On Mother's Day, Have a Heart-to-Heart about Family Health

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Editor's note: This was originally created as an article on SparkPeople's sister site, BabyFit.com. We thought it was useful to a wide range of women and wanted to share it with you today.
Happy Mother's Day!

By Christine Johnson, dailySpark contributor

It’s extremely important to your health to research your family’s medical history, and there’s no better way to start than by asking your mother. Her knowledge of women’s health can help you learn what to expect at different stages of your life. Talking about health--and family illnesses--can be tough sometimes, but the information you gain is incredibly valuable. Not every mother and daughter relationship is the same, so this could be a bonding experience. While not all of these questions will apply to your situation, we included a broad range to help you get the conversation started.

Here are ways you can break the ice.

Starting from your first visit to the OB/GYN, your mother was likely there to help fill out forms and ease your anxiety over that first annual exam. Many health issues are hereditary, such as certain kinds of cancer, reproductive troubles, high blood pressure and heart complications. Determining your risk factors for these complications will help your health-care provider find the best health plan for your unique situation. Start by asking your mom these simple questions:
  • Do you or does anyone else in the family have a history of cardiovascular complications (heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, etc)?
  • Is there a history of breast, uterine, ovarian, or cervical cancer in the family?
  • Have you ever experienced abnormal periods (irregular cycles, severe cramping, heavy or abnormal flow)?
  • Is there any chance I may be at risk for ovarian cysts or endometriosis?
  • At what age did you start menopause?
  • Did you undergo any hormone replacement therapy?
  • Do you continue to get annual exams?
  • Do you have an annual mammogram?
  • Have you ever found a lump?
  • Did you ever struggle with your weight?
  • Do we have a history of obesity or weight problems in the family?
  • Did you ever battle with low self-esteem?
  • How did you stay active while you had kids at home?
  • How did you balance motherhood with the rest of your life?
  • How did you learn to accept (or love) your body?

These are just a few questions, some to which you may already know the answer. You may even have questions of your own, unique to your own life. Knowing the answers to these questions and being able to share them with your health-care provider means that he or she will be able to provide you with better care.

After I delivered my first child, my mom and I used these questions to compare the differences in our experiences--we spent 90 minutes on the telephone, reflecting on family health, parenting and pregnancy! I was just as surprised at the similarities as I was with the differences in each of our unique experiences!

While talking about health and history might not be the brightest of topics, see this as an opportunity to get to know your mother a bit better. Knowing where you've come from and who you are--and who your mom is--will help you in your future.

Have you had a family health discussion with your mother/daughter? If you're already a mother, consider having this conversation with your daughter--or son.

Christine Johnson is a regular BabyFit contributor and the mother of one daughter.