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Regular Checkups for Moms

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Share how you've been feeling. Let your doctor know how you are managing emotionally while taking care of your children, home, work, and other obligations. He or she will want to know about the stressors in your life, like a child with health problems, or marital conflict. You can ask for a referral to other professionals or to agencies that might help, such as a therapist, a psychiatrist for possible medication, or a parenting resource center.

Bring all your medications and supplements. The easiest way to let your doctor know what you're taking is to bring it all in a bag. That way, he or she can be aware of any interactions or side effects.

Perhaps make a special appointment. If you need to, make another appointment besides your annual physical to discuss your health concerns, since they deserve adequate time for reflection, not the hurried type of "roller skates" doctor visit that has become so common with managed care schedules. Most doctors will be sympathetic and helpful. But if little interest is shown, you may need to look around for another physician.

Follow up if necessary. Examination and history taking alone may give your doctor enough information to make an initial assessment of your health status. Based on the findings, the doctor could recommend a course of action, and if it works, then that would tend to confirm his or her initial diagnosis. For example, if you feel run-down and have been eating poorly, a reasonable first step is to improve your diet and find ways to get more rest; if that restores your sense of vitality, there could be no need for further investigation.

But if the initial assessment raises nagging questions, the first round of intervention has mixed results, or you simply want a thorough review of your health, then we encourage you to pursue further testing....

Unfortunately, some health care organizations resist assessment because it costs money, and you may have to stick up for yourself to get the tests you need. At worst, you could have to pay out of pocket for some testing. As difficult as that can be, an investment in your health usually comes back tenfold in decreased long-term medical costs. Additionally, there is the intangible but precious benefit of feeling good in your own body.

Of course, the purpose of assessment is to understand what action you could take in order to feel better. [There are ways] to reverse the process of depletion and restore greater balance to your body's systems.

*Or if you had certain health problems during a recent pregnancy.

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From Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships by Rick Hansen, Jan Hansen, and Ricki Pollycove. Copyright © 2002 by Rick Hanson. Jan Hanson, and Ricki Pollycove. Used by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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