By American Heart Association News
THURSDAY, May 11, 2023 (American Heart Association News) — Everyone knows that on Mother’s Day, Mom’s needs come first. But the rest of the year, mothers often put their health care on hold to focus on others.
“A lot of times as women, we tend to put ourselves last,” said Dr. Marlene Blaise, a cardiologist in independent practice in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Avoiding that is important for more than mothers themselves, said Jennifer Stuart, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
“It’s also important for our families,” said Stuart, who has a doctorate in epidemiology and focuses her research on adverse pregnancy outcomes and maternal cardiovascular disease risk. “As a parent, you’re laying down a foundation and modeling behaviors, healthy or otherwise, for your children. So, if we’re engaging in a healthy diet and physical activity, and our children are seeing and learning from that, they can benefit, too.”
To help fellow mothers of all ages, Blaise and Stuart offered health advice for each stage of motherhood.
“It’s important to head into a pregnancy in the best physical condition that you can,” said Stuart, who is mother to a 7-month-old boy.
Pregnancy is like a stress test for the heart and its related functions, she said. Having a healthy body weight, being physically active and eating a healthy diet “positions you to have the healthiest pregnancy, delivery and child or children that you can.”
If your health isn’t perfect, don’t be discouraged, Stuart said. “Today is the best time to start thinking about health and motherhood, regardless of where you are in your life.”
During pregnancy, it’s crucial to pay attention to health issues that arise. Women often are told that if a problem resolves after giving birth, they