mothering a daughter

12 Jan

For those of you who have children–especially daughters–there is an added element to dealing with PCOS. It is, to some extent, hereditary. Your daughter has a better-than-average chance of developing PCOS if you have it, and it is a common disorder in this country for all women. [If you look back at your relatives, you may see symptoms of PCOS, whether your mother, grandmother, or other female relatives were diagnosed or not. For example, my mother had very low milk supply when she attempted to breastfeed.] It is also worth noting that research is suggesting that men can also develop a similar disorder, known in some medical circles as syndrome X,  and that syndrome X bears a hereditary link to PCOS. So even if you have a son, you may want to think about this!

So, as a mom, what can you do to help your child?

I think there are several things that we can do to make PCOS less likely and to help our daughters deal with it if they do develop it. Here’s my list of PCOS-management parenting tips! [My daughter is only three, so these are somewhat untested…but none of them will do any harm even if your daughter does not have PCOS, so why not be proactive?]

* Instill healthy eating habits. This is a good thing for all families, but since PCOS can often be effectively treated by a healthy diet, it’s especially important to model this if you are worried about your daughter’s genetic heritage. Get your kids used to eating unprocessed foods, veggies and fruits, and whole grains. These habits will last a lifetime.

* Get active…and include your kids. While you may not want to have your kids along if you’re sweating it out on a 5-mile run, active play is a great thing and should be part of your daily routine. My kids love doing exercise videos with me, too. [It’s humbling to see how easy the “30-Day Shred” is for a three-year-old.] Fitness is a gift that your kids will always have, if you get them into these habits at a young age. Kick around a soccer ball, go for a walk, work in the garden, swim, climb at the playground…whatever floats your boat.

* Educate, educate, educate. As your daughter grows up, make sure she knows about her body. If your daughter is prepared for the onset of menstruation, and comfortable talking to you about it, it will be easier to keep an eye on signs like irregular cycles that might indicate PCOS. Plus, if she knows about your own experiences with PCOS, she will be able to see that it is not the end of the world if she does have it. As an adult, she may experience a lot of difficulties as a result of PCOS–infertility, struggles with weight, etc.–and the more she knows about these possibilities, the better armed she will be.

One added benefit of being a mom, at least for me, is that I am more motivated to make positive changes now that I have children. I want to set a good example and model healthy behavior. One of the things that sometimes helps me make better food choices, or gets me out of bed to run when I don’t want to go, is to think about what kind of an image of a strong woman I am presenting for my kids.

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One Response to “mothering a daughter”

  1. Amy January 20, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    I have a daughter (who is almost 3) and I worry about her future and the possibility of her being diagnosed with PCOS. She is a healthy eater and is very active. I will do my best to keep it that way. Found you on SoulCysters

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