In my practice as a chiropractor in midtown Manhattan, I see it all the time: working moms put off taking care of themselves until it’s too late. They tend to take care of everyone else first and then themselves which results in stress that won’t go away. Whether you’re an entrepreneurial mom or a mom in business, you no doubt put yourself last after a whole lot of people and even things. If our attention was a to-do list, it would look like this:
That’s not good for our health, which in turn, is not good for everyone on the list above us. Why? Because we are the foundation for the whole darn thing. If the foundation is floundering, it can all come crashing down and it’s imperative that you find ways to reduce stress to better your life.
…we are the foundation for the whole darn thing. If the foundation is floundering, it can all come crashing down.
It starts when the stress manifests itself physically. You have neck pain from lugging a baby or toddler around and staring at a computer all day, so you rub some Biofreeze on your neck and get back to work. You start to get chronic migraines, so you pop some pills and keep on going, thinking you don’t have the time to find another solution. You get eczema, so you call the dermatologist for a refill on your meds, itching while you wait.
Each one of these symptoms is a crack in the foundation, and the solutions are Elmer’s glue. They’ll patch it up for a little while, but they’re not fixing the root of the problem—and then the cracks get bigger.
But the foundation that is you, working mom, needs and deserves the right solutions to hold it all together: body work, exercises, proper eating, and supplements. You need the right experts to help you do these things right, so you can get back to business.
Just like you’ve assembled a team to help you manage your work-life balance as an entrepreneurial mom or mom in business – pediatrician, daycare or nanny, babysitter, favorite barista – you need a few experts to help you maintain the foundation that is you.
But the foundation that is you, working mom, needs and deserves the right solutions to hold it all together: body work, exercises, proper eating, and supplements.
A good functional medicine doctor can help you determine how and why an illness occurs, finding solutions to address its root causes. A good chiropractor can get to the root of the problem, performing body work, teaching you exercises to maintain good health, and improving your ergonomics, both at work and at home. It’s important to assemble this team before the cracks in the foundation get too big.
I’ve seen old wounds come back to bite too many working moms. An old C-section scar can destabilize your core by tugging the lower abdomen and groin, which leads to back and neck pain. Think of it as a hairline crack and lugging around kids and hunching over your computer as pressure on that crack. A good chiropractor can address that scar through Active Release Therapy (ART), which increases blood flow and encourages healing, even in old scars. The result is a better functioning body and therefore, a stronger foundation.
Then there’s your mental health. I know that it’s hard to come back to work from maternity leave, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Working moms can struggle with being good moms at home and also present at the office, feeling guilty about both, which makes it hard to stay present wherever they are.
What I’ve seen in my practice is that exercise is essential to a new working mom’s mental health. Exercise is not only good for your body, it can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. As soon as your doctor clears you to exercise after you have a baby, get moving—and I don’t mean just between the changing table and the diaper pail.
Start simply, by walking. Push that stroller around the neighborhood. Attend a mom-baby yoga class. Add in some weightlifting. Most women worry that lifting weights will bulk them up, but that’s typically not true. Once we hit 30 years-old, we lose muscle mass by 2 to 3 percent each year, so we have to work harder just to maintain muscle, let alone bulk up like a bodybuilder! You might want to invest in some personal training sessions to learn exercises that are right for your body and your goals, all in an effort to strengthen that foundation.
Working moms can struggle with being good moms at home and also present at the office, feeling guilty about both, which makes it hard to stay present wherever they are.
Vitamin D can help stave off postpartum depression, too. Most of us get too little of it. That’s because we use sunscreen to block out UVB radiation and protect our skin, as we should, but it also blocks vitamin D. We produce less of it as we age, and the more weight we carry around, the more that vitamin D is stored in fat instead of being released into the bloodstream. You can have your blood tested for vitamin D levels and, if yours is low, add supplements. Ask your doctor about the dosage that’s right for you.
Of course a well-balanced diet with plenty of veggies and fruits, fiber, and only unsaturated fats is key to good health. It’s the fuel that keeps it all going, so make sure you’re not just eating your kid’s sandwich crusts and coffee! Be good to your foundation.
So we’ve got some body work, some exercises, supplements, and a well-balanced diet, but there’s one more thing I’ve seen in my practice: money does not equal happiness. We treat some of the most successful women with huge careers, and despite the tremendously good cash flow, stress is still high. If you think your life will be easier if you just get that raise or that dream client, think again. With greater responsibility comes more stress. Your foundation may be bigger, but it still has cracks that need to be addressed, and more on top to come crashing down.
Remember, working moms: all it takes is little steps each day to move yourself up that attention to-do list. Add in 15 minutes of walking today and a nice salad at lunch. Book yourself for a chiropractic assessment and invest in a good ergonomic chair. Pick up some vitamin D supplements and add that meditation app to your phone. The more you do for yourself, the better you feel, and the stronger the foundation that’s holding up your family and work. It’s simply good for business, whether it’s the business of family or work.
In good health mamas!
Dr Emily Kiberd is a chiropractic physician, functional movement specialist, and mama to Baby Elvis. She founded Urban Wellness Clinic in Manhattan and also runs a sister company, Urban Wellness Corporate Solutions that develops corporate wellness programs for companies like Prada, Slack, and shows such as The Black List. She has been featured in Vogue, Women’s Health, and Vice for her health and wellness expertise.