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Reducing Your Child’s Risk of Autism And Other Disorders: Conception, Pregnancy, And The Newborn Infant, Part II

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This post is Part II of our accompanying companion piece to our vaccination series – Vaccines: A Choice or A Mandate.  In the first part of this series, the topics of pre-conception, pregnancy, and labor were discussed. We learned some important steps to take to help protect our unborn children from toxins and other factors that could lead to the development of disorders like autism and other related problems.

As compared to just 5 decades or so ago, we have a much higher concentration of toxins and chemicals in our water, soil, air, food system, and in many of the things we do and come into contact with on a daily basis.

In Randall Fitzgerald’s The Hundred Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, he mentions the science journal Public Health which states, “the incidence of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and major neuron disorders, was found to have tripled in nine Western countries, including the United States, during the period of 1974 to 1997. The most likely causes researchers identified were exposure to pesticides sprayed on crops, synthetic chemicals from the processed foods we consume, and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of our modern lives.”

Just like autism, Alzheimer’s disease as well as other disorders have been found to be connected to high levels of mercury in the body. Everything you can do to reduce your child’s toxic load from environmental sources will help prevent or reduce the severity of health issues from occurring – from his or her environment in the womb to after birth.

Here are some ways to keep your child’s health safe during newborn infant stages, including some information from Pathways To Family Wellness by Maureen McDonnell, RN:

  • Bond with your baby as much as possible. You will need your sleep, so rest when you can. But be sure to hold and talk to your infant as much as possible. Co-sleeping is an option many parents are adopting to ensure continued contact with their babies. Some parents need the separation time from their children, but know that if you do decide to take the co-sleep option, your child will not be sleeping with you forever, and separation will occur when the time is right.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to not only provide optimal nutrition, but to ensure there is a good amount of time to bond between you and the baby. While breastfeeding, keep up excellent dietary habits by eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, fermented cod liver oil, grass-fed meats and poultry, pasture-raised eggs, and raw dairy from a clean source), fresh fruits and vegetables, naturally fermented foods like home-made yogurt, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, and sprouted/soaked/fermented grains. Also be sure you are drinking plenty of filtered water with minerals – either use real sea salt or add unsweetened cranberry juice not from concentrate to your water intake.
  • Wear your baby as often as possible. Close contact provides emotional support and frequent motion. These factors all strengthen and support neurological development in your baby. Find a good baby-wearing device that is comfortable for you and your baby to use. Here is a good resource for information on babywearing – Babywearing International.
  • Because birth is strenuous on both the mother and baby, consider having care by a qualified chiropractor shortly after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for healthy recovery and continued stamina. Your baby’s cranial and spinal development will affect his or her nerve system function for the rest of life. Early care supports strong nerve and immune system function.
  • Minimize toxins and pollutants in your baby’s environment. If you haven’t already, consider natural, non-toxic, organic, and sustainable products and living with your baby.  A great resource for how to do this and stay within your budget is the book The Eco-Nomical Baby Guide Down-To-Earth Ways For Parents to Save Money and the Planet – written by two mothers who went green for less than a thousand dollars (I can’t verify this, but apparently the average parents spend an average of $7000 on each newborn child). There are ways to do it even cheaper through hand-me downs, DIY, yard and garage sales, and trading.
  • Although it is an added expense, if possible purchase an organic crib and/or bed mattress. It is a good idea to be aware of bedding and clothing treated with flame retardants and heavy metals in the dye used for these items. They contain high levels of antimony and other toxic substances that can be harmful to your infant (and you).
  • Consider non-toxic and/or organic clothing and other supplies/toys for your baby. Remember that clothing and other items come into direct contact with skin, and anything in those substances can potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream even faster than foods that are digested.
  • Avoid using plastic-ware and bottles for your baby. These substances are not bio-degradable and many contain toxic chemicals like BPA that leech into food and drinks. Good alternatives include bamboo, stainless steel, glass (for some uses), wood, and ceramic. Here are some useful links: Green Your for a list of non-toxic and safe baby dishes and utensils, and Passionate Homemaking’s review of safe cookware for your family.
  • Use non-toxic substances on your baby’s skin for personal care and bathing. Castille soap diluted in filtered water, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, aloe vera, and natural herbals without foreign ingredients are good choices. Avoid personal care products containing ingredients you are unfamiliar with – shampoos, skin creams, baby bath soap or gel products, and others. Become a label reader and if you don’t make your own mixtures at home, learn which brands are safe to use. Consult with the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for individual product information and ingredients review.
  • Consider diapers carefully. Cloth diapers are good for your baby, but they do require more effort and water for washing than disposable diapers. Organic diapers can be expensive, but commercial diapers may contain ingredients that are undesirable for contact with your baby’s skin.  Here is a review of two eco-friendly brand diapers. And here is a good resource for everything you want to know about cloth diapering.
  • Consider dishwashing and clothing detergent options. Eco-Nuts and Soap Nuts are great for laundry and economical. They can be used multiple times for clothes washing. See The Family Homestead for recipes to make your own detergent.  DIY Natural has a good home-made dish detergent recipe as well. Good brands for dish detergent include Biokleen and Nature Clean.
  • Avoid keeping electronic devices near where your baby sleeps. Clock radios, cell phones, computers, and other equipment that emits electro-magnetic radiation.
  • Continue taking a good quality, whole food-based, organically sourced vitamin supplement, and also fermented cod liver oil. Extra nutrition is always needed to support the health of mom and breastfeeding to provide the best nutrition possible!
  • Avoid all medications and vaccinations until the child is older and you can research and make an informed decision about  the potential affects to your child’s immune, digestive, and neurological systems. Remember that a good health foundation with a healthy environment and nutrient-dense foods are going to take your child a long way in building up a healthy immune system.
  • If for some reason you are unable to breast feed, avoid commercial baby formula. Commercial formulas contain synthetic fillers, chemicals, and nutrients added in, as well as dangerous industrial chemicals such as melamine – a synthetic chemical product that forms hard resins when combined with formaldehyde – and Perchlorate, a hazardous chemical used to produce rocket fuel. Many commercial formulas also contain soy (even those not marketed specifically as soy formula), and processed, industrial soy is one of the worst things you can feed your child. Soy has been linked to neurological, reproductive, endocrine, and thyroid problems. Our family has avoided it for years ever since I became aware of the numerous dangers to our health.

I wish I had known about real food options for my son when he was born. I was unable to breastfeed due to a serious infection I sustained due to a ruptured appendix during my 7th month of pregnancy. Read my story here. If I had known you could make nutritious, home-made formulas for babies, I would have definitely given this to my son!

Here are two of the best recipes I’ve found for nutrient-dense, home-made baby formula, from the Weston A. Price Foundation (see this link for more information):

  • 2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder
  • 1-7/8 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
  • 4 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin

Milk should be raw, from pastured cows. If you cannot get raw milk, use organic whole milk (not ultra-high temperature pasteurized – UHT). Cod liver oil should be fermented, best brand is from Green Pasture. Real food can be fed to your baby as early as a few weeks after birth, but it needs to be in liquid form. All ingredients should be from organic or sustainable sources, if possible.

Here is the liver-based formula, which is hypoallergenic for babies who have a true lactose intolerance:

  • 3-3/4 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 2 ounces organic liver, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

Recipe for whey (makes about 5 cups):

Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yoghurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl.

If you are using yoghurt, place 2 quarts in a strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.

If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.

Nutrition matters!

Contrary to popular belief, babies should not be made to wait to eat real food until they are 4 – 6 months old. This proposterous myth which has been propagated by the conventional medical system causes great harm to your infant’s digestive tract. Feeding foods like grain-based cereals (including rice) promote digestive issues in a big way, causing drowsiness and longer periods of sleep, and detached behavior.

By withholding nutrient-dense foods like fats and proteins early on from your baby’s diet, you are contributing to a variety of issues besides digestive disorders including the onset of food allergies and intolerances, weight problems and various others.  A diet high in carbohydrates this early in an infant’s life lead to the development of insulin resistance and an underdeveloped digestive tract not able to handle digestion of grains as the small intestine does not produce amylase – which is necessary to absorb grains.

According to The Environmental Illness Resource, children with abnormal gut flora due to poor diet and whose biological background foundation is also weak (from the parents)  “testing reveals some typical nutritional deficiencies in many important minerals, vitamins, essential fats, many amino-acids and other nutrients. The most common deficiencies, recorded in these patients, are in magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, calcium, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vanadium, boron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, A, D, folic acid, pantothenic acid, omega-3, 6, 9 fatty acids, taurine, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, glutathione and many other amino-acids. This usual list of nutritional deficiencies includes some most important nutrients for normal development and function of the child’s brain, immune system and the rest of the body.”

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D. elaborates on the connection between a pathogen-filled, imbalanced environment in the gut and behavior abnormalities and autoimmune problems appearing in children.  She firmly believes “the child’s digestive system hold the key to the child’s mental development.”

Feeding your baby

After your infant has been consuming breast milk and/or home-made, nutrient dense formula, he or she can start eating more solid foods at ages 4 – 6 months.  Baby-led weaning is very important, so follow your baby’s needs. A great starter food is a egg yolks or soft-boiled egg from chickens on pasture. Babies need healthy fats, proteins, and cholesterol for growth and development. Eggs provide Omega 3s which are critical for brain and neurological development, as well as cardiovascular maintenance.

Children over age 6 months can start eating mashed up raw liver from a healthy grass-fed meat source combined with the egg. You can also introduce butter, raw milk, or home-made yogurt, kefir, or sour cream from raw milk.  If dairy is an issue for your baby (perhaps a casein allergy), try cultured veggie juices and pureed, fermented vegetables made at home after your infant has reached 6-8 months of age.

Making your own baby food at home is best, and foods your other family members eat can be utilized in various stages if they are pureed or mashed. After your baby has started eating some solid foods, be sure to include vegetables and mix them with butter, olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil for good fat-soluble vitamins to help your baby absorb nutrients in vegetables.

Wait until your infant is over age 10 months to introduce complex carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables like potatoes. Allowing his or her digestive system to mature and become healthy from consuming nutrient-dense foods like raw milk, yogurt, liver, grass-fed meats, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil and butter will help prepare the body for digestion of other foods.

Soups and broths are extremely nutritious (broths more so in the stages where your child doesn’t yet have teeth) and can be a great vehicle for including a lot of nutrient-dense items like vegetables, other healthy meats like beef, pork and lamb, gelatin from a clean source (we use Bernard Jensen), and home-made yogurt, kefir, or home-made sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented vegetables.

Beverages

Continue to give your child raw milk and filtered water, and home-made broths.  These beverages are healthy and provide not only hydrate your child but contain nutrients. Juice is nutritionally empty for the most part and should be avoided. Consuming too much juice – especially the commercial variety – can cause weight gain and digestive issues (again, think insulin spike) unless you are juicing your own creations at home and with no added sugar and serving them only on occasion.

Other beverages which are good to try and extremely nourishing are fermented drinks like water kefir, kombucha, dairy kefir (if your child tolerates dairy), home-made infusions and herbal “teas” such as nettles, chamomile, and ginger. Here is a link to Susun Weed’s site showing how to prepare infusions. Probiotic beverages provide needed friendly bacteria or probiotics to your baby’s digestive tract and immune system as well as increase the nutrient value of the drinks your baby consumes. Herbal infusions have medicinal as well as nutritive properties and are a good source of minerals and some vitamins.

Make a smoothie for your baby, and you can add in a variety of wholesome ingredients that really pack a nutritional punch!

Grains

Grains are difficult to digest and should always be properly prepared when they are introduced to the diet of a young child. Humans lack the enzyme amylase before the age of about 28 months in the digestive tract.  Soaked and sprouted grains have had the phytic acid (a naturally-occurring anti-nutrient) neutralized to allow for greater absorption.  If possible, delay serving grains to your child until at least the age of two years.

Consuming grains too early and not properly prepared can cause numerous digestive problems – bloating, insulin spiking, weight gain, flatulence, abdominal cramping, picky eating preferences, constipation, and loose stools. It is common for parents to buy packaged crackers, cereals, breads, bagels, snacks comprised of grains, and other similar foods when their babies are very young.  But these foods are not properly prepared, are nutritionally empty, and are geared for convenience. They are processed as can be and have had their nutrients stripped out with synthetic added back in. Even organic varieties of these same foods sold at the store should be avoided.

Digestive symptoms such as colic, pain, bloating, and flatulence should not be considered normal, and to keep your infant’s digestive tract and overall health profile optimal, feeding nutrient-dense foods at an early age is critical. Foods like wheat and rice can both cause allergies and health issues as they easily penetrate the delicate lining of the underdeveloped intestinal wall which is not mature enough to digest these substances. The result is toxins dumping into the blood stream, which cause myriad health problems – from noticeable digestive issues, irritability, ADD, and ADHD to full-blown autism.

Build a good foundation for your child!

A healthy foundation really can help you and your child avoid illness, colds, flus, digestive, endocrine, immune, and behavior disorders. Although there is no guarantee anything we do in this life will keep our children from ever getting sick or making sure they live to be 100, taking steps to do what we can to help prevent future problems and provide our children with the best possible chance to have a healthy future is really at the heart of what we do have control over as parents.

Please read Part I of this companion series if you missed it last week.

Please read our Vaccination Series – A Choice or A Mandate, Part I, and Part II.


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Reducing Your Child’s Risk of Autism And Other Disorders: Conception, Pregnancy, And The Newborn Infant, Part I

www.mypicshares.com

Having children is one of the things in your life that will alter your future more than anything you will ever do. Although it is filled with uncertainty and a great deal of trial and error, most everyone you ask will say their lives are transformed for the better because of the decision  to have a child.

This series of posts about conception, pregnancy, and the newborn infant are intended to be companion pieces to the recent vaccination series – Vaccinations: A Choice or A Mandate? If you are considering having children or are pregnant, these posts are intended to help guide you through the many decisions you will make affecting the health of you and your child.

We hear a great deal from the medical and health communities at large about what we should be doing to make a better foundation of health and future for our children. But many of those pieces of advice are actually counter to what our children need to be healthy. For instance, we are repeatedly reminded to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – but very little is said about including a good variety of healthy fats and proteins – foods which contain the most nutrients per serving – and fermented foods full of natural probiotics which keep your immune system in optimal condition. The information here provides a thorough treatment of these critical topics, and won’t leave you hanging on what to eat for maximum nutritional support.

Please take some time to read through these posts about things you can do to give your child the best possible chance for a healthy and happy life. Good foundations are extremely important, and one of the best ways is to focus on a healthy lifestyle and superior nutrition through nutrient-dense foods.

In the vaccination posts, I talked extensively about the factors that can lead to disorders such as autism, ADHD, ADD, and other related issues.

This list of items will address those concerns and provide some tools with which to do what you can to prevent the development of health issues. (some of these item are from the following resource: Pathways To Family Wellness, Maureen McDonnell, R.N.):

Prior to conception:

  • Spend six months to a year improving dietary habits and lifestyle choices. Whenever possible, eat organically and sustainably-produced produce, and locally-sourced food from farmers who use safe practices – no synthetic pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals, and do not use GMO (genetically-modified substances, crops, or feed for their animals). Eat meats/meat products, raw dairy, safe-sourced seafood, eggs from pastured birds, and fats from healthy sources such as butter, lard, tallow, olive oil, coconut oil, and sustainable produced palm oils.

Remember: a real, whole food is something that our ancestors would have eaten. If it’s not real, don’t eat it! For some ideas on foods that really pack a nutrient-dense punch, check out this list:  11 Healthy and Nutrient-Dense Foods At A Glance. Want more information on what the differences are between processed, whole, traditional, organic, and sustainable foods? Read: How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!

  • Reduce or eliminate processed and refined foods – and in particular, sugar and white flour products, and most all packaged or prepared foods from the store. Throw out artificial fats like margarine, “butter spreads” and those containing soy and vegetable oils like canola, soybean, cottonseed, and others.

Want to learn more about why claims made on packages of the foods you buy in the store are usually false? Read Fortified and Processed Foods: Are Label Claims About Nutrition True? and Reading Labels in The Store – Don’t Be Fooled By Marketing Lingo!

  • Minimize or eliminate the use of over-the-counter drugs, antibiotics, birth control, and other medications.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco.
  • Begin or continue an exercise routine that is suitable to your abilities, interests, and is something you can do regularly and that you enjoy.
  • Consider a detoxification or cleansing program – especially if your lifetime exposure to chemicals and toxins includes prescription and over-the-counter drug use, a diet of processed foods, or if you live or work in a chemical-laden environment
  • If detoxification does not reduce or eliminate symptoms, consult with a knowledgeable practitioner – a medical doctor familiar with alternative treatments, chiropractor, nutritional therapist, naturopath, or other health care specialist familiar with advanced detoxification protocols.
  • If you have mercury-based amalgam fillings, consider having them removed by a holistic dentist familiar with proper removal of these substances. Check out the American Dental Association web site to find practitioners who can safely remove these types of fillings at least 6 months prior to conception. Do not have them removed while breastfeeding.
  • In addition to a healthy diet, begin taking a whole-food based, organically-sourced multivitamin supplement. Synthetic supplements, which make up the bulk of what’s on the consumer market, are not bio-available (meaning, they are hard for the body to absorb because they are not naturally-occurring nutrients accompanied by necessary co-factors and enzymes) and can cause more toxicity in the body. A whole-food based, organically sourced supplement is real food for your body, and will add to the nutrition you are consuming along with your real food diet to give your unborn child the best support for growth and health.
  • Add naturally-fermented cod liver oil to your diet. The best product available on the market is from Green Pasture Products. Fermented cod liver oil is a highly potent source of Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamin D must be accompanied by Vitamin A for absorption, and is associated with the reduction of many degenerative diseases and health issues such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. These nutrients support the immune, reproductive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Getting Vitamin D levels tested is a good idea, especially if you have consumed a processed diet for any length of time.
  • Find a “green” dry cleaner if you  use dry cleaning services. The chemical used in most dry cleaning facilities is perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen.
  • Drink filtered water. For more information about water filtration systems, call NSF International at 800-673-8010 or visit their web site. Because most filtered water does not contain adequate minerals, drink home-made bone broths from the bones of animals and birds on pasture,  make a nettles infusion and drink daily, or add sea salt to your water or organic cranberry juice not from concentrate to provide necessary mineral supplementation. Cranberry juice is also an excellent natural lymphatic stimulant.  Be sure your diet is rich in sustainable and organic foods, and your mineral intake will be higher.
  • Replace plastics in your home as much as possible, including containers for storing food and water, and for cooking. Stainless steel, cast iron, glass, ceramic, wood, and bamboo are all good alternatives. There are also many eco-friendly alternatives available for cookware, dishes, and utensils.
  • Limit consumption of seafood containing toxic amounts of mercury. Do include in your diet plenty of safe seafood choices. For more information, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium site.
  • To build beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract and immune system, consume naturally fermented foods - yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, natto, kimchi, and take therapeutic-grade probiotics. Good brands include BioKult, GUTPro, Nature’s Sunshine, Prescript-Assist, and Biotics Research. Probiotics and “fermented” foods bought in grocery and health food stores are generally a waste of money as they do not contain adequate levels of friendly bacteria strain necessary for optimal gut and immune health.
  • Avoid flu shots and other vaccines at least one year prior to conception.
  • Minimize exposure to  electromagnetic fields in the home and office. Computers, televisions, and cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation. Do not sleep with these items in your bedroom. Use cell phones only when necessary. You can purchase protector diodes which greatly reduce EMF radiation from devices (such as cell phones) you use from Premier Research Labs.
  • Take reasonable measures to make your home green and minimize exposure to radiation, chemicals, and other harmful toxins. If you are planning a home remodel, consider green materials, paint, and other supplies for your project. Select no-VOC paints and sustainable wood instead of composites or resin-based products. Minimize exposure to building materials and allow outgasing of new materials such as countertops, flooring, or furniture. Many different green countertops and flooring are available.

During pregnancy:

  • Continue a high-quality whole foods diet that includes organic or sustainable whenever possible. Greatly reduce and eliminate sugar, refined, and processed foods.
  • Continue to take a whole foods-based, organically-sourced multi-vitamin supplement.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of healthy fats and proteins in your diet – extra virgin coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oils, lard and tallow from healthy animals raised on pasture, whole (raw is a plus) dairy from milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, yogurt, and kefir, grass-fed meats, game, and organ meats, pasture-raised poultry and eggs from chicken on pasture, and safe-sourced seafood.
  • Try to avoid dental work while pregnant. If you cannot avoid it, consult with a biological or holistic dentist that can counsel you about safe procedures, if absolutely necessary. To maintain your bones and teeth, eat a healthy diet complete with healthy fats and proteins, organic whenever possible, and fermented cod liver oil.
  • Avoid antibiotics, over-the-counter, and prescription medication. There is no pharmaceutical drug on the market that has been proven safe for pregnancy. A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine show that antidepressants are especially dangerous to take during pregnancy.
  • Continue a moderate regimen of regular activity and exercise, one that is gentle and enjoyable for you and your condition. It is important to stimulate circulation and peristalsis (the contraction of muscles that propel movement in the digestive tract) because intestinal motility slows as a result of pregnancy hormones. Pregnancy yoga, pilates, walking, stretching, cycling (on a stationary bike as you become further along), dancing, water exercise (in a non-chlorinated pool or water), and dancing are safe.
  • Avoid the flu vaccine or any other immunizations.
  • If you get sick, rest and take care of yourself. Drink plenty of filtered water and continue a healthy diet. Hot water with lemon and ginger, garlic, or peppermint with raw honey is a good treatment for colds, flus, and other viruses. Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy.

To read more about natural remedies, read this post: My Home Medicine Cabinet – What I Use To Remedy Ailments.

  • Interview a practitioner who will work with your philosophy about pregnancy and childbirth – midwives, doulas, and some obstetricians are open to alternative and complimentary philosophies.  Find one that makes you feel comfortable and empowered. Home birth is an option that is not right for everyone, but is something that you may consider if you have the right type of support and environment. However, a study published by the British Medical Journal found that natural birth at home with certified practicing midwives is safe for low-risk mothers and their babies. The study followed 5,000 mothers in the U.S. and Canada, and found that these home births with low-risk mothers had much lower rates of medical interventions when compared with intervention rates for low-risk mothers giving birth in hospitals.
  • Consider other alternatives in care during pregnancy. Acupuncture, acupressure, massage, yoga, shiatsu, Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutritional therapy, naturopathic care, homeopathy, chiropractic care, and other forms of body and energy work are all good treatments for pregnancy. Research each modality and interview practitioners or get referrals from people you know to locate the person(s) right for you.
  • Avoid ultrasounds unless absolutely necessary. There are no conclusive studies showing ultrasounds are safe during pregnancy. Of greater concern are the studies showing how prenatal ultrasound affects brain development. Even standard, “routine” ultrasounds are not medically necessary and have not been shown to improve birth outcomes. Issue #22 of Pathways To Family Wellness has an informative article on the potential relationship between ultrasound and autism.
  • Choose birth care providers wisely. Rather than selecting a provider or place of birth because of your insurance coverage, select providers who are willing to support your philosophical core beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth. Decisions made about “unnecessary treatment” may vary drastically between home birth midwives, birth center midwives and obstetricians. Define your values, beliefs, and wishes, and then seek a provider accordingly.
  • If you decide to use childbirth classes, start early. Seek classes outside of the hospital environment, with independent groups that offer support and knowledge about natural childbirth. Finding a birth-support doula is essential for a better birth outcome. The perceived need for medication can be eliminated with proper breathing and relaxation techniques and adequate support during birth. Additional information on natural labor and birth procedures is available in Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue #24.

Prior to and during labor:

  • Minimize intrusive procedures during labor such as induction with Pitocin, pain meds, epidurals, forceps, C-sections, and early cord clamping. Research these procedures and discuss them with your practitioner. Pathways to Family WellnessIssue #21 has an article that relates many of often unnecessary procedures to an increased risk of autism.
  • There is a higher risk of autism in cesarean-delivered babies. Although it’s tempting to skip labor, labor is actually mother nature’s way of preparing the child for life outside the womb. The baby’s neurological function is enhanced by naturally passing through the birth canal and through cranial molding.
  • Walk during labor, and stay in an upright position or on all fours as much as possible for pushing and delivery. This greatly maximizes the ability of your pelvis to easily open and birth. It minimizes the need for doctor intervention and pulling with the use of forceps and vacuum extraction. Any form of pulling or rotation to the baby’s delicate spine in labor may have a lasting affect on his or her future nerve system function.
  • Interview several pediatricians, naturopaths, or other knowledgeable child health care providers during your pregnancy to find one who accepts your views on health and is open to discussing and giving careful consideration to invasive care with drugs and vaccines. Many parents are now seeking providers outside the typical allopathic model, choosing instead holistic practices which offer safer, more natural options to achieve health and well-being.

When you consider all the options you have for preparing your body for pregnancy, childbirth, and after care of a newborn infant, it can be extremely overwhelming to sift through all the information that is available. Just remember that anything advising you to do something that goes against your intuition and participate in something that isn’t natural can adversely affect your child’s health.

Modern medicine has many things to say about procedures, medications, and chemicals being “safe options” for your pregnancy, childbirth, and aftercare choices, but please carefully consider what the pharmaceutical companies and medical industry have to gain before you choose to use artificial means and prescription medication or drugs as a part of your overall program in your pre and post-childcare regimen.

Please check back for the conclusion of Reducing Your Child’s Risk of Autism and Other Disorders: Conception, Pregnancy, And The Newborn Infant, Part II.