Tips for Managing Autoimmune and Motherhood

By Terri Forehand

Managing motherhood and feeling like you’re doing the best for your family is a challenge even in the best times of health. Factoring in the symptoms of an autoimmune disease (or two), and motherhood is that much more challenging. The symptoms are often internal and related to fatigue, making it difficult for others to understand.

What are some tips for managing fatigue with the demands of being a mom and wife?

  • Rest several times during the day. Nap when your little ones take a snooze. Sit and read with your feet up for 15 minutes every so often during the day during your child’s playtime. Opt for an earlier bedtime for yourself several times a week rather than staying up to finish a project. Sleep is one key to feeling rested.
  • Delegate household chores to others rather than doing it all yourself.
  • Don’t over schedule your own activities or those of your children. Opt instead to participate in those activities that mean the most to you and your family and include staying home several times a week.
  • Learn to say no without guilt. It is not possible due to fatigue to volunteer for every task that is asked of you. The word “NO” can become your best friend.
  • Avoid stress. Stress drains your body of necessary hormones to maintain energy.
  • Consider decreasing your work hours if you work outside your home. It may be easier to redo a budget for less income then to deal with the increased fatigue.

What are ways to lift energy level when more sleep (at night and naps) are not an option?

  • Small frequent meals help to sustain your blood sugar and energy levels when you still lack sleep.
  • Keep protein bars handy for a snack when you are busy or on the go.
  • Fresh fruit and veggies make a good snack, and also include nuts or protein to sustain energy levels.
  • Protein drinks or smoothies can also help to sustain your energy during the day.
  • Eat breakfast. Don’t wait until later in the day to begin your first meal. It makes it difficult to catch up if you have neglected to fuel your body from the early morning.
  • Stay on a routine. Waking and going to sleep at the same time everyday decreases fatigue. Your body knows what to expect. Sleeping late and staying up late increases fatigue.

How can I help my spouse understand my symptoms, especially fatigue, when on the outside I seem normal?

  • Include your spouse in you doctor visits. Have your spouse ask questions and become educated on your autoimmune condition. Hearing it from an authority will make it more real when the symptoms are not visible.
  • Following a schedule and honoring your need for rest will show your spouse the need to take your symptoms seriously. Don’t overdo in an attempt to show your spouse that nothing is wrong.
  • Avoid arguing over household tasks or activities that you spouse “thinks” you should do. Seek counseling to help your spouse understand your energy limits if necessary.

Questions for your doctor:

  • What new treatments or medications are available if any for my autoimmune condition?
  • What suggestions for vitamin supplements do you recommend?
  • Is there a local support group for clients and spouses who are dealing with an autoimmune condition?
  • Should I take an over the counter sleep aide when I cannot rest?

Managing the symptoms of your autoimmune disease can sometimes cause tension in families. It is important to include your healthcare provider in discussions when stress has increased at home. Asking key questions of your provider can help you to get additional suggestions or find a support group that will give you more ideas on how to manage your condition and the fatigue associated with being a mom and wife.

About the Author

Terri Forehand is a critical care nurse and freelance writer. She is the author The Cancer Prayer Book and picture book titled The ABC’s of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from her home where she lives with her husband and an array of rescue dogs nestled in the hills of Brown County, Indiana.

This post contains opinions of the author. is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances.