By Rick Hanson, PhD, Jan Hanson, LAc, and Ricki Pollycove, MD
Reviewed by Neysa C.M. Jensen
Boise ID USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 1, February-March 2004, p. 10.
At a recent Leaders’ meeting, I shared my delight in Mother Nurture, a book in which the authors identify "Depleted Mother Syndrome" and examine it seriously. Every woman in the room laughed, rolled her eyes, and nodded as if to say, "We already knew about that." It seems for years many mothers have simply accepted the notion that motherhood comes with associated fatigue, compromised nutrition (especially when nursing one or more babies), depression, overwhelming feelings, tension, and less intimacy with one’s spouse.
According to the authors, mothers become depleted because of such factors as high physical and emotional demands, few resources such as extended family or others who help with motherhood’s endless chores, nutritional deficiencies, prior health problems, and having children at an older age. All these can create imbalances in one’s gastrointestinal system, immune system, nervous system, and endocrine system, leading to very real risks for diabetes, kidney disease, hormonal problems, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, and depression. Add to these physical symptoms the emotions accompanying motherhood, such as fear, worry, anger, or guilt, and many moms feel like a car with an empty gas tank or a bare cupboard, not just sometimes, but chronically. They are truly depleted.
In Mother Nurture, the authors emphasize how a mother can nurture herself out of this state. The authors focus on nurturing your mind by reducing stress and transforming painful emotions; nurturing your body by taking care of your health through sleep, nutrition, and balancing all physical aspects; and nurturing your intimate relationships to garner support and help from your partner.
As someone who has struggled with "Depleted Mother Syndrome," I found the book uplifting and supportive. However, the section on nurturing your mind did not sufficiently emphasize the importance of professional help, such as counseling, medication, or both, if a mother needs it. The section on nurturing one’s relationship was useful, but not as important to me as the middle section on nurturing oneself physically.
The bulk of the book is devoted to nurturing your body, offering a variety of suggestions for any woman. The authors suggest mothers avail themselves of all they can in the spectrum of care, whether it’s Western medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, bodywork, yoga, supplements, herbs, eliminating environmental toxins, or other approaches. Then they cover how each depleted body system can be supported and balanced.
Mother Nurture can be used as a reference and resource by a depleted mother. It makes a great workbook, and it provides enough information that anyone can start to improve her health and stamina.
The many interactive sections could be valuable Enrichment Meeting materials as well. They might also be used when working one-on-one with a mother to offer suggestions to help her reduce her stress immediately so she can continue taking care of herself and her baby. The book is an important addition to any Group Library, and Leaders can feel comfortable referring mothers to its pages. It would also be a helpful book for Leaders to read, so that when working with a depleted mother, the Leader would be able to recognize the symptoms. Of course, Leaders would not diagnose "Depleted Mother Syndrome," but we can offer every mother all the information and resources we have.
Neysa C.M. Jensen is a retired LLL Leader in Boise, Idaho, USA where she lives with her husband David and their three children, Melissa (14), Emily (11), and Peter (7). Jake Aryeh Marcus is the Contributing Editor for LEAVEN Book Reviews.