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Advice from the Underbelly
By Jennifer Wider, MD,
Author of The New Mom's Survival Guide: How to Reclaim Your body, Your Health, Your Sanity, and Sex Life After Having a Baby

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no absolutely no idea what to expect. I went about my business as if nothing was different. At work I'd occasionally glance down at my growing belly as thoughts of chubby, quiet, smiling babies dressed in all-white filled my mind. I had convinced myself that my life wouldn't really change.

Fast forward a few months -- I was sitting in my infant daughter's room and we were both crying. She was crying because she needed a new diaper; I was crying for my old life, my lack of sleep and my resentment toward my husband whose life hadn't really changed at all. To add insult to injury, he came home that night "in the mood." Was he on drugs?

Two months later, just as my daughter turned three months, I joined a support group for new mothers. It was at that moment, I started to see the light at the end of the "new mom tunnel." There, amidst six other exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious women, I started to feel human again. The group was led by a child psychologist, but each discussion veered from the children and focused on us. Thank God for that one hour I could devote to myself each week, it truly kept me going.

We spoke about our sex lives, or lack of them; our emotional state of mind; how our bodies had changed forever; our issues about staying at home versus going back to work. Each week, there was a new topic and when the women found out that I was a doctor, the conversations shifted to our physical health. "Is it normal that my hair is falling out?" "Why can't I lose the weight?" "Why are my feet larger, will they ever shrink to their normal size?" "If my child has the croup, can I get it?" "When will it stop hurting to have sex?" "Ever since I had my son when I laugh, urine comes out, is that normal?"

It became apparent to me that a host of health issues arise in new mothers. And I became their resource. When I didn't have the answer, I'd ask my Ob/Gyn or research it in a medical textbook. There was no single, resource available to these young mothers that could credibly answer their questions. And the resources that were available provided sketchy information at best. I remember at one session, a woman had spotted a skin change under her arm and after going online, she came in hysterically crying, convinced she was dying from skin cancer. She didn't realize that certain skin changes were normal during and after pregnancy. What she had spotted turned out to be a normal skin tag.

There were definitely things I wished someone warned me about before I had my baby. From acne to enlarged feet, from resentment toward your spouse to the fear of going back or not going back to work, not to mention those other issues no-one wants to talk about like constipation, depression, hemorrhoids and vaginal pain, women need an outlet to discuss one of the largest changes they will ever experience: a new baby!

Most people think new moms don't have time for themselves or their own health, but given the proper resource, they will unquestionably make the time. Sit down with a group of women after they give birth and inevitably, the conversation will turn to health matters that relate to themselves as well as their babies and children. It is my hope that this book can provide some of the much-needed reassurance and solid, well-researched health information to new mothers during this tumultuous but miraculous time period.

©2008 Jennifer Wider, MD

Author Bio
Jennifer Wider, MD, is a doctor, author, and radio personality who specializes in women's health issues. She is the medical advisor to the Society for Women's Health Research in Washington, D.C. Dr. Wider is a regular contributor to Cosmopolitan magazine and hosts a weekly segment on Cosmo Radio for Sirius Satellite. She has appeared as a health expert on  The Today Show, CBS News, Good Day NY, Fox News, and a variety of cable channels.  She lives with her physician husband, and their daughter and son, in Fairfield County, Connecticut.  Her book, The New Mom's Survival Guide, is available now from Bantam Books.

Visit the author at www.drwider.com