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Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health

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With such groundbreaking bestsellers as Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup is one of today’s most trusted and visionary medical experts. Now she presents her most profound and revolutionary approach to women’s health. . . .

The mother-daughter relationship sets the stage for our state of health and well-being for our entire lives. Because our mothers are our first and most powerful female role ...
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Overview

With such groundbreaking bestsellers as Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup is one of today’s most trusted and visionary medical experts. Now she presents her most profound and revolutionary approach to women’s health. . . .

The mother-daughter relationship sets the stage for our state of health and well-being for our entire lives. Because our mothers are our first and most powerful female role models, our most deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves as women come from them. And our behavior in relationships—with food, with our children, with our mates, and with ourselves—is a reflection of those beliefs. Once we understand our mother-daughter bonds, we can rebuild our own health, whatever our age, and create a lasting positive legacy for the next generation.

Mother-Daughter Wisdom introduces an entirely new map of female development, exploring the “five facets of feminine power,” which range from the basics of physical self-care to the discovery of passion and purpose in life. This blueprint allows any woman—whether or not she has children—to repair the gaps in her own upbringing and create a better adult relationship with her mother. If she has her own daughter, it will help her be the mother she has always wanted to be.

Drawing on patient case histories and personal experiences, Dr. Northrup also presents findings at the cutting edge of medicine and psychology. Discover:

•How to lay the nutritional foundation to prevent eating disorders and adult diseases
•The truth about the immunization controversy–and the true meaning of immunity
•How we can change our genetic health legacy
•Why financial literacy is essential to women’s health
•How to foster healthy sexuality and future “love maps” in our daughters
•How to balance independence with caring, and individual growth with family ties

Written with warmth, enthusiasm, and rare intelligence, Mother-Daughter Wisdom is an indispensable book destined to change lives and become essential reading for all women.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author of the bestselling The Wisdom of Menopause and a certified ob/gyn takes a more expansive look at women's health and how the mother-daughter relationship affects it in this opinionated handbook-cum-memoir. Northrup's philosophy that "our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mother's emotions, beliefs, and behaviors" may turn off some readers, while others may take issue with her comment that "some men fear either they or their wives are inferior if they cannot have a son." These theories aren't backed up as much by scientific evidence (although in the latter example, Northrup does cite a 1975 study) as by anecdotes from her life as a mother of two daughters and her experiences with her patients. The book's opening section ("the Foundation of Mother-Daughter Health," i.e., pregnancy) mixes obvious health tips (e.g., don't drink alcohol while pregnant) with more informative ones (e.g., take prenatal vitamins such as beta carotene and folic acid). Northrup seems more comfortable when she moves on to discussing how a mother can most effectively take care of her daughter's emotional and physical health from the ages of three months to 21 years old, and her best and most heartfelt advice is on dealing with teenage daughters. She suggests moms not become their daughters' social directors, and that they hold daughters accountable. Nuggets like these are certainly valuable; it's unfortunate that they're buried in such a massive and uneven outlay of information. Agent, Ned Leavitt. (Mar.) Forecast: TV tie-ins could help this sell well; the book's publication is timed to coincide with a PBS special of the same name, and Northrup has appeared on Oprah. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Obstetrician and best-selling author Northrup (Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom) here offers parenting advice and some useful information on holistic medicine. Much of her guidance applies to all parents and children, but her insistence on women's innate "Mother Bear" wisdom and other such concepts becomes distracting. Readers who approach this thick book with a critical eye may find it taxing to sort the worthy from the extraneous passages. While Northrup is wise to question one-size-fits-all medical orthodoxy-as when she points out the dangers of unnecessary caesarian sections and the advantages of avoiding painkillers during labor-some of her advice is problematic. For instance, she opposes vaccinations for children and gives tips on getting waivers from vaccination requirements, but she does not provide sufficient evidence that vaccinations cause children more harm than benefit. In presenting her medical and psychological theories as if these beliefs carried the weight of proven medical practices, she does her readers a disservice. Recommended only for public libraries with comprehensive alternative medicine collections, though Northrup's program Mother-Daughter Wisdom (airing March 5 on PBS) may increase demand.-Susan E. Pease, Univ. of Massachusetts Lib., Amherst Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553105735
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/22/2005
  • Pages: 752
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Christiane Northrup, M.D., trained at Dartmouth Medical School and Tufts New England Medical Center before cofounding the Women to Women health care center in Yarmouth, Maine, which became a model for women's clinics nationwide. Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, she is past president of the American Holistic Medical Association and an internationally recognized authority on women's health and healing.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mothers and Daughters

The Bond That Wounds, the Bond That Heals

The mother-daughter relationship is at the headwaters of every woman's health. Our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mothers' emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. Even before birth, our mother provides us with our first experience of nurturing. She is our first and most powerful female role model. It is from her that we learn what it is to be a woman and care for our bodies. Our cells divided and grew to the beat of her heart. Our skin, hair, heart, lungs, and bones were nourished by her blood, blood that was awash with the neurochemicals formed in response to her thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. If she was fearful, anxious, or deeply unhappy about her pregnancy, our bodies knew it. If she felt safe, happy, and fulfilled, we felt that too.

Our bodies and those of our daughters were created by a seamless web of nature and nurture, of biology informed by consciousness, that we can trace back to the beginning of time. Thus, every daughter contains her mother and all the women who came before her. The unrealized dreams of our maternal ancestors are part of our heritage. To become optimally healthy and happy, each of us must get clear about the ways in which our mother's history both influenced and continues to inform our state of health, our beliefs, and how we live our lives. Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her.

A mother's often unconscious influence on her daughter's health is so profound that years ago I had to accept that my medical skills were only a drop in the bucket compared to the unexamined and ongoing influence of her mother. If a woman's relationship with her mother was supportive and healthy, and if her mother had given her positive messages about her female body and how to care for it, my job as a physician was easy. Her body, mind, and spirit were already programmed for optimal health and healing. If, on the other hand, her mother's influence was problematic, or if there was a history of neglect, abuse, alcoholism, or mental illness, then I knew that my best efforts would probably fall short. Real long-term health solutions would become possible only when my patient realized the impact of her background and then took steps to change this influence. Though health-care modalities such as dietary improvement, exercise, drugs, surgery, breast exams, and Pap smears all have their place, not one of them can get to the part of a woman's consciousness that is creating her state of health in the first place.

Before birth, consciousness literally directs the creation of our bodies. It is also constantly being shaped by our life's experiences, most especially those of childhood. No other childhood experience is as compelling as a young girl's relationship with her mother. Each of us takes in at the cellular level how our mother feels about being female, what she believes about her body, how she takes care of her health, and what she believes is possible in life. Her beliefs and behaviors set the tone for how well we learn to care for ourselves as adults. We then pass this information either consciously or unconsciously on to the next generation.

Though I acknowledge that the culture at large plays a significant role in our views of ourselves as women, ultimately the beliefs and behavior of our individual mothers exert a far stronger influence. In most cases, she is the first to teach us the dictates of the larger culture. And if her beliefs are at odds with the dominant culture, our mother's influence almost always wins....

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Table of Contents

Dr. Christiane Northrup contends that the mother-daughter bond forms the foundation for a woman's self-image, her interpersonal relationships, even her physical health. This inspiring book -- as warm, encouraging, and delightfully opinionated as Northrup herself -- focuses on how a better understanding of that bond can help all women (mothers or not) to achieve well-being. Bubbling over with life-affirming advice for all ages and stages, it provides particularly valuable advice for the mothers of teens.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Mother-Daughter Wisdom includes Dr. Northrup’s candid recollections of her own journey to motherhood, and her realizations about her mother. What are the legacies of motherhood in your family? If you have limited information about this, what are your greatest obstacles in discovering that history?

2. What new insights regarding conception, pregnancy, labor, and birth did you take away from the book’s initial chapters? Why might Western medicine get in the way of the natural processes that ease childbearing?

3. Chapter two features “The Five Facets of Feminine Power,” ranging from the basics of physical care to the discovery of passion and purpose in life. Which of these facets shines brightest in your life these days? Which facet would you most like to “polish”?

4. Using Dr. Northrup’s analogy of life as a house, discuss the times when you moved from one “room” to another in your role as mother, daughter, or both.

5. In your opinion, is the mother-daughter legacy primarily a matter of nature or nurture? What medical legacies have been passed down to you by your ancestors? How much can genetic predispositions be modified by our own actions? Do you agree with Dr.Northrup’s assessment of the role we can play in creating physical and emotional health for ourselves?

6. In Chapter one, the author states “the only way to raise a healthy, proud daughter or heal our own relationship with our mothers, is to enter bear territory. If you are raising a daughter, you must be willing to open yourself to the place inside where you would willingly sacrifice your own life or that of someone or something else for your daughter. It also means that you must know when to stop the sacrifice for her sake as well as your own.” When have you experienced Mother Bear energy, either as the bear or as her cub?

7. Chapter seven discusses the “emotional” versus “executive” portions of the brain and the balance between self-love and empathy. In what ways have you experienced these tensions in your day-to-day experience? Does the distinction between “shame donors” and “shame recipients” resonate with you? What strategies, if any, have you adopted to reverse feelings of shame?

8. Chapter eight defines nourishment not only in terms of sound nutrition but as a whole-life experience. How do the concepts featured in this chapter create a foundation for the subsequent chapters? What are the keys to a “well-nourished” life, even in financial terms?

9. How do gender lines factor into the creation of “love maps” (Chapter ten)? How does American culture encode seemingly contradictory expectations for boys and girls regarding relationships and sexuality?

10. Who were some of your earliest idols and heroes? Can you think of any experiences from your own life that reflect Dr. Northrup’s statement, in Chapter twelve, that “through her idols, [a school-age girl] explores ways of being in the world and experiments with her ideal self” and that “the qualities a girl admires in others are really inside herself?”

11. Chapter twelve, “The Anatomy of Self-Esteem,” eloquently describes ways to instill confidence and help your daughters develop an inner guidance system. Through what means were you taught how to navigate harmful situations? To what degree do you currently “feel safe on the earth”?

12. What contemporary knowledge, from nutrition to relationships, has had the greatest impact on your health? How proactive are you in your relationships with your health-care providers? Do you keep yourself informed about medical issues that concern you, ask questions of your doctors, get second opinions when you think they are appropriate?

13. In Chapter fifteen, the author states that during puberty a young woman’s “unique, inborn gifts and talents are ripe for in-depth recognition and development” and that “the degree to which [she] is supported to become who [she] really is by [her family] and social networks is the degree to which [she] will bloom [and] remain healthy.” How did your family respond to or address puberty in your home? How did it affect the woman you became? Do you feel that our society would benefit from more positive coming-of-age rites, and have you personally participated in any?

14. How would you describe the relationships between women and men in your family? Did your mother defer to your father, or take on all the responsibility for the emotional well being of her family? How has your parents’ relationship influenced your own feelings about what you can expect from men?

15. Is the twenty-first century an exceptionally dangerous time to be an adolescent girl, due to high rates of substance abuse and unprotected sex? Or are we raising a generation of young women who possess an exceptional ability to take care of themselves? How do you think they will characterize our current generation of mothers?

16. What message would you most like to hear from your mother? From your daughter? What is the most healing message you could give to your mother? Your daughter?

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2005

    passing on wisdom

    This book re-inspired me to take better care of myself and to honor where I am right now (middle age). It also inspired me to find a concrete way to pass on wisdom to my daughter, now a young adult. I used a great journaling book created by a mother-daughter team--Words to Live By:A Journal of Wisdom for Someone You Love (Emily and Kate Marshall)-- to express my values and what I think about mind, body and spirit health.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2005

    Insightful and motivating

    I have just finished reading this book and I have been recommending it to all mothers and daughters with whom I come in contact. I am the mother of two young daughters and one son, and I plan to use much of the information and insight in the book to hopefully raise happy, healthy, successful children. There are a few parts of the book which I wasn't so impressed with, but it is easy to skip over those parts and find the jewels. I highly recommend this book to any woman - mother and/or daughter. It will make you think, help you heal, and help you to be a better woman.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2005

    Great Information from a male perspective

    I saw Dr. Northrup on PBS, and her insights and wisdom are more than pop-psychology. As an only child (male) raised by a single mother, I got a wealth of insight from her presentation. I'm ordering the book for myself and my wife. I look forward to reading more in-depth info on her 'nuggets of wisdom'...

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