RN&R’s annual Women’s Health Guide

I earned a newfound respect for my body this past year. Not because I lost weight or toned up my abs or ran a marathon. It’s because, for the first time, I had a baby. In doing so, I saw what, as a woman, my body was both capable of and designed for. I marveled at its precise functionality and felt wholly thankful that it’s healthy and worked just as it was supposed to.

That baby is a little girl—healthy, smiling, with the world before her. I look at her and, like all parents, want only the best for her. I want to feed her well, introduce her to play and exercise, build her self esteem and raise a girl who will hopefully become a confident, well-rounded, caring woman. I love that she’s a girl, but I also worry. Eating disorders disproportionately affect girls, as does depression, and I can’t stomach the idea that her perfect girl parts could one day be invaded by something as sinister as cancer. I know there will be unavoidable trials in her life—sometimes that’s what makes us stronger. I just hope things like eating disorders, chronic fatigue, cancer, and an inability to pay for health care aren’t among them.

Yet many women do face these issues, every day, and we cover them in these pages. We talk with Amanda Curtis, who, while dealing with the typically all-consuming task of mothering a new baby boy and a 7-year-old daughter, is also faced with an aggressive form of breast cancer at only 30 years old. We speak with Mary Howden at Center for Hope of the Sierras; she helps women and girls who are caught up in the vicious food cycles surrounding eating disorders. We also examine the controversial topic of vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs), low-cost health-care options for women, and how more women are literally tired of the dismal economy.

My wish for all women is similar to my wish for my daughter: health, happiness and love to share them. Salud.