Monday, May 14, 2012

Keeping your relationship with your partner strong during your children's pre-school years -and beyond!

This is another post that is a collation of everyone's thoughts and ideas from the Conscious Parenting group, Dunedin meeting that was held recently.  The above title was the theme and there was a big turn out for this!  Not surprising really as it's the one thing that will have the biggest impact on us and our children either positively or negatively!

So how do we keep it in the 'positive' category?

Here are some ideas from all the Mums (there were no Dads there unfortunately):

  • Have a hug and/or kiss whenever you part and meet again - even if you're grumpy.  It really does make a difference.
  • Touch each other regularly.  In a nice way of course.  Just to stay connected.
  • Some people say 'I love you' everyday.  Other thoughts on this is that if you say 'I love you' it can imply that there's an alternative to that!  Sometimes people feel that they have to say 'I love you' because they haven't felt they have been showing/feeling it enough.  When you feel like you need to say 'I love you' it can remind you to show it or make time to feel it together.  Different schools of thought - do what works for you!
  • Tell each other something you are grateful for at the end of every day.  There is always something and it's a nice way to finish the day.
  • Try a weekly (or monthly) 'date night' - this might be swapping a back rub or having a peaceful dinner together when the children are asleep, or watching a movie together or something like this.  It doesn't need to involve going out and leaving your baby with a sitter!  This can be more stressful/worrying, than fun for many!  Another suggestion was to at least have a computer/phone free evening once a week.
  • Have a regular family cuddle - before bed or before getting up in the morning or when ever it works for you.
  • When you have a partner working from home, create clear boundaries around what it 'work time' and what is 'home time'.
  • Attempt to make time for yourself (both of you), each other alone and as a family.  All this time is important and finding a balance that works for you is key.

Many people struggle with how to split the jobs (that feel endless!). Here's how some couples do it:
- Mum does input (feeding, putting nappies/clothes on), Dad does output (cleaning nappies/clothes).
- Mum who wakes at night to feed/tend to baby sleeps in in the morning and Dad gets up with the baby.
- Mum cooks the evening meal, Dad does the dishes.
- Dad does preparing for bed (PJ's, books, teeth etc) and Mum does putting to bed or vice versa.

Dealing with difficult times:

  • Everyone argues.  In fact to argue as adults, constructively (not destructively) in front of children is healthy.  It can teach children how to deal with anger and frustration by talking things through in a calm (as calm as possible!) way.  My husband and I have 'discussions' every now and again about things and our 4 yr old tells us to stop arguing.  He's right we are arguing.  We explain that we're feeling frustrated and we're talking to try to understand each other.
  • Some people need to have some quiet time to reflect on the discussion and try to see it from the others perspective.  Then come back and talk about it.
  • Many Mum's felt like they (the couple) had made a decision on how they would manage an aspect of the parenting and feel frustrated when Dad questions it again.  It seemed that the 'full time' Mum often lead the way when it came to the philosophy and practice of the parenting.  Normally because they feel it is their full time job and they are the ones who have done the reading and talking to others to help them decide what is best for their child and them.
  • It was considered important to make sure that 'Dad' was in agreement and 'on board' with the chosen parenting technique rather than just nodding in agreement and resenting it later.
  • When a parenting technique was questioned and discussed again it was often about revisiting why they had choose to do it this way and often nothing changed.  Though there were definitely times that adjustments were made so that everyone coped better.
  • Some women encouraged their partners to talk with friends (who were parenting in a similar way) about their concerns and frustrations.  Just as we do at meetings!!!


There were smiles and sighs of relief as some women talked about their disgust at the idea of having sex!  It is normal not to want sex after having a baby!  Hormones are fully in 'mothering a dependent' mode and not in 'yeah lets make more' mode.  Mum's often feel 'touched out' from the constant contact with their babies, including breastfeeding and just feel like some space rather than more contact with another.  Not to mention just feeling plain tired at night!

Many felt that they were not being a 'good wife' if they didn't have sex often and put pressure (or felt pressure that wasn't there) on themselves.  Others (in some cases the same women!) felt that they needed a bit of pressure - or at least a request or suggestion to encourage them to have sex.  "When we actually did have sex, it was enjoyable and we commented that we should have it more often.  Then another month goes past!"

Many women (at the meeting - I'm always referring to those of us at the Conscious Parenting meeting last week!) did enjoy sex when they had it, but it was the thought of it, the planning that now had to go into it especially when you're co-sleeping, and the time that could have been spent sleeping!

Here is a youtube clip of Dr. Gottman talking about his relationship research.

If people don't feel like watching that they can google "gottman
relationship research" or "Gottman four horsemen" and they'll find
lots to read.

And a link to the Dan Savage's podcast with the breastfeeding question.You can choose to ignore the advice to wean!!!  Apparently, as I haven't heard it yet.  It was suggested that you listen to it together.

A note about Dan Savage. I'm a big fan (from Robin), but his podcast is uncensored and is about sex of all sorts, so be forewarned, it might not be to
everyone's taste.

If the thought of conceiving again is putting you off and you've 'finished' your family Dad having a vasectomy might help!  Hasn't helped us yet, but we still have a co-sleeping, night feeding toddler in between us!

Talk, talk, talk!  Don't bottle things up and feel resentful.  Plan the time you need either for yourself, partner for themselves, together and as a family.  Compromise on the little things - even the big things if it's necessary! Remind each other that it is the hardest time.  Both tired, new experience, overwhelmed.  Try to appreciate each others roles and responsibilities.  When your baby is a bit older job sharing is fantastic for this!  Both work and parent full time/part time if you know what I mean.  Then you get the best of both worlds.  Have to make it work in our culture when you can't 'progress' in your career when you're only working part time, both financially and 'moving up the ladder'.  If you can do it for even a short while, it is a great insight for both parents. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Supporting our Immune Systems Naturally

These are the notes from a Conscious Parenting Meeting on 11/8/11. It is a collection of everyone's ideas. We are a group of passionate parents who have done lots of reading and gathering of information on lots of things related to parenting. This is a collection of the ways in which we help our children and ourselves have the strongest immune systems in a natural way. Of course don't take our ideas as gospel. Do your own reading, enquiring too! The following are individual comments and contributions and are not a professional opinion (not to say they're not valid!), please take from this whatever you feel is beneficial.

  • Keep foods natural, fresh, and wherever possible source locally. Ideally growing your own fruit and vegetables enables you to know exactly what has gone into the growing process and assures you of freshness.
  • Cow’s milk is now highly processed and has now lost much of it’s original goodness. Raw milk is much better for you.
  • In Dunedin there is a source of raw milk in Dunedin that I'm sure you can learn about if you ask around.
  • Oat milk and Soy milk (not GM) are good alternatives.
  • Antje -just tried hemp milk and love it!! Very healthy and delicious (not cheap though)
  • Avoid dairy products when sick. Oat milk or Rice milk good alternatives during this time. Increase protein, ie; eggs.
  • Certain foods give more nutrients when cooked, eg; tomatoes.
  • Use a wide variety of grains and rice in the diet – buckwheat can be used in baking as well as cooking, amaranth, quinoa, millet, polenta, couscous, buckwheat... Soaking overnight helps with digestion. Great in muesli.
  • Use a wide variety of nuts and seeds – can be soaked overnight and more readily digested – great in muesli.
  • Lots of green leafy vegetables – Kale has a very high nutritional value and is easily grown in the cold Dunedin climate.
  • Fruit smoothies are a great way to eat/drink a variety of fruit, especially for children who may not like to eat different types of fruit in its original state. Using a blender cut up any kind of fruit you like, put in a large spoonful of LSA (Linseed, Sunflower & Almond crushed up), add a few spoonfuls of yoghurt, water (enough to get the consistency you like), blend all together.
  • Nuts – eat a variety of whole nuts (not salted peanuts) – a small handful a day, eg; walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds
  • Seeds – eat a variety of seeds per day – can be soaked overnight for easier digestion, used in baking, put into meals (cooked or uncooked). → HEMPseeds are the best! found a source to buy them as they can’t be sold uncrushed and for human consumption in nz. so when it says, they are for feeding to your animals, that’s only cause they can’t be advertised for eating ourselves:
  • Beans, Pulses, Sprouts – all good.
  • Cacao Beans/Powder – great for antioxidants. Must be raw!
  • Protein from other sources other than meat – Goji berries, beans, eggs.
  • Oils – Hemp seed oil and Linseed oil are high in Omega 3. Other good oils are coconut oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil (make sure it’s tested for mercury). Omega oils: best one by far to take orally is Flaxseed. You can't (afford) or take Coconut or Hemp in large enough doses and Flax is actually better for you.
  • Coconut – for the monolaurin - coconut milk or cream can be used in baking instead of cows milk. Drinking Whole coconut’s milk good for you. Eating coconut also beneficial, whether shredded or whole.
  • Garlic – best raw, pressed in a mortar first and left for 10 minutes before use. Better to mix with a little olive oil and put on top of food rather than cook with it. Hummus is a great source of this raw garlic and kids who have grown up on it love it!
  • Onions, leeks, red peppers – all good for healthy immune systems.
  • Sugar (not naturally occurring in fruit etc) suppresses the immune system. Avoid where ever possible. Dates and fruits such as apples and bananas are very sweet and can be used as a substitute in cooking/baking. Stevia can be used as a substitute for sugar and can be bought already prepared or you could grow your own plant (see notes at end). Think this is about $25/kg at the Health Food Store. Apparently much sweeter than sugar so you don’t need to much!
  • Honey and bee products – bee pollen, royal jelly. Check for bee allergies first!
  • Herbs – use regularly rather than just at the time of sickness. Great as herbal teas. Many people have commented that Artemis Virogone has been really effective for them. The Immunoboost tea is also good for regular use. Conscious Parenting has a wholesale account with Sandra at Artemis! We do regular orders.
  • Probiotics – good for gut maintenance. Especially good at time of illness or after a course of antibiotics. Apparently even breastfed babies/toddlers can have some extra in times of illness.
  • Most may not know that plain, unsweetened, organic yoghurt is one the best sources of probiotic around.. you can even have it if sensitive to dairy. It can be taken 3tablespoons per day.. I give it with my crushed LSA and flaxseed oil to my 2year old when he is needing some. Plus its a good way to get oil into him.
  • Blood Group Diets – diets based on blood group types. Certain foods affect different people in different ways and may attribute to various health issues. This is not a new concept and was studied by a doctor in the 60’s.
  • Honey: good quality honey is actually anti-microbial so works as an attractive sweetener for food and can be taken as a medicine. Anti-oxidant honey can me made with Thyme (or bought) and is great for when you are sick
  • Allergies – suggested that the body needs to ingest the allergen to recognize whether it was a food or not. Alicia – could you elaborate on what I have written please.
  • Supplements: Some people believe that it is really hard to get everything we need from our food these days. Even on an Organic, wholefood diet our body has to content with some many more chemicals than it ever has that a greater source of antioxidant is needed to combat this. High quality supplements are difficult to find in the shops and are expensive. If you choose to use supplements high quality ones are the only ones worth considering. Supplements made from the whole plant/ food form supplements such as camu camu for vitamin c etc.
  • Colloidal Silver: This is basically silver water. It has been used extensively in the past. It is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial remedy. Can be used in the eyes for conjunctivitis. Can be given to the quite young – need to ask in Health food shop who it is ok for. You can also buy a machine and make your own colloidal silver!
  • Homeopathy: Also been used for hundreds of years. Based on the idea that ‘like’ verses ‘like’. So if you’re bleeding you take a remedy that induces bleeding and they cancel each other out! Classical homeopaths believe there is a remedy for each of us that supports us in healing ourselves. Many CP families use homeopathy. Barbara Ward and Sue Fitzgibbon are two homeopaths in Dunedin who come with recommendations.
  • Olive Leaf extract: Anyone know anything about this?
Suggested reading – How to Raise Healthy Kids in spite of Your Doctor by Dr Mendleson. Some good information on the Ask Doctor Sears website too.
At the meeting it was asked where Stevia plants could be bought from. Did a google search and found the following from Kings Seeds.
Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana
Sugar Herb. An exciting breakthrough in natural sweeteners. The leaves of this plant are 20-30 times sweeter than cane sugar but with extremely low calorie levels so it gives the user an intense feeling of sweetness on the taste buds but with no increase in blood sugar levels. Stevia is a sub-tropical, frost sensitive perennial that is ideally suited for growing as a kitchen pot plant. Use the leaves directly for sweetening hot drinks or alternatively sprinkle leaves in salads, cereals, over meats and with cooked vegetables to enhance flavour. Seed needs light to germinate so sow on surface or only lightly cover. Grow on, in a light, sandy soil with good drainage and do not over water. Plants can be left outside during summer but must be brought in before the temperature drops below 10°C. Protect from wind and frost.
Tender Perennial; 20-25 degrees; 7-10 days; 30cm height; 15cm apart; 2; Transplant; 15 seeds; Culinary.

This recipe is great for over winter.. (mucus is one of the biggest causes of lowered immunity)
Mucous reducing vinegar
To a 1 litre preserving jar add chopped;
Cayenne pepper
Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar
It says one litre of vinegar on recipe about a tablespoon of ginger, garlic, horseraddish and onion, and a teaspoon of cayenne that should do it- as long as its covered you should be good.
Dose 1dsp to 1tbs 3-6 times daily. Can add honey.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Zealand Babywearing Week

This post contains all the information you need to be a part of the Dunedin event during New Zealand Babywearing Week. The details of what is happening, who can be a part of it, when, where and WHY! Please pass this onto everyone! Cheers, and see you there!

This is the first time Dunedin has participated in New Zealand (and International) Babywearing Week. We will all meet in the Gardens carpark (accessed off the one way going South) at 11.30.
We plan to walk along the path parallel but in the opposite direction to the One Way system going South. Reaching the main walking entrance to the Gardens at the intersection and start of North East Valley, we'll turn and walk towards and up the hill. At the gravel path we'll walk back down and cross the bridge to the cafe, then past the duck pond to the Bandstand.

We'll have a BYO picnic on the lawn or in the Bandstand if the weather is bad. This event is rain or shine so please bring an umbrella or jacket for the walk. During the picnic a number of parents will demonstrate the use of the baby carrier of their choice, so if you're interested in babywearing devices this is definitely the part for you. Everyone is welcome to all parts of the event.

There are many sponsors for this years babywearing week who have kindly donated $210 worth of spot prizes to giveaway on the day. Thanks to all these sponsors! Anyone who walks and stays for the picnic is eligible for a prize. Here's what you're into win:

  • A manduca front pouch valued at $39.95 courtesy of Wickelkinder GmbH
  • A one year subscription to The Natural Parent Magazine valued at $32.00 courtesy of The Natural Parent Magazine
  • A pair of manduca fumbee shoulder strap protectors suitable for baby carriers, carseats and push chairs, valued at $29.95 courtesy of Wickelkinder GmbH
  • An OURS DVD valued at $25.00 courtesy of OURS DVD
  • A bag of Rockin’ Green eco laundry detergent valued at $22.80 courtesy of Rockin’ Green NZ
  • A pair of Huggalugs leg & arm warmers valued at $19.95 courtesy of Huggalugs
  • A Tummy2Tummy Babywearing Instructional DVD valued at $19.95 courtesy of My Natural Baby Ltd
  • Two copies of the latest issue of The Natural Parent Magazine valued at $9.90 each courtesy of The Natural Parent Magazine

WHY are we doing this?

Babywearing is something that parents (particularly Mothers) have done for hundreds of thousands of years. Only in the last couple of thousand in our Western culture has this practice largely died out, until recently. A couple of thousand years can not change the evolutionary expectation of a human infant to be held close to an adult. It is a survival instinct built into our DNA. When this expectation is not meet it can cause fear and distress for an infant who feels vulnerable to attack or fear they will not be provided the necessities of life. Many, many cultures in Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific Islands continue to wear their babies.

In New Zealand parents are increasingly wearing their babies once again and many feel very passionate about the benefits for themselves and their babies. This week and our Dunedin event is about connecting with other babywearing families and promoting the technique to those who have yet to discover the joy of babywearing.

Here are some of the reasons I wear (or have worn) both of my children:

- It meets their innate expectation to be held close to an adult. Both of my children have found obvious calm and peace in the sling against my husband and I, their grandparents and aunties. They go from unsettled to serene when put in the sling.

- Both my children were windy, spiller-uppers and benefited from the upright position in the sling. It was fantastic for us at the end of the day when their little digestive systems were uncomfortable and they were scratchy and unsettled. The sling remedied this almost every time.

- We practiced Elimination Communication with both of our children and wearing them in the sling helped us to easily pick up on their need to go! We very rarely got weed on as they knew the sling was their nest not to be soiled.

- Carrying our children in an ergonomic position helped their legs, hips and spine to strengthen from being jiggled along with our movement while being well supported.

- They were a physical part of our lives, watching what we were doing, learning about life from our perspective, socialising, being a part of conversations, exercise, parties and everyday chores.

- We all benefited from the close contact. Skin to skin was especially important for our first child who needed some medical attention when he was born. My husband found babywearing to be a particularly good way of connecting with his young children.

- The practicality of being able to get on with things was great. We could still get the washing done, dinner cooked (care was needed here around hot things!) and had a mobile bed for our baby so we continued to get out and about connecting with friends.

There are many, many more reasons why families chose to wear their babies. Come along on Saturday 15th October, 2011 and chat with other families about why they do it. See you there!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I've been putting this off for a long time! Partly because I haven't been sure where I stand and partly because I haven't wanted to vocalise it. I am very aware that I am in a minority and that the majority has some angry and damning people in it. I'm not sure where to start so I'll just launch into it.

The most aggressive argument I hear from those who believe in vaccination is about herd immunisation. The idea that the more people who are vaccinated the harder that it is for the disease to spread through the community. Seems logical in theory. There are two things that just don't work with this argument. One is that immunity from vaccination is not a given. Many people find that they still get the disease after being vaccinated or discover that that they have not created antibodies to a disease that they have been vaccinated against. Recently someone mentioned that you don't always create antibodies towards a disease, but that doesn't mean that you're not immune to it. I'm not sure how this works and haven't looked into it. Something I might do one day, but right now if you want to know more you might have to look into it yourself.

If you do become immune to a disease through vaccination even vaccine manufacturers will now tell you that that immunity will probably only last you between 2-12 years for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) and for measles, mumps, rubella, haemophilus influenzae type b (HIb), polio and hepatitis b they either don't know or "it appears to result in long-term immunity" according to the Immunisation Advisory Centre. It would be interesting to know how many adults who were vaccinated as children still have immunity to these diseases. I don't hear of too many adults going to get booster shots for any of these diseases, unless they're traveling to countries where these diseases are more prevalent or they get a tetanus booster when they go to Accident & Emergency with a severe cut. In terms of pertussis this is notable as it's not a dangerous disease for an adult but could easily be passed onto a baby under 6 months for whom it could be more dangerous.

There is also evidence (see the research that this blog links to) that either the vaccines aren't working or immunity is waning for disease that 'appear[s] to result in long-term immunity'. This quote from the above mentioned blog mentions a number of issues I have already touched on. "The measure of immunity used in science (antibody titres) is not always predictive of whether a person will develop an illness or not. The shift in the age group who are sick with mumps suggests waning immunity, with 19-24 year olds now most likely to contract mumps. The cause for this waning immunity is not well understood, with the possibility that a reduction in circulation of the virus could result in a reduction in the natural ‘boosting’ effect when there is already immunity to mumps virus."

So as someone else eloquently put it on a forum I was reading, "In regard to herd immunity I usually say that the idea of herd immunity is a myth designed to get us all to police each other. It is a myth as many vaccines only last for 5-10 years (whooping cough for example) and how many adults and teens do you know who get regular booster shots? When was their last booster shot? So the rates of vaccination across the community are way lower than reported, and I don't see why it has to be my 4 month old who is responsible for that. It really is ridiculous that the burden of "community safety" is put upon our smallest and most vulnerable. Herd immunity really to me is a piece of propaganda designed to make good parents feel guilty and to get the community to police its dissidents."

Hear, hear. I agree with this parent completely. So onto what I find more horrifying from the article is that the population most likely to get mumps is now 19-23 yr olds. This is also the age where mumps are more dangerous in terms of becoming testicular mumps in men and causing sterility. "Orchitis (testicle inflammation) affects 1 in 5 adult males" IMAC. My emphasis added. Also from the IMAC site is that most reported cases of mumps in NZ are for 5-9 yr olds. Again my emphasis. Doesn't mention whether these cases are in vaccinated or unvaccinated children.

Here's a direct quote from Dr Russell Blaylock in December 2009 found on this blog.

"That vaccine-induced herd immunity is mostly myth can be proven quite simply. When I was in medical school, we were taught that all of the childhood vaccines lasted a lifetime. This thinking existed for over 70 years. It was not until relatively recently that it was discovered that most of these vaccines lost their effectiveness 2 to 10 years after being given. What this means is that at least half the population, that is the baby boomers, have had no vaccine-induced immunity against any of these diseases for which they had been vaccinated very early in life. In essence, at least 50% or more of the population was unprotected for decades.

If we listen to present-day wisdom, we are all at risk of resurgent massive epidemics should the vaccination rate fall below 95%. Yet, we have all lived for at least 30 to 40 years with 50% or less of the population having vaccine protection. That is, herd immunity has not existed in this country for many decades and no resurgent epidemics have occurred. Vaccine-induced herd immunity is a lie used to frighten doctors, public-health officials, other medical personnel, and the public into accepting vaccinations."

My most common response to the herd immunity argument and my irresponsibility is that I wouldn't expect another parent to do something to their child that they believed was detrimental to them for the sake of my children and I would expect the same in return. My responsibility is firstly to my children and then to 'doing no harm' and doing good where I can in society. I also believe that 'herd immunity' is a myth for the same reason someone has mentioned already. Wow look at the world's population! We have done a pretty good job at surviving these life threatening childhood diseases!!! I make sure my children have the strongest immune systems that they can, through extended breastfeeding (they have a bit of my immunity for 2-3 years!), a really good diet, (low in sugar, bad fats and preservatives/additives etc), a high quality supplement on top of that when they're over 2 and not breastfeeding so much or at all, fish oils, probiotics. When they get sick I keep them home (we live frugally on one income in order to provide this for our children when they're young) use homeopathy, herbal remedies and vitamins (not cheap). We very rarely visit the doctor. My children get sick and they get better quickly. My 1 year old has had 1 dose of pamol so far. The only drug in his system ever. Dare I say it but when it comes to natural selection my children will survive. It is not acceptable for anyone to die these days. Well anyone young. So we are taught to fear death and these diseases and not to trust our bodies and our children's bodies ability to heal. Sometimes I wonder whether people vaccinate their children thinking that they now don't have to worry about being conscious of keeping them healthy.

As I've eluded to another reason I don't vaccinate my children is all the unknowns about vaccines. There is very little thorough research on the safety of vaccines. It simply hasn't been done! An example of this is the chemical aluminum. "No one has actually studied vaccine amounts of aluminum in healthy human infants to make sure it is safe." Sears, R.W. (2007). The Vaccine Book. I was just flabbergasted to read this information on aluminum. I'll try to sum it up for you:

Aluminum: There is some interesting past research on IV (straight into the vein) aluminum in premature babies. Injected aluminum bypasses the protective mechanism of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and it circulates and is deposited in human tissues. "...if premature babies get more than 10 micrograms of aluminum per day in their IV solution, it may accumulate in their bones and brain at toxic levels." (Sears, R.W. 2007). "...toxicity is difficult to detect just by observing symptoms." In a 1997 study in The New England Journal of Medicine premature babies were split into 2 group - those with aluminum in their IV drip and those without. Hundreds of babies were studied. One group received an average of 50 micrograms per day and the other group about 10 micrograms per day over about 10 days. This study concluded that aluminum impaired the neurologic and mental development of the premature babies who received more than 10 micrograms of IV aluminum per day. No one knows how long it takes to absorb into the bloodstream from the muscle and then excretion into the urine and out of the body when it's injected into the skin and muscles of infants.

I had a look at the vaccines injected into a 6 week old according to the New Zealand Vaccination Schedule (it's actually called Immunisation Schedule, but I can't bring myself to use that word as it is not descriptive of what it is. It hopes to create immunity, but may not, therefore it is a vaccination schedule not a guaranteed 'immunisation' schedule). I digress. So at 6 weeks a baby receives 2 injections. One is the INFANIX -hexa of Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping cough (DTaP), Polio, Hepatitis B (Hep B) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB). The other is Prevenar of Pneumococcal (Pc). Using Dr Bob Sears, The Vaccine Book, written in 2007 I added up the amount of aluminum that a baby of 6 weeks would get. He didn't have the INFANIX -hexa vaccine as so I just added up the aluminun in DTaP, HIB and Polio combo vaccine from Pentacel (330 micrograms) with the Hep B vaccine (250 microgram) and the Pc (125 micrograms) which comes to a grand total of 705 micrograms of aluminum injected into the skin/muscle of a 6 week old in one go! The same 6 week old will get that amount again 6 weeks later. Hmmm is the kidney function of a 6 week old that much better than a premature baby? How quickly does the blood stream absorb this amount from the muscle? How much ends up accumulating in tissues, including the brain of this baby in it's first 3 months of life? Nobody knows the answer to these questions because nobody has studied it!

Other ingredients in vaccines also concern me. These include human and animal tissue, mercury (now only found in flu vaccines and some tetanus vaccines), formaldehyde, MSG, 2-Phenoxyethanol and more.

The human and animal tissue present in MMR, Chickenpox, Polio, Flu, DTaP, Tetanus and diphtheria, Tdap are Human blood proteins, human lung cells, human fetal lung cells, human cell lines, cow serum, cow heart-muscle extract, cow tissue extract, monkey kidney cells, guinea pig embryo cells, chicken embryos, chicken kidney cells, chicken eggs.

Already it has been discovered that between 1955-1963 some of the monkey kidney cells used in the injected polio vaccine contained the SV-40 virus, which is known to cause brain tumors, bone cancer, lymphoma and mesothelioma cancer in animals. The genetically identical virus has been found in human tumors today. They now test for this disease, but how many other diseases are or could go undetected in the production of vaccines? So far they don't know how to screen for mad cow disease. We didn't know it existed until the 1980's and cow serum had been used in vaccines for decades before that. Was anyone injected with it? Who knows. It is my concern and those of others too that virus' may go undetected in future vaccine batches.

Formaldehyde is used to preserve the frogs, cats etc that you may have dissected in biology class. Some say that you would have inhaled more of it in this class than you'd ever get in a vaccine. However it's my opinion that injection of chemicals like this is a whole different story. Our bodies are used to dealing with pollutants (in more recent years, so we're probably still not 'used' to dealing with them) and pathogens that enter through the nose, mouth, ears etc - naturally occurring 'holes' in our bodies. Our immune systems are set up to fight these dangers as they enter the body. When injected into skin and muscle, then very quickly the blood stream our bodies first defenses don't get a chance to protect us from the damage they might do when they reach the blood stream. Most of our immune system is in our gut. The other argument is that these chemicals are in such miniscule amounts that they 'probably' wouldn't harm us. Although our bodies have to cope with a lot these days, they are still very fine tuned organisms. Tipping the balance of any, even naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies could cause problems.

My final thoughts on vaccines are this. Our population seems to be surviving pretty well. We didn't all die out when there were no vaccines around to prevent these childhood diseases. As my aunty commented recently, "oh yes I had the measles when I was little, everyone did." And yes some people died from it. What I'd like to know and may never find out is, who were these people? What was their level of health before contracting the disease? Did they have underlying conditions? Were they fully and well nourished? What was their socio-economical status (which may had influenced their level of nourishment and living conditions)?

No one is allowed to die these days, especially not when they're young. It's considered a tragedy and there is no way I'd want it to be my child, no one would. The strongest, fittest, healthiest would have survived. Perhaps in some cases some of the strongest, fittest and healthiest did succumb to these diseases and who knows why, but I'd bet that most of the time it was the under or malnourished, those who lived in damp, unhygienic conditions and those who already had underlying condition or immune disorders.

My response to childhood diseases is to do what I can to arm my children with the strongest immune systems and the best of health so that when they contract these diseases and in some cases I hope they do Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chicken Pox (might be incubating that one in our house right now!), they will get sick and get well again with no permanent damage. Of course I will be there to give them the support they need. It is well known that the use of cod liver oil supports someone through the measles. As the measles virus uses up vitamin A from the body, cod liver oil replaces this so the body can still function well enough to overcome the disease and suffer less through it. Grandma knew what was good for us! Or maybe we need to go back to Great Grandma. I also heard a story of a doctor who was successfully treating many malnourished children with severe cases of measles with IV Vitamin C. He went on leave and instructed his stand in to do the same. The stand in doctor didn't believe this to be the right way to treat measles and didn't follow his instructions. In the time the doctor was on leave 2 children died from measles. Not sure of the accuracy of this story but have heard of the use of IV Vitamin C before. These diseases have been around for so long we (medical establishment and anyone who has investigated them) know what we are dealing with when they pop up. There is so much we don't know about vaccines.

The 'pop up' rate in the western world is low these days, probably due to vaccines and in some cases this can be a problem. It is thought that without the wild strains of these diseases floating around the community, no one (including those who have been vaccinated) are being immune 'boosted' by them. When immunity wanes (in those who have been vaccinated, possibly even those who get the disease if they are not exposed to it again for a very long time) which it does after approximately 10 years for most people and most vaccines then we have an adult population at greater risk. Not only are they at greater risk of catching the disease if it was to arise (until we fix the problem of under and malnourishment in many parts of the world these diseases will continue to kill these populations and spread around the world) they are also approximately 20% more likely to be hospitalised.

Many vaccine proponents argue that those of us who chose not to vaccinate do so in a climate of low levels of the diseases and because we weren't around to see rows and rows of sick and in some cases dying people we don't understand what we're risking. This might be so. I make my decision based on when and where we live. If there was a major disaster and we were suddenly without a sewage system and clean water it might be a problem. Again, survival of the fittest might come back into play. Until then I will continue to arm my children with strong bodies and minds in order to be the 'fittest'.

At the end of the day vaccination in New Zealand is a choice. At this stage (and I can't envision it changing, but won't rule it out) I choose not to vaccinate myself or my children. When they are old enough I will help them to understand the issue and they can make a decision for themselves. Until then we will look after ourselves without the use of vaccination and all the short and long term, known and unknown risks they pose.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My recommendations for achieving a natural birth

I am the mother of two boys. Both were born at home as this is where I felt most comfortable birthing. Both were very different experiences. I realise since having Niwha recently that in order to have a gentle, natural birth with no drugs and no intervention good preparation is necessary. These are my recommendations for achieving the natural birth you want no matter where you choose to birth.


1. Health and fitness – walking, swimming, pregnancy yoga and pilates, good whole foods. Limit sugar intake. Raspberry leaf (after 4-5 months), nettle teas (or a pregnancy tea that has both).

2. To ensure your baby is in a good position, sit upright with pelvis straight or tilted slightly forward. During labour, use an upright, even leaning forward position.

3. Watch videos of natural, positive births – search Hypnobirthing or Gentle birth on You Tube. Visualise your own birth – see it exactly as you want it to happen.

4. Practice breathing – breathing to fully relax, breathing long, slow and deep to assist you through contractions. Birth breathing – practice while having a poo – breathe in, as you breathe out, breathe down your back, imagining your breath is actually coming out your vagina. See the Hypnobirthing book for more detail.

5. Massage (or get your partner to) your perineum with almond, rosehip or st John’s wart oil every night for 6-8 weeks before your due date. See the Pink Kit or Hypnobirthing book for more detail on how to do this.

6. Avoid listening to any negative stories of birthing. Simply ask the person talking to tell you all about it after you have birthed your baby.

7. Research all the choices you have during your birthing.

8. Write a birth plan with your partner – have your ideal as well as what you are willing to compromise if you experience pressure from your medical attendants.

9. Ensure you have a lead maternity carer who will support your birth plan – you can change LMC’s at any time!

10. Remember that your due date is just a guess date. Your baby may take more or less time to grow to a point where they are ready to come into the world. Induction paths the way to greater often easily avoidable intervention.
Dealing with the pressure to induce – are you healthy and well? Is the baby still moving? Ask your LMC to monitor you and your baby more closely. If you receive huge amounts of pressure compromise by having a scan to check the baby – particularly the fluid around the baby. Ask that they do not estimate the size of your baby! They often get this very wrong with large overestimations and being told you’re having a 9-10lb baby can psych you out! A big baby is a healthy baby and if they are in the optimal position they will be no harder to birth!
If your waters have broken statistics show that there is an increased risk of infection after 18 hours. You may receive pressure to induce after 24 hours or less. Again, avoiding this will give you a great chance of having a natural birth. I was willing to go for 48 hours taking all the necessary precautions and using high doses of Vitamin C and taking Echinacea to boost the body’s defences against infection. After 48 hours I was willing to consider antibiotics, not induction. In the meantime use every natural induction method – walk, walk, walk, visualise your cervix opening, have a hot curry or take cod liver oil to get your bowels moving, use acupressure or acupuncture (this is often very effective!)

During Labour:
1. Use Naturo pharm Pre-birth. Rescue remedy to stay calm and relaxed.
2. Stay active. Move with and between contractions – see the New Active Birth book. Relax, laugh, eat, drink, go to the toilet.
3. Visualise and use affirmations to stay focused on the outcome you want and being relaxed. See Hypnobirthing for affirmations or make up your own – say them in the present (not future) and use only positive language.
4. Use water! Ideally a birthing pool that you can also birth in. Hot water takes pain away, helps you deal with the pressure in your lower pelvis and softens your vagina so it can stretch better.
5. Hot towels on your lower back (hang them over a oil column heater, they don’t need to be wet). Partner massage on the dimples on your lower back. Light touch massage – see hypnobirthing book – releases endorphins.
6. Use your breathing techniques, breathing up into your abdomen with every contraction. Remember that a contraction only lasts for a short amount of time. You can breathe through it and get a rest afterwards. During the final opening stage, before the baby is ready to move out of the birth canal contractions are closer together. You may say something like ‘I can’t do this any more’. Tell your partner that this means you are close to birthing your baby and not a sign that you need intervention! When you notice yourself saying this celebrate in the knowledge that you are close to meeting your baby.

Dealing with the pressure to receive interventions:
One great question to ask (or have your partner ask) whenever an intervention is suggested is ‘Is this a medical emergency?’ If not then intervention can be avoided.
State in your birth plan that you do not want to be ‘offered’ any pain relief or other intervention. State that you do not want other medical staff wandering into your room. Some anaesthetist’s walk in and say they are leaving soon so if you want an epidural you better have it now!! This is not true as there is always an anaesthetist around for emergencies. I’ve heard it said that for every ‘extra’ person in the room you can add an hour onto your labour! You have the right (and your partner) to ask unnecessary people to leave your birthing space.
Hold onto your waters! If your waters haven’t broken some LMC’s want to break them to get things moving. This is unnecessary and can cause problems. Many baby’s break their waters as they are born (or you or your LMC can break them as the baby is being born). Your baby will come in it’s own time – stay relaxed, rest (on your left hand side or in a slightly reclined position), eat, drink and trust your body and your baby.
Remember that every drug you have goes through to your baby. It can affect their breathing and ability to breastfeed. Birth is your child’s first experience in the world. It affects them personally in either a positive or negative way. There is soooo much you can do to make it a positive experience for your baby and yourself. If you are one of the 5% of people who really need medical help, then that is what we are privileged to have available here.

Recommended reading during pregnancy and early parenthood:

Liedloff, Jean. (1975) The Continuum Concept. In Search of Happiness Lost.
This is an absolute classic in the alternative parenting world. Jean’s writing style is really difficult but it’s a must read before you have kids.

Mongan, Marie. (2006). Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method.
Highly recommended. Fantastic, beautiful, gentle and empowering way to birth your baby. 95% of women who use this method have natural, gentle birthing experiences.

Balaskas, Janet. (????). New Active Birth. A concise guide to Natural Childbirth.
Great book for staying active before and during labour and preparing to birth your baby naturally.

La Leche League International. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
The bible for breastfeeding! La Leche League is an International group of volunteers who support and educate on breastfeeding and related things. Borrow this from your local LLL group – and are two LLL leaders in Dunedin. Ask to see a Lactation consultant before you leave the hospital regardless of how it’s going. If at home and you’re not convinced it’s perfect, go into the hospital and see the consultant or visit a LLL leader.
Remember that only a small percentage of women actually can’t breastfeed. Don’t give up, get help and only use formula as a last resort. Many women express full time if their baby can not breastfeed, instead of resorting to formula.

Weed, Susan. (1986). Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.
Very 80’s book! Great natural, herbal remedy’s for every pregnancy, birth, infant related issue.

Gethin, Anni & Macgregor, Beth. (2007) Helping your baby to sleep: Why gentle techniques work best. Finch Publishing.
This is a great book for parents who want to make going to bed and sleeping a gentle and positive experience for their baby. Dr William Sears books are also recommended.

Also see my other blog posts for information on Raising a Nappy Free Baby and Baby Wearing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Niwha Stuart Hughes' birth story

At 38 weeks pregnant I was ready to have my baby (as many women are at that point)! I had a sore sacroiliac joint and had a horrible time attempting to go to a movie before my baby was born. I came home quite emotional for no real reason. Monday 2nd August was my husbands birthday and Eli decided that he didn't want to go to Kindy. I had to stay with him for more than an hour and he still sobbed when I left. He'd been settled at Kindy until now. That evening we had a very quiet family dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday, which was really a bit overshadowed by strange feelings from myself and Eli. That night my husband said, 'I really want to call your Mum and tell her to come down now'. She lives in Nelson and had a ticket to fly down that weekend. He had a feeling that we would need her earlier than that. My due date was the 11th August.

At 11.45pm that night my waters broke. I didn't wake my husband. I text Mum and asked her to see whether she could get down here as soon as possible. I called our midwife to let her know that my waters had broken and that I had one small contraction and a bit of the shakes. My

waters were pink with vernix so all normal. My husband woke up and I told him. 'Great' he said. We bought the pool in and started to fill it, but I wasn't having any contractions, just leaking lots of fluid! I had told our midwife I would call when things got going. She was pretty sure things would happen quite fast. By 1.30am we stopped filling the pool and went back to bed. There wasn't much sleeping going on with the anticipation and a contraction every hour or two.

No work or Kindy for the boys in the morning. Eli was very excited at the site of the pool in the lounge and it was a struggle to keep him and his toys out of it! Our midwife was due to visit in the morning anyway. It was good to see her and confirm that the baby and myself were all good. Mum was on the first flight down here. She ended up circling above Dunedin for an hour due to fog and was the last person in the shuttle to be dropped off so she was itching to get here. Contractions continued at 1-2 hours apart for the day. Our midwife came back late afternoon and found the baby had moved down a lot further during the day. Yeepppeee. Late afternoon after another walk contractions were about half an hour apart. I had a full dinner, but didn't feel like dessert! Any food went straight through me so I knew my body didn't want to cope with any thing else. Some of the contractions were good ones and I had to stop what I was doing and concentrate on the hypnobirthing slow breathing and visualising the vertical muscles of my uterus pulling up and the horizontal muscles around my cervix relaxing and opening out and up so the baby could move down.

As soon as Eli was asleep contractions started coming 5 mins apart. I used a Swiss ball and the hypnobirthing sleep breathing to fully relax in between contractions. I was visualising my baby in the optimal birthing position and moved into a position on my knee and leaning forward

onto the couch. Mum started timing contractions at 7.53pm and I called the midwife. She asked me to call after the contractions had been 5 mins apart for an hour or dropped to less than that. At the time I thought, a whole hour, really! I should have clicked then that I was progressing really fast. Our timing of contractions wasn't great. Mum was using the clock on the phone and I sometimes forgot to tell her I was having a contraction. I was slow breathing through each contraction and it mustn't have been that obvious to anyone else that I was having one. So sometimes the contractions were 2-3 mins apart and other were timed at 6-7. Sometimes a contraction was very strong and other times it was not and over with quickly so I didn't know if it 'counted'. Well it had pretty much been an hour when my husband called our midwife again. He told her I was keen to get in the pool. She asked me to hold off and she was on her way. My husband relayed the message and added 'but you do what you want to.' As my waters had been broken for 20 hours I didn't want to get in to soon either. However soon after my husband hung up I had a very obvious bearing down contraction. It was sooo intense. It felt like my uterus had lifted up and slammed the baby down against my vagina. I almost swore and had to pull myself back into a focused slow breath. I said 'That was a pushing contraction'. After the next one I could feel the baby's head pushing against my vagina and I said 'Text the midwife and tell her this baby is coming, but not to speed.' Then I said 'I'm getting in the pool'.

I got in the pool and my husband pushed record on the video camera and stayed with me. He used light touch massage and massaged the dimples on my lower back, both were really good. A one stage he started reading me some of the hypnobirthing affirmations. After the first one, I said 'I'm way past that' and after the next one I said 'shut up'. We laughed and he said 'good they're in the fire.' Mum tried to get Eli up

to be there for the birth, but he said he didn't want to. A couple of intense contractions bought the baby's head to crowning. I felt with my hand and smoothed around his head. I relaxed and enjoyed the break before the next contraction that I knew would birth the head. After his head came out I said to my husband 'The heads out'. He replied with 'ahem'. I little bit shocked and nervous I think, but he had complete confidence that I could birth our baby successfully. The midwife still hadn't arrived. I felt around the baby's head and waited for the next contraction that would bring him out. As the rest of his body was born I moved from my knees bringing one foot forward and supported my baby out. I turned him over, felt over his body and looked at him under the water before bringing him out and to my chest. My husband asked what sex he was and I replied that he was a boy.

This is when we were a bit nervous as he didn't breath spontaneously. I sucked his mouth and nose as I had seen women do on the 'Birth As We Know It' DVD and waited. I mentioned that we might need oxygen, just not knowing how long it would take him to breath on his own. I knew the cord was still attached and would be providing him with something. My husband rubbed his stomach and I sucked his mouth and nose a number of times before he gasped and cried loudly. We laughed with relief and I bought him to my chest again. It was still a few seconds before he started to breath continuously, but once that started we all relaxed and laughed. We kept him warm with face cloths and I kept him in the water as much as possible. He indicated that he was keen to feed, so that is what he was doing when the midwife arrived 11mins after he was born. She was very pleased that all was well. My mum said 'missing the birth must happen every now and again does it?' She said it was only the 3rd time in 25 years that she'd missed a birth. 'Keeps me humble' she said in her wonderfully humble way.

It took a couple of hours to birth the placenta as I just couldn't be bothered! Figured it would come out when it was ready! I was keen to birth it in the pool, but the water was getting cold and I was struggling to feed my baby and keep him in the water and warm. I got set up on the couch and after a couple of half hearted attempts to birth the placenta over a bowl I finally did. The placenta looked good and healthy. We were unsure how long we would leave it attached as we were considering a lotus birth. We decided to cut it.

We were in bed by 1am-ish at which point Eli woke up and asked what I was doing. When I said I was feeding the baby he was soooo excited. He wanted to sleep next to him and was not impressed when we said he had to get back in his bed. He wasn't going back to sleep so my husband and Eli swapped with Mum who was in the spare room. She slept in Eli's bed and in the morning my husband and Eli came back in. The family bed had 3 generations in it for a wee while that morning. It was lovely.

Niwha Stuart Hughes was born about 9.15pm on Tuesday August the 3rd. He weighed 6.4lbs, 2.8kg. Almost 2 pounds lighter than Eli who was 8.3lbs! Wow never thought I'd grow such a little baby. He is healthy and strong, just skinny. He was 50 cm long which was not much shorter than Eli. Head circumference 34cm.

Below is a 6 min clip of the birth from crowning to first cry. It is G rated. No gore and not too much nudity. Look forward to writing a post on preparation for a natural birth. My birthing experiences have shown me just how important physical and mental preparation is in having a successful natural birth.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ok, so with Eli's birth in mind I was quite scared at the idea of giving birth again from the moment I discovered I was pregnant. I was slowly coming around to the idea and realisation that what happened was so rare and bizarre that it would not happen again and chances are I'd have a great birth this time when I was introduced to the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan.

I must admit that it sounded a bit out there for me. I had all the standard prejudices around hypnosis but was open to reading the book. The book is fantastic. Great history around birthing particularly Grantly Dick-Read's work in the 1800's. He came up with the Fear-Tension-Pain Theory. The theory explains that when someone is fearful it creates tension in their body due the flight/fight response and tension leads to pain. In the context of birth any tension centers around the uterus as a birthing woman is fearful of the pain, experience or idea of having a new baby. Tension in the uterus means that blood to the area is restricted and the baby is pushing against hard muscles causing pain and obviously a Failure To Progress, which funnily enough has the same acronym as Fear Tension Pain (FTP). Obstetricians who have performed cesarians on women who have Failed to Progress have found the muscles of the uterus to be white. So the main objectives of hypnobirthing are relaxation, visualisation, imagery, affirmations to create a calm, gentle, even painless birthing for you and your baby.

Anyway there is more to it than that and I strongly recommend a read of the Hypnobirthing book. So now I was really interested in the philosophy and skills that hypnobirthing had to offer. The woman who recommended the book to me had recently arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand with her family and is a Hypnobirthing instructor. She wanted to run a course for couples she had met. Unfortunately (fortunately for us) we ended up being the only couple interested and I was already in the second half of my pregnancy. So our instructor was happy to run it just for us. There were pro's and con's to that, but ultimately it was a fantastic course. As well as the skills of relaxation, visualisation, imagery and a really positive view of natural birth we also had the opportunity (created for us by our instructor) to process Eli's birth and have time together with this new baby pre-birth. It was a great opportunity for my partner to understand what I was trying to achieve and ways that he could support the process and be involved in the birth of his child. The fact that the course is run for couples is a great thing.

I would recommend a hypnobirthing course to anyone. Great to get it right the first time and if the first time wasn't ideal it's great for setting you up to have a more ideal birth the second time. As part of the course we watched 'Birth as we know it,' a fantastic DVD created by a Russian midwife. Also highly recommended.

I really hope that the hypnobirthing instructor here in Dunedin continues to offer courses to couples and that midwives around the world start to adopt the philosophy and skills of this wonderful technique.

Look forward to writing a post on my birth experience to come and how hypnobirthing helped me.