depleted Mother Syndrome many women experience presents a comprehensive, integrated program of care for a mother's body, mind, and intimate relationships tells in detail how a mom and dad can work together and share the load fairly integrates the perspectives of a psychologist, acupuncturist/nutritionist, and obstetrician/gynecologist.
This is more than another self-help book. With compelling evidence (see references below), clear logic, and heartfelt personal testimony, it is a manifesto for an idea whose time has come: that our society absolutely must take better care of its mothers - and by doing so, take better care of its fathers, children, and families.
| Mother Nurture Reviewed by Karin Evans, Consumer Health Interactive |
Some days, I feel like the walking wounded, which I know is not a good way to view motherhood. But there I am, moving numbly through the day, sleep-deprived, hair askew, clothes daubed with peanut butter, clutching my never-ending to-do list.
Every once in a while, I admit to secret little thoughts of just closing the front door and walking away. If I had the energy, that is. The more realistic fantasy is to send everybody else away and just lie down. But I can't, of course, because there is that kitchen filled with spilled milk and the mess where the dog threw up, and the phone calls to be made to the pediatrician, the daycare center, and -- "Hello? Is this the mothers-in-crisis hotline?"
When I talk about this feeling of exhaustion with other mothers, they nod knowingly. If we could finish a sentence, which we often can't, we'd all agree that yes, we love our children more than we can say, but more sleep would be great. And yoga and some other stress reduction and perhaps a massage. But when? How?
When I heard about a book called Mother Nurture -- aimed not at mothers who want to learn more about taking care of their families, but rather at mothers who want to avoid falling apart -- I didn't think I'd have time to read it, of course. But then, as a remark by one of the authors sank in, I heard a kind of sweet music in the distance -- similar to stepping on the electronic singalong Barney book, but more comforting.
"It's high time the medical community and society in general recognize the problems that come with motherhood," writes Ricki Pollycove, MD. "I see the woman who just thinks she's not trying hard enough -- 'If I were a little more organized, this wouldn't be happening.' " This mother, writes Pollycove, could suffer from what the author calls Depleted Mother Syndrome.
I breathed a sigh of relief and sank onto the sofa. Someone had put words to what I was feeling, applied a diagnosis to my collection of symptoms. I was no longer alone, but part of a category. In my grateful mind, the Barney music rose to a crescendo.
Over the next week or so, I made time to read the book, subtitled A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships. I started asking my friends what they thought about the concept of Depleted Mother Syndrome. "That's me," said my friend Jane, a mother of twins. "Me, too," said my friend Josie, in her 50s with two elementary school children. Safe to say, in Berkeley, California alone, I know several dozen women with self-diagnosed cases of depleted mother syndrome. Now, at last, someone was paying attention to what many of us had seen as our own isolated failings. The refrain throughout the book: "You're not to blame and you're not alone."
Self-care for the discouraged
There's something consoling about just having company. But Pollycove, a member of the clinical faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, and her co-authors, psychologist Rick Hanson, and nutritionist and acupuncturist Jan Hanson, whose practice focuses on women's health, go much further. This is a comforting book for frayed mothers, no question, but it's also practical, sophisticated, and ambitious in its advice about nutrition, stress reduction, and other components of self-care for the discouraged and the drained.
All the authors have children, and all found, as Jan Hanson notes in the introduction, that they had plenty of care through and after pregnancy, but by the time their babies had turned a year old, the mothers seemed to have "dropped off the radar of the health care system -- as if raising a family had no real effect on a woman's well-being."
All too many of us, bent on the care of our children, have lost sight of caring for ourselves. And even if we resolve to sleep more, eat better, and get some exercise, the finer points of maintaining intimacy with our partners, or of balancing work and the rest our of our lives, tend to get lost in the shuffle.
Coming to the rescue, the authors begin with a core question: "What does a mother need in order to keep giving her children the very best they deserve, year after year after year?" They offer a three-pronged attack to lower the demands on moms, increase their resources, and build up their resilience.
The quick answer is getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating well -- all major pitfalls for too-busy mothers. Mothers must also work to restore balance and sanity by consciously nurturing their minds, their bodies, and their intimate relationships.
The arrival of children can wreak havoc on a mother's sense of intimacy and support from her partner, the authors report. Children can put a strain on everything from parents' ability to hold a simple conversation to partners' time and energy to indulge their own desires for intimacy. Once the kids arrive, there are eight times as many arguments and less time to resolve them. Energy flags. Tempers flare. It all sounds numbingly familiar.
For starters, the authors suggest that couples make time to ask each other three personal questions each day. Not, "Did you remember to put the garbage out?" but ""How did you feel about what happened?" or "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"
When a mother needs to take care of the household, an uneven distribution of work can drain her further, the authors maintain. In fact, the average mother works about 20 hours more per week than does her male partner, if she has one, regardless of whether she's drawing a paycheck -- and a mother's stress jumps and her mood drops when teamwork with her partner breaks down. It is moms, moreover, who typically handle more of the high-stress tasks, such as dealing with daycare or school problems.
Although the authors don't specifically concentrate on single moms, much of what they say -- digging into sources of loneliness and frustration among contemporary mothers -- applies to those who don't have a partner to share the load.
Isolation, for instance, is a major factor in maternal depression, and the book encourages women to seek support, whether through relatives, friends, or groups. A single parent's personal life also needs a great deal of attention if he or she is to maintain mental, emotional, and physical health. Within a partnership, the partners often need to retune the ways they relate to each other after children come along.
The authors say, for instance, "If the demands on a person grow, her resources should grow as well." A recently divorced mother, for instance, should acknowledge the loss of a task-sharing partner and seek other sources of support. Nurturing friendships with other women can help immensely, as can some practical help -- such as an occasional babysitter.
Much of this support is needed to relieve physical as well as psychological strain. "If there's one lesson that we've learned from working with several thousand mothers," say the authors, "it's the degree to which motherhood affects women physically." The solutions are laid out -- how to get the best from your physicians, suggested medical tests for common deficiencies, advice on better nutrition (including information on supplements), exercise, and other kinds of physical self care -- and alternative and Eastern approaches are explored along with Western medicine.
The book spoke to me, from the very first chapter, "How Your Cupboard Can Become Bare" -- about the ways mothers can become emotionally drained -- to the last section, on juggling motherhood and work.
I won't say every kind of help can come from a book, of course, but in the 363 pages of this one -- ending with the sentence "Please don't give up and decide to accept depletion as normal" -- the authors have packed in about as much as possible.
This is a book I'd like to give to all my friends, all those other mothers with circles under their eyes who've been toughing it out alone. "Here," I will say, "If you feel as tired as I've been feeling, here's some help."
-- Karin Evans is the author of The Lost Daughters of China: Abandoned Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past. She is the mother of two daughters.
Mother Nurture Review - by Sharman Bonus
Your Library Isn't Complete Without Mother Nurture
I started to read Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships a few days after my second child was born. Needless to say, I was a little ambi-tious in estimating how long I could actually stay awake to read, and the book sat on my nightstand for weeks. Once things around the house settled down, I picked it up again - and I'm sure glad I did!Ifound the book invaluable. Mother Nurture is a must-have resource for every mother and mother-to-be, and it wouldn't hurt for a few fathers out there to read it, either. We as mothers juggle more tasks, work longer hours, and sleep less than our own mothers did. Family and friends, who once provided support and an occasional break from the kids, are scattered across the country. Yes, raising a child is harder than ever. So if you're feeling tired, cranky, overly anxious or downright depressed, trust that you're not alone. You, like thousands of other women,may be suffering from Depleted Mother's Syndrome.
In this ground-breaking book, psychologist Rick Hanson, acupuncturist and nutritionist Jan Hanson, and obstetrician/gynecologist Ricki Pollycove explore in depth the psychological, emotional and physical stresses of motherhood. They identify key risk factors for Depleted Mother's Syndrome and - referencing homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy, and western medicine - provide a balanced approach to getting your mind and body back on track. This book includes everything you need to know to help you feel your best, from meditation techniques to guidelines for suggested daily vitamin intake and ways to improve your post-children relationship with your significant other.
It's an essential reference book for every mother's library!
Mother Nurture Review - by Rhea Gray-Eggert, Newsletter Editor - MOMS Club of Ahwatukee West
I was elated to receive your book and eager to read it. Having a three year old daughter and one year old twin boys, I was definitely neglecting my needs. Your book helped change my perspective. I believed I had to sacrifice and give everything I had to my children. I read your book and learned this is not true. I now give to my children, and find time to give to myself as well.
The greatest peace your book gave to me was telling me my thoughts and feelings were normal and needed to acknowledged. It reminded me of a lesson I learned in the counseling program I studied in school; you have to take care of yourself, mentally, emotionally, and physically before you can be there for your clients. I found this true in my work as a mental health counselor, yet neglected to apply it to my role as a mother. Now, I use your book as a tool. When I begin neglecting myself, I turn to the book and the lessons it contains.
I have a number of friends pregnant for the second time. As their babies are brought into this world, my present will be a copy of your book. Mother Nurture is a book every mother needs.
Thank you for writing this book and thank you for providing your column to the different support clubs for mothers. You are having a positive influence in many lives.
Mother Nurture Review by Karen Benson
As a bibliophile, I believe that when I walk into a bookstore or library, the exact book that I most need at that time will make itself known to me. So I was not surprised when this book arrived in the mail for me to read and review, a mothering day like so many others, punctuated with fatigue, toddler chasing, and a terse exchange with my husband. I sighed as I sank into the couch and hopefully read the book cover: "you can lower your stress, lift your mood, regain your energy, prevent depleted mother syndrome, build teamwork and intimacy with your spouse, solve health problems, balance home and work... and so much more!" More? It was hard for me to believe that this book could accomplish even one of these goals...and yet it has done that and more.
The book begins with focusing on the mother's physical and emotional well-being, including concrete suggestions for reducing stress, processing negative emotions, and staying well. The first part includes specific medical suggestions for determining the basis of Depleted Mother Syndrome, including an appendix in the back that outlines the vitamin and mineral guidelines for mothers. As a daily supplement disciple, I was surprised to see how different these dosages are from the RDA. I took this list into my doctor, and she agreed that I should increase everything I had been taking. My corresponding increase in energy alone is worth the price of the book.
The next three chapters are devoted to the partner relationship, including communication, partners in parenting, and partners in intimacy. My husband and I read the communication chapter together, chuckling and grimacing to see ourselves so aptly described. Their suggestions really work. My husband was more willing to read and follow the suggestions because one of the authors is a man, and his sensibility really shines through. I, too, felt especially nourished by the words of a man who clearly advocates for the daily support of mothers by their partners, and vice versa.
The final section discusses specific problems associated with mothers who work inside the home and mothers who work outside the home. It is a refreshing acknowledgement of the rigors of both, without pitting one against the other.
I wish that every mom and dad I know would read this book. I honestly believe it will make the world a safer, more caring place to be for children and their parents. I applaud the authors for their sentiments, their efforts and their results. Treat yourself to this book. You deserve it.
Karen Benson is a SRMC member and the mother of Luc, age 20 months. She is busy balancing first time motherhood with a long distance marriage (her husband lives in Seattle, Washington.)
Reviews from Amazon.com
This book is a rare find! After years of desperately searching for answers to why I was feeling so exhausted, depressed, physically sick, and stressed in motherhood and marital relationship, this book has pulled all of these aspects together and given it a name. I had visited many different doctors who focused on single complaint areas (physical and psychological) but never thought that all of the symptoms could be causal and interrelated. The authors beautifully discuss everything from hormone balance, nutritional deficiencies, external stressors, and relationship/gender differences. They then offer a myriad of recovery/replentishment suggestions encompassing both western and alternative methods, along with a comprehensive appendix of how to find the support you need to overcome Depleted Mother Syndrome. I bought 2 other copies for my sister and a friend.
- A reader from Buffalo, NY
The authors have provided not only new and new-to-be mothers with a trusted guide in the difficult challenge of self-care but have managed to offer a great support for all women in how to nurture and care for themselves. The book is a great read for fathers as well who want to be active participants in the support of caring for the women in their lives. Rick, Jan and Ricki offer practical, caring, and well-researched advice about everything from nutrition to the risk of depletion that especially new mothers face. I reccommend this as am important read for therapists and mental health professionals as well.
- Michael Simon, MFT from Oakland, CA United States
This book deserves a place of honor on your bookshelf along with the other books that every new or expectant mother should own: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas, The Mother of All Baby Books by Ann Douglas, The Baby Book by Dr. Sears, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child by the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins, Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields, and Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. The book is every bit as groundbreaking and life-changing as these other titles. Highly recommended.
- Lynette O'Meara from USA
I've read scores of baby-related advice books, but until now have never come across a book that is so directed at helping the mother. It's such a relief to read in Mother Nurture that much of a mother's exhaustion and depression has very real, physiological problems that can be corrected. The authors help direct women towards solving whatever mom-related problem they're experiencing. It's a wise, sympathetic, and intelligent book.
- A reader from San Francisco, CA USA
This is a fantastic resource for all Moms and Dads. As a mother of a 21 month old I found this book to be an invaluable resource on taking care of myself. Mother Nurture really teaches you in a very sensible way with easy to incorporate solutions how to take care of yourself so that you can be a healthier Mom, friend and partner. Every parent needs this book! You couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day Gift!!
- Jennifer Parks from San Francisco, CA United States
About.com - Marriage
"Mother Nurture is a treasure trove of information . . . Everyone who is a mother or loves a mother should read this book."
-Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies , Women's Wisdom
"At last! A book that shows mothers how to care for themselves and their relationships while they are caring for their children. Mother Nurture is brimming with practical, life-saving information that is new to most of us. A must-have for every mom...and most old moms too!"
- Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., bestselling author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings
"You've already bought the books on childcare. Now buy the book on mothercare. You'll learn that doing the right thing for yourself is the best thing you ever did for your family."
- Dr. Susan Maushart, author of The Mask of Motherhood
"Through interesting examples and scientific research, the authors adeptly examine the complex challenges facing mothers today. They are able to reassure mothers that their problems are not "just in their head," but shared by others and solvable. I recommend this book to every mother."
-Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., President of Postpartum Assistance for Mothers
"This book not only helps with recognizing the potentially significant problems of motherhood, but provides a roadmap for engaging them in ways that lead to improvement."
-Robert D. Truog, M.D., Professor of Anaesthesia and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Children's Hospital, Boston
"This book is both a friend and a coach - Mother Nurture is a must-read for all new mums (and dads). It feels like having a friend, coach, and doctor talking with you. The collaboration of 3 professionals has led to a truly holistic approach to guiding mothers as they embark upon (yes it's cliche but true) "the most difficult and rewarding" job in life. There's lots of specific, straight-forward, take action suggestions along with helpful anecdotes to illustrate points. I found this book to be of great comfort, inspiration, and help."
- Lida Morgenstein
References of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships