Highlights of the Conscious Choice Summit
The Benefits of Baby Carrying Waste Not?
How to Green Your Child’s Lunch Simple Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Postpartum & Beyond
The Whole Truth About
RAW MILK Human Potential and Unlimited Possibilities An Illuminating Conversation
with Joseph Chilton Pearce issue 28 / winter ’10 / $6.95
please display until 3.28.2011
executive editor Jeanne Ohm, DC firstname.lastname@example.org associate editor Lisa Reagan copy chief Robert Staeger editorial assistant Andrea Quarracino content editor Cynthia Overgard creative director Tina Aitala Engblom advertising / license coordinator Crystal Gloistein circulation director Howard White Hwhite9611@aol.com event coordinator Corinne Pitts advisory board Claudia Anrig, DC • Sarah Buckley, MD Bruce Lipton, PhD • Stephen Marini, PhD, DC Larry Palevsky, MD
on the cover conscious choice summit highlights............ 5 the benefits of baby carrying..................... 10 how to green your child’s lunch................ 56 simple herbal remedies................................ 34 the whole truth about raw milk................ 26 conversation with joseph chilton pearce...... 20
Pathways to Family Wellness is a quarterly publication offering parents articles and resources to make informed healthcare choices for their families. Pathways to Family Wellness provides thought-provoking information from the holistic health perspective and invites parents to explore options for family wellness. The individual articles and links to healthcare information in Pathways to Family Wellness are based on the opinions of their respective authors, who retain copyright as marked. The information provided is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. The publisher of Pathways to Family Wellness encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions based on your researched knowledge and in partnership with a qualified healthcare provider. Pathways to Family Wellness is provided to you by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association in collaboration with the HPA: Alliance for Holistic Family Health and Wellness. Both organizations are 501-C3 nonprofit status organizations and sales of Pathways to Family Wellness support their mission for public education. Images used are for illustrative purposes only.
© 2010 Pathways to Family Wellness Issue 28, Winter 2010. Printed in the USA.
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on the cover Photo by Lisa DeNardo Lkdphotography.com
submissions Want to write for Pathways? We look for articles that challenge and confront, as well as articles that support and nourish. Want to share your photos with us? By sending us your photos, you agree that you have the right to distribute the image, and maintain that all people depicted agree to have their image published. E-mail articles to: firstname.lastname@example.org Photos may be sent to: email@example.com Please visit our website for more details.
in this issue The Benefits of Baby Carrying How you carry your baby has a profound effect on her health and development. Elizabeth Antunovic examines the stresses of horizontal transport and the many
10 feature 4 letter from the editor
By Elizabeth Antunovic 38 Birth
Encouraging Words, Unintentional Wounds
Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice: Highlights of the Freedom for Family Wellness Summit
By Melissa Bruijn with Debby Gould
By Lisa Reagan
5 special section
advantages of upright carrying.
42 the outer womb
Breastfeeding & Fatherhood By Patrick M. Houser
Don’t Judge, Enjoy! Your Present Moments Are Precious
The Important First Nine Months of Life
By Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D.
By Jeane Rhodes
20 Wellness Lifestyle
46 family living
Amazing Capacities & Self-Inflicted Limitations
Yoga for Kids: An Ancient Practice for Modern Children
By Michael Mendizza
By Marsha Therese Danzig
The Raw Truth: Common Sense about Raw Milk from a Raw Milk Dairy Farmer
By Edwin Shank
Positively Grateful: 3 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Loving and Positive State of Being
By Monica Cravotta
30 chiropractic for life
Turn, Turn, Turn: Options for Turning and Birthing Breech Babies
By Heather Yost, D.C.
Mother Nature’s Child: Simple Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond By Karen Kliewer
52 holistic healthcare
Children’s Health: A Question of Balance
By Philip Incao, M.D.
56 greener perspectives
Greening Our Children's Lunches By Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, D.C.
60 informed choice
Breathe Easy: Vaccines Aren’t Preventing Whooping Cough…But You Can
By Darrel Crain, D.C.
letter from the editor, jeanne ohm, d.c.
This October, Pathways, in conjunction with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the Holistic Pediatric Association, held its second Freedom for Family Wellness Summit: Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice. It drew together the leaders in the field of vitalistic family wellness. Once again, it was nicknamed “Pathways Live,” because almost every general session speaker had contributed his or her wisdom to Pathways magazine at some time. A previous Pathways feature article, Donald Glassey’s “The Vitalistic Healing Model” from Pathways 27, explained that vitalism is based on the understanding that the human body is greater than the sum of its parts. The major premise of vitalism is that there is an intelligent force which creates and sustains all living organisms, and that this intelligence guides all internal physical and chemical forces. From the vitalistic perspective, life is self-determining and self-evolving. The basic principle of vitalism is that this inherent intelligence within the body animates, motivates, heals, coordinates and inspires living beings. This wisdom within is the very essence of who we are. This weekend, at our second summit, our understanding of vitalism in the context of conscious choice was expanded by our outstanding presenters. Throughout the weekend, we heard attendees comment, “I have found my tribe. We must stay connected.” Pathways is the premier family wellness magazine offering parents practical perspectives to make vitalistic, conscious choices for their families’ well-being. We recognize there is a huge shift in consciousness occurring now: socially, nutritionally, economically, ecologically, politically, scientifically and spiritually in parenting, education and healthcare. Pathways is committed to uniting and nurturing our “tribe” during this incredible shift. We are so grateful for your continued support and your enthusiasm to enlighten others by sharing Pathways. Practitioners, we have set up a community grassroots network called Pathways Connect, where parents can join together in Gathering Groups to explore and expand their vitalistic core values. Parents, these Gathering Groups will strengthen the momentum of the shift, as more and more people understand and practice the principles that unite us. The Pathways website will offer the locations of these groups to allow interested families to experience the dynamics of conscious choice. 2011 will be a year of tremendous growth and synchronicity for all of us as we continue to live by the theme of our summit: “Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice.” Many, many blessings,
Jeanne Ohm, D.C.
Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice Highlights of the 2010 Freedom for Family Wellness Summit By Lisa Reagan Photography by Christine Zichittella-Heeren
he Freedom for Family Wellness Summit: Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice delivered an energetically charged journey, guided by more than 40 speakers and leaders, through the global shift in consciousness—from an industrial worldview driven by
Newtonian science and materialism to a wholistic worldview enlightened by Einstein’s energy-based science and the concept of vitalism. Hosted by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), the groundbreaking gathering near Washington, D.C., brought together scientists, researchers, practitioners, parents, journalists, activists and more than 600 participants. The summit’s four days of events included seamless, mind-expanding presentations, interactive audience play times, and a VIP dinner and dance. Altogether, it generated an unforgettable celebration of our individual and collective shifts to conscious choice. The summit began on Thursday, October 21, with a presentation by Peggy O’Mara, publisher and editor of Mothering magazine for three decades. She encouraged practitioners and parents to “find their tribe,” and to consciously create communities that would support the unfolding of their full potential. O’Mara pointed out that this need for community was great among parents, and Mothering’s online discussion board was helping to fulfill this need. Guy Riekeman, D.C., visionary and president of Life University, kicked off the summit from the vitalistic perspective of chiropractic’s major premise: There is an intelligent force within all matter, continually giving to it all its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence. This basic principle of vitalism is that this inherent intelligence within the body animates, motivates, heals, coordinates and inspires living beings. Riekeman encouraged practitioners to embrace their roles as qualified spokespersons and leaders in the family wellness movement of healthcare. The first full day of events began with presentations on the
vitalistic perspectives of conception, pregnancy and birth, and moved through the essence of family wellness. Then Friday’s headline presenter, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., took the stage and, during a three-hour recap of civilization as we know it, annihilated any shred of doubt that the old, materialist science based on Newtonian beliefs has lost its unquestioned authority. Lipton’s selfempowering and rollicking tour of the shift from old to new-edge science toppled the philosophical underpinnings of conventional medicine and urged chiropractors and wholistic practitioners, grounded in the truths of vitalism, to “navigate civilization through the upcoming turbulent times.” Now that we know what is really happening, Lipton said, we no longer have to move to fear. “When you see the institutions and flawed structures of industrial, material science collapsing, you can say ‘YES!’” he cheered. Lipton’s new book, Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, expands on the shift in detail, and the myriad reasons for celebrating conscious choice. issue 28 | pathways
Top: The outstanding presenters captured the minds and hearts of the audience, with standing ovations for all. Middle: As Joseph Chilton Pearce so eloquently expressed, “These are the forces that drive the Universe.” Bottom: The collaborative energy of the summit created powerful and enthusiastic connections.
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The experience-born revelations of how empowered families make conscious choices about conception, pregnancy and birth were presented by numerous natural birth advocates and educators. Suzanne Arms, author of the New York Times bestseller, Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America, opened the Friday-morning session sharing thirty-plus years of experience and knowledge. Ina May Gaskin, considered the grandmother of midwifery, and author of the classic Spiritual Midwifery, warned that, in an age where nearly a third of all Western women are cesarean bound, “Midwifery stands on the cusp. In the immediate future, it will either flourish or be wiped out.” Gaskin encouraged all practitioners and parents to go to the Internet and watch videos to find out what a healthy, natural birth looks like. “Even if it is an elephant giving birth,” she said. “Practitioners today are traumatized by witnessing medicalized births. We, as practitioners, are supposed to know how to lay our hands on a woman. Insurance companies have stopped this.” Jeanne Ohm, D.C., producer of the film Birth Trauma: A Modern Epidemic and a family wellness chiropractor specializing in perinatal care for nearly three decades, connected the chiropractic philosophy, science and art to its practical application for natural birthing. Patrick Houser, founder of Fathers-to-Be, brought the role of the father during pregnancy and birth to the forefront, comparing it to the ancient archetype of the “protector of the cave.” Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova, a Russian documentary filmmaker who has worked with the water-birth pioneer Igor Charkovsky since 1982, showed the spellbound audience footage of birth camps at the Black Sea, where mothers delivered babies among wild dolphins. Tonetti-Vladimirova’s insights were the foundation of Birth Into Being, a program of birth-trauma release for adults and babies. She also shared her research into the Biblical passage Genesis 3:16, which pronounces that “a woman
shall suffer in labor,” finding evidence of a common mistranslation. The word “labor,” she said, was intended to be “‘labor,’ as in a labor of love and of investing and paying attention” during birth. “The word ‘suffer’ doesn’t exist in the original Biblical text. So, why do we need an imprint of suffering at our birth?” Tonetti-Vladimirova asked. “Camels, horses and elephants are trained to be servants by early programming. Introducing suffering and pain to our birth field is the perfect crowd control, as it produces slaves and soldiers.” Marcy Axness, Ph.D., explored the provocative, vitalism-friendly ideas of “thought as an organizing principle” on the tiny biological system of the fertilized ovum; of conception as the vitalistic “big bang” that echoes lifelong; and the opportunity we have as members of the human family to participate in our own “spontaneous evolution” through offering the incoming physical being thoughts and intention—such as gratitude, wonder and presence—that may invite more coherent, harmonized organization and growth. Emboldened by Einstein’s admonition that “if at first the idea is not absurd, there’s no hope for it,” Axness proposed an alternative to the Cartesian notion that size equals significance, and suggested, according to chaos theory’s principle of “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” that a small shift in how we look at conception would have big results. “Wouldn’t it make sense that the influence of a very positive, or very negative, environmental message would be relatively much more powerful upon a very small system, at the very beginning, when each cell division will replicate that cell’s knowledge again and again?” she asked. “What would happen if we conceived our babies with the same mindful intentionality we bring to so many other projects that we do deeply believe in? Might we spontaneously unfold a whole new unimagined realm of evolutionary potential for our global human family?” On Friday afternoon, practicing physicians Joseph Mercola, D.O., Jonathan
Breeding, Ph.D., Larry Palevsky, M.D., and Lauren Feder, M.D., presented their experiences assisting families in making informed choices and creating a wellness lifestyle. Mercola, a leading educator of natural health, offered essentials for longevity. Breeding introduced the concept of freeing ADD/ADHD children from the confining rails of the current system, introducing his perspective that the wildest colts make the best horses. Palevsky, of the Holistic Pediatric Association, connected the dots between the hallmark of the industrial paradigm, whose values include conformism and compliance, to the confusion parents feel when caught between paradigms: One rewards their compliance with social acceptance, and the other rewards them with true health. Both Palevsky and Feder shared their practice protocols of working within a wholistic team and employing a variety of wholistic modalities, including homeopathy, chiropractic and energy work. Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, addressed the “number one public health controversy” in America today—the right of parents to make informed choices for childhood vaccinations. “Does the state have the right to force vaccines on individuals against their will?” she asked. Fisher pointed out how vaccine policy impacts the lives of families and healthcare professionals when it conflicts with conscience and the right to exercise voluntary, informed consent. The NVIC’s new Advocacy Portal helps practitioners and parents become active in preserving and expanding their right to choose in their states by alerting them to pending legislation and policy changes. (You can sign up for the Advocacy Portal at nvic.org.) To help summit participants understand the personal challenge of shifting from one paradigm to another, Michael Mendizza, author of Magical Parent, Magical Child, took the stage in big-nosed and bushyeyebrowed Groucho Marx glasses, and asked us to consider an unusual possibility: “You are not who you think you are,”
he said. Mendizza pointed out that the most basic human instinct is “bonding, belonging, fitting in, acceptance and approval. This is true for children and adults. Survival depends on it. As children, we discover what is acceptable or not by looking in the mirror of relationship. We create an ‘image-of-self’ based on what we see. What we see is not our true, authentic nature. What we see is the other’s approval or disapproval, and that became our image. The key insight is that our true, authentic nature needs no image to express.” Mendizza encouraged the practitioners in the audience to reconsider the need to be accepted by a mainstream medical paradigm whose foundation is now known to be obsolete, and instead, to embrace their full potential through a shift in awareness. For two days, the summit exposed the limitations of old science and its institutions (like the mainstream medical models of care of babies, children and families), and urged us to leave behind us a “cultural image” that might trap us into wanting approval from those still operating unconsciously inside the old worldview. On the third day, the summit asked the next obvious question: How do we explore this new realm of science? What are the tools for tapping into its possibilities…and what will it look like when we do? Neil Z. Miller, author and educator, opened this session by addressing pseudo-science, and the ability to discern which studies could be trusted and which are designed to manipulate public opinion—especially studies conducted by the vaccine industry. Christopher Kent, J.D., D.C., founder of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, outlined current research protocols that support wholistic care and the practitioners who are participating in the research. He commended the direction of Practice-Based Research Networks, the avenue which the ICPA has used to publish significant research for family wellness. Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., has been the research director at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, IONS, since 2001. IONS
3:4 - #9708
Top: The conference room was arranged to seat 600, but most sessions drew standingroom-only crowds. photo by lisa reagan Middle: Bruce Lipton’s fantastic illustration of Einsten’s revelation that it is not the particle that affects the field (materialistic science), but the field that governs the particle (energybased science). Bottom: Booth activity offered further insight and conversation relevant to family wellness and parenting. Lysa Parker, founder and director of Attachment Parenting International, discusses the principles of her book, Attached at the Heart. photo by lisa reagan
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Top: The setting was conducive for whole families. Both parents and children were inspired by the joyful energy of the weekend. Middle: Members of the ICPA Diplomate Graduating Class of 2009-2010 proudly display their achievement. Bottom: Play participants didn’t know if their partners would be tigers or gunslingers when they spun around on a cue from Howard Moody.
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was created by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D., for the sole purpose of answering questions about the emerging wholistic paradigm. In addition to being a research scientist, Vieten is also an author of family wellness books, including Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year, making a unique contribution to the family’s exploration of the shift to conscious choice. Vieten presented the current and forthcoming protocols that serve as a model for the future of vitalistic research, but warned the audience that human brains did not like change and would resist it, no matter the evidence or reasoning offered. She listed the known impetuses for a person to change his or her mind: direct experience (difficult to come by in a culture that demands conformity); pain; the influence of a relative or friend; repeated experience; and a safe environment where people can go to repeat the experiences. The above presenters on new science research were joined in a panel discussion by ICPA research director Joel Alcantara, D.C., and Matthew McCoy, D.C., editor of the Journal of Maternal and Pediatric Health: Chiropractic. Led by ICPA president Stephen Marini, D.C., Ph.D., this panel opened possibilities and directions for much-needed research in vitalism. Following the panel discussion, the new ICPA Diplomate graduates and research contributors and ICPA staff were recognized and honored. The ICPA Diplomates participate in the profession’s most comprehensive and successful pediatric diplomate program. Graduation signifies the practitioner’s desire to offer the best possible care for pregnant women and children; graduates are awarded the initials DACCP. And then, something magical happened. A play professional turned more than 600 people into springing tigers, dueling cowboys, and back to people talking in gibberish to strangers. Howard Moody, a veteran leader of adult “play groups,” led a variety of creative play exercises to shift the energies of the audience into a highly focused
and alert place just in time for the venerable consciousness pioneer and author of Magical Child and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, to share with us his life experiences of witnessing the possibilities of the full human potential. The audience members, who moments before had been running from one part of the massive hall to another and growling to their play partners, settled into their seats, and for the next hour, there was a breathless stillness as Joseph Chilton Pearce told his personal story of awakening. Pearce, who was born in 1926 in Kentucky, has spent his lifetime exploring his own mystical experiences in meditation and through scholarly research. Pearce shared memories of his childhood, including a confession to his sister that he was “homesick, even as I sat in my parents’ living room listening to the long vibration of notes from the piano.” He told the harrowing story of being picked up by high winds and blown about the desert when he was a young man, and then deciding that “God was playing with me.” After this experience, Pearce entered an ashram, where he meditated for 10 years on the bond between the head and the heart. In the end, he said, he learned there is only one heart: “It is the same one beating in me as in you, but there are billions of egos in the head.” Pearce’s lifelong quests have led him to exotic and shrouded spiritual centers around the world. He described watching monks, after weeks of deep preparation, walk through fire pits that would melt aluminum or incinerate a nonbeliever. He spoke about friends who gave up eating food (indefinitely) after a specific ritual cleansing of their bodies. As he described this unlimited potential, waiting just on the other side of a shift in awareness, he quoted a friend who had spent decades in the company of a rainforest tribe: “We have no idea what we have lost.” Our connection to the divine, to our natural potential and our true destiny, is blocked only by the illusion presented by the limited, materialistic worldview, based on a now-disproven 500-year-old model of science.
Pearce’s integrated, scholarly work led to the revelation that active, imaginative play is the most important of all childhood activities, because it cultivates a mastery of one’s environment and, as an adult, the ability to create one’s own reality. He also believes that child-parent bonding is important, and blames both a lack of breastfeeding and modern childbirth as obstructive to that bonding. You can read more about Pearce’s belief in our “Amazing Capacities and Self-Imposed Limitations” in his interview with Michael Mendizza on page 20. So, how do we get there from here? And what are the practical tools needed to make the shift and apply its insights to our daily lives? Joe Dispenza, D.C., author of Evolve Your Brain and featured in the far-reaching movie What the Bleep Do We Know!?, offered us Ten Quantum Laws to Liberate Young Minds and Hearts. His ability to bring practical application to quantum science riveted the audience for two hours. To help us take the message home, day four of the summit offered twenty workshops with a variety of tools for cultivating mindfulness, community and wellness, featuring practitioners and authors who brought hands-on experience and lived wisdom to propel the celebration of our shift to conscious choice into our personal and family living. One of the many tools for bringing the celebration home is the new Pathways Connect program, a community education and outreach program made possible through the collaborative resources of Pathways to Family Wellness and the 12-year-old nonprofit, Families for Conscious Living. The simple, turnkey tools of Pathways Connect, with its Gathering Guide, monthly group teleconferences and online discussion boards, are designed to jump-start a self-directed Gathering Group. Pathways Connect’s Discussion Questions and Resource Guide is intended to help shift our thinking out of fear and dependency toward confidence
and sustainability of the wholistic paradigm. Practitioners who wish to start a Pathways Connect Gathering Group can sign up at pathwaystofamilywellness.com. As many presenters over this epic summit illustrated, the shift to conscious choice is ongoing, with or without our participation or awareness of its impact in our lives. As individuals and society moves from the unsustainable worldviews of materialistic science and industrialism toward a sustainable worldview of interconnected wholism and full human potential, there are sure to be challenges. But for those who are aware, there will be more reasons to celebrate. If you didn’t get to join us for this celebration, there are audio recordings available through the ICPA website. Outstanding presenters are already confirming for the next Summit, to be held in two years. We look forward to meeting you there…and always on our pathways to family wellness!
Lisa Reagan is the associate editor for Pathways to Family Wellness magazine. Join her for Empowered Parenting in the Paradigm Shift teleconferences at families forconsciousliving.org.
Summit presenters, pictured along top: Page 5: Guy Riekeman, D.C.; Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.; Joe Dispenza, D.C.; Joseph Chilton Pearce. Page 6–7: Suzanne Arms; Peggy O’Mara; Elena TonettiVladimirova; Marcy Axness, Ph.D.; Ina May Gaskin; Patrick Houser; Jonathan Breeding, Ph.D.; Joseph Mercola, D.O.; Barbara Loe Fisher; Lauren Feder, M.D. Page 8–9: Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.; Michael Mendizza; Peter Kevorkian, D.C. & Jeanne Ohm, D.C.; Christopher Kent, J.D., D.C.; Howard Moody; Larry Palevsky, M.D.; Christopher Kent, D.C.; Joel Alcantara, D.C.; Matthew McCoy, D.C.; Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.
Top: The exhibit halls were packed during the breaks for book signing, networking and valuable finds. Middle: Many attendees experienced chiropractic adjustments at the summit. Among them was Ina May Gaskin, author of the seminal work, Spiritual Midwifery, who received her first adjustment ever. photo by lisa reagan
Bottom: The Saturday night banquet rocked the house. Children celebrated with parents, as all danced to the live music of Woody Poles.
issue 28 | pathways
Baby Carrying photo by lisa denardo, lkdphotography.com
pathways | issue 28
order to avoid pressure on their underdeveloped bodies, newborns and infants should lie flat on their backs in a stroller and not be carried. Yet, laying a young infant on
his back alone in a stroller is actually physically and emotionally stressful, and can be developmentally inhibiting. Being carried or worn in an upright position with proper leg support is not
Horizontal transport stresses an infantâ€™s bodyâ€Ś while the upright position provides a variety of health benefits By Elizabeth Antunovic
only developmentally sound but often preferable to mothers and babies alike. Upright carrying
First few months: As your infant works against gravity, muscles start to develop. Strong neck muscles help an infant hold up a heavy head, forming the neck (cervical) curve of the spine. Six months to one year: The muscles in the lower back (lumbar curve) develop and help support the cervical curve of the neck.
optimizes the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of your baby. Infant Spine Development Our spines are not perfectly straight, even though they may appear so from the front or back. When you look at a person from the side, four slight curves are visible, forming an elongated S shape. These curves help keep us flexible and balanced. They also help absorb stresses placed on our bodies through our daily activities, such as walking, running and jumping. We werenâ€™t born with these curves. Normal curves of the spine develop gradually, as a means of adapting to gravity. At birth, babies are in a state of flexion, still curled up, with their spines in a natural, long Cshaped (convex) curve. At first, a baby does not have the strength to hold his head up, nor the balancing curves in his spine to do so. But gradually, as the muscles in his neck get stronger, he begins to lift his heavy head against gravity, and a curve starts to develop in his neck (the cervical curve) to help balance his head. When your baby starts to creep and crawl, the lower back (lumbar curve) and the muscles that support it develop. It takes about a full year for your baby to attain these curves in his spine. The Stresses of Lying Flat Laying your young infant flat on his back stretches the C-curved spine into a straight line, against its natural shape. Research shows that keeping an baby photos / istockphoto.com
urope seems to host the greatest number of pediatricians who recommend that, in
Below, from top to bottom: At birth: The spine of an infant is C-shaped (a convex curve). He has neither the balancing curves nor the strength to lift his head upright.
issue 28 | pathways
infant’s spine straight is not a sound physiological position. In addition to stressing the baby’s spine, it can also negatively influence the development of the baby’s hip joints. Infants who lie frequently on their backs in a stroller may end up with plagiocephaly (deformed skulls, flattened on the back or side) and deformed bodies with poor muscle tone. Research backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics states that “with prolonged immobilization on a firm mattress or a flat bed (as in a stroller), the constant influence of gravity flattens the body surface against the mattress producing positional disorders and infants with decreased muscle tone.” Existence in Containers This does not mean that laying the baby flat for a couple of walks around the block in a stroller is going to wreak havoc on your baby’s physical development. But the truth is that the average Western infant between 3 weeks and 3 months of age is carried little more than two and a half hours a day. Babies spend most of their time in containers, such as car seats, cribs and strollers. The West has diverged from eons of child rearing, and we have gotten to the point of letting objects determine our babies’ sense of contact, rather than us. The Fetal Tuck Newborns are virtually impossible to stretch out unless wrapped or swaddled. When you place an infant flat on his back, his thighs will usually be pulled up toward his chest, or when sleeping, straddled and bent in a frog position. The fetal tuck, the natural position of babies, is the most calming and the most adaptive. Infants use less oxygen, which conserves energy and wastes fewer calories. They digest their food better. Also, we have more efficient temperature-regulating cells and more fat on the back sides of our bodies, so when we hold our infants stomach-tostomach, we are protecting all their receptor and vital organs. The instinctual flexed widespread legs that an infant maintains when picked up, coupled with the palmar and plantar reflexes that help an infant cling to his mother, suggests that infants’ little bodies are adapted to be carried upright and oriented toward their mothers. Sometimes containers may help us out for short periods of time by freeing our hands or offering protection. Yet no container can replace a mother’s arms.
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By holding your baby with his knees flexed flat against your chest and supporting his bottom, you are supporting your baby in the natural position that his body instinctively assumes to ensure that he is comfortable, warm and safe. The Trouble with Car Seats Strollers that position a baby in a somewhat upright position (such as in infant car seats) may be gentler on the baby’s Cshaped spine, in that they do not stretch it flat. But car seats are not a much better option for transporting your little one. Research by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association shows that they are not the ideal transport for your infant when not in the car, due to “restricted postural options which can impact your baby’s developing cranium and spine.” By keeping the spine in a C-shaped configuration, these contraptions can actually prevent the natural curves from forming.
istockphoto.com left: © killahfunkadelic, middle: © rosemarie gearhart, right: courtesy of sleepywrap.com
opposite page: istockphoto.com, left: © glenda powers, right: © jani bryson
Babies can have a hard time acquiring adequate muscle strength to hold up their heads if they don’t get much of a chance to experience gravity. Positive Physical Development When infants are held upright, they are allowed to practice compensatory movements, enhancing muscular strength and allowing for more control over their fine motor skills. When the mother walks, stops or turns, an infant’s body naturally works against the pull of gravity to maintain his position. The force of gravity is a positive element in infant development. It allows them to learn to hold their heads up and keep their bodies balanced. Discord with Upright Carrying So why do some still claim that the horizontal position is better for your infant in her first months of life? This argument is often rooted in the assumption that the upright position may be stressful to his underdeveloped spine and pelvis. Although some pediatricians are advocates of natural parenting, many don’t have much hands-on experience with baby carriers. They might be acquainted with the upright carriers from the eighties and nineties with their typical lack of adequate head/neck support and tight or chafing leg holes, leaving babies to dangle from the crotch due to complete lack of leg support. Perhaps they have seen so many babies facing out when carried upright that they assume all upright carrying is non-supportive. The first two images on this page are perhaps the carriers that many doctors imagine and classify as unsafe or harmful. Both are non-physiological-carrying devices. These front-facing carriers, unlike wraps, slings, mei tais and soft-structured carriers, do not provide proper leg support, which can make the pelvis tilt backward and place babies in the dangerous “hollow back position.”
DO Left: Not facing the adult results in a baby’s center of gravity being off. Pressure is placed on the baby’s shoulders and chest area, often retracting the shoulders and hollowing the back even more. Facing out is a non-physiological position that places pressure on the inner thighs of the baby and the base of her spine. Upright carrying facing out is stressful on babies. Center: The wider base of the above carrier would provide some spinal support (maintaining the natural convex C shape) if the baby were turned facing the father and his bottom were seated in it. Instead, the baby’s spine is straightened and often hyperextended (into a concave, “hollow back” shape) due to weak abdominal muscles and lack of leg support. Right: When an infant is carried, he should be oriented toward his mother. Ideally, the fabric of the baby carrier should extend to the back of his knee to adequately support the legs, which appropriately positions the pelvis and spine.
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Babies love to be contained and enclosed, but straightening their legs goes against their instinctive position of flexed, widespread legs. This baby is swaddled so that her legs are wrapped loosely, and not forcefully straightened.
Supporting the Legs Upright baby carriers that support the legs, carrying a baby as a mother naturally would in arms, do not compromise a baby’s spine or hips. When an infant’s legs are flexed and straddled, the instinctive position that his little body assumes when picked up, the head of his femur (bone of the thigh) fills out the hip socket (acetabulum). The hip socket is filled most evenly when the legs are pulled up to roughly 100 degrees and spread roughly 40 de-
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grees at the same time. DDH does not occur when an infant’s legs are supported. Actually, this is the position that doctors advocate as treatment for babies with hip dysplasia. Interestingly enough, babywearing is customary among the Netsilik Inuit people. Netsilik mothers don’t use papooses, but instead carry their infants in their amautis of their parkas. The babies assume a seated straddling position on their mother’s back inside their coats. No studies indicate prevalence of either DDH or spondylolisthesis in this northern Inuit babywearing group. Their hips and spines develop normally. A mother, using either her arms or a simple piece of cloth, supports her baby’s legs in a f0lexed (knees bent), abducted (away from midline) position, supporting the hips and the spine. Instead of fabric at the crotch, which contributes no leg support, or swaddling the legs, which is too restrictive, ergonomic carriers put the baby in the position that supports the legs just as a mother’s arms would. The flexed abducted position is what infants are hardwired to assume when picked up. It is what nature intended: legs spread around the mother’s hip, back or torso, with knees bent in a seated position. Improving Respiration Proponents of horizontal positioning in early infancy may be concerned with whether the infant actually receives adequate levels of oxygen while being carried. According to Dr. Maria Blois, premature infants placed in an upright position on their mother’s chests had improved respiratory patterns, more regular than in an incubator. Blois’s study also showed “reduced episodes of sleep apnea [temporary cessation of breathing] and bradycardia [slowing of
© rosemarie gearhart / istockphoto.com
Swaddling and Hip Dysplasia Although there are myriad psychological, emotional and physiological benefits from the swaddling style of the Navajos, there is clear evidence that swaddling the legs so that they are bound together and not allowed to flex at the knee or hip has led to hip abnormalities. By not allowing the head of the femur to sit in the socket, the socket often does not develop properly, causing developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Carrying a young infant in the horizontal position with legs together in a baby carrier (like a sling or a wrap) provides adequate spinal support, but it is not the optimal position for hip development or prolonged carrying. This is especially true if there is congenital dysplasia present in the infant. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a review of swaddling under Van Slewen in 2007, which reaffirmed that infants’ legs should not be tightly swaddled. In 1965, the incidence of DDH was high in Japan when a swathing diaper was used widely by the population. Eight years later in 1973, Japanese doctors advised mothers to avoid “prolonged extension of the hip and knee of infants during early postnatal life.” Soon afterward, experts reported a marked decrease in infants with DDH.
photo on left: © poco_bw / istockphoto.com, right: photo courtesy of sleepywrap.com
the heart rate]. Transcutaneous oxygen levels do not decrease, indicating that oxygen saturation is not compromised.” These studies were done on premature infants, some weighing as little as 3 pounds, placed upright on their mothers’ chests. The preferred position for these tiny babies is upright, usually secured by a piece of cloth. If the upright position is safe for a 3-pound preemie, it doesn’t make sense that it could be harmful to a fullterm newborn.
tubes, making reflux from the throat into the middle ear more probable. The same may occur when bottle-fed infants are fed while flat on their backs. A slight upright tilt prevents milk from entering the middle ear. The buildup in the eustachian tube can cause inflammation and a buildup of bacteria, and subsequently an infection. Wearing your baby upright can actually be a preventative measure against ear infections, and can help ease the symptoms of GERD.
Preventing Ear Infections Lying horizontally is not only a poor option for your baby’s spine, hips and cranium, it can also contribute to inner ear infections in infants. Gastric reflux of contents into the middle ear causes ear infections. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can be pretty prevalent in infants, as sphincters tend to take a while to fully close. Parents of infants diagnosed with GERD are advised to carry them upright to ease the symptoms. When infants are placed lying in the horizontal position, not only are the symptoms exacerbated, but gastric juices can enter the immature eustachian
Tuning Balance Another benefit of carrying your baby is that carried babies receive a lot of vestibular stimulation, whereas lying babies do not. Our vestibular system helps us out with our sense of balance and our security in space. When a mother holds her baby, the baby moves back and forth with mom’s walking, and side to side from her swaying or rocking. Mom may stop and turn and reach to grab something, or she may move gently and smoothly. These varied movements force her baby to respond appropriately to keep himself balanced. All of these movements tune her baby’s vestibular system. A stroller moves either forward or backward, offering movement on a single plane, and not very varied. When changed from the upright position and the containment of his mother’s arms to the horizontal position laying down uncontained, a baby may produce random movements and suddenly flail his arms and legs, as if to save himself from falling. This is called a baby’s Moro reflex. It acts as a baby’s primitive fight/flight reaction, and is replaced later in life by an adult’s startle reflex. Carrying, rocking and swaying stimulate an infant’s vestibular apparatus and help them to feel secure in space. Most babies today spend most of their day apart from their mothers in a container or in a stroller, leaving them prone to vertigo, and a feeling of physical insecurity in space in general. Native Americans are typically very secure in space; they are actually known for their comfort with heights and apparently tend to have little problem working tall construction projects. Most traditionally raised Native American babies are swaddled or spend most of their infancy either in cradleboards or on their mothers’ hips, leading to enhanced vestibular development. Interestingly enough, the fear of flying and the fear of heights which plagues many of today’s adults can often be traced back to not being carried as an infant. Carried babies feel secure, and are less apt to develop space-related phobias.
Left: A mother’s arms support the baby’s bottom and legs. Subsequently, pressure is taken off the spine, and the weight of the baby is evenly distributed in an ergonomic position. Right: The fabric is pulled to the back of the baby’s knees, offering proper leg support. The legs should be pulled to at least hip level for optimal positioning and proper hip development.
Constantly Learning Babies have reason to feel secure. They physically need to be in close contact with their mothers. They giggle and coo and drink in all of our expressions. Upright on mother, they are able to view the world unobstructed from a safe place and can learn about everything around them. Not only are babies better off physically when upright, but they are happier and calmer. In her book, The Vital Touch, Dr. Sharon Heller writes, “The more time that babies spend vertical, the more time that they are alert and calm. Even newborns that spend most of their time sleeping, stop crying and issue 28 | pathways
perk up when picked up and placed on our shoulder. Interestingly, how alert a newborn is relates to where he is. Upright in an infant seat, he is less alert than when upright in arms.… Vertical positioning as optimal in infants makes perfect sense. Think of how much time our infants spend horizontal—flat on their back in a crib or a buggy. Might this affect their alertness? There’s a good chance.… Researchers found that infants too young to sit independently learn more when placed in a vertical position.” Stimulating the Senses Not only can an infant learn about the world around her from all the different sights she sees, she is in the state of mind to do so. When an infant is calm but alert, that’s when all the information can permeate into her being. “Our body is a sensual cornucopia where smiles, aromas and laughter mingle amid undulating caresses that put the entire sensory world at our baby’s fingertips,” writes Heller. “Our baby gets tactile or cutaneous stimulation from our skin touching hers and proprioception from the pressure of her limbs flexed into our body. She gets tactile, olfactory, and gustatory stimulation if we nurse, of our milk, and vestibular stimulation from the gentle stimulation of our movements and, when held upright, from her efforts to right her head and maintain her balance. She gets visual stimulation when she looks all around her, auditory impulses as we whisper endearments, and kinesthetic stimulation as we change her to the other side. When we put our babies in a container, especially if out of sight, all of this sensory nourishment is lost.”
that we were all born basically a blank slate, ignoring any evolutionary hardwiring or any inborn biological tendencies, and that in order to “form” an independent child it was necessary to prevent the newborn baby from creating dependent habits. In other words, if you hold on to your baby, he will cling to you and never let go. He will be needy. Not only should you refrain from carrying your baby but you should withhold cuddling, kissing and rocking, too; if you show affection, your baby will come to expect it. So many of our grandparents and parents were influenced by this mechanistic train of thought, pressured by the experts to believe that if they picked up their babies when they cried that they would create a tyrant of a child and become enslaved. Unfortunately this psychology has had a profound effect upon pediatric thinking and practice, and even pervades conversations between mothers and doctors today. Evolutionary Need for Touch Most mothers are still pressured to carry out the harsh parenting methods that were inculcated into our grandparents and our parents. Yet, these mechanistic methods only go back so far. Anthro-
Roots of Misinformation With all the studies demonstrating the clear physical benefits of carrying a baby upright on mother’s chest, it’s hard to understand a pediatrician’s ambivalence on the matter, or outright scorn when his patients choose to do so. Perhaps the reason for not supporting upright carrying is that they want to discourage mothers from “spoiling” their babies, or to prevent the mother and baby from getting too close or attached to each other. Straying from wearing our babies may be linked to an old school of thought, dating back to 1928, when the famous behaviorist Dr. John B. Watson published The Psychological Care of Infant and Child, setting out to change the course of humanity and make infants independent, strong and tough. His theory was
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Left: Children carried with their mothers experience an ever-changing world of motion and stimulation. Right: Infants in strollers and car seats are limited in movement and experience, and therefore receive fewer opportunities to develop balance and react to the world.
istockphoto.com: left © ekaterina krasnikova right: © glenda powers
Easier System Regulation The mother/infant relationship actually provides physiological regulation of the infant’s autonomic system. A 1992 study showed that when an infant is taken away from his mother he experiences a “decreased heart rate, temperature decreases, sleep disturbances and EEG changes”—representing an impairment in the regulating processes of his own little body. Upon being separated from his mother, a baby’s immune system weakens. His body literally stops producing as many leukocytes. But when his mother rejoins him, he strengthens again. An infant’s body physically needs his mother present to help regulate his own body.
photo courtesy of sleepywrap.com
pologist James McKenna claims that today’s babies, more often in some container than in our arms, are “at odds with evolution.” “Virtually all of our biochemistry and physiology are finetuned for the conditions of life that existed when we were hunters and gatherers, in which babies were held by their mothers,” McKenna writes. “Our culture may be changing, but our evolutionary need for touch remains the same. Babies’ brains are designed to expect closeness and proximity—to be held for their safety, psychological growth, physical growth, mental growth, to aid and stabilize their physiological processes and keep their immune systems strong. Touch is not an emotional fringe benefit. It’s as necessary as the air we breathe.” Making Strollers the Exception Even though most Western parents cannot conceive of life without one, strollers are not as gentle on an infant as we assume them to be. Placing an infant alone on his back for long periods of time is not how humans are hardwired to thrive. Lying horizontally in early infancy is not easier or less stressful on an infant’s spine, skull or neck. When a baby is upright on her body, a mother adjusts to all her baby’s movements, and he to hers, moving like dance partners. The two create a rhythm together, physically and psychologically, and move together in sync. Even the most state-of-the-art stroller can’t provide the warmth of a mother’s body, nor her comforting smell, the varied movement, and sensitive motherly responses. These are all so essential to her baby’s healthy growth and development, especially during such a critical period when his brain is growing more than any period in his life. No toys can match the joy that an infant gets from his mother’s face. The view of the fabric liner with which the manufacturer chose to line the stroller cannot compare to the
rich environment a baby witnesses and observes when he moves together through the day with his mother. Conclusion Strollers are not “bad,” per se. To go further, babywearing and strollers need not be mutually exclusive, as long as an infant is content and his cues are responded to when he signals that he needs to be held. Laying babies flat on their backs in a stroller is actually not easier on their necks, spines, hips and minds. Nature intended for babies to be carried. Upright positioning, with proper leg support, is the preferable position for your infant and is gentle enough not to physically stress even tiny babies. A mother should trust her heart. By holding her baby close to her heart, she is not just choosing the most beneficial and physically supportive method of bringing her baby along with her, she is providing the optimal environment for his psychological and emotional growth.
Elizabeth Antunovic is co-founder of Sleepy Wrap, a company that provides comfortable and durable baby carriers to parents throughout the world and to give them a helping hand in raising confident, joyful and compassionate children. A mother of three, Elizabeth designed the first Sleepy Wrap carrier for her son, Nicolai, and gradually made them for friends and family, then marketed them worldwide. She lives and works with her husband, Robert, in Boulder, Colorado. Sleepy Wraps can be found online at SleepyWrap.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html. issue 28 | pathways
Your present moments are precious
’ve discovered that I have greater success with living life in the present moment when I remove judgment from what I’m experiencing. Rather than making an event a bad or a good experience, I find myself being in the “isness” of the moment; that is, what I’m feeling is much more helpful than why it isn’t what I think it should be. This is called allowing rather than resisting what is. Even if I wish to change the moment, it’s far more useful to allow it without any judgment, and then notice everything I can about it. The more I stay out of my good-thought/bad-thought routine, the more I’m able to just be with it. I love to observe the instant without any judgment. Birds simply allow whatever comes their way, no matter if the wind picks up or the rain comes, and I work at being like one of those fabulous creatures. The way I do so is to ask myself this question: “What’s happening right here and right now, independent of my opinion about it?” Then I notice all that I can take in—the sky, the wind, the sounds, the light, the insects, the temperature, the people, the judgments…everything.
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I stay free of opinions and just let myself be. In these moments, I don’t need an excuse or an explanation for anything. Even while I sit here and write, I’m practicing being present and simply allowing the words to flow though my heart to my hand and onto the page with a total absence of judgment. And when I eat my lunch, I work at just being present in a state of gratitude for my food and the experience of eating, rather than using those moments to think about all that I have to do in the evening or passing judgment on the taste, color or smell of my lunch experience. I try to keep in mind that whenever I react against any form that life takes in the present moment, I’m treating the now as some kind of impediment, or even as my enemy. As a child, you knew how to be totally present. I encourage you to become an observer of little unspoiled children. Notice how they don’t react to every little disturbance in their world, and how they’re in the moment, and then in the next moment, and so on. You can use this kind of non-judgment to practice your new, explanationfree identity. Total immersion in the present, without judging—that
© gualtiero boffi / dreamstime.com
By Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D.
is, simply allowing yourself to be—is a great way to rid yourself of these long-held thinking habits that I’m calling “excuses.” Be without judgment and you’ll never feel the need for some tiresome excuse to use up your precious seconds, such as “I’m too old” or “It will take a long time” or “It will be too difficult.” Instead, you’ll be in the now, welcoming your constant presentmoment companion, your Source of being, which knows nothing of excuses and doesn’t know how to be anyplace but here, now. As one of my spiritual predecessors, Dale Carnegie, once wrote: “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” Become one in the present moment with all of the roses that show up in your life. Stay present: every second, every minute, and every hour. Every day of your life is full of present moments of infinite value. You won’t find God yesterday or tomorrow—your Source is always only here, now.
Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development. He’s the author of over 30 books, has created many audio programs and videos, and has appeared on thousands of television and radio shows. His books Manifest Your Destiny, Wisdom of the Ages, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, and the New York Times bestsellers 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, The Power of Intention, Inspiration, Change Your Thoughts—Change Your Life, and now Excuses Begone, have all been featured as National Public Television specials. Dr. Dyer holds a Doctorate in Educational Counseling from Wayne State University and was an associate professor at St. John’s University in New York. He is affectionately called the “father of motivation” by his fans. Despite his childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Dr. Dyer has overcome many obstacles to make his dreams come true. Today he spends much of his time showing others how to do the same. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html. issue 28 | pathways
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Amazing & Self-Inflicted Limitations
An Interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce By Michael Mendizza
oseph Chilton Pearce has authored many books, beginning with 1973’s The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and continuing through Magical Child, Evolution’s End, The Biology of Transcendence,
and most recently with 2007’s The Death of Religion and Rebirth of Spirit. He is both original and unique in his view of human potential and our limited development of that potential. In Pearce’s view, we human beings are the apex of billions of years of creative, evolving adaptation. The complexity of our structure includes all that came before; we are truly magical. We express, moment by its, beliefs and traditions, we fail to manifest the full spectrum of our inherent potential. Joe’s lifelong quest has been to “understand our amazing capacities and self-inflicted limitations” in hopes that each of us, by sharing in this journey with him, will discover and become more of what we truly are—but don’t yet know it. Author and educator Michael Mendizza sat down with Pearce and had this illuminating conversation.
collaged with images from dreamstime.com
© christine zichittella-heeren, lighthousestudios.info
moment, the creative force that formed us. And yet, generation after generation, through our hab-
Capacities MICHAEL: What started you on your journey?
tion to these undeveloped capacities and limitations we impose on ourselves and on our children?
JOE: My first book, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, which I wrote
and rewrote for 12 years, was a protest against the prevailing academic, consensus view, which narrows our perceptions and limits us to grim necessity, as William Blake would say, to the death of spirit. In my 23rd year of life I underwent a series of paranormal events which challenged the foundations of classical thought. These events took place with abundant objective witnesses. Over time, however, I watched how these witnesses screened out or blurred-over their own perceptions, and I realized this was a necessary move to keep intact their established consensus of what was real. This selective tendency of the brainmind is part of a general maintenance system, which keeps our collective world experience stable, and seems to function below awareness, healing little rifts in the fabric of the known. Since these paranormal events were my direct experience, not just witnessed, I questioned their meaning, which opened a whole new realm of possibilities, and I wondered how much of our potential this automatic survival system filters out? Through studying child development, I saw how our cultural worldview was formed by our social models, and how this view is locked into the very neural structures of our brains, not as opinion but as our world-forming, perceptual-conceptual process. When writing my third book, Magical Child, I started giving workshops and seminars to get feedback on my ideas. By the time I completed the book, this feedback had enlarged my original focus to include astonishing capacities and self-inflicted limitations. MICHAEL: So your intention has always been to draw our atten-
JOE: To grasp the nature of adult spiritual development we must
understand the nature of child development, which in turn opens fully to us only when we understand the self-organizing properties of the brain and the way our brain draws on fields of intelligence and memory. The paradox of the idio-savant is a dramatic example of this, and challenges large sectors of common sense and classical belief. MICHAEL: What are our hidden possibilities and why are they important? JOE: For a long while academic thought has considered the brain
a chemical-electrical soup, bringing in signals from the outer world and processing them into an inner facsimile of that world, which includes, of course, all the information we try and “teach.” Current research has pretty well exploded these notions. Consider instead that the brain is translating from fields of potential— physical, emotional-relational, and intellectual potentials—all of which are inherent within any child’s system, simply awaiting the appropriate stimulus and nurturing. Obviously we need to develop cognitive skills and discover the processes by which these fields manifest, but to spend years trying to pound information into the young person, from the topdown, so to speak, is a very limited approach. MICHAEL: You have said the capacity to learn is infinite. Brain matter is localized, but its operations are both in and beyond issue 28 | pathways
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Mind shapes its environment, which gives shape to that mind, and the two can never really be separate.
JOE: Within any brain is the potential for
unlimited structures of knowledge, but nothing is as worthless as infinite potential. Actual education, coming into knowledge, can only take place by selectivity, distinguishing a particular reality from the whole. And this selectivity is determined by our models, parents and society. All processes are complementary dynamics. Brain-mind and world create each other through “structural coupling.” Mind shapes its environment, which gives shape to that mind, and the two can never really be separate. An environment for the child includes all the shaping forces, including our misguided notions of schooling, testing and failing, with the inevitable guilt, anger and closure of the absorbent mind. Within the first three years of life the absorbent mind of the child has either opened up to embrace a benevolent universe or closed down into a frightened defense mechanism on guard against a world it can’t trust. Which is the root cause for the social mess we have today. MICHAEL: This calls into question the critical role we adults play in this process. JOE: Stages of development unfold at
birth, age one, four, seven and eleven, concluding (for now) at age fifteen. Except
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for birth, these are statistical averages. Any child may vary from them as much as a year, but the universality of the stages themselves is beyond question. Each stage consists of a block of potential intelligences and/or abilities appropriate to that age. For optimal development, those abilities must be stimulated and nurtured within the time frame of that stage. This stimulus-nurturing implies a model imperative. Just as no teeth could appear unless the new infant is nourished, no intelligence or ability will unfold unless given a like stimulus from the environment. Not even the physical senses can function until the infant is given sufficient sensory stimulation. No intelligence can unfold unless the child is given an appropriate environmental model of that intelligence—someone who has themselves developed that intelligence and, in turn, provides the child with both initial stimulus and ongoing guidance in his or her own development of that capacity. There are no exceptions to this. As part of this model imperative, the nature, character and quality of the model determines to an indeterminable extent the nature, character and quality of the unfolding intelligence-ability of the child. Children don’t become who we tell them to be. They become who we are, and the mother is the first and most important model in a child’s life. Plato said, “Give me a different set of mothers and I will give you a different
world,” which is simply to say that the mother is the most powerful presence in shaping the emerging mind. She is the infant’s environment and emotional world, and that infant has no choice except to rough in his basic knowledge of the world as he finds it expressed in her. MICHAEL: Which implies that if we want to change the world, and change childhood, we must begin with the model, by supporting mothers. JOE: Montessori despaired over changing
the adult, recognizing that once neural structures form and mature they don’t lend themselves to reconstruction. She saw a way around our adult limitations by carefully designing a rich, secure environment for the child, leaving very little to chance. The environment includes parents, of course, and later, teachers. But Montessori’s adults didn’t teach, they facilitated and allowed the child’s absorbent mind to function. She let the environment teach the child. Parents must understand the environmental needs of the child, at each stage of development. Above all, parents must respond to the child’s need for total emotional nurturing. To be betrayed by a primary caretaker is the most serious injury that can occur. And emotional deprivation, much less immediate abandoning of the infant to daycare, creates such deep anxiety that it affects every aspect of a child’s growth: physical,
time-space, what quantum physicists speak of as localized and non-localized, as wave and particle.
emotional and mental. Herein lie the roots of violence, social maladaptation and most of our woes. MICHAEL: What is it going to take to get parents and educators to truly understand the profound implications of their personal behavior and modeling? JOE: First, we have to get birthing out
of the hands of men and return it to the natural intelligence of women, who managed fairly well for untold ages and can do even far better with contemporary knowing and techniques. The modern midwife is a trained, efficient, careful practitioner who still relies on her natural instincts and body-knowing, leaving emergency methods for the rare 1 percent or so of labors that have problems. The whole issue is to stop intellectually interfering with the natural intelligence of the system, and treating the other 99 percent of deliveries as emergencies. Women need this as much as children. The interaction of mother and infant at birth and afterward activates an intelligence enfolded within the mother’s neural system, which literally empowers her to make the proper response to her child. It activates her mammary glands, charging her with the sensually rewarding desire to nurse and nurture her infant at all costs. She comes into her own as the mother of the species, a person of power. Dr. Paul MacLean spoke of “species survival instincts,” and survival is indeed the issue. Awaken these in the mother, as they were so long as women tended women at this crucial time, and support the mother as needed to follow these nurturing passions, and you will have no psychologically abandoned, withdrawn, defensive, fearful children or adults. MICHAEL: In what ways has the current birth practice destroyed this innate intelligence? JOE: Destroyed is a bit strong; damaged is
more appropriate. The damage is brought about by mother and infant being separated at birth, and even before birth. Women caught up in various pursuits preclude intimacy with the prenatal infant and prebirth bonds are natural to us. Then every
action of medical manipulation at birth results in separation of mother from infant, physically, emotionally and mentally. Each medical intervention with childbirth breeds more intervention. Each solution, each new monitoring device, creates more problems that demand more intervention. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is nature’s dicta, to which the medical community has turned a deaf ear. Again, the issue lies with certain bonding procedures designed by nature to take place at birth that profoundly affect the neural structures of both mother and infant if they do take place, and equally affect them adversely if they don’t. MICHAEL: There is a general impression that birth practices are improving. JOE: Things are better today than a hun-
dred years ago, but there is far more publicity and brainwashing regarding birth reform than actual fact. Those in the birthing rooms undergo all the hospital processes deemed necessary to protect the investments and income of the hospital. I have observed births with fathers present, movie camera in hand, the doctor, having doped the mother and infant, getting the infant out, cutting the umbilical cord immediately (a disaster in itself ) and placing the infant on the mother’s belly briefly, for the benefit of the camera. Following standard procedures, just with the added theatrics of a movie. Then the father and mother proudly show the film later to prove they had bonded with infant. Such bonding is a travesty, a double lie. MICHAEL: I understand that real bonding is only possible through prolonged and intimate contact between mother and infant. JOE: I wish the term “bonding” had not
been invented. For one thing, it assumes that these two separate creatures must be brought together and a connection made between them. In the natural scheme of things, no separation should have taken place, no connection broken. The point is to maintain the connection established in utero in the new post-uterine experience. The mother is the environment in both
cases, and the so-called bonded infant simply discovers the rediscovery of the known, its mother, in a marvelous new setting. The mother is the environment, but now a moving one, in an expanded, infinitely open world to be embraced. The known moves into an exciting unknown. That stability must be maintained if the absorbent mind is to remain open and form new structures of knowledge of a vast new and benevolent world. If the infant is suddenly removed from all his known structures, which are extensive and established in utero, and placed in isolation, as we have throughout this century, then all the genetically encoded programs for moving into the new world are seriously undermined, delayed and put at risk. The infant retreats to defensive posture against an alien world that has brought rejection, isolation and pain. MICHAEL: We seem to have accepted an increasingly dysfunctional norm as normal. Why has this happened? JOE: The major cause, separation of
mothers and infants at birth, has grown throughout our century. At the same time, achieving a high standard of living became the focal point of all schooling and training, creating a new mindset and set of values. Standard of living has nothing to do with the development of intelligence—including, ironically, the ability to be socialized and schooled. Quality of life determines the growth of intelligence, and as standard of living increased, the quality of life for children decreased. Quality of life to an infant-child means only one thing: complete unconditional acceptance and emotional nurturing on the part of a permanent caretaker. We have the most emotionally deprived children on earth, separated from parent at birth, and continually separated as they grow. Convinced that we are giving them what is most important, a high standard of living, we overload them with material goods to compensate for the love and attention we deny them. We work to earn money to buy these goods, leaving little time for the child already isolated. So our heaping goods on the child to issue 28 | pathways
MICHAEL: What other factors have impacted the development of intelligence in our children? JOE: The breakdown of the extended fam-
ily was another key factor. Michael Odent once said that our attempt to sanctify a “nuclear family,” made of a separate social unit of mother, father and child, is untenable. Strip away the extension of family, kinfolk, grandmothers and so on, the backbone of all societies, and the nucleus implodes. For largely economic reasons, the extended family disappeared by 1950. By that time, through medical maneuvering, birth shifted from home to hospital and delivery practices underwent radical change, with massive medical interventions culminating in that critical separation of mother and infant. Hospital stays were lengthy affairs since the injured mother required a long convalescence. Once at home, mothers followed the pattern established in hospital, having infants in the crib, even for bottle feeding, picking them up as little as possible, and all that. Home was a single-family sealed unit, where the new mother had little access to advice or relief. And since bonding hadn’t taken place, no intelligences for nurturing the child had been awakened in her and she was generally unsure and
pathways | issue 28
A century is nothing in evolutionary time, and the intelligences at stake are ancient and powerful.
confused about how to handle the infant. The infant—in his or her separation anxiety, colic from incorrect diet, and general lack of stimuli—cried, day and night. Serious increases of actual physical child abuse began at that point, although the greatest abuse was emotional deprivation. MICHAEL: Can we recoup these nurturing instincts in mothers after a half-century of disruption, and on a large enough scale to save an endangered species? JOE: A century is nothing in evolutionary
time, and the intelligences at stake are ancient and powerful. Regardless of her personal birth history and childhood, any woman allowed to bond with her infant will respond according to those genetically encoded “species survival” skills. A 35-year-old woman I know, a professional person with graduate degree, decided to have a child, her first. Thirtyfive is considered a high-risk period by medicine men. This woman had a typically disastrous birth and childhood history herself, with her share of resultant anxieties and neuroses. But she was informed, and brave enough to withstand the great brainwash. She avoided medical people entirely and entered into pregnancy and birth with intelligent planning, careful midwife assistance, total confidence and genuine excitement.
At the time of delivery she felt competent and in charge. She delivered in her family bed with no visible signs of discomfort, and so rapidly that the midwife arrived too late for anything except the clean-up. This mother was up and about the house immediately, infant at her breast—even drove to town that day. She breastfed her child for three years— the last year or so, “token” feedings as needed for emotional nurturing—and scorned the library of how-to-parent books written by all the male specialists. Her own patterns of behavior and attitude changed from timorous uncertainty to ongoing energetic, secure confidence. She had come into her own through her child, and of course was, in turn, helping that child come into its own. The infant unlocks the true nature of the mother, even as she unlocks the infant’s. MICHAEL: The obstetrical-hospital complex is a multi-billion dollar industry, with enormous prestige and political clout, and “archetypal” mythical imagery of grim necessity burned into the nation’s psyche. How can such a structure be turned around? JOE: I’ve given up on that. Women have
undergone a stringent and specific brainwashing throughout the twentieth century to convince them that birth is the most
compensate for the love and nurturing they don’t get keeps the wheels of industry turning. And around it goes. Each child grows up to intensify the cycle in their interaction with their own offspring. It’s an insane spiral toward chaos, sponsored and encouraged by a society based on economic games in which a few winners are bought at the price of masses of losers. Meanwhile we build more and more prisons and accuse our young of moral failure for not becoming what we are not.
dangerous and painful experience life inflicts on us, that they are themselves incompetent to deal with either pregnancy or birth. Common sense thus dictates that they should surrender their lives to male surgeons, at vast expense on every level, and few ever stop to question this. Those who do face enormous social and legal opposition should they run counter to such propaganda. Fear is a powerful weapon, used to full effect in this case. Husbands are as terrified of home birth as wives, both are quite willing to buy their way out of responsibility. That hospital births have a 600 percent higher mortality rate than home births, regardless of conditions in the home, is an unsung irony. Further, to be politically incorrect, note this century’s remarkable rise in women’s enmity towards men, and men’s rage toward women. The age-old “battle of the sexes” has given rise to endless literature and humor, but it has now turned deadly. Many women are unconsciously angry at men because male surgeons literally robbed them of their power and their place in the universe, turned their breasts from the fountainhead of life to an advertising gimmick, and denied them any rights to their own reproductive functions. They know “something tremendous was supposed to happen” at birth and didn’t, and intuitively know those lost or aborted functions were of universal significance.
Women rigorously deny the source of the wound within, but it often surfaces as anger, both at husbands and even their children, making the pair-bonding on which life and family rests divided. On the other hand, males harbor an equally deep resentment against women, since at their own birth, the time of their greatest venerability and need, that need was denied them. Males carry a rift within their core as great or greater than women. That betrayal at birth was by a woman, the mother, an episode seen only as rejection by the infant, and one that harbors so much pain he will never risk himself to such intimate openness. He wears various forms of armor and must deal with his frustration and rage as best he can. The rest of this mess is a fallout of such magnitude that few of us, overwhelmed as we are with the immediate crises engineered, have the time or energy to trace out the root cause and address it. So the chance of changing either hospital practices or women submitting to it wholesale is probably nil. The most we can hope for is “operation lifeboat”—a few women who
sense the nature of this largest betrayal of modern times and no longer buy into it. They will be the vehicle for a saving remnant perhaps, and we can only work to increase their number.
Michael Mendizza is an author, educator, documentary filmmaker and founder of Touch the Future, a nonprofit learning design center. His book, Magical Parent, Magical Child: The Art of Joyful Parenting, co-authored with Joseph Chilton Pearce, applies research on optimum states to parenting and to education. Michael is developing two additional books: Kids Are Not the Problem, a series of essays on parenting the next critical generation; and Flowering, a collection of dramatic floral images and quotes by Krishnamurti (see zfolio.com). View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html. issue 28 | pathways
Common Sense about Raw Milk from a Raw Milk Dairy Farmer By Edwin Shank
With raw milk, I know of no illnesses or deaths among our people, and the benefits of increased immunity and vibrancy of health are so profound
© ukrphoto / dreamstime.com
that we feel that drinking it is a no-brainer.
photo courtesy of the author
efore I talk about how my family and community benefits from raw milk, let me first say that what we do and what you do may be two different things. Ultimately, it is you who must make all the health and dietary choices for you and your family. Our Background My family and I are Mennonites, similar to the Amish in some ways. Our communities have historically been farmers, and predominantly dairy farmers. Almost everyone in our local congregation of more than 200 people has grown up drinking raw milk. Mothers drink it every day, even when they are pregnant. My mother did, and both my grandmothers did, too. My wife drank it during all six of her pregnancies. She breastfed all the children, but I’m sure that somewhere in the first six months or so they were drinking a little raw cow’s milk, too…and when they were weaned at 12 to 15 months, they went straight to raw cow’s milk. Our family is very typical among our community, and the practice in our churches is still that way today. The number of dairy farmers is growing smaller with the years, but almost everyone still gets his raw milk from a dad or brother or uncle or even a neighbor. Our congregation is only one of about a thousand that are connected across the nation. Everywhere you go, the pattern is repeated. I even have a sister in Guatemala, and sure enough, they buy their milk raw from the dairy farmer/minister of their congregation. What I’m driving at is that, in spite of all the hype from the medical field, in my 40 years I have never heard of even one problem with a pregnancy, or any other illness among our people, that was from the raw milk. Is that scientific? No. Does anecdotal testimony prove anything? No. But I think you can see how we do not fear it at all.
I have known many friends and acquaintances over the years who have been hurt or killed in car accidents, yet we still drive, because the benefit and ease of auto transportation outweighs the risks. With raw milk, I know of no illnesses or deaths among our people, and the benefits of increased immunity and vibrancy of health are so profound that we feel that drinking it is a no-brainer. Now, all that being said, you will still have to make your own choices for your family. The politically correct answer to whether or not you should choose to drink raw milk is: Read the warning that the government requires us to put on the label of our milk bottles, and then make your decision. The only problem I have with the warning is that it is a form of discrimination. This warning ought to be on all food. All food may contain a pathogen that may cause illness or death. Think: 1. Spinach was recalled due to E. coli in the fall of 2006. 2. In Massachusetts in 1983, 49 people were sickened and 14 died from Listeria in pasteurized milk. (To see a complete list of all fatalities and illnesses from drinking pasteurized milk, go to tinyurl.com/pasteurdanger.) 3. Ground beef is recalled all the time. 4. A salmonella outbreak caused by peanut butter in 2009 contributed to nine deaths and 714 cases of illness. The Bottom Line A bulletproof immunity is our only protection against the pathogens of our environment. And we do not build bulletproof immunities though sterile foods. We need the probiotics and prebiotics of raw milk and kefir (a fermented milk drink) to protect us. The more sterile we live, the weaker our immune systems become… until even our peanut butter is striking us down! I have a dream. I have a dream that one day the big, scary government warning that we have been forced to put on every bottle of our wonderful raw milk is on every food on the shelf... the pasteurized milk, the peanut butter, the spinach and all foods, because it is a fact of life. All food, any food, may contain a pathogen. When this warning is on all foods, only then will the playing field be level. Only then will bureaucrats, lawyers and bacteriaphobes be knocked out of their false sense of security to realize that there is only one way to defeat pathogens, and that is to build a bulletproof immunity to them. issue 28 | pathways
Long live raw organic milk from grass-fed cows, and kefir made from the same. And long live those who consume them! Building Our Immunity How does the “build our immunity” approach differ from the “kill all bacteria” approach? Let’s start with an analogy: According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are nearly 3,800 drowning deaths per year in the United States. That works out to be a little more than 10 deaths by drowning per day. For every death caused by drowning, there are another four near-drownings involving hospitalization, many of which cause permanent brain damage. These are sobering facts. This is reality for some families, somewhere in America every day. It is only normal for parents and others who care for the health and well-being of our communities to ask the obvious question: What can we do to protect
ourselves and our loved ones from a similar tragedy? Since all drowning occurs in water, we might conclude that water is the enemy and that the best preventive would be to prohibit people from getting into water. Make laws. Pass regulations. Establish a Federal Drowning Prevention agency to enforce the laws. The FDP would arrest anyone who dared violate the law, which obviously was established for public welfare. You see where I’m going with this. The alternative to drowning prevention is to learn to swim, and to teach your children to swim. The ability to swim makes you and your loved ones practically immune to drowning, while avoiding water like the plague only leaves your family more vulnerable. More vulnerable because you can be sure that sometime in your life, in spite of your best attempts (and those of the FDP), you or your children will find yourselves unexpectedly in water without the least idea how to save yourselves.
We embrace living, whole foods, full of immunity-building probiotic bacteria and nutrient-absorbing living enzymes. These whole, living foods are full of unadulterated, unprocessed, unmessed-with, cell-nourishing, cell-repairing raw fats and proteins. 28
pathways | issue 28
photo courtesy of the author
Bacteria Is Not the Enemy Many well-meaning people have concluded that bacteria are the enemy and so have set out to sterilize themselves and their environment. Kill all the bacteria! Fight BAC! Buy Purell! Put a dispenser in every room! Get antibacterial soap! Antibiotics for every sniffle! Outlaw unpasteurized cider! Pasteurize nuts and almonds, too! Outlaw raw milk and raw milk cheeses! These foods may contain pathogens! There is only one problem with these bacteriaphobic actions and reactions. In spite of our best attempts, in spite of living in constant fear of the microbe, and in spite of government efforts to pass food safety regulation, something will get through. If we chose to live this way, we and our children will someday find that a stray bacterium has penetrated our sterile bubble, and our artificially protected, flabby immune systems will have no defense against it. The alternative defense against food-borne illness is to embrace bacteria as a part of a larger ecosystem within which we humans try to integrate ourselves. We focus on life instead of killing. Pro-biotic instead of Anti-biotic. This is what raw milk, raw kefir, raw cheese and raw kombucha tea are all about… building immunity and health! We learn to swim, and teach our children to swim. Instead of fearing the water, we relax and enjoy life as God created it! We embrace living, whole foods, full of immunity-building probiotic bacteria and nutrient-absorbing living enzymes. These whole, living foods are full of unadulterated, unprocessed, unmessed-with, cell-nourishing, cell-repairing raw fats and proteins. Only living foods give life. Only living foods, full of a diversity of natural microflora from our local, natural environment, can provide the education and information that our immune systems desperately need to actually protect us as God designed it. God has designed the entire ecosystem to live in harmony with bacteria. The sooner we drop our hubris and accept this humbling fact, the wiser we will be.
© irina bekulova | dreamstime.com
Swimming does not make one 100 percent immune to drowning, of course. So the FDP will always publicize a few highly emotional stories per year (complete with videos) in which experienced swimmers still drowned. Parents who dared to risk their children’s lives by attempting to teach them to swim could be prosecuted for willful endangerment, and have their children taken from them. After all, they were willfully, carelessly, callously ignoring data from the CDC which irrefutably documents thousands of deaths per year caused by water. I know this analogy isn’t perfect; please don’t drag me through the coals to tell me so. But there are many parallels to how the U.S. deals with raw milk and bacteria. About 5,000 people die per year in America of food-borne illness. These, too, are sobering facts. And it is only normal for people to ask the same question: What can we do to protect ourselves?
FDA Disclosure Statement Edwin Shank is an organic dairy and chicken farmer, not a health professional. If it is a medical opinion you seek, by all means, call a doctor (maybe two or three!). This information is intended to challenge, or even provoke you to explore beyond the conventional food and health system. Please note: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Edwin Shank is a grass-based, organic, dairy and chicken farmer. He and his family go beyond simply organic to farm with a deliberate attempt to recreate and imitate the ecosystem as God designed it. As Edwin often says, “When we take God’s idea, His plan and His design, and just respect it and work with it, why should we be surprised that the food is a taste of heaven?” Visit Edwin and his farm at yourfamilycow.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
issue 28 | pathways
chiropractic for life
TURNTURNTURN Options for Turning and Birthing
Breech Babies By Heather Yost, D.C.
breech presentation refers to the position of the baby in the uterus. It is normal, up to the seventh month of pregnancy, for the baby to be in a head-up, or breech, position. After the seventh month, any position other than vertex (head-down) may not only challenge the possibility of a vaginal birth, but put abnormal stressors on the developing baby. The risk is small; research shows that approximately 4 percent of full-term (38-42 week) pregnancies are breech presentations. There are several causes of a breech presentation. A structurally altered pelvis is a likely possibility; this can be caused by rickets (severe vitamin D deficiency), poor bone and joint development, or structural or functional pelvic compromise. Additional causes of a breech presentation are uterine abnormalities, placenta previa, multiple births, excessive amniotic fluid, or fetal anomalies such as hydrocephaly and anencephaly. There are three main types of breech presentations: frank, complete and footling. With a frank presentation, the baby’s legs are extended upward with feet near the head. This is the most common breech presentation, occurring 65 to 70 percent of the time. Complete presentation means the baby is “sitting” upright in the uterus, with legs crossed and feet near the buttocks. A footling presentation is when one or both of the baby’s feet are extended downward toward the cervix. Throughout the 1990s, some breech babies were still delivered normally. However, beginning in 2003, nearly all hospitals declared a halt on delivering breech babies vaginally. Caesarian section became the protocol, and is now performed nearly 100 percent of the time for breech-positioned babies due to a recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Options on breech vaginal delivery
have quickly become a thing of the past. Not only that, but in the medical field, the need to train an obstetrician on vaginal breech births no longer exists! Some midwives, however, are still trained in breech presentations, and may be willing to assist in vaginal breech births. The virtual elimination of vaginal breech births has now raised a generation of obstetricians who are inexperienced and unprepared to handle a breech case. But what about the woman who knows she is carrying a breech baby and doesn’t want a cesarean section? Few doctors remain who offer alternative techniques or choices for breech delivery. Most obstetricians simply suggest the woman go in for an external cephalic version (ECV; see below) at around 37 weeks, and if that fails, will encourage the woman to schedule a caesarian. Women need to be educated and empowered to know that many options exist, ranging from prevention to treatment, both invasive and non-invasive. There are a variety of alternative techniques that gently help the baby move head-down, including those listed below. Chiropractic Care Use of the Webster technique may help with baby positioning. The Webster technique, as defined by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), is “a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment that reduces interference to the nerve system and balances maternal pelvic muscles and ligaments. This in turn reduces torsion in the uterus, a cause of intra-uterine constraint of the baby and allows for optimal fetal positioning in preparation for birth.” Optimal fetal positioning leads to a safer, easier birth. There have been a few studies indicating success in regards to optimal fetal positioning and the Webster technique. The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics ( JMPT ) reported an 82 percent success rate of babies turning head-down when doctors of chiropractic utilized the Webster technique. The conclusion of this retrospective study declared that chiropractic care may be a valuable adjunct to prenatal care. Truly, the Webster technique needs further investigation in fetal positioning and its role in the overall care of pregnant patients. The ICPA is conducting a major practice-based research project to determine the effectiveness of the Webster technique. The authors discussed their preliminary results: “There is a long tradition in chiropractic on the care of the pregnant patient. The results of our study demonstrate some measure of effectiveness and safety of the Webster technique in relieving the consequences of intrauterine constraint (i.e., malposition/malpresentation) in pregnancy. Higher-level research designs are needed to make cause and effect inferences.” The ICPA is currently proceeding with their conclusions: “This presentation contributes to the knowledge base that pregnant patients may derive benefits from the Webster technique. We advocate for continued research in this field.” Currently, the ICPA recommends that women receive chiropractic care throughout pregnancy to create pelvic neuro-biomechanical function. Even when the baby’s position is appropriately
Women need to be educated and empowered to know that many options exist. There are a variety of alternative techniques that gently help the baby move head-down. head-down, chiropractic care with the Webster technique optimizes neuro-biomechanical function of the pelvis. Found to be safe, the implications of the Webster technique throughout pregnancy may have a huge impact in supporting natural childbirth. The ideal time to be evaluated and begin chiropractic care is before pregnancy, or in its early stages. A restriction in the pelvis may not be enough to adversely affect the baby’s position, but may affect the mother’s comfort, the progress and duration of labor, and the proper development of the child. One study indicates that first-time mothers receiving chiropractic care deliver 22 percent faster than those without adjustments, and deliver 37 percent faster on subsequent births. Again, further research is necessary, and the ICPA is proactive in accomplishing this. “Breech Tilt” Positioning Several exercises can easily be done at home to encourage repositioning of the baby. This particular one is simple, and can be very effective when implemented early in the pregnancy. In a “breech tilt” position, the mother lays on her back with her knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly she raises her buttocks while a partner places firm cushions underneath, in order to elevate her hips 10 to 15 inches above her head. She then holds the position and relaxes, visualizing the baby moving head-down. This is repeated three to five times per day, for 10 to 15 minutes each time. This is most effective when the baby is active, and when the mother has an empty bladder and stomach. The partner should help the mother get into and out of this position. Moxibustion Chinese-medicine practitioners have been turning breech babies with acupuncture or moxibustion for hundreds of years. Moxibustion should be done at 37 weeks or later, as it may trigger labor. This treatment involves placing a lit moxa stick near the outer edge of the pinky toenail. This increases fetal activity and often corrects breech presentation. A trial in which researchers randomly assigned women to moxibustion treatment indicated higher success rates with moxa than with external cephalic versions (ECV). An additional study in 1998 published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that moxa corrected about 25 percent more breech presentations than a control group. Homeopathic Remedies Pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy made from a fuzzy herb called wind flower, has long been used to change breech presentations
chiropractic for life
prior to the onset of labor. The herbal remedy is most effective when given before the baby is deeply engaged in the pelvis.
External Cephalic Version External cephalic version is an outpatient procedure used to turn the baby head-down in late pregnancy. The procedure can be used during labor, but must be done before the water ruptures. Generally ECVs are performed at around 36 or 37 weeks, and in fact are not safe before 36 weeks. Initially, an ultrasound is performed to assess amniotic fluid and the position of the baby and placenta. A tocolytic medication (most commonly terbutaline) is given to relax the uterus and prevent contractions. The doctor attempts to turn the baby by placing her hands on the baby’s head and buttocks and manually manipulating the baby to a vertex position. The procedure may be uncomfortable, but it rarely takes more than five minutes, whether it is effective or not. Mothers are monitored for a short period afterward to watch the baby’s response to the procedure. Although complications are rare during an ECV, they can occur. The major risks include: rupture of the amniotic sac, placental abruption, rupturing the uterus, damaging the umbilical cord, fetal distress, twisting or squeezing the umbilical cord (thereby reducing blood and oxygen to the baby), fetal injury, and opening a scar from a previous cesarean section. External cephalic version has an average success rate of 58 percent. Breech Vaginal Birth So, what are the risks of a vaginal breech birth? Until about 40 years ago, U.S. obstetricians treated breech birth as something relatively normal. Their training included how to deliver breech babies. But in the 1970s, obstetricians decided that cesarean sections were the solution to all pregnancy and labor complications. They were mistaken. Numerous studies have revealed that the trend from vaginal breech birthing to predominantly cesarean births has not improved breech outcomes, and in fact the majority of breech babies born vaginally result in uncomplicated births.
Cesarean sections do not eliminate the risks of birth injury; on the contrary, they add new risk to both mother and baby. The National Institutes of Health Taskforce on Cesarean Childbirth states that every woman with a breech presentation does not require a cesarean. It considers vaginal delivery a reasonable option under certain conditions, and when the midwife or doctor is experienced with this type of birth. Vaginal birth does, however, carry some added risk of injury, and therefore certain conditions must be assessed. The type of presentation is perhaps the most important consideration. Frank breech positioning is the safest. The midwife or doctor must evaluate the fetal size in relation to the pelvis, whether or not there is hyperextension of the head, the maturity of the baby, and how labor is progressing. Most important, the obstetrician or midwife must have training in breech vaginal births. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has even launched a new program to teach physicians breech vaginal delivery techniques. New evidence shows that there is no difference in complication rates between vaginal and C-section deliveries in the case of breech births. Education and knowledge will empower you to challenge the status quo and seek birth options that are more in line with your personal paradigm. Read, become informed, ask questions. Find providers supportive of your choices. Finally, be still and trust those decisions in line with your inner knowing. This is where you will find your true strength and power.
Dr. Heather Yost resides in Urbandale, Iowa, with her husband, Ben, and twin girls, Ava and Gavyn. She graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis and is completing her advanced postdoctoral degree in pediatrics and pregnancy. Dr. Heather’s clinic, Yost Family Chiropractic, is a family wellness clinic where hundreds of moms, dads and kids are adjusted each week. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html.
baby positioning online
Our favorite website to help mothers become
informed about baby positioning is Spinning Babies (spinningbabies.com). Gail Tully, the website’s originator, offers moms extensive, practical ways of accessing baby positioning long before it is considered a problem by OBs. She also offers guidelines for movement, ican-online.org
posture and lifestyle tips to help with positioning, even in late pregnancy and during birth. Elsewhere on the web, the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ican-online.org) has numerous articles discussing breech presentation with the pros and cons of breech and cesarean. Finally, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (icpa4kids.org) offers a website directory of certified doctors. These doctors focus their care on lifestyle and
adjustments that optimize fetal positioning throughout pregnancy.
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AAAAAAA Mother Nature’s Child Simple Herbal Remedies for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond Story and photographs by Karen Kliewer
hen I became pregnant two years ago, I was elated. My journey to motherhood had begun. Our daughter arrived exactly one week before her due date, at home, into the waiting arms of her father. Labor had gone quickly, and I gave birth naturally without any medical intervention. Watching my newborn baby wiggle her way up my bare belly to instinctively start nursing at my breast, I knew firsthand what a miracle birthing and mothering truly is. I attributed my smooth pregnancy and speedy labor to several factors. About a year earlier, I had reduced my busy work schedule down to part-time, which allowed more time to care for myself and reconnect with my husband. I nurtured myself with whole, organic foods, regular yoga, long daily walks, plenty of rest, affirmative birthing stories and supportive, loving people. I read Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery, and La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. My husband made notes from Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner and taped them to our fridge. We discussed the benefits of water births, learned about attachment parenting and family bed sharing, purchased cloth diapers and a sling, and prepared ourselves for what we knew would be a transformative experience. I also turned to what felt familiar and comforting to me: herbs.
For the past decade I had been studying and practicing herbal healing. I had completed certification as a master herbalist, and apprenticed at an herb farm to learn about growing, drying, processing and wild-crafting medicinal herbs. I had many of these useful plants growing in my own garden, close at hand. Over the years, I had established a small, home-based herbal business, focusing on natural care for the whole family, and with the help of my sister (a practicing midwife), had developed salves, teas and oils specific to mama and baby care. During the last trimester of my pregnancy I finished training as a postpartum doula, and added herbal postpartum care to my repertoire. Although I had shared my herbal knowledge with countless others, here was a unique opportunity to use these skills to strengthen, heal and nourish not only myself, but also my newborn child. For centuries, medicinal plants, flowers and common garden “weeds” have been used to provide gentle, effective care for women during pregnancy and postpartum, and by parents for their children. Women were often trusted keepers of herbal knowledge, working as midwives and healers in their communities. Mothers knew which healing plants could be used for their households, where and when to gather herbs, how to grow and dry them properly, and correct ways to administer them safely.
pathways | issue 28
I long to see a return to this common understanding of using healing plants in the home, and have tried to share this knowledge with my community by teaching workshops, sharing seedlings, and offering advice. You don’t need to be a certified herbalist to work with medicinal plants, and an herbal kitchen need not have complicated tools—measuring cups, a Crock-Pot or double boiler, a few stainless steel pots, mixing spoons, glass mason jars, and a good kitchen scale will do. However, you do need a basic understanding of how to properly identify plants, when to harvest, and which parts of the plant are usable—as well as how to dry and store them, the correct dosage for your remedies, and which plants are safe during pregnancy and postpartum, or for infants and children. Properly Identifying Plants If possible, grow the herbs yourself using organic methods. If you don’t have the space to grow them, buy your plants from reputable organic sources in minimally processed or bulk form. If you are wild-harvesting herbs, take an easy-to-follow plant field guidebook like Newcombe’s or Peterson’s so you are sure to properly identify the plants. Even better is to start out wild harvesting by accompanying someone who is knowledgeable so you can learn side by side. To avoid over-harvesting, it is advised to pick no more than a quarter to a third of a plant. Do not pick in an area that is near a roadway, or which may be chemically sprayed or otherwise contaminated with noxious fumes.
When to Harvest Herbs should be harvested when they are at their peak, so having a basic understanding of their growing cycle is helpful. Knowing whether to use the leaves, flowers, berries, roots or bark is also important. Leaves and blossoms are best harvested just before noon, when the volatile oils have reached them and the morning dew has dried, but before they start to wilt in the afternoon heat. Only choose healthy plants, and be careful never to cut the main root when digging herbal roots.
with a brown paper bag punched with air holes, helps to catch the blossoms that may fall off as they dry. If any herbs develop mold, that’s an indication they were not dried with enough air circulation and should not be used. Herbs that are fully dry can be stored in glass jars in a closed cupboard, or in brown paper bags. If kept properly, they will last for a year or more.
Determining Dosage of Herbal Remedies Just because something is natural does not mean it is always safe to use or right for every situation. Though many herbs are gentle, the correct dosage is very important for both effectiveness and safety. For example, red raspberry leaf, although generally considered a wonderful herb to use during pregnancy for toning the uterus and providing a rich source of calcium and minerals, may be advised in moderation if one has a history of short labor. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual, by James Green, gives excellent, detailed descriptions on making remedies and assessing proper dosage. Herbs for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Baby It is always wise to consult with your midwife or qualified health practitioner if you are considering taking herbal remedies during pregnancy. There are many wonderful tonic herbs that can aid everything from morning sickness to increasing milk supply to combating postpartum blues. However, there is also a lengthy list of plants that should be used with caution or avoided altogether during pregnancy. For example, strong labor-inducing herbs, like black or blue cohosh, should not be used until the final stage of pregnancy, and even then under consultation with your midwife. When making products like salves or massage oils for your infant or child, always use top-quality, organic ingredients. Use only pure essential oils if you use any at all, as fragrance oils are synthetic and may cause allergic reactions when used on sensitive skin. Having knowledge of a handful of simple herbal remedies during pregnancy, postpartum and for baby care can be an empowering experience for mothers and other caregivers. Here are six reasons why:
Drying and Storing Herbs Herbs can be used fresh for making virtually any herbal product. For long-term storage they should be dried, either by air-drying or with a food dehydrator. To air dry, hang bunches of herbs in a well-ventilated, cool room away from direct sunlight. They are ready when crisply dried, but still retain a rich color (not brown). Hanging flowering herbs, like lavender or chamomile, covered
Connecting with Your New Baby Preparing gentle healing products in advance of your baby’s birth, such as diaper rash salves or baby massage oils, can be a special way to connect with your baby while he is still in utero. While preparing these gentle remedies, talk with your unborn child, explaining how you will welcome, nurture and care for him. issue 28 | pathways
Feeling Prepared for Labor, Postpartum and Baby Care Herbal products can be prepared in advance for use during labor and birth. Talk with your partner and midwife, and write your ideas into your birth plan so that your wishes for using healing herbs are not forgotten when the time comes. For example, herbal spritzers made with uplifting pure essential oils like sweet orange or grapefruit can help to generate positive energy in the birthing room and restart stalled labor. Herbal sitz bath blends for healing stitches or sore bottoms can be made by mixing comfrey, yarrow, calendula and lavender. Preparing these various herbal products can be a way for you to discuss your needs and desires about medical interventions and infant care with your partner and midwife, and feel more prepared to take control of your labor, birth and postpartum care.
Stretching Your Dollar There are so many mama and baby products available for sale these days that itâ€™s sometimes hard to know where to start. High-quality organic herbal products are not necessarily cheap, and depending where they are purchased, may include shipping or packaging fees. If you are on a tight budget, yet want the best organic care for your children, preparing your own herbal remedies (just like growing your own food) can save substantial money. Follow simple recipes, in books such as Family Herbal by Rosemary Gladstar, The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm, or Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun S. Weed, which offer clear, step-by-step instructions and use familiar herbs you may already be growing in your own garden. For example, lavender, calendula, chamomile, fennel, catnip, lemon balm, peppermint and yarrow are excellent multipurpose healing plants for mom and/or baby that are easy to start with. Packaging for your homemade herbal products does not need to be fancy or expensive. Use recycled glass jars for salves, paper lunch bags to store loose-leaf herb blends, or repurposed amber bottles that are often available from naturopathic clinics. Store your products in a cool, dry, dark location (such as a cupboard), and they will last for many years.
Involving Older Siblings Creating your own herbal products at home offers the perfect opportunity for an older sibling to get involved. There are plenty of tasks children of all ages can help with: harvesting
herbs from the garden, tying them into bunches to dry, measuring, weighing and stirring other ingredients, or designing special homemade labels for the bottles. While working side by side, you can talk with your older child about her feelings toward the new baby and allow an early bond to form with the baby through this handmade herbal gift.
Building Confidence as a New Parent We all want the best for our children, and when we make our own herbal healing remedies and know how to administer them, we can feel prepared to quickly take charge when care is needed for minor ailments and illnesses. During the process of researching recipes and creating herbal products, you will learn when and how to use herbs effectively. With your herbal medicine cabinet well-stocked with items like calendula salve for diaper rashes, arnica for bumps and bruises, fennel tea for colic, massage oils for cradle cap, sage cough syrup for sore throats, and herbal baths to ease congestion, you will know that your family is getting the best care possible. By using herbs in a dayto-day practice, you will be passing on this valuable knowledge to your children.
Sharing Knowledge with Others When learning about healing herbs, remember that you really only need to start with a few plants; many herbs are versatile and have multiple uses. Build a relationship with these plants by using them in your daily routines and tending them in your own garden. Try out the following easy recipes for a diaper salve, sleep tea and herbal sitz bath, and start building your collection of simple, effective herbal remedies. As you become more confident in working with herbs, you will find plenty of opportunity to share your skills and pass the empowering knowledge of herbal healing on to other households. â€‚
Karin Kliewer is an herbalist and postpartum doula who operates a small natural soap and herbal business called Homestead Herbals. She lives with her husband, Greg, and daughter, Maya, at Little City Farm, an urban homestead and eco bed & breakfast in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit littlecityfarm.ca or homesteadherbal.etsy.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/references.html.
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Pure Calendula Diaper Salve Ingredients: 1 cup olive oil, infused with calendula blossoms ¾ cup beeswax 1 tsp. vitamin E Few drops pure lavender essential oil per container Method: 1) To infuse oil, fill glass jar with calendula blossoms. Cover herbs with oil completely, plus 1 inch extra oil above the herbs. Store in a warm sunny window and steep 3–4 weeks, shaking jar every few days. Then strain through a fine mesh sieve, and rebottle infused calendula oil for use. 2) Heat infused oil on low heat. Stir in beeswax and continue stirring until it has melted. Test for proper consistency by putting a few drops on a teaspoon and placing spoon in the freezer. In a few minutes the salve will have hardened to its finished consistency. When making salve, you will need approximately 5 teaspoons beeswax per ounce of infused oil to get a nice firm salve. If you want a salve that is more solid, add more beeswax accordingly. 3) Add hot oil/beeswax to clean jars. Add a few drops of vitamin E and pure lavender essential oil to each jar. Label and store in cool, dark location like a cupboard.
Sweet Sleep Loose–Leaf Tea Ingredients: 2 parts lemon balm 2 parts chamomile blossoms 1 part catnip 1 part peppermint Method: 1) Blend dried herbs in a large bowl. Store in a stainless steel canister, glass jar or paper bag.
A A A A recipes * *
2) Use 1 cup boiled water to 1 teaspoon tea blend. Steep 5-10 minutes. 3) Serve small cups of this tea before bedtime to encourage dreaming and peaceful rest. Optional: Add ½ part fennel seed or rose petals to herb blend.
Herbal Sitz Bath Blend Ingredients: Equal parts yarrow leaf & flower, comfrey leaf, calendula blossoms Method: 1) Mix equal parts yarrow, comfrey leaf, lavender and calendula. 2) Brew as a strong herbal infusion (tea), steeping at least 15-20 minutes. 3) Strain and add to a shallow warm sitz bath. Optional: Add a handful of Epsom salts and sea salt for additional healing properties.
issue 28 | pathways
There is a secret and it is not but that women
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By Melissa Bruijn with Debby Gould
here is a current trend in online social networking sites that cater to birthing women of broadcasting empowering quotes about birth. Many of these quotes are wonderful reminders of the power and strength of women’s bodies and minds. Many quotes are testimonies to the transformative power of birth. But a few of them are easily misinterpreted, and can— when taken out of context—increase the misunderstanding and confusion that surround traumatic birth. Some quotes, if misread, serve to place birth as a competitive act, pitting women against each other. Others appear to point the finger at the woman herself as being to blame for a less-thangreat birth, even though that interpretation is likely unintended by either the author, or those who post the quote online. We are
this quote actually has the potential to continue the myths that abound about birth, and especially traumatic birth. Discomfort with the Message At a baby expo a friend and I worked at a few years ago, we shared a stall with some wonderful local birthing groups. Our own posters on the wall behind us asked, “Scared of Birth?” and “Had a Bad Birth?” Nearby, one of the other groups had placed a laminated version of Laura Stavoe Harm’s quote. We spent the day offering information and support to many women struggling with the aftermath of their births, some shedding quiet tears right there in the convention center. We shared that was okay to “not feel grateful,” and to grieve their birth experiences. We gradually became more and more uncomfortable with that birth quote on the wall behind us. Eventually, we explained to the woman at the stall our concerns with the sign. She listened carefully, then stood up and took it straight down, saying she understood, and she’d never thought about it like that before. Debby and I would like to share with you why we are uncomfortable with this quote’s popularity, and the possible misinterpretations of its meaning…and what this can mean for a woman who has experienced a disappointing, difficult or traumatic birth.
in our culture that birth is painful, are strong.
© nini / istockphoto.com
concerned about the impact of these quotes on women recovering from a traumatic birth, and also on women in general, as they perpetuate myths that potentially prevent women from supporting each other in the early mothering phase. This article focuses on one of these quotes, in an effort to explain our concerns and place the quotes within a context that enables women to better understand their birth experiences without feeling blamed or like a failure. There Is a Secret in Our Culture There is a well-known quote about birth that receives a lot of airplay within the birthing community, and is used a great deal on natural birth blogs, websites and in chat forum signatures. The quote, by Laura Stavoe Harm, reads, “There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.” The intent of this quote might appear as an acknowledgement of women’s power and determination, and a direct counterattack on our culture’s approach to birth. It could be seen as refuting the notion that birth is painful and something to be feared. But
Self-Blame After a Traumatic Birth If I had read a quote like that in the months after my own traumatic birth, it would have added to the emotional pain and confusion I was already experiencing. I had labored for 30 hours, 22 of which were without anesthesia, and then succumbed to a caesarean that there is a good chance I did not need. It was a long, arduous journey to meeting my son, which left me emotionally shattered, physically fragile, and bereft of the “good stuff ” we anticipate that goes along with the arrival of our first child. I was vulnerable afterward to all the messages that abounded, including, “You should be grateful.” Meanwhile, I felt I’d let my baby down, and as though I had failed miserably by ending up with a caesarean. I doubted my ability to birth, and felt less of a woman because of this. Laura Stavoe Harm’s quote about how there is a secret that birth is not painful, but women are strong, would have been issue 28 | pathways
but that w om
like a knife in my chest. What it says to me is: “You should have been stronger.” Implications and Assumptions The hidden implication in that quote comes with the word “secret”; it implies that somehow knowing that secret would change things. It implies that if only women were told this secret, then things would be different. To me, the natural assumption would be as follows, “There is a secret in our culture…and if you knew the secret, you would have had a vaginal birth, and not had a traumatic birth or a caesarean.” There is the added implication that if I’d just been stronger, I wouldn’t be feeling so wretched now. I was already putting myself through the wringer, asking, “Why couldn’t I handle the pain? Why couldn’t I have a natural birth? Why is my whole world falling apart due to the trauma of the birth?” And, basically, this quote was telling me that I’d failed just because I wasn’t strong enough. Excuse me? I labored, drug-free, for 22 hours, without appropriate support and with a posterior baby. I endured the agonizing experience of having to remain completely still through powerful contractions, to get a needle in my spine. I lay quietly and wrestled with growing fears as I was cut open—while awake—in order to meet my child. And I wasn’t strong? Why This Quote Is Damaging The reason this quote is so damaging for a traumatized woman is that it is not true. The secret is not that women are strong. The truth is, in our culture, strength is simply not always enough to carry a woman through the birthing journey. I was incredibly strong in my birth…but it was not enough to ward off the lack of good support and the poor care I received from the midwife in attendance. I knew birth was painful. No one told me that birth hurts more when we are frightened, out-ofcontrol and feeling unsafe. And I certainly was all of those! The Truth about Strength The truth is, strength cannot combat inadequate prenatal education, a mediocre or uncaring practitioner, and a maternal health system that requires birth to present in a uniform fashion—that is, “If your birth isn’t ‘textbook,’ then we have to make it fit the system!”
The truth is, the key to a birthing woman’s strength (and the key to her labor progressing well), lies in her ability to be trusting and open, and to surrender wholly to the experience that is overwhelming her entire body and mind. That’s when the hormones that progress labor do their work best. The birthing mother can’t risk being vulnerable and surrendering if she feels powerless, scared, intimidated or violated. So really, it has nothing to do with just having strength, but plenty to do with creating a situation where a woman is able to unleash her strength. This requires excellent and empowering prenatal education, and informed support people who understand why and how to advocate for the woman and protect her space. The Real Secret So what is the secret then, if it is not that women are strong? The secret is that women cannot find their strength until they feel safe and supported and nurtured, and trusting their body’s ability. So how do they get these things? First, it is hard for women to feel safe and supported and nurtured unless her support people understand the importance of her emotional state for labor progression and emotional health. Great communication and education is vital. And how do we gain trust in our bodies? Not just by blindly “trusting,” but by being given appropriate, evidence-based information that enables us to tap into our innate knowledge. Women (including myself ) blame themselves when their bodies do what they have been designed to do—that is, shut down when the birthing woman feels unsafe. Women blame themselves when they begin to “friend-make” with the very practitioners who are undermining them, because they have no choice; they need them for their survival. (This “friend-making” is an adrenaline hormonal response, too, designed to ensure survival.) How We Go into Birth Many natural birth advocates talk of the amazing hormones of childbirth. They are right; they are amazing. But they are not available if the woman is scared out of her brain, or left alone in a room to labor when she needs support, or given prenatal education that does not enable her to trust her body’s ability, or talked down to and patted on the head with a “don’t worry your pretty head” attitude, or not have her questions answered in a respectful manner. Yet this is how many, many women go through birth. And these women who are birthing in this way have not failed. Really, they have been failed…by our system, our prenatal education, and even our culture in its attitudes toward birth. If she is well-supported by her practitioners, a woman does have access to those amazing hormones. I know this to be true; I have experienced it with my second birth. But that second time around, I felt safe, supported, respected and acknowledged. I had a new understanding of birth. Fierceness or Vulnerability? Laura Stavoe Harm’s quote could be interpreted as suggesting that women who “give in” to the pain of childbirth are weak, as
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© molka / istockphoto.com
it is not that birth
that birth is painful men are st rong. opposed to strong. Another way I have seen it written is that women need to be “fierce.” But the issue here is really one of vulnerability. In my first birth I was vulnerable, but there is no way I was weak. The system took away my power, by abandoning my birthing body and my birthing mind, and by withdrawing their “birth center philosophy” when I went in the “un-textbook” basket. Did I fail because I was not fierce enough? Of course not. I had no information that taught me I had anything to be fierce about, and certainly no possibility (due to lack of support) to perhaps find this intuitively. I had no inkling that I would be offered anything in that birth that was not in my best interest. My birth center midwife did not stay with me through the epidural and then the caesarean. No birth center midwife visited me afterwards, in the seven days I was in the hospital. I felt a failure and a reject. Weakened, but not by my own doing. I was vulnerable in my second birth, too. But this time, my fierceness was enabled and applauded and honored by my midwife and my well-informed support people. I had access to different information, and, through copious research and reading (and even witnessing my niece enter the world), birth had gained my trust. And I was enabled to open up to the vastness of the experience, and had a beautiful vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
© molka / istockphoto.com
Releasing the Myths I remember being at a barbecue when my son was a couple of years old, and I was still emotionally very fragile from his birth. An acquaintance was talking about her smooth-sailing birthcenter birth. She said she guessed her birth went so well because she was “so determined.” This completely crushed me. Did I “fail” in my birth because I was not determined enough? Because I was not strong enough? We’ve met incredibly strong women who have faced insurmountable odds in a traumatic birthing situation. It is not dictated by whether they are birthing in a hospital or at home. It has nothing to do with their strength. It has to do with being in a situation to have that strength honored and enabled to unfurl because the woman is safe, and knows it. This is only possible when a woman has exceptional prenatal education, exceptional communication between herself and her practitioner, and exceptional support people who are informed as to the importance of the woman feeling safe and unobserved, and who themselves trust birth. And unless women know this, they will continue to blame themselves, and remain stuck in their healing. The Eye of the Beholder Maybe it is all a matter of where you are in your understanding of birth, as to how you interpret this, and other, quotes. If I had read Laura Stavoe Harm’s quote midway through my second pregnancy, my response would likely have been, “Yes!” But by then I had a wealth of new information about birth, and was beginning to see just was required for a birthing woman to feel safe.
I also knew by then, without a doubt, that the things that had gone wrong in my first birth were not because I wasn’t strong enough. And yes, I needed to hear that women were strong as I prepared for this next birth, but, without the insights I now had, I may have misinterpreted it to mean that strength was what I needed…rather than an environment where my strength could be best supported and enabled to blossom. Taking Care in Our Messages This is why we have concerns about the potential for certain quotes to be taken out of context, and the incorrect (or rather, incomplete) messages they convey about birth. We know many wonderful natural birth advocates who use Laura Stavoe Harm’s quote, and we honor the wonderful work they do, and we also know they do not ever mean any harm by it. We know that they are trying to remind women that birth is not something to be scared of, and to garner their inner strength that can often get lost in the disempowering maternal health system of today. We hope that in expressing our views about this muchloved quote that we are bringing to the fore what it is like for a traumatized woman who is struggling to find validation for her experience. We need to take care with every message we deliver to women about birth, and ensure that each message honors the fact that every woman at every moment is making the best decisions she can for herself and her child, with the information she has. And the truth is…that can take a mountain of strength.
Melissa Bruijn and Debby Gould run Birthtalk.org, an Australian support and education organisation specializing in planning a positive birth (no matter how you are birthing), plus birth-after-caesarean support, and birth trauma/birth grief support for those who find Birthtalk.org after a previous traumatic or disappointing experience. Debby is a midwife, childbirth educator and doula, and has experienced birth twice herself as a mother of two girls. Melissa is a mother of two and has experienced a traumatic birth ending in caesarean, and then an empowering VBAC. They are also co-founders of CANA —the Caesarean Awareness Network Australia (canaustralia.net). View article resources and author information here: pathwaysto familywellness.org/references.html. issue 28 | pathways
photo by lisa denardo, lkdphotography.com
the outer womb
Breastfeeding & Fatherhood How a father’s support enriches the breastfeeding experience for the family By Patrick M. Houser
hroughout our history, the incidence of mothers breastfeeding their babies has run the spectrum from feast to famine. Very long ago, nearly every mother breastfed; nature obviously had a good plan. More recently, breastfeeding became unfashionable, and “proper society” would not even consider it. Many only breastfed if they could not afford a wet nurse. Mothers today often approach breastfeeding with ambiguity, and fathers are having an influence on their decision. Research has shown that 98.1 percent of mothers working outside the home breastfed when fathers were completely supportive. However, when fathers were indifferent, mothers only breastfed 26.9 percent of the time. Who are these fathers, and what is the best way forward for mothers, fathers and babies? Father’s Perspectives I have gotten into trouble with generalizations in the past. But in the interest of discovering the archetypal picture, I will risk making a few. Some fathers think less is best, and the sooner he gets “his” breasts, and his wife, back, the better. The father in this position may make his opinion known, thereby creating influence over the crucial mother/child breastfeeding and bonding relation-
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ship. There is also a “shadow” inherent here, indicating uncertainty as to where bonding with Dad will come from. Other fathers remain indifferent, standing back and deferring to the mother to “let her make her own choice.” While seemingly acceptable, such a stance might have the effect of Dad feeling excluded—even if he excluded himself—and therefore missing out on potential benefits of his own. This approach could also lead the mother and child to not being as well provided for as they could be. Lastly, there are fathers and mothers who make joint decisions regarding breastfeeding, and both “participate” fully. Studies reveal that a father’s hormonal activity increases during his partner’s pregnancy, and more so if he is present at the birth and closely involved after. When a father is intimate with his child, especially through skin-to-skin contact, his oxytocin production increases. Elevated oxytocin in a father is recognized as a key component in jump-starting and maintaining his nurturing instincts and bonding with his baby. Hormones are chemicals secreted by an endocrine gland, triggered by nerve cells that regulate the function of specific tissues or organs. They are essentially chemical messengers that transport signals from one cell to another. In a way, they tell us what to do and how to act.
When a man’s nurturing instincts and hormones are awakened, everyone wins. As a culture we have the responsibility to see to it that our fathers and children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Prolactin, vasopressin and oxytocin are among the hormones that are found at higher levels in men around the time of birth. Increased production of prolactin is known to promote bonding, attachment and caring. Raised vasopressin levels cause a man to want to protect his family and be at home, rather than on the prowl in search of a mate. (Vasopressin is also known as the “monogamy hormone,” fostering commitment.) Oxytocin is also produced in men and women during loving contact. Because of this it has been called “the hormone of love” by experts such as Dr. Michel Odent, Sheila Kitzinger and Dr. Sarah Buckley. It is also a necessary hormone for a mother’s body to produce in order to ensure a successful pregnancy and labor, and it plays a role in breastfeeding, as well. Since couples are already in the habit of producing oxytocin during intimacy, fathers can contribute this dimension of their relationship to the mother’s labor and breastfeeding time. The Importance of Father Love Consequently, father love, added as an ingredient to the scientific recipe of mother’s labor and breastfeeding, can be a useful enhancement. The result of this increased hormonal activity is that bonding, attachment, protection, love, loyalty, commitment and caring are all enhanced in new fathers. Science shows us that a father with close, strong, intimate contact during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding will be supported by Mother Nature during his early engagement in the family. This then establishes a more durable foundation for a lifelong loving relationship between father and child, and indeed, for the family itself. While nutrition is an important part of the breastfeeding equation, it is hardly the only component. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that some form of artificial milk, or even bottlefeeding breastmilk, can actually replicate breastfeeding. A mother’s breastmilk is specific to her baby and adapts to her baby’s ever-changing needs hourly, daily, and even monthly or yearly. These needs are physical, mental, emotional, social and developmental. If food comes from a bottle instead of a breast, many of these crucial components are hindered or lost. In addition, as Veronika Robinson says in her book, The Drinks Are on Me, “Breastfeeding is a sacred art. It opens our soul and brings us to a place which connects generations past with future generations.” For the majority of mothers, a significant key to her successful pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding is the quality of care she receives from the father. When the father cares for the mother, he is most certainly caring for his child as well. What is the potential for a father’s contribution to his family, and what benefits might he derive, during this intimate time between a mother and child? A father can carry out virtually any and all other forms of caretaking for a new baby. Plus, if a dad is regularly skin to skin with his baby, they both benefit. Jamie, father of 13 month old Zephyr, reports, “The breastfeeding connection is beautiful; I love watching the joy on Zephyr’s face
as he sucks away into bliss. I have bonded with Zephyr very well. I have always spent a lot of time with him and we are regularly skin to skin. Now, I am running around the woods, playing, cuddling and supporting him to be free spirited. I don’t feel ‘on the side’ at all. We both have different connections with him and they are equally strong.” Mothers and babies need to continue their close, intimate relationship that began in the womb; the child’s security depends on it, and breastfeeding is a big part of appropriately meeting this need. It is important that dads understand this and differentiate their role in early parenting. It is no accident that dads are dissimilar to mothers, and their approach life and parenting are uniquely different. Mothers need to remember that, while they are the gatekeepers to the baby, it is important they support Dad’s way of being with his new baby. Elmer is the father of 4-year-old Lucien, who still breastfeeds a couple of times a day. “What a gift for me as an adult male to be around my son as a living example of abundant security. Lucien having extensive breastfeeding seems only to have supported his intelligence. Our sense is that his knowing he can connect with his mother has helped him feel securely attached and it will also simply come to an end when it does. His other life transitions have taken place in their own time, as this one likely will, also.” An added bonus of a bonded father/child relationship is that the life expectancy of the family is enhanced. Fathers who do not feel included and part of a family will tend to leave, one way or another. This is reflected in our current culture of divorce and separation. A father who is attached and committed to his children is more likely to stay with his family. Science is on his side, and nature and nurture are working in harmony. When a man’s nurturing instincts and hormones are awakened, everyone wins. As a culture we have the responsibility to see to it that our fathers and children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Mothers and fathers can embrace breastfeeding together, and each will have a higher level of satisfaction during the time of early infancy and family bonding. The transition to fatherhood is one of the most significant and challenging experiences a man will ever encounter. In order to have a satisfying and successful experience, fathers must feel safe, supported and confident. To optimize the possibilities for our families, we need to provide appropriate and gender-specific educational, physical and emotional support for fathers.
Patrick M. Houser is the author of the Fathers-To-Be Handbook, a roadmap for the transition to fatherhood. He is also a freelance writer, keynote speaker and a parenting and childbirth professional educator. Visit FathersToBe.org. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/references.html. issue 28 | pathways
The Important First By Jeane Rhodes
n my novel, The Birth of Hope, I created an idealized version of what a baby preparing for birth may be thinking and feeling. (You can read a quote from it atop the next page.) We have no scientific way of knowing if thoughts are even possible prior to birth. The experience is more likely a form of knowing that is beyond words. What we do know, thanks to researchers in the field of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, is that the first nine months of life are vitally important. They lay the foundation for who we are to be in this life, on physical, mental and emotional levels. Let’s explore a bit what has been discovered and how you, as a parent, can use this information. The field of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (PPN) is relatively new but, thanks in part to communication technology, has developed rapidly from small groups of therapists in Europe and the United States in the ’70s and ’80s to a respected discipline, with Master- and Ph.D.-level degrees now available. Research in the field began with psychological studies and practices that included regression to prenatal and birth experiences. Many of these early studies were discounted by traditional researchers in psychology, but they laid the foundation for today’s researchers in PPN. The field has expanded beyond psychologists and therapists to include midwives, physicians, childbirth educators, neurologists and others who are interested in, and passionate about, the possibilities inherent in the way we bring new beings into this world. At the end of the nineteenth century, Sigmund Freud and his followers postulated that what happened to us in our first three
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years after birth had a significant impact on the people we would become as adults. The end of the twentieth century brought an expansion to this notion, stretching back to our first nine months—that is, from conception until birth. Thomas Verny’s The Secret Life of the Unborn Child presented anecdotal evidence of prenatal and birth memories. David Chamberlain’s book, Babies Remember Birth (since republished as The Mind of Your Newborn Baby), detailed his research with adult children and their mothers, reinforcing the possibility that we might remember our first nine months of life. These foundational works led to further research and the coming together of likeminded individuals to establish the organization now known as the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. The organization began publishing The Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Health, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal, in 1986, and has an extensive website (birthpsychology.com). Biannual conferences attract participants from around the world. We can only touch on the highlights of research in the past 30 years that has led to the phenomenal development of the field and the ensuing benefits for babies born to aware parents. The easiest information to accept is the physical aspect of prenatal development. We have known since the 1930s that cigarette smoking has a detrimental impact on babies in utero, but it took more than 30 years for that information to be incorporated into recommendations for expectant mothers. Information now reaches parents directly, but progress is still slow-moving. It seems
It does seem a little unfair that I have to forget most of what I know now when I make the transition from in here to out there. I just have to keep that part of me that knows where I came from and why at the very center of me, then someday I will discover it again and feel reconnected with everything. — Jeane Rhodes, The Birth of Hope
Nine Months of Life that resistance to knowing that we are parents from the moment of conception is deeply engrained. Part of the resistance seems to come from our own deep knowing that our prenatal and birth experiences were sometimes very painful, and that the possibility exists for us to create similar pain for our children. At the purely physiological level, it is fairly well-established that the nervous/endocrine system of a baby is impacted by stress hormones secreted by her mother during gestation, resulting in the new individual having a hyperactive or hypoactive stress response in later life. Environmental experience is now recognized to be critical in the process of building the brain and nervous system. Researchers Cicchetti & Tucker expressed this: “Nature’s potential can only be realized as it is enabled by nurture.” Previously, neurologists Connelly & Prechtl had stated, “Within limits, during normal development a biologically different brain may be formed, given the mutual influence of the infant’s nervous system and the mothering repertory of the caregiver.” While prenatal psychological development may be more difficult to document, it seems clear that we are influenced by our experience in the first nine months and carry the memories in our bodies. For example, the roots of various phobias, especially claustrophobia, have been traced to in-utero or birth experience. As Freud speculated, “The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.” Those two brief paragraphs are but a tiny glimpse of the
wealth of information available, confirming that our first nine months of life lay the foundation for all that comes later. After all, we are building our bodies and coming into awareness during this time. Our early experiences are wired into our nervous systems. The baby passes through more developmental milestones before birth than at any other time in life. As parents, it can be very intimidating to know we are responsible for creating the environment for our children from the moment of their conception. That environment, whether it is welcoming and loving or rejecting and negative, forms the template for your child’s expectations of life. Prenatal parenting may be a relatively new concept, but the resources available are rich and varied. The first nine months are indeed the most important time for parenting. As your baby is developing, you and your partner are becoming parents, learning to love and nurture this special being who has chosen you as family.
Jeane Rhodes is a licensed professional counselor in the State of Colorado and is adjunct faculty (online) for the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. She is currently on the Board of Directors for APPPAH. Her novel, The Birth of Hope, follows the life of a girl called Hope from conception to birth, inspiring new awareness of the importance of the prenatal and birth stages of life. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html. issue 28 | pathways
Yoga For Kids An Ancient Practice for Modern Children By Marsha Therese Danzig
10-year-old boy enters the children’s yoga class I’m teaching. He is large for his age, chunky in the middle, tall, clumsy and loud. He makes up stories about his name and the other boys in the class. He interrupts me incessantly. The lead teacher keeps apologizing for him. She rolls her eyes, telling him to shush and sit down. I tell her the noise doesn’t bother me. They are okay, and so am I. I have brought a brown bag with an ear of corn hidden inside. I want to teach the children about ecology, nature, the process of growth, and the traditions of our Native American heritage. I want to impart the concepts of waiting, patience, transformation, connection. They want to be entertained. After 20 minutes, I’ve lost the class of 13 boys and girls, ages 4 to 11. One child sits out for most of the class. Two other boys stick out their tongues at me, all of us trying not to giggle. The children become louder, gather into clusters, and lose their way. So do I. I wonder: Was this group really that bad? Was I off center? What else was going on here? After teaching yoga for 13 years, and training people in Color Me Yoga for Children for 9 years, I have certainly had my share of off days. Grace seems to prevail in those situations. I know my calling. I trust my path of teaching yoga. I reel the children back in during Sivasana (relaxation pose), having them imagine themselves as a corn cob, still and sweet. I am about to ring the bell after nearly five minutes in this pose. Now still and at peace, they do not want to get up. The little boy who sat out for most of the class sighs, “Can we do this pose for the entire class next time?” My little chunky friend adds, “Yes, can we do this pose for a whole bunch of minutes next time? I love this pose.” Finally a third little boy chimes in, almost in tears,
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“I so want to do this pose next time. My mom just drives me around from class to class. I’m so stressed. I just want to rest.” My heart breaks. When I was young, children didn’t seem to know the word stress. It wasn’t really a part of my own vocabulary until I was well into my thirties. Today, in an hour-long children’s yoga class in 2010, a little boy used the word with great aplomb. Reconnecting with Yoga This class, once again, provided a new kind of grace for teaching about the pulse of American children today. They seem pressured, over-stimulated, overfed and undernourished. They’re entertained rather than inspired, disconnected in some fundamental way from their environment, their bodies, their souls and each other. They are told to respect others, and yet, because of many lines being crossed, they often don’t know how to respect adults or their world. They are given limited opportunities to succeed at responsibility or gain a sense of inner motivation. Instant gratification drains their little nervous systems and sets up unrealistic goals. The fear and mistrust that many adults model for them by hoarding things creates confused identities. They have seen more in their young lives than many of us saw until we were well into adulthood. Finally, they don’t really know how to play. Obviously not every American child fits this description—I’m talking about a general trend. In my work, I hear the same thing repeatedly, from parents, school teachers and occupational therapists. Children are struggling. We all want to help them become their full, abundant selves. Yoga may just do the trick. Yoga—the ancient practice of uniting Sun and Moon, Fire and Air, Earth and Water, Masculine and Feminine, Mind and Body,
Yoga—the ancient practice of uniting Sun and Moon, Fire and Air, Earth and Water, Masculine and Feminine, Mind and Body, Spirit and Heart—has at its root the concept of loving compassion and
dreamstime.com / yoga girl © taedesign.com
right relationship. These children are our mirrors. Spirit and Heart—has at its root the concept of loving compassion and right relationship. These children are our mirrors. In Native American tradition, we thank the sick person for showing us the sickness of the society so society can come back to the right relationship. Could it be that our children are telling us to get back into right relationship, too? A recent article in Newsweek [July 19, 2010] claimed that American children are in a creativity crisis. Children who are given fewer opportunities for play—including role playing, expressing emotions through play, problem-solving, creating imaginary worlds, making up pretend friends, and thinking outside the box—are losing vital opportunities to build their intelligence and their motivation. Children who are sedentary or less likely to participate in sports are often placated with video games and other electronic toys and media. This is no small thing. According to Aadil Palkhivala, a yogi in Oregon, the AC current that is found in computers, cell phones, televisions, and other electrical devices pierces our magnetic fields, literally causing our iron-rich blood to move in the current’s directions rather than its natural direction. Our nervous systems are then fatigued, our brains are overworked, and our entire systems are unable to resist the side effects of chronic stress. As the exhausted system then goes numb, the cycle begins to self-perpetuate—we play more video games, watch more TV, etc. Chronic stress produces elevated cortisol levels (a breeding ground for diabetes), hormonal imbalances (bone loss, eating disorders, emotional disorders), rage and aggression (from unexpressed emotions), bullying (a national epidemic), insomnia (which further increases cortisol levels and increases anxiety and depression), nervous habits (which can lead to addictive behavior), and immune disorders.
Yoga Can Help Here are some of the additional challenges American kids are facing, and how yoga can help. • Competition. When children are taught that their value is measured by external rewards, they can lose motivation to achieve unless they believe they will get something out of it. Yoga teaches them to appreciate the moment, finding intrinsic reward and self-determination. • Trauma. When children are traumatized, whether by a mishap on the playground or physical or emotional abuse at home, their young nervous systems get locked. This can result in isolation, aggression, violence, stomachaches, headaches and more serious illnesses. Yoga soothes and nurtures them. It calms the nervous system, boosts immunity, harmonizes the self, and helps children rebalance as they navigate through difficult emotions. Yoga turns on the parasympathetic system, which reduces ADD and fosters cooperative environments. • Anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by stress, competition, trauma, lack of sleep, overscheduling, too much homework, relationship issues at school, tests and family problems. Yoga, especially through the practices of creative visualization, meditation, slow breathing and deep forward bends, can help reduce anxiety and recondition the nervous system, allowing children to form their own inner connections and self-empowerment. • ADD/ADHD. Children with ADD or ADHD have an inability to stay focused, be comfortable in their surroundings, have ease issue 28 | pathways
Yoga engages all the senses. It creates a loving learning environment so children can relax, be more receptive, and develop confidence, curiosity and comfort in relating to others.
• Violence and Aggression. There are many causes of the negative emotions that trigger violence and aggression in children. Yoga can provide a safe place for the child to find his inner language and experience healing, on his own terms. The practice of “loving compassion” is the foundation of any good yoga program. Children’s social-emotional development depends on a balanced, harmonious learning environment, which yoga creates. Teaching loving compassion has tremendous health and societal benefits. For example, levels of the “anti-aging hormone,” DHEA, are raised astronomically in people who live by loving compassion. These people also have lower cortisol production, thus allowing them to live more fully in the parasympathetic nervous system. • Inability to Express Emotions. When a child does not experience the necessary steps of social-emotional development, mental illness can develop and aggressive behavior can surface. Frozen feelings keep children uninspired, bored, restless and experiencing poor health in bones, joints and organs. Yoga engages all the senses. It creates a loving learning environment so children can relax, be more receptive, and develop confidence, curiosity and comfort in relating to others. A relaxed, receptive body produces a relaxed, receptive brain, willing and able to learn. • Childhood Obesity. Children who suffer from obesity develop health issues traditionally belonging to adults. Among other problems, they can lose their innate ability to make creative choices. They can develop language-skill issues and lose their vitality. Yoga for children, which involves creative play, gets kids off their seats and onto the yoga mat. Their brains develop more rapidly. Learning coordination in movement increases brain power, according to a recent issue of The New England
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Journal of Medicine. Movement and creative play stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates healthy bone growth.
Universal Yoga Yoga is a simple, cost-effective tool that any child can practice. It needs to be available to all children everywhere, not just the children whose parents can afford it. Would it not ultimately cost a lot less for society to offer children yoga than to constantly drag them to doctors, psychiatrists, case workers and diet camps? Would it not be more beneficial to teach a child to breathe her way through life, rather than condition her with medication that she might not actually need (and never mind the side effects)? Would it not make more sense to teach parents and caregivers to slow down, do less and enjoy play with their children, rather than running around every day from one activity to another? What about teaching our children to live in nature, rather than live through virtual experiences, such as video games and television? Children need connection. They need family time. Imagine teaching and modeling empathy, loving compassion, self-acceptance and kindness for the Earth and its inhabitants. If we practice our yoga through the motions of our daily lives, it would be the greatest gift we could give our children.
Marsha Therese Danzig is the founder of Color Me Yoga for Children, an international 200-hour yoga school and children’s yoga program committed to bringing the gift of yoga to all children everywhere. You can read more about Color Me Yoga at colormeyoga.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html.
© oeksandr kalinichenko / dreamstime.com
in social situations, and follow through. Yoga, because of its slow progressive methods to engage the entire being, teaches children how to regulate themselves. It builds an internal sense of rhythm and allows children to express their energy creatively.
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grateful 3 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Loving and Positive
By Monica Cravotta
pathways | issue 28
© paura / dreamstime.com
State of Being
o consistently express the nurturing and attentive love that attachment parenting is all about is no easy task. It’s far too easy to become out-of-yourmind sleep-deprived, weary of toddler tantrums and stretched to your capacity to care for your family, your house, your work and maybe—if you’re lucky—yourself. I’ve teetered on burn-out quite a bit over the last year, mothering two children under the age of 4. So I was delighted to learn some quick tips for shifting out of my “this is too hard” mindset and into total gratitude for my life and my ability to create something new and magical for myself and my family every day. Knowing how well these tips can work for me during grumpy moments (when I remember to access them), I’m inspired to guide my daughter into giving them a try when she gets emotionally stuck, too. For example, I can show her a photograph when her arms were outstretched in pure, unfettered bliss, and ask her how she felt. Then I can encourage her to replay this physical state (or other postures that she likes) to access the joyful emotions that accompanied them. Courtesy of Helen Attridge of Inner Wisdom Coaching (InnerWisdomCoaching.com), here are three amazing mood-shifting strategies.
along with thoughts and questions like, “Why is this not happening for me?” and “It’s going to take forever to get a job!” Feeling and expressing disappointment is healthy and natural, of course. But keeping my mental focus there and maintaining the ridiculous belief that anything takes “forever” would have energetically blocked opportunities, connections and any number of other wonderful things that would later cross my path. I’m now happily employed at Whole Foods Market global headquarters on the Healthy Eating team, and am so grateful that the other job didn’t work out!
1) Change your physiology. When you’re angry at life, how does it feel in your body? What do your shoulders do? How do you breathe? What happens to your forehead, your mouth, your jaw…? Now think about your physical state when you’re feeling your favorite emotion. My favorite emotional state is a combination of inspired and secure. When I feel this way, I feel energetic, powerful, open and tapped into life. My chest is open versus hunched, my face is bright and content versus scrunched or clenched, and my breathing comes easy. To find the emotional state that matches the physical state, start with the latter. Stretch. Walk outside. Dance. Practice yoga. There’s a great article by Carolyn Oberst published in Fit Yoga magazine (and available as a pdf at YogaInTribeca.com) on how to impact the way you think, feel and create through direct manipulation of your body. 2) Check in on your focus and your beliefs. What are you choosing to think about a situation that might unconsciously keep you in a negative state? What are you choosing to believe as truth that might not be? Last year, when I decided to retire from my very parttime work-at-home mother status and began pounding the pavement to go back to work outside the home, I received a rejection letter from a company I was really excited about working for at the time. My mind struggled to stay positive. Self-deprecating slams clouded my head,
3) Change the question. Be on the lookout for any version of “What’s wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I figure this out?” in your head. Once you’re conscious of it, recognize that no valuable answer comes from a negatively oriented question. Try asking a different set of questions, like: •
“How can we have fun?”
“What am I grateful for right now?”
“What am I willing to do to create a new reality?”
“How can we make this an amazing adventure?”
“What is perfect about this moment?”
“What am I learning?”
These questions will reorient you into a positive state of mind. The transformation from Grumperella back to Sweet Loving Mama is great! What tips do you have for maintaining your ability to provide consistent and loving care when you’re feeling tired or grouchy? We’d love to hear them. E-mail us at editor@Pathwaystofamilywellness.com, or leave a message on our Facebook page. Monica Cravotta is the voice behind the online resource Attachmentmama.com, where you can find over 100 articles related to parenting and family wellness, including natural childbirth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, empathetic parenting, plantstrong nutrition, healthy conflict resolution and others— all inspired by her own early parenting trials and triumphs. This article was originally published as “Three Easy Tricks to Maintaining a Loving and Positive State of Being” in Attachment Parenting International’s API Speaks. View article resources and author information here: pathways tofamilywellness.org/references.html.
issue 28 | pathways
Children’s Health: A Question of
Balance By Philip Incao, M.D.
Why Do We Get Sick? In order to be healthy, we must keep an inner balance in body and soul, while all the time growing and changing from birth to death. Childhood is the time of most rapid growth and dramatic change, and a child will remodel and renew the body many times while growing. Every remodeling job requires some demolition, a breaking down of part of the inherited bodily structure in order to rebuild it better. This breaking down of old cells and tissues results in debris, which must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can begin. It is the immune system that does the breaking down by causing cell death and, when necessary, fever and inflammation to destroy and digest foreign or worn out bodily material. And it is the immune system which cleans up the digested material and debris by pushing it out of the body. This is why children so often will have skin rashes and discharges of mucus or pus, because their immune systems are actively working. Debris that remains in the body may act like a poison, or cause allergies or repeated inflammations later on. Germs do not “attack” us, but they often multiply wherever the body’s living substance is dying, breaking down and being discharged. Germs don’t cause illnesses; they feed on them. Every childhood inflammation, every cold, sore throat, ear ache, fever and rash is a healing crisis and a cleansing process, a strong effort by the human spirit to remodel the body so it can be a more suitable dwelling. Anthroposophic and homeopathic remedies help and promote this cleansing process and help the illness to work its way out of the body in order for healing to occur. Antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen and other antiinflammatory drugs cool down and suppress the “fire” of the immune system so that the symptoms subside before the illness has fully worked its way out of the body. When an inflammation is suppressed in this way, and prevented from fully discharging its toxins, then either the inflammation will come back or the tendency to allergies and asthma
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© elena schweitzer / dreamstime.com
ll of the common illnesses of childhood are inflammations. “Infection” is the wrong word for them, because it suggests that we get “sick” because germs invade us. This is misleading. We are always exposed to, and often harbor, germs, and yet we only occasionally get sick.
will be increased. Recent research has confirmed that antibiotics and vaccinations are a cause of increased allergies and asthma. In healthy people, the inflammatory response of the immune system rarely gets out of control. In such cases an antibiotic is called for. Although an antibiotic may be lifesaving, it never heals an inflammation—it only suppresses it. The causes of the inflammation must still be healed after the antibiotic treatment. Otherwise, the immune system may remain weakened.
© vadim ponomarenko / dreamstime.com
Cleansing and Detox In addition to any remedies you may use, the first and best thing you should always do at the onset of any inflammation, fever, cold or “infection” is to cleanse the body. For infants, give a glycerin rectal suppository. For infants under one year, fennel tea and diluted juices from stewed organic apricots and prunes will help to loosen stools. For adults and children over one year of age, give a Bisacodyl suppository, such as Dulcolax. If you prefer, use an enema instead of a suppository. (Of course, do not use any of these if diarrhea is present.) After the initial suppository or enema, it is important to keep the cleansing going until the illness is better by giving a dose of milk of magnesia once daily for 3 to 5 days. Dosage guidelines can be found on this page. Body Warmth and Fever Children should always be warmly dressed for the weather. This will increase the body’s ability to handle inflammations. The normal body temperature in a healthy child or adult should be 98.6°F, or slightly higher—preferably not lower. A subnormal temperature indicates that the body is not producing enough warmth. Viruses and bacteria in us grow faster and toxins accumulate when our body temperature is lower, and the immune system clears them from the body faster when our body temperature is higher. Weather permitting, young children should be dressed in natural fibers with three layers on top and two on bottom. Wool socks are very helpful to support a healthy body temperature. Children under 3 years especially should wear caps or hats to protect the body from warmth loss and the intensity of the sun. Fever should not be regarded as a dangerous or unhealthy process in the body. It is actually the body’s messenger and a healthy response to the presence of something foreign or toxic that the body needs to get rid of. We sometimes feel very uncomfortable, aching or even delirious with a fever. These are symptoms caused by the toxicity—the poisons—in our system. The fever isn’t the problem; it’s part of the solution. Giving fever-suppressing medication for a fever is like killing the messenger. Febrile convulsions are caused, in susceptible children, by a very rapid rise in temperature early in an illness, often before one is even aware of the fever. They occur from 6 months to 6 years of age, and they do not cause permanent damage. A febrile convulsion is less likely to occur if these recommendations for bowel cleansing, diet, quiet and warmth are followed. Toxicity from certain diseases and certain immunizations may rarely cause brain damage or convulsions in children or adults, regardless of whether the fever is high or low. But fever itself, even when 104°F or higher, will not cause brain damage. (Some cancer patients are heated to a body temperature of 107°F for two hours with no brain damage whatsoever.) Therefore, when a child has a fever, dress him even more warmly than usual, with several layers of cotton or wool. Keep the patient warm enough that the cheeks are red and the hands and feet are warm, but there is no sweat or perspiration. The body, in its wisdom, wants and needs to be hot in order to burn out the illness. When the fever is rising, we feel chilled and want to get warm under blankets. When the fever breaks and starts to come down, only then do we feel hot and sweat and throw off the blankets. This is the natural way the immune system burns out the illness and discharges its toxins. It is best not to give aspirin, ibuprofen or baths for a fever. There is no evidence
Milk of Magnesia Dosage Children 1–5 years of age: 1–2 tablespoons or 2–4 tablets Children 6–12 years of age: 2–3 tablespoons or 4–6 tablets Over 12 and adults: 4 tablespoons or 6–8 tablets After the first 3 to 5 days and until fever and pain are all gone, stewed prunes will help to keep bowels loose. Drink lots of warm herb teas, especially horsetail (Equisetum) for adults. This cleanses the kidneys.
issue 28 | pathways
whatsoever that these measures prevent fever convulsions. In fact, they prolong the illness because they make the immune system work harder to keep the body hot enough to cook out the illness and digest the bacteria, viruses and toxins. Healing occurs when these have been fully digested and discharged from the body. Traditional medical wisdom has always recognized that the discharge of pus, mucus or rash is a healing response to the underlying illness. If a child or adult with a high fever is very uncomfortable and restless, this is a sign of toxicity, and that the previously mentioned cleansing measures are needed. You may also rub the arms and legs and head with a washcloth moistened with tepid water and arnica tincture or lemon juice. (From the neck to the knees, the child should not be undressed.) Rub vigorously to make the skin red; this will help to dissipate excess body heat through the skin. This restlessness and irritability during a fever is caused by toxins circulating in the body, and can often be prevented by following the cleansing and detox procedures above. Dr. Diet: Eating Right When someone has an inflammation, cold or fever, or is coming down with one, the diet should be restricted. When your body is trying to “digest” and eliminate toxic substances, it helps if you don’t have to digest much food at the same time. Therefore, the general rule is to avoid protein foods during the acute illness. These are: meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, juices, fish and legumes (such as beans, peas, lentils and soy). The sick person should have a mainly liquid diet of vegetable broth, herb teas and fruit juices; juices should be no colder than room temperature. Fruit, cooked vegetables, grains and light crackers are also suitable. Another general rule is that when sick, eating less is better than eating more. If the patient is not hungry, she is better off not eating. The return of appetite is a sign of getting over the illness, but those first meals after the fever is gone should be light ones. Don’t be too eager to have your child regain the lost weight; this will happen naturally soon enough, as your child’s appetite and strength return. After the illness, reintroduce the restricted foods gradually and carefully. Dr. Quiet: Minimizing Distractions Most adults have experienced how, during a fever or any inflammatory illness, we crave peace and quiet and are disturbed by noises and sounds that usually don’t bother us when we are well. Children also need peace and quiet during their illnesses, although they rarely express it. Instead, out of “boredom,” they will ask to listen to their iPod or watch TV. These stimulations are best avoided, especially for younger children, and should be replaced by just “being there” for your child in a peaceful, unhurried, reassuring way. Keep them quietly under covers in bed or on a couch, away from the hustle and bustle of household activity. The more they sleep, the better.
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Illness is a time to remove oneself from the usual pressures and routines of life and to completely “veg out,” allowing one’s body to repair and renew itself in the context of a peaceful and supportive environment. Very often illness can provide a wonderful opportunity for renewed communication and bonding between parent and child. Dr. Merryman: Mastering Fear These cleansing and detox recommendations have proven themselves to work extremely well in over 80 years of experience with anthroposophical medicine in many countries of the world. They have worked extremely well for my patients, including my own three children, since I began practicing medicine in 1972. There have been articles in pediatric medical journals about “fever phobia,” the unreasoning and unwarranted fear of fever that many parents have. Fear is a natural response to the experience of powerful forces that we do not understand. Acute inflammation and fever are certainly poorly understood, powerful forces. Nonetheless, they are healing forces. When fear gains the upper hand, clear vision and judgment go out the window. If we can master our fear and sit calmly and reassuringly with our children when they are ill, observing them carefully, there is much we can learn. We may find that our fear gives way to a healthy respect and a glimmer of understanding for the change emerging in our child through the ebb and flow of the fever. In every fever and inflammation, forces of body, soul and spirit are working to bring to birth a new order and a new balance. Many mothers have told me of their child’s developmental leap in emotional and neurological maturity after working through a feverish illness. Like any birthing process, we need to be alert and discerning to see that the inflammation unfolds in a healthy way, and to know when to call for expert help. This knowledge and discernment can be learned through experience, and the experience is well worth it. Often children themselves have an intuitive understanding of what they are experiencing as they work through a feverish inflammatory illness. Occasionally, they even express it. One 5-year-old patient of mine said to his concerned mother at the peak of his illness, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m just growing!”
Philip Incao, M.D., has had a practice of anthroposophic medicine since 1973. He was featured in the July/August 2003 Mothering magazine article, “The Healing Crisis: Don’t Worry Mom—I’m Just Growing!” His essays on children’s health are in The Vaccination Dilemma, published by Lantern Books, and on his website, philipincao.com. He lives in Crestone, Colorado, with his wife, artist Jennifer Thomson. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamily wellness.org/ references.html.
Our Childrenâ€™s Lunches
pathways | issue 28
Every school year, children By Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, D.C.
dispose of approximately their
body weight in packaging for
hen I was in grade school, we had pretty basic lunches. A piece of fruit, some sliced veggies and a sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper. I was so excited when plastic came into play, since my sandwich would no longer fall apart or be stale by noon. Now, of course, plastic has been shown to pose many health risks by leaching into our bodies via our food. The same is occurring with aluminum. In my time, my reusable lunch box was cumbersome, so I eventually chose the standby of a paper bag. We reused the paper bags and held the sandwiches together with reused rubber bands. Any leftovers were returned home in the same bag. I do not remember using the trash. Cheese and apples were cut up to the amount we needed, and since the cookies were homemade, they were also put in sealed reusable bags. We drank water or milk. Oh, how things have changed in two generations. Taking Out the Trash According to the EPA, the typical American schoolchild generates 67 pounds of waste in discarded school lunch packaging each year. Waste audits made by examining unopened packaged foods, untouched fruit and juice boxes indicate the average student in the Durham District School Board in Ontario has similar stats, with the average elementary school child’s lunch generating 30kg of garbage per year (also about 67 pounds). The Recycling Council of Ontario notes that for lunch alone each school produces approximately 8,500kg of waste per year. In the U.S., more than 18,000 pounds of garbage per school year is created from lunches. The Toronto Star recommends “boomerang” lunches, a waste-free lunch with no throwaway packaging, thus producing little waste. Uneaten food is returned home, which helps parents to determine what is not being eaten. Did you know children dispose of approximately their body weight in packaging for lunch alone? How can we each do our part in minimizing landfill waste and set a good example for our youngsters? Litterless lunches can also save you money—approximately $250 per child per year, according to wastefreelunches.org. But how can we make our kids’ school lunches greener? Here are a few ideas. Eliminate individual packaging. The cost of packaging prepackaged foods adds to the price tag, and also our landfills. Buy foods in bulk, then separate them into lunch-size reusable containers. For example, when buying organic yogurt, add - cup of seasonal organic washed fruit or add . cup organic granola. If your child needs a sweetener, try adding a bit of organic liquid honey in lieu of the presweetened or artificially flavored yogurts. Avoid the use of plastics wherever you can. If you need to go with plastic for juice or water, ensure it is PBA-free (Polybisphenols A). I use a PBA-free bottle and refill as needed. Other containers, such as individual Tetra Pak cartons, can then be eliminated. How many times do we see spills upon opening those containers? Plus, many children take a couple of sips, then discard the rest. For food, I use Pampered Chef cup containers. Yes they have plastic lids, but rarely does the lid touch the food within. The remainder of the container is made of Pyrex and also serves as a measuring cup. I also recommend the stainless steel Kleen Kanteen water bottles. Just be sure to clean all the bottles at the end of the day. The stainless steel bottles will not hold heat
lunch. By packing more environmentally sound lunches, we can do our part to minimize landfill waste and set a good example for our kids. And litterless lunches can also save money—approximately $250 per child per year.
issue 28 | pathways
steel cutlery at an outlet store.
unless insulated, so they are not great to use for soup. It’s possible to use a napkin as a wrap around the bottle, but in the end it is usually too difficult for children to drink hot soup from a hot bottle. I have also eliminated plastic and aluminum foil wrap. When I bake my organic muffins, I use chlorine-free cupcake papers in a stainless steel muffin pan. The same goes for making bread. I cook in a glass loaf dish with a lid for once it’s cooled. I can cut off a slice and place it into reusable sandwich-size container with a lid. For smaller children, cut fruit into smaller portions or wedges. This eliminates taking two bites from an apple then throwing the remainder into the waste. What isn’t eaten can be brought home. For salads, you can also use the stainless steel containers or Pampered Chef bowls, which come with lids. Reusables Reduce Waste In lieu of plastic forks, knives and spoons, buy reusable and inexpensive stainless steel cutlery at an outlet store. For serviettes, instead of paper napkins, use an unbleached cotton or hemp cloth material. The ends can be sewn to avoid fraying, or you can buy cloth napkins at an outlet store. You might get a couple of days worth of use from them before putting them into a regular load of laundry. For lunch bags there are options for carrying everything. Unbleached cotton or hemp bags are the best bet for reusable lunch bags. They won’t have Superman or Barbie on them, but you can explore your children’s creative side by helping them decorate their bags. Now it’s a special bag, since they made it! Some lunch boxes have lead in them, or have lead paint used on them. Other lunch boxes and thermos containers have the inside lined with plastic, which can leach into food, especially with heat. If lunch boxes are unavoidable, look for lead-free options. Since parents have little time, try packing lunches the night before and keep them in the refrigerator. Increase the use of
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Dr. Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, D.C., is the pediatric editor for Chiropractic Wellness and Fitness Magazine. She is a well-known presenter in the arena of pediatrics and pregnancy, and has also delivered keynotes on wellness, lifestyles and motivation. She is co-founder of Girls Gals Gurus, a lifestyle company delivering seminars and coaching to women, improving their innate capacity. Dr. Liz has published papers, sat on numerous committees, and been recognized with numerous awards. She generously donates her time to a number of boards and charities. She is also a professional executive and corporate health coach. For more information or to book Dr. Liz, visit her at girlsgalsgurus.com. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html.
opposite page: © taedesign.com
buy reusable and inexpensive stainless
this page: dreamstime.com
In lieu of plastic forks, knives and spoons,
fresh veggies and fruit. Make the time on a Sunday to wash and cut carrots, celery and other veggies into lunch-size portions, and keep them in a bit of water in the fridge. Have children help with making sandwiches and pulling their veggies from that container each evening through the week. A great idea from wastefreelunches.org is to print a food list and have your children circle the foods they wish to see in their lunchboxes. Teach children to use recycling bins properly instead of tossing out recyclables in the trash. If there’s no recycling at the school, have them pack it home. Begin a compost at home, work or school. Plant material, tea leaves, coffee grounds and egg shells can be discarded there. It makes great future fertilizer for the garden, and children learn a lot in the process. Pilot programs for waste-free living have been popping up at schools all over North America. To see which programs are in your area, visit wastefreelunches.org. Some examples of what some school boards have achieved: Downey Unified School Board, in Los Angeles County, reduced its trash to landfill by 65 percent, saving $200,000 in a four-year period. La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, in San Diego County, saved $116,557 by recycling at 23 school sites, administrative and operations centers. Preliminary data has shown that when we reduce our lunch waste, schools need fewer waste pickups and trips to the landfill—all of which work to reduce expenses in the public systems (and ultimately our taxes that support it). There’s no need to feel overwhelmed; you can implement suggestions over time. Most importantly, work with your child to understand the importance of reducing their lunch footprint and doing their part for the planet. Lifelong habits are instilled in our youth. We can help children understand the importance of litterless lunches to the planet and their lives on it in the long term.
Reusable on the Web wastefreelunches.org Shows you how to save $$$ by going to a litterless lunch. grassrootsstore.com Sells cloth bags, lunch bins and other reusable items. lifewithoutplastic.com Sells stainless-steel lunch containers. pamperedchef.com Sells Pyrex containers. wrapnmat.com Sells reusable lined cloth napkins with a Velcro tab seal. You can wipe it clean and reuse the next day. kleankanteen.com Sells stainless steel bottles. ewg.org The Environmental Working Group looks at the increasing body burden of toxins in our world, especially in our children. laptoplunches.com/products.html Reusable items for lunches.
Smart packaging combines an organic cotton and hemp lunch bag, placemat and napkin, all-in-one.
issue 28 | pathways
informe d c h oi c e
By Darrel Crain, D.C.
The media blames outbreaks of whooping cough on parents who choose not to vaccinate, but evidence says otherwise
The Risks of Whooping Cough Babies typically show the classic whooping cough symptoms. In older children and adults, the symptoms are not always so clear. “Pertussis affects an estimated 600,000 adults every year, aged 20 to 64 years, and can result in weeks of coughing, cracked ribs from severe coughing spells, pneumonia, and other complications,” states the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on its website. More commonly, the symptoms resemble a bad cold. Death from pertussis is rare today. Infants younger than 6 months account for 90 percent of deaths, according to CDC statistics, and virtually all pertussis-related deaths occur in young people. As of this writing, there have been eight infant deaths in California from whooping cough this year, all babies less than 3 months old. Surprisingly, and contrary to many media accounts, the pertussis vaccine is incapable of preventing the spread of whooping cough. The CDC admits this on its website. “The whole-cell vaccine for pertussis is protective only against clinical disease, not against infection,” it reads. “Therefore, even young, recently vaccinated children may serve as reservoirs and potential transmitters of infection.” The CDC’s article refers to the old DPT whole-cell pertussis vaccine, which actually “worked” better than the newer acellular
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DTaP vaccines. The DPT vaccine had to be replaced because it was associated with “high fever, collapse/shock, convulsions, brain inflammation and permanent brain damage,” in many children, according to Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center. “It is unknown whether immunizing adolescents and adults against pertussis will reduce the risk of transmission to infants,” says the tiny disclaimer on advertisements for Adacel, one of the DTaP booster shots. An article published in the December 2005 Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that children aren’t at risk from other children, but instead from adults. “In fact, childhood disease predates the age at which children extensively socialize with each other and [pertussis infection] appears to commonly have as its source an adult, non or mildly symptomatic carrier.” A study in the May 1999 issue of Chest Journal went further. “The incidence and prevalence of pertussis in adults have increased in recent years. It has been shown that previously immunized adults and adolescents are the main sources of transmission of Bordetella pertussis.” At least one mainstream reporter got it right when covering the current outbreak. Tera Parker-Pope had this to say in her August 17, 2010, New York Times article, entitled “Vaccination Is Steady, but Pertussis Is Surging.” “The rise in pertussis doesn’t seem to be related to parents’ refusing to have their children vaccinated for fear of potential side effects. In California, pertussis rates are about the same in counties with high childhood vaccination rates and low ones. And the CDC reports that pertussis immunization rates have been stable or increasing since 1992.” On the Rise, Despite Vaccinations The CDC tells us that reported cases of whooping cough have been on the rise since the early 1980s, despite ever-increasing vaccination coverage. The number of babies younger than 6 months old contracting pertussis continues to increase dramatically, even as the percentage of babies receiving the three-shot series at 2, 4 and 6 months has also increased. “Pertussis, an acute, infectious cough illness, remains endemic in the United States despite routine childhood pertussis vaccination for more than half a century and high coverage levels
© n.i / dreamstime.com
alifornia health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic on June 24, 2010. Every three to five years, whooping cough cases spike upward. Prior to last summer, California’s most recent epidemic of whooping cough was in 2005. As regularly as whooping cough outbreaks come around, reports appear in the media blaming the outbreak on parents who choose to not vaccinate their children. But are the unvaccinated causing the epidemic? What do public health authorities recommend we do to protect our babies? What options do we have? Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a respiratory disease caused by toxins of the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. This triggers a strong immune response, especially in children and babies, producing large amounts of thick, sticky mucus that can block breathing passageways. Pertussis’s hallmark wrenching cough ends with the characteristic whooping sound as the child struggles to breathe. This is often followed by vomiting.
Widespread use of the pertussis vaccination is apparently changing the natural age at which in children for more than a decade.” This statement from the CDC was made ten years ago. Vaccine compliance for pertussis remains very high today, with 84 percent of children having completed the series of four shots by age 3. Whooping cough infections routinely are seen in people who have received some or all of the pertussis vaccines and boosters. Why? One explanation given is waning vaccine effectiveness over time, which is why additional shots and boosters keep being added to the list, as are recommendations to vaccinate older and older populations. Another explanation is the possibility we are experiencing an outbreak of a different Bordetella bacteria infection altogether, with nearly identical symptoms, called parapertussis. No vaccine is available for parapertussis. Parapertussis is reportedly on the rise and is often mistaken for whooping cough, but no one knows to what extent. Lab tests are expensive, and most whooping cough cases are not laboratory confirmed. The science of how whooping cough is transmitted is anything but vague. Vaccinated or not, people with an infection can infect others by direct contact, yet many health authorities join the blame game, accusing the unvaccinated for recurring pertussis outbreaks. Shouldn’t health authorities instead be challenging the myth that vaccination alone can protect babies under 3 months of age? Protecting the Young In the midst of an officially declared whooping cough epidemic, one might expect a massive public outreach program featuring instructions on how to actually protect babies from pertussis infection. The key is to avoid close contact between the baby and anyone suffering a pertussis infection. Close contact means touching and holding, as opposed to just being in the same room. Even so, preventing close contact is not easy, since the symptoms of pertussis infection in adolescents and adults may be no different than a lingering cold with a bad cough. And just what does whooping cough look like in the unvaccinated? In December 1997, the journal Pediatrics published a study of a large number of unvaccinated children with laboratoryconfirmed pertussis. The researchers wrote, “The age distribution of our patients with a peak in preschool children is typical for a primarily unvaccinated population. In contrast, widespread immunization results in a relative increase of cases in infants, adolescents, and adults.” Widespread use of the pertussis vaccination is apparently changing the natural age at which whooping cough infections
whooping cough infecoccur in the population. This coincides with the CDC’s reports that tions occur in the popuadults increasingly suffer whooping cough, even as babies are now lation. This coincides being infected at a younger age, when they are most vulnerable. with the CDC’s reports This phenomenon has also been observed with other childthat adults increasingly hood infectious diseases for which mass vaccination has been suffer whooping cough, undertaken, such as measles. The desired reduction in the even as babies are now incidence of infection has been accompanied by an undesirable being infected at a shift in measles infection to much younger and much older populayounger age, when they tions, for whom infection is far more dangerous. are most vulnerable. Author and clinician Archie Kalokerinos, M.D., has remarked that the historic importance of vaccines in public health is significantly overblown in the minds of public health officials and the entire medical community. He writes, “Up to 90 percent of the total decline in the death rate of children between 1860–1965 because of whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and measles occurred before the introduction of immunizations and antibiotics.” Many parents who choose to not vaccinate their children have thoroughly researched the issue and are exercising their right to choose what is best for their child. Reporters and public health officials who haven’t done their homework will probably continue to make scientifically unsupported claims about vaccination and blame outbreaks on parents of unvaccinated kids. The vaccine controversy will likely be around for awhile, which is why it is so important to protect parents’ right to choose. Darrel Crain, D.C., is a family wellness chiropractor and writer on topics of natural health and medical freedom. He lives and practices on a ranch in the sage-scented foothills of San Diego in Alpine, California. He loves cooking in the kitchen with his wife, Nancy Teas-Crain, R.D., adjusting babies and pregnant moms, growing organic vegetables and fruits, playing guitar and working on his upcoming book, Medication Nation. View article resources and author information here: pathwaystofamilywellness.org/ references.html. issue 28 | pathways
Chiropractic Care: Safe, Gentle, Effective More women are discovering the many beneﬁts associated with chiropractic care throughout pregnancy and for their children. They appreciate the chiropractor’s respect for the body’s natural design and function.
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– Emma Goldman