Why becoming a mother is good for you

Written By John Richards on Sunday, June 24, 2012 | 2:42 PM

It's not all stretch marks and night-feeds... being a new mum can make you healthier and happier. Your baby will totally change your life. Fact. On the other hand, that means living with a lot of bright plastic and having sick on your top, but the changes are mostly amazing — such as how being a mum actually makes you more healthy. Here's how...

You get smarter According to a study from the University of Richmond in the USA, the cocktail of hormones, neuropepetides, and neurotransmitters, which is released during pregnancy, can permanently affect the structure of your brain, increasing motivation and empathy and improving your multi-tasking abilities.

You ditch bad habits Pregnant women are more likely to be successful in giving up smoking and reducing alcohol intake for the health of their baby as they are a significant contributor to low birth weight and increased risk of infant mortality. Once these lifestyle choices are made, many women realise how easy it is and feel better in themselves for the changes they have made.

You think more about your nutrient intake Most women are advised to take vitamin supplements during pregnancy, particularly folic acid and vitamin D. Food cravings are sometimes a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency (calcium in milk for example) in which many women become encouraged to question the benefits of the foods they are eating for the benefit of baby, changing their diet to ensure it meet their needs.

You start eating for energy Looking after a baby is tiring, especially with 2am feeds and non-stop toddlers, and many mums need to rethink their diets accordingly. Choosing slow-release (low GI) energy goods, such as porridge, wholemeal bread and brown rice, can keep you fuller for longer and prevent energy dips.

You lower your cancer risk Research has shown that women who have had children have a slightly lower risk of breast cancer. It's thought this is related to the lack of ovulation for nine months and the hormonal changes related to pregnancy.' However, being on the Pill does not have the same affect.