"Since parenting is one of the most severe environmental challenges anyone willingly puts themselves through, it makes sense that it radically rewires the immune system. Still, it was a surprise that having kids was a much more potent immune challenge than severe gastroenteritis," the study co-leader Dr. Adrian Liston said in a news release from the Babraham Institute in the United Kingdom. "That's at least something for prospective parents to consider. The sleep deprivation, stress, chronic infections, and all the other challenges of parenting does more to our body than just give us grey hairs."
The study compared the immune system of 670 individuals from age two to 86 over the course of three years and considered the participants' gender and weight to help see which factors influence the immune system from one person to the next.
Findings showed peope were generally able to maintain a stable immune system even after they'd been exposed to the stomach flu. However, the study revealed that parenting had the strongest effect on people's immune system. Those who lived with a partner and co-parented a child had a 50 percent reduction in the variation between their immune systems, compared to the general population.
How can we cope with the demands of parenthood? These moms share their tried-and-tested ways.
Have me-time! "I cannot stress enough how important it is to carve time out for yourself. Kahit 15 minutes of quiet lang, basta you consciously–and truly–step away from the chaos of parenting and home management. Wake up early or take your time in the bath. Sure, spa would be nice, or even just longer sleep hours, but sometimes you make do with what is available. " –Jing Roces, quality assurance specialist and mom of three
Don't worry. "Stop wasting energy worrying about things that you don't have control over. You don't want to be overly worried about the kids; they're not as fragile as we think they are. And you also don't want to be with them and yet your mind is somewhere else." –Nikki C., single mom to a boy
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Prioritize your health. “Go to the doctor if you need to. I have a lot of mom friends who self-medicate because sayang sa pera or sa oras. You have to be healthy in order to be able to properly take care of your kids.” –Lisa Rey, mom of two
Ask for help. "We only have one body, and we should take care of it. Don't wait for hubby to sense that you need help, ask for it if you need it. Bawal pakipot at less drama." –Suzette Roquez, account supervisor and mom of three
Relax. "It's easy to say, but it's really going to kill us parents if we make a big deal out of every mistake or misfortune we have. Be kinder to yourself. It's okay not to be perfect. No one is." –Sandra Ramos, mom of four
Sources February 26, 2016. "How Living With Someone Makes Your Immune Systems Eerily (huffingtonpost.com) February 17, 2016. "Parenthood May Alter Immune System, Research Suggests" (healthday.com)