Chapter 1 Refilling Your CupboardA baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother. -Mark TwainNothing changes your life like a child, and there's really no way to prepare for it. Suddenly you're working all the time, hitting the red line on stress, and you look around and wonder, where's the support? In our practices, we see mothers every day who feel frayed around the edges, let down by their partners, and worn out-or worse. Some have developed serious physical or marital problems since becoming mothers. Many women feel that it's their fault or that they must be the only one who can't handle the strain. They figure that feeling thoroughly overwhelmed just comes with the territory. Well, we're here to tell you that you're not to blame and you're not alone. What's more, there are plenty of practical things you can do that will help you feel better and bring more teamwork and closeness into your relationship with your partner. In this chapter, you'll read about three women who came to us for treatment and exactly what they did to improve their health and well-being. Just as we hope to do for you over the course of this book, we helped each one of these mothers to 1. Lower the demands on her 2. Increase her resources 3. Build up her resilience That's mother nurture. And you are entitled to it. With what you give to your children and others each day, you more than earn the right to take good care of yourself. This time with your little one (or two or more) is very special, never to be repeated, and you should be able to enjoy it fully. Further, taking care of yourself is not selfish at all. It's what you need to do in order to be at your best with your kids and still have some energy left over for your relationship with your partner. Just like in an airplane, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else. Again and again, we see a minor miracle when a woman makes some simple changes in such things as what she eats, the way she thinks about stress, or how she talks with her partner. It's not complicated or esoteric. In the chapters that follow, we'll show you easy ways that work together and add up over time to nurture your body, mind, and marriage. How Your Cupboard Can Become Bare The first step is to understand exactly how raising a family has affected you personally. That will give a foundation for using the tools provided in the rest of the book. Growing Demands upon You As demanding as parenthood has been for your mate, it has likely had even more impact on you. For starters, if you gave birth, you had the extraordinary task of building the most complex organ the body ever grows, using up to 80,000 extra calories to make your baby. If any nutrients were missing in the foods you ate, they were extracted from you and given to your child. When your baby was born, your placenta-which was a huge hormone factory during pregnancy-was dropped into the doctor's bucket, and within days after childbirth, your estrogen and progesterone dropped to a tiny fraction of their previous levels, gyrating the hormones that regulate everything from your mood when you wake up to how well you sleep at night. If you breast-feed (about half of all mothers do-and we generally recommend it for its benefits to both you and your child), each day you use about 750 to 1000 extra calories: like running seven to ten miles day after day. Breast milk is rich in nutrients such as essential fatty acids, which are essential for your baby, but you need these, too, for a healthy body and positive mood. If you are not getting enough of these nutrients in your regular diet-and few moms with infants seem to have the time-your bodily reserves are drained every time you nurse. Plus, as one mother put it, Real labor begins after birth. Each day, for twenty-plus years, youHansen, Rick is the author of 'Mother Nurture A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships' with ISBN 9780142000625 and ISBN 0142000620.