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Mother's Day: Stay healthy—heed your own advice

Consumer Reports News: May 09, 2008 11:40 AM

Mothers give their children quite good advice: eat your breakfast, go to bed, and, when needed, take your medicine. We schedule yearly visits to the pediatrician, call for appointments at the first sign of infection, and make sure that vaccinations are kept up-to-date.

But when it comes to our own health, we often toss all wisdom aside, getting too little sleep, eating on the run forgetting to schedule an annual physical. And when I ask patient-moms which regular doctor they see, most will admit they haven’t gotten around to finding one yet. We could feel lousy for weeks before we seek care, and by the time we schedule a visit, we’re at the end of our ropes.

A few years back, I ignored a minor shoulder injury. Even though the pain was severe enough to wake me up at night, I continued to carry a heavy laptop for months. When I finally saw an orthopedist, he told me I had an enormous bone spur. I could have avoided the damage if I had gone to him earlier and followed a few easy restrictions. All the sleep deprivation also took its toll—I was tired at work, and at home, too.

When we’re sick and run down, our patience runs thin, and our mothering tends to suffer along with our health. As they say before takeoff, put your own oxygen mask on first—you’ll be less help to your children if you’re not ready yourself. So, mothers, get enough rest, eat balanced meals, and don't forget to take your calcium. And for this Mother’s Day focus on health—if not for yourself, for your family’s sake.

Orly Avitzur, M.D., medical adviser to Consumers Union

Read more on women's health at our Women's Condition Center—and take a peek at gift ideas for Mother's Day.

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