Becoming a parent is one of the most crucial turning points in a person’s life. Although the bundles of joy add happiness and excitement to a couple’s life, transitioning to parenthood brings so many responsibilities as you will be liable for another life. You will have the duty to provide for them and manage the environment they will grow up in.
When a child is conceived, many physical, mental, and emotional changes can happen to both parents. Knowing these possible changes is essential before making plans to become parents. To help you understand how having kids can affect your health, here are some impacts that parenthood might bring.
Reduced risk for cancer (women)
After pregnancy, studies have shown that a woman develops less risk of having ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. The exposure to estrogen and other reproductive hormones prone to rapid multiplication is decreased during pregnancy, leading to a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
As you would not be experiencing menstruation for several months during pregnancy, developing cancer in the lining of the uterus, or endometrial cancer, is also diminished. Pregnancy also helps mature breast cells, reducing breast cancer risk. Furthermore, breastfeeding is also proven to aid in the protection of breast cells.
Development of illnesses (women)
Despite growing another person in you, pregnancy should not be all about eating for two. It is because around 20% of people retain 8 pounds of the weight they gained throughout pregnancy, most likely because of insulin resistance that they develop during this period.
This weight gain might be responsible for illnesses like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia. Without proper treatment at an early stage, these can lead to long-term health problems. Moreover, the woman may also experience abdominal separation and pelvic floor damage during childbirth.
Decreased risk for terminal illness (men)
Fatherhood means experiencing lower testosterone levels linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer and other terminal illnesses. This is mainly because there is a shift in a father’s brain following having children, which causes reduced testosterone and increased prolactin – two hormones responsible for the feeling of greater need to respond to their child.
However, it can also be because of less sleep, increased stress, poorer diet, and less exercise. But there is not much significant effect on a man’s physical health before and after having kids, compared to a woman, as the woman carries the child from pregnancy to birth.
Deterioration of mental health
During parenthood, mothers and fathers may develop anxiety, depression, and sleep issues. This starts after the baby’s birth as the parents still need to adjust and establish a rhythm. It is also particularly more challenging for the mother as they might experience postpartum depression that can last up to months or years.
The deterioration of mental health is more apparent in couples who have children compared to those who do not have one. However, this is not true for all, as couples struggling to conceive, especially those who have ovulation disorders that are causes of infertility in women, also experience a strain on their mental health.
Experiencing pregnancy and having children has several effects on parents’ health. Even if parenthood causes a drop in mental health and increases the risk of developing illnesses, it can also bring benefits, like reducing the risk of cancer and terminal disease. Remember that although these are proven, these do not necessarily apply to everyone, and it would still depend on your lifestyle and health.
For those who do not have children, keep these in mind so that you know what to expect and avoid. For parents, despite caring for your child, you must still place a high priority on your physical and psychological well-being as these will not only affect you but also your family.