You know that your child ’s health is the most important thing you can give them and that its your job to nurture that power and to help it grow and develop. What if someone told you that what you, as parents, do before your child is born influences their ability to thrive. Would you pay more attention to the way you prepared your body for pregnancy?
When your child is born, what if someone told you “Your child has an amazing power inside of him or her to allow them to thrive. Learn to listen and understand what your child’s body is telling you. Read the intelligent signs and symptoms it gives you.” Would you look at your child’s health differently?
A friend of ours is a primary school teacher and she estimates that about 1 in 2 of the children between the ages of 10-12 are on a prescription medication for learning and behaviour problems of some sort. Her estimates match that of a study from the US where over 50% of children surveyed had used at least one medication in the preceding 7 days. How can this be normal? Are we really this broken that half of our children need to be drugged?
Unfortunately we live in a society that only thinks about health when we have symptoms, and thinks that taking a pill to ‘dumb down’ our body and temporarily mask over the symptoms is the solution.
We all want the best for our family but there is so much confusion about health – what it is and where it comes from. That state of confusion has lead us into the epidemic of chronic and degenerative problems like cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, obesity and learning disorders have become normal. We deserve better than having to settle for ‘normal’ when it comes to our family’s health. We all have the ability within us to thrive and we want to give our children the best resources in which to do so.
We don’t have to settle for the status quo. There are better, safer and effective options out there. We can find ways to work with the body’s own innate intelligence rather than fighting against it. We can discover things that we can start putting into place before our children are even born.
For most people, that’s mind-blowing and for others it’s too hard because they lead busy lives. While it’s true that living a vitalistic lifestyle does take time and energy, anyone can do it.
My husband, Greg and I got together in 2009. Less than a year later we started making changes to our lifestyle to prepare our minds and bodies for our future children. We got engaged in 2011, moved country in 2012, started two new businesses in 2012, got married in 2013 and our daughter was born in 2014, published a book in 2016 and had our second child in 2017. What a whirlwind! And we ended up more energised, fitter, leaner and more engaged in our lives than ever before!
What do we mean by preparing our minds and bodies for children? Well, both of us – yes both of us – knew that we wanted to be the healthiest we could be for our children. Most people overlook the fact that the father contributes to the making of a baby too…in more ways than just providing the sperm! We know many couples who, in their 20’s struggle to conceive and when looking at their lifestyle choices there were some common themes. They were eating processed foods with low nutritional value; the female had been using contraceptive pills/implants/IUD continuously for over 10 years, since she was pre-teen; they lived a sedentary lifestyle, maybe going to the gym once a week but spending the rest of the week in front of computers and TV’s.
First, we set the intention for our desired outcome. We wanted to be vibrant, active and engaged parents and vibrant, active and engaged grandparents! We set generational goals that opened our minds to new possibilities and new ways of thinking of our lives.
Second, we realised that health is not merely the absence of disease but the optimal function of our minds and bodies. We learned that to be functioning optimally and experience real health we had to begin to pay attention to the causes of dys-function.
There are 3 main stressors in our lives that cause dys-function and dis-ease and can lead to disease:
Physical – The birth process, accidents, injuries, sitting, sleeping, standing habits, sedentary living.
Chemical – Nutrition, drugs (prescribed and illicit), alcohol, smoking, cosmetics.
Mental/Emotional – Finances, relationships, work, technology, loss of a loved one,
• We both continued with regular Chiropractic adjustments to enhance our brain-body connection.
• We changed how we looked at exercise – We started to call it movement and found things that we loved doing everyday.
• We both continued with regular movement. Greg was experimenting with CrossFit, I was experimenting to find movements I loved doing (dance, pole-dancing, walking, swimming).
• We changed our nutrition to be more biologically appropriate, focussing on food quality and nutrient density.
• We reduced and eventually stopped the drugs we were on (both prescribed and illicit, including hormone altering contraceptives)
• We started to use natural beauty products (castile soaps, coconut oil, natural toothpaste, no make up etc.)
• We looked at the things that we were not able to get in our daily nutrition and started to supplement – Probiotics, Omega 3’s (not Omega 6!), Vitamin D3 and for me, Folate (Not the synthetic Folic Acid).
• We did a mindfulness seminar with Dr Joe Dispensa that included meditation.
• We did a ‘Breakthrough Experience‘ with Dr John DeMartini (which we were told either makes or breaks a relationship!), worked though issues that may have been holding us back and began to consciously create our future.
• We changed jobs to make sure we loved what we were doing.
• We committed to taking regular breaks to rest and restore.
• We prioritised sleep.
When we became pregnant we continued with these new lifestyle choices. I continued with daily movement practices up until just before Breah was born. With our preparation and because I was doing what I loved I was able to organise and host seminars which included helping to set up and tidy away after them until just a few days before I gave birth.
Our biologically appropriate nutrition choices continued, as did our regular Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. This played a vital role in helping my body to adjust to the demands of pregnancy and allow me to be fully functional and deliver more easily.
On the day of Breah’s birth, we were heading to the airport to collect my parents who were visiting from Scotland. As I got in the car that morning I told Greg I had been having some light surges. When we got to the airport we let my parents know that there was some action and that they had arrived just in time! We went home, had some lunch, chatted, caught up on the gossip, went for an adjustment and then sat in the sun. At supper time the surges were getting stronger and I would just calmly put down my cutlery, take a few deep breathes then carry on eating. At about 8pm we went to bed to get some rest, we figured we might have a long night ahead of us.
At around 9pm we called our midwife to let her know that the contractions were getting closer together and more intense. As this was our first pregnancy she thought we were being a bit dramatic and told us it was still waaay too early for her to come out to us. Eventually she agreed to come and check what was happening. Greg continued to adjust me during this time, which helped to manage my discomfort.
When the midwife arrived I was in the bath doing some hypnobirthing exercises and the thing that seemed to help manage my discomfort was finding a note and singing it loudly, holding it through the surge. The midwife checked progress and told us we needed to move to the bedroom fast as this baby was ready! My parents hurriedly helped bring in the equipment from the midwifes car. About 30 minutes later the second midwife arrived and my waters broke, just as Breah’s head emerged.
Breah Lilly was born naturally and drug-free at 23h17 weighing 3.3kg on 29th January 2014 in our bedroom at home with 2 midwives and our dog in the room with us.
After some time doing skin-to-skin, I went to clean myself up in the bath and Greg got to do some skin-to-skin and check and adjust Breah’s spine and nervous system. There were some minor misalignments due to being squashed inside her human incubator for almost 10 months and having just emerged from the birth canal, which he corrected with a Chiropractic adjustment.
It took about 6 weeks to clear Breah’s spine and nervous system of interference. We then chose to have her checked regularly as part of our vitalistic lifestyle.
At one point Breah was favouring the one breast when nursing, after 1 adjustment she was nursing equally on both sides. She has been checked through teething, fevers, rolling off the bed (you feel like the worst parent in the world when that first fall happens), crawling, learning to walk…and fall. She sleeps the best after she has been checked. Chiropractic adjustments have also helped to make her body more robust and resilient.
Breah now gets checked once every 2 weeks, sooner if she has any major incidents. Some times there is nothing to clear, other times there is just one or 2 things to clear.
We continue to follow the same principles we did at the outset of this journey. We acknowledge the innate intelligence in all living things, we view our mind-body as an ecosystem and we honour our place in nature as animals, part of a greater whole.
As we prepared for our first pregnancy, we also did the same for our second. According to some experts it can take up to two years for your body to physically and mentally recover from a pregnancy and birth. Imogen arrived in March 2017.
Our mission is to create awareness of vitalistic Chiropractic care in South Africa. It is our responsibility to not only give parents access to the tools to raise a healthy family, but also to help children to understand the importance of health and well-being.
I think this is a great quote to finish with that brings me back to reality at times when I am feeling frustrated as a mother:
“The nurturing practices of hunter-gatherers are a wakeup call for parents-to hold their babies more, to spend as much time as possible with them, to reserve time for free play, and to rethink how long your child is breastfed. In short, put down your Blackberry and do the best you can in what has become a changed, hectic world of child rearing. I think we can all do better.” – Darcia Narvaez
L Vernacchio et al., “Medication use among children” Pediatrics. 124.2 (2009)