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A Shot for Health
Soccer Legend Mia Hamm wants adults to learn how vaccinations help you stay healthy
By Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS
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As captain of the US Women’s soccer team, legendary forward Mia Hamm helped direct 2 World Cup wins as well as 2 Olympic gold medals. As a wife and mother of twin daughters, she’s now talking about her role in directing her family’s health. When Healthy Mom&Baby caught up with Mia, she had just signed on to be the spokeswoman for the www.giveyourhealthashot.com campaign – a website that helps adults understand the importance of vaccinations to stay healthy.

From the flu and HPV to whooping cough, how are vaccinations part of your overall game plan?
For me, it’s being proactive, not reactive. You don’t want to wait until something breaks down. My mother made sure I stayed up to date on all of the vaccinations I needed when I was a child, and while I played soccer, our team doctors would advise us on what vaccinations we would need. Now I know it’s time for me to have those conversations with my own healthcare provider for myself to learn what vaccines I need to be healthy as an adult. I’m learning I need to be my own healthcare advocate.

What has motivated you toward healthy living?
For me, it’s always been a balance of taking care of myself and being conscious of my needs; physically, mentally and emotionally. And like anything in life, that’s not always easy. I remember when my daughters were born I wasn’t getting the kind of stimulation I needed as an adult and I needed to step away, even for a short while, and go have an adult conversation. It’s essential to recognize all of your needs and re-energize yourself.

How do your healthcare providers help you maintain that balance?
Playing soccer, I learned that it was essential to keep an open line of communication with our team doctors. Whether we were making decisions to prevent injuries or just to promote health, I had to be able to trust that person. Even now with my kids’ pediatrician, I know I can go in and say “this is what I’m seeing and thinking ...” and she’ll be totally open to that. I really researched and talked to a lot of moms to find her; it’s important to know you can sit down with your healthcare providers and talk about your health concerns.

How did that proactive philosophy carry over into pregnancy with your twins?
I think good prenatal care is the first gift you can give your child: eating healthfully and taking care of yourself during pregnancy. You and your child are in this together, and your child doesn’t have a choice when it comes to what you’re eating or doing for your health. Even a very healthy person can develop gestational diabetes, for example, so it’s important that you make and keep all of your prenatal appointments.

For me, I’m an extremely active person and when I found out I was having twins my doctor had to say to me “look, we still want you to be active and exercise, but we don’t want you sprinting around and going for long runs, keeping your heart rate high.” So I found a good balance in eating correctly, taking long walks and talking to my doctor all along the way.

01/16/2011
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