A person may become a working mother due to material aspirations, the necessities of daily life, or to maintain a financially independent position. Women were believed to be capable only of “kuche, kirche und kinder” (German for kitchen, church and children; used to describe a woman’s duty during the Third Reich). Even today, household chores are still considered the domain of women. She is stressed about sending her child to school, getting to work on time and taking care of her house at the same time. Sexual relations can also be strained because of this pressure.
Working moms who take care of their families and children may look like super moms on the outside, but they practically work around the clock. That doesn’t mean they don’t like being moms. working mothers, but they also tend to put personal care last on their list.
According to a survey conducted in the United Kingdom, more than 80% of working women suffered from at least one stress-related health problem. It is not difficult to imagine the situation in a country like ours, where most of the domestic responsibilities fall on a woman, whether she works or not. The pressure to juggle work responsibilities and family responsibilities is further heightened in our culture which also discourages women from talking about mental burdens.
Stress, lack of sleep, lack of physical activity, prolonged sitting, workload and poor eating habits lead to serious illnesses in working mothers. They are prone to health conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, obesity, insomnia, asthma, arthritis, psychological problems, high blood pressure, thyroid, aches and fatigue. A study on working women (Harvard) revealed that a woman suffering from stress at work has a 40% increased risk of contracting cardiovascular disease. Additionally, many said their most important responsibility, their child, was neglected, becoming victims of frustration, guilt and depression.
According to a survey, 75% of working women suffer from one health problem or another.
Here are the common health problems for these people:
Stress & anxiety – Most working moms end up working 24 hours a day and therefore feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. Young mothers who take care of a child and feed an infant at night are deprived of sleep. Most working mothers sleep less than 8 hours a day, putting them at high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke or diabetes.
Cardiovascular illnesses – Due to their sedentary lifestyle, working mothers, even from the age of 35, find themselves at risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Poor eating habits, frequent skipping of meals, leading a stressful life, and lack of physical activity can lead to high cholesterol and hypertension.
Chronic back pain – It is undeniable that working mothers break the glass ceiling at work. But in this process, they also end up breaking their backs. Sitting glued to your chair in front of a screen without a break limits body movement and leads to several problems. At home too, they have no time to rest.
Thyroid – Hypothyroidism is twice as common in women due to hormonal changes in the body during and after pregnancy. It slows down the metabolism and leads to weight gain and menstrual irregularities. Chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is quite common, as is dehydration.
(Tip – Try to include fruits and vegetables in your diet and as snacks. This will help with roughage and make bowel movements easier)
Breast discomfort (especially in new moms) – Most new moms are back to work even when breastfeeding. Some working mothers may choose to express their milk and store it in a container. However, the stress of this can take its toll on the body, leading to conditions such as blocked milk ducts, mastitis, or breast engorgement.
(Tip: Stick to a feeding or pumping schedule. Empty breast milk at regular intervals. If possible, breastfeed infants for at least 6 months)
Weight gain – Working mothers cannot make time for themselves and have poor eating habits leading to weight gain. Lack of physical activity due to prolonged sitting can lead to fat deposition resulting in fatty liver disease, hypertension, etc.
(Tip: Try some physical exercise like 30 minutes of walking or jogging. This will give you energy and help improve blood circulation. Simple activities like climbing stairs instead of the elevator can also help.Practice yoga.
nutritional deficiency – Fast dinners due to lack of time can be high in calories but nutritionally deficient. This leads to iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies.
(Tip: Try to have a balanced diet)
Mental health – Working mothers face ‘maternal bias’: the conscious or unconscious belief that a working mother cannot be effective in both labor and motherhood. According to a study by McKinsey, more women than men report feeling exhausted and exhausted. According to a new analysis from Great Place to Work and healthcare startup Maven – which surveyed 226,000 working moms – 9.8 million working moms in the United States suffer from job burnout. Just by being working mothers, they are 28% more likely to suffer from burnout or “chronic stress at work that has not been successfully managed” (WHO). It manifests in both emotional and physical symptoms like fatigue, cynicism, lack of motivation, headaches, chest tightness, upset stomach, nausea, hair loss and even increased tears.
Working mothers spend most of their time caring for their children, family needs and work demands. In the midst of all this, they fail to realize that unless they are healthy, they cannot continue to care for everyone else. It is essential that every working mother listens to the needs of her body. Routine checkups, healthy diet, regular exercise, frequent physical movement, timely breaks, and adequate rest can prevent most conditions.
Working mothers should not hesitate to ask for help and involve their partners and families in sharing their workloads. It is essential that we support mothers because they make a huge contribution through their work and also to children, families and communities.
Dr. Rana Choudhary is a Consultant Obstetrician, Gynecologist and Reproductive Medicine (Fertility) Specialist at Masina Hospital, Mumbai.