Healthy Pregnancy Awareness

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care: A Drug Free Alternative to the Discomforts of Pregnancy

Posted: October 18, 2017
By: Dr. John Ferguson

Pregnancy and Chiropractic Care: A Drug Free Alternative to the Discomforts of Pregnancy

Pregnancy, on the whole, should be a rewarding experience for a woman and many women will attest that this is true. Some women will even state, “I never felt better in my life than when I was pregnant.” An observant person will see this healthy look present in so many pregnant women. It has often been referred to as the “healthy glow of pregnancy.”

You see, when a woman’s body is functioning properly during pregnancy the Innate forces within her are working at peak capacity. It is this summoning of all of the body’s resources that produces the “healthy glow of pregnancy.” Unfortunately for some women this is simply not true. Pregnancy can be fraught with health problems, making a woman truly miserable. She may even say, “I never want to be pregnant again.” It is truly a shame that some women are denied this period of exuberant health preparatory to the delivery of the child.

What are the common health problems attendant with pregnancy? Most certainly a major problem is backache; leg pains and swelling of the lower limbs is yet another problem. Toxemia and high blood pressure can also complicate some pregnancies.

In the past, these common maladies were simply treated with drugs. Then the disastrous consequences of such folly became known to those who prescribe medicine. Today even aspirin is frowned upon in pregnancy. Thus the common exclamation is uttered, “So, what’s a woman to do...just suffer?”

Since 1895 chiropractic care has proven a boon to the pregnant woman, but due to the general medical ignorance of chiropractic, few obstetricians refer their patients to chiropractors. Thus, pregnant women ”trusting their doctors,” suffer needlessly.

The backaches of pregnancy are commonly caused by biomechanical misalignments of the spine and pelvis called subluxations. These subluxations, usually tolerated by the body, become intolerable when the additional weight of the baby adds to its burden to the spine. However, the forward weight bearing factor of the pregnancy actually makes the subluxation easier to correct by chiropractic methods. The weight pulling forward on the spine helps the vertebra return to an improved position once the vertebral “locking” (sometimes called fixation) is corrected by a spinal adjustment. Less force is needed to move the vertebra and special positionings of the chiropractic adjusting table accommodate the increased abdominal size of the pregnant patient.

Spinal subluxations aggravated by pregnancy often cause nerve pressure to the legs. As nerves come out from between each vertebra, a subluxation can cause a “pinched nerve” which then can cause leg pain, muscle cramps and swelling. Through spinal adjustments, chiropractic care can relieve these attendant problems of pregnancy that were once simply brushed off as the weight of the baby pressing on blood vessels and nerves.

Chiropractic care will not hurt anyone during pregnancy. Doesn’t it make sense to give natural methods a chance before dangerous pain relieving drugs are resorted to?

Pains in the hips and sacroiliac joints also respond to chiropractic adjustment. The sacroiliac joints mobilize and spread a bit during pregnancy; as a consequence, pelvic misalignments can occur. As x-rays are to be avoided during pregnancy, chiropractic methods of examination, instrumentation, and palpation are usually sufficient to determine the misalignments and subluxations that need attention. Adjustment of the joints restores the mechanical alignment of the sacroiliac and prompt relief of pain.

As spinal adjustments also affect organic function and reduce nerve tension, chiropractic care can be of benefit in toxic conditions and high blood pressure that sometimes accompany pregnancy. So it makes good sense to try the natural care of your chiropractor for many of the health problems that make pregnancy an unpleasant experience This should be a joyous, relatively pain free period of life as nature prepares to reproduce itself within the woman’s body.

Most certainly we are not saying that you should discontinue medical care.  But to control the discomforts of pregnancy do not turn to drugs; use the natural approach of regular chiropractic care concurrently with your periodic medical check up. Regular chiropractic care should be continued right up to delivery! Much of the pain during delivery is low back pain. Chiropractic care insures that the best possible spinal and pelvic alignment is maintained preparatory to the birthing process. It makes good sense to care for yourself and your baby chiropractically.

As the birthing process has its element of trauma for the mother, so, too, the little baby. Infants should be checked by a chiropractor as soon as practical after the delivery. Trauma to the infant’s cervical spine (neck) is very common especially after a difficult birth.Vertebral subluxations in this region can lead to many of the common infectious conditions of children such as earaches, sore throats and eye inflammation. Any restricted movement of the baby’s head and neck should receive chiropractic attention. Yes, it is true, many health problems of infancy respond favorably to chiropractic care. Research has shown that even the common problem of colic responds successfully 90% of the time to chiropractic’s gentle and safe methods of adjustive care.

For the mother and the child it is sensible to include chiropractic care.


A New Leaf: 8 Conscious Choices for A Healthier Pregnancy

Posted: October 9, 2017
By: Kelly Brogan, M.D., ABIHM

I wasn’t always a clean-living crusader. Pregnancy has a way of turning on that “just tell me what to do to get this right!” switch, and, five years ago, when a friend gave me the book Green Babies, Sage Mamas, I began to recognize that I was in control of getting this right. Doctors aren’t taught to help women optimize health and wellness, and I had to learn to clean up my home and my body, one step at a time. I can still visualize my garbage can after reading that first book—it literally overflowed with my bathroom products, which had been instantly recognized as biohazardous poisons. I shook my head in amazement at the power of the word “natural” in advertising. Since that time, I have been on a mission to disseminate this information so that women can vote with their wallets for the betterment of their health. I believe in empowering women around their interactions with their environment so that they can feel in control, rather than victimized by some of the data that follows.

The Canadian organization Environmental Defence recently tested the umbilical cord blood of newborns for known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins, only to learn that each sample contained traces of from 55 to 121 such substances. This echoes a now-famous Environmental Working Group (EWG) Red Cross study in which more than 200 toxic agents were identified in each of 10 newborns, before they took their first breath. Gross! It is easy to be overcome by a feeling that the sky is falling when we consider the more than 80,000 chemicals registered in the Toxic Substances Control Act (the vast majority of which have never been studied for safety, and five of which have been banned since the 1970s). Even after formal bans, chemicals such as DDT can persist in the environment for decades, recirculating in our reproductive tracts.

I know this can feel like conspiring against an invisible villain: Can it really be all that dangerous? Aren’t most people pretty much fine? The truth is that we are watching epidemics of chronic disease unfold all around us and we know that these problems are environmentally driven. Some of us are certainly more sensitive than others, but our growing babes deserve some thoughtful consideration and conscious consumerism. I tell my friends and patients that it is like stepping outside into a freezing blizzard: Even if you only put on a couple layers of clothes, it’s still a whole lot better than being naked. Here are some proverbial layers to put on.


Punt the Plastic: Why? Because plastics, such as those labeled 3, 6 and 7 on the little triangle on the bottom, contain known toxins such as pthalates, styrene, Bisphenol A (BPA) and dioxins. These are hormone disruptors that can affect your brain, behavior, and endocrine glands (thyroid, pituitary, ovaries, etc.), and can increase your risk of cancer. Good old-fashioned glass is the most inert container to cook with and store hot foods in. You can buy a set of glass containers (like Snapware) for less than $40, and be assured of a long lifespan. Never microwave anything plastic. Be wary of shower curtains, toys made before 2009, toys made for kids over 12 (because it’s OK for them to have toxic plastic?), anything with that “new plastic” smell (like beach inflatables), and cashier receipts (wash your hands after touching them, or don’t accept them at all).


Clean Cleaning: Why? Because cleaning products, such as ammonia containing Windex and bleach, emit toxins into our very insulated homes. Learning the ingredients to avoid can seemingly require a chemistry degree, so best to circumvent the learning curve and make your own, or buy brands like BioKleen or Method with only two or three ingredients on the label. Simple, inexpensive, and effective cleaning products can be made from grapefruit seed extract, baking soda and water for a scrubbing paste, vinegar and water for wipe-downs, and lemon. For an all-purpose cleaner, combine 1 tablespoon of borax and one tablespoon of vinegar with two cups of water. Throw in some essential oils, like a drop or two of lavender, if you want to get fancy! Avoid any product that claims to be anti-bacterial.


Toxic Teflon: Why? Because if heating a pan in a closed environment can kill a pet bird, it can’t be healthy for you or your baby. PFCs such as Teflon have been implicated in endocrine- and immune-system health risks. Cast-iron, ceramic and glass cookware are your best bets. Look on eBay for some used retro pans and pots, such as Corning Vision.


Healthy H2O: Why? Because our water has become the repository for all of our bad practices as a society. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, persistent industrial chemicals (including added fluoride in some municipalities) all render our tap water a hazard to our health. I have particular concerns about fluoride because I treat women’s brains (and often their thyroids), and fluoride poses known risks to these tissues. This was recently exposed in a Harvard meta-analysis, but has been acknowledged by concerned experts for many decades. I recommend installing a reverse-osmosis and carbon filter under the sink to eliminate most of these nasties for all cooking and drinking purposes, and a less-expensive shower filter to eliminate vaporized chlorine. Bring your water with you so you don’t have to use the water cooler in the office—it likely uses a No. 7 bottle.


Quality Cosmetics: Why? Because our skin is a major entry point to our bodies, and what we slather on it (and on our lips) may make its way to our more vulnerable parts. Look out for parabens, TEA (triethanolamine), propylene glycol, PEG (polyethylene glycol), fragrance (pthalates), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, triclosan (in antibacterials), as well as toluene and formaldehyde in nail polish. EWG’s top agents of concern are: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, BHA, boric acid and sodium borate, DMDM hydantoin, oxybenzone, triclosan. As a New Yorker for both of my pregnancies, abstaining from nail salon culture was a major lifestyle change. I now am a huge fan of buffing, which avoids all polish products. It’s clean and polished-looking at the same time! Check out your health-food store purchases for their safety rating. Sephora has a growing line of green cosmetics, and Whole Foods is a good place to start, although scan the labels for any of the above. As for sunscreen, I like Badger brand, or others that use non-micronized zinc and are free of oxybenzone. Natural bug sprays like Bite Blocker and California Baby use essential oils rather than DEET.


Safer Cosmetics are Free Of:

  •     Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  •     Parabens
  •     TEA (Triethanolamine)
  •     Propylene Glycol
  •     PEG (polyethylene glycol)
  •     Fragrance (pthalates)
  •     Triclosan
  •     Toluene
  •     Formaldehyde


Minimize Magnetic Fields: Why? Because this invisible form of pollution is totally unstudied and has been suspected to negatively impact cellular functioning in some sensitive individuals. We are electrical beings—in fact, many of the treatments I offer patients are intended to subtly rebalance electrical properties of the nervous system. If you suspect you may be one of them, consider Earthing technology for its energy rebalancing effects. Even if you’re not, sleep with your cell phone at least 6 feet from your bed, don’t wear it on your body, and use an air tube headset or a landline when possible. I also recommend that you budget in three minutes at the airport before a flight to request a pat-down instead of going through the full-body scanner and subjecting your DNA to ionizing radiation.


Air Awareness: Why? Airborne pollutants and volatile chemicals come in and stay in. HEPA filters and removal of shoes are helpful ways to minimize the particulate matter that comes off of household items. One of particular concern is PDBEs, or flame retardants, which have been linked to a number of adverse fetal outcomes and to high cancer rates in fire fighters. These agents are in foam furniture and flameresistant carpets and couches, and even baby clothing. Here are some brands committed to eliminating usage: Acer, Apple, Eizo Nanao, LG Electronics, Lenovo, Matsushita, Microsoft, Nokia, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony-Ericsson, and Toshiba. Tropical plants are a natural way to lower volatile organic chemicals. Consider keeping 15 to 20 for every 1,800 square feet of space.


Opt for Organic: Why? Because, in my opinion, nothing is more important. I see current industrial farming practices as the root of all evil—the assault on biodiversity of food species (corn, soy, wheat and rice account for two-thirds of the modern American’s diet), corruption of soil microbiome (which is essential to plant health and nutrient content), petrochemical dependency, persecution of the local farmer, feeding livestock all manner of modified grains they were never meant to eat—the list goes on. The concern about food laced with pesticides is that you get a toxic load of chemicals that are very active in the body. A recent report on the potential harm associated with the most ubiquitously applied herbicide, glyphosate, typically applied to “Round-up Ready” genetically modified crops (soy, corn, sugar beets, etc.), discusses the potential role of this chemical in the depletion of tryptophan (a serotonin precursor and essential amino acid) and the alteration of gut flora functioning related to the pesticide’s bactericidal effects on gut microbiota. These changes can increase your susceptibility to other toxins because of effects on metabolic enzymes. Our gut bugs are responsible for nutrient absorption, vitamin production and immune protection.

I’m of the opinion that during pregnancy and lactation, a woman’s diet should be as close to 100 percent organic as possible, but if you need to prioritize, at the top of the page is a list of foods that are less likely to be sprayed, even if not organic. Do your best to avoid canned foods, unless you know they’re explicitly BPA-free, like Eden Organics. For meat and dairy, look for the term “pastured.” This is now being used, in a largely unregulated fashion, to refer to the fact that the animal had natural exposure to grass and associated nutrients.

This is a work in progress, and one that hopefully will inspire new ways to regulate an industry that has such an important impact on our overall well-being and the cost of our healthcare. As Victoria Maizes, M.D., says, we need “beyond organic” to reverse some of the concerning aspects of our food supply. That said, if you adopt even some of these principles, you will be ahead of the curve.

I try to steer clear of the doom-and-gloom science of the intergenerational effects of these toxins on our growing babies. Suffice it to say that independent data that is not industry funded has raised a troubling signal, enough to trigger the precautionary principle. We cannot wait for our government to act before we make an effort to protect ourselves. The U.K. has taken a bold stance recently in formally recommending many of the above tips to its pregnant population. Remember that stress-management through the relaxation response (i.e. breathing meditation), exercise, and a nutrientdense diet all help your body manage these toxins in the best way possible. In the end, we just want to get out of the way of our bodies and let them do what they know how to do best…achieve natural balance.


Foods less likely to be sprayed with pesticides:

  •     Onions
  •     Avocados
  •     Sweet corn
  •     Pineapples
  •     Mango
  •     Sweet peas
  •     Asparagus
  •     Kiwi Fruit
  •     Cabbage
  •     Eggplant
  •     Cantaloupe
  •     Watermelon
  •     Grapefruit
  •     Sweet potatoes
  •     Sweet onions

Source: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Holistic-Healthcare/a-new-leaf-8-conscious-choices-for-a-healthier-pregnancy.html


Healing Birth

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Jeanne Ohm, D.C.

During our first home birth, I can remember reaching a state I had never been in before. In spite of the many intense experiences I'd had in my life up to that time, this experience brought me to a new edge. I looked over to my husband, Tom, for assurance. I was entering into the transition stage of labor, the stage that necessitates letting go. My fear of the unknown made me clench onto control even harder. I blurted out, I don't know if I can do this!

For Tom, the decision to birth at home was a logical conclusion that respected normal physiology. For me it was a desire to own that confidence, coupled with a fear of the hospital, a lack of trust in their interventions, and an intellectual pinch of downright rebellion against needing their system to accomplish a normal body function like birth. In theory I respected the body's ability to function. In reality, unlike Tom, my upbringing and previous experiences were being challenged. For me, this first home birth was a paradigm shift.

In his usual matter-of-fact way, Tom said, Of course you can do this. You're in a woman's body and that's what they're designed for. You're doing just fine!

I retorted, How do you know I'm doing fine? You've never been to a birth before!

In response, he put his hand on my shoulder, and looked me in the eyes. Yeah, he said, but I know you, and you are being you, and that means you are doing just fine.

Those reassuring words soothed my anxiety. A physiological state of ease ensued. My intellect loosened its tight grip to the intelligence of the heart. Labor progressed normally, and Justin was born shortly after.

Such resounding trust in normal, natural physiology does not always come easy, but it comes with experience. Tom had grown up in a family who trusted in the body's ability to function. This was in stark contrast to my upbringing. I had undergone three major surgeries by the time I was 6 years old. The traumas of separation and estrangement that followed hammered home in me the belief that healing happened with medicine and surgery.

Together we had been introduced to the chiropractic principle that life expresses intelligence, and that our body's own innate intelligence knew what the body needed at every given moment. Chiropractors recognize that the nervous system is the conduit for this intelligence, and that a nervous system free of interference leads to the expression of normal physiology. Chiropractic was the beginning of the biggest paradigm shift in my life, moving away from learned fears into inherent trust and respect.

So when we decided to have our unattended home births, in theory it seemed consistent with this philosophy. But as Joseph Chilton Pearce so nicely implies, theory is not real or worth talking about unless it has been experienced.

Back then I really knew very little about birth and did not realize the major impact birthing has on the future of human potential. My experiences of all six of our home births taught me it is all about the baby. My continuous observation of perinatal women has proven that the greatest, most effective evidence-based science is that of normal physiology. Thirty-five years working with pregnant moms in preparation for birth has shown me that perinatal chiropractic care leads to safer, easier births for both mothers and babies. And most important, I now know that if we are to heal the world (and heal our species), we must first heal birth.

All About the Baby

Our pregnancy and birthing choices were made from the perspective that it's all about the baby. We knew that the baby would be exposed to all of my chemical input, so I knew to avoid all toxic substances. Additionally, I knew that procedures like epidurals may appear to help the mother, but would have potential side effects for my baby so they were not an option. When I was first offered ultrasound in my fourth pregnancy, my antennas immediately went up. There was no convincing information that said it wasn't harmful, and for me to make an informed choice on this matter depended on that information. So I stuck with the tried-and-true, non-invasive fetoscope and measuring tape for all of my pregnancies. To see my baby, I simply got quiet, closed my eyes, and connected.

I was also very cognizant that this baby inside of me was aware of my emotional state, although this thinking was not promoted at the time. Without knowing the actual hormonal exchanges that were happening, I knew that this little one was a living, conscious being sharing all of my experiences. Talking with my baby in utero and avoiding stress were two ways of acknowledging his sensitivities. I had read Ina May Gaskins book, Spiritual Midwifery, and it was clear to me that a mother's emotions in labor had a profound impact on its progress. I figured the same was true in pregnancy.

Normal Physiology is the Greatest Science

The science of chiropractic emphasizes that its crucial to respect normal physiology. This translated easily to pregnancy and birth. Of course the intelligence that Guytons Physiology refers to as that mysterious something knew just what my baby and I needed at any given moment. I optimized my body's function with regular chiropractic adjustments. I ditched the due-date theory after my first pregnancy. Although I had feelings similar to all women at the end of pregnancy (Are we there yet? ) I also knew that any interference to the baby's timeline in coming out could negatively affect my birth and baby. Induction in any form, even the natural suggestions like castor oil, were a violation of normal physiology, and therefore a potential harm to my baby.

Labor proceeded with me calling the shots or, rather, me listening to my body's cues. This was different for each of my six labors. My positions, and my need for nourishment, rest, or movement, were all personalized to each particular birth. There were no schedules to adhere to, no threatening policies, no prodding strangers to tolerate, and no negative energy. There was a caring family, close friends, and sometimes an amazing midwife. Always supportive, always confident, and all loving.

Until recently, there was not too much knowledge about the hormones of birth. Pioneers in the natural birthing world like Michel Odent, M.D., and Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg, Ph.D., have introduced us to the powerful hormone, oxytocin, and how the medicalization of birth may be altering the expression of human potential, individually and as a species. In other words, the technocratic procedures that mothers are told will make birth safer actually impede its natural process. Rushing to the hospital, vaginal exams in labor, fasting, insensitive or disempowering phrases by hospital staff, all put mothers into a fear-based, sympathetic fight-or-flight mode, which is counter-intuitive to the progression of labor. Add mandatory fetal monitoring, restrictive and forced positions, induction or augmentation of labor, and epidurals and other invasive chemicals, and we radically alter normal physiology and hormonal production. What is sacrificed? The release of oxytocin and a safer, easier birth for both mother and child.

Chiropractic in Pregnancy for Safer, Easier Births

Upon my introduction to chiropractic in 1976, I heard that women under chiropractic care had easier and faster births than most. When I became an instructor for the ICPA Diplomate program in 1999, teaching the module Perinatal Care, I wanted an explanation of what I, too, had found in practice with pregnant moms for almost 20 years. In those years I observed that there were three causes of neurological upset that lead to dystocia (difficult labor): physiological/ neuro-biomechanical causes, emotional causes, and technocratic/medical causes. I sought to discover the potential relationship between the chiropractic adjustment and the prevention of these three causes. Here is what I found:

Physiological and Neuro-Biomechanical Causes: Williams Obstetrics lists three components as causes for dystocia: power (inadequate nerve function); passage (unbalanced, misaligned pelvic bones); and passenger (suboptimal baby positioning). Simply put, this is how the adjustment relates to these three causes:

  • Power: The chiropractic adjustment reduces interference to the nervous system allowing for greater physiological function and performance.
  • Passage: The adjustment creates balance in the pelvic bones, muscles and ligaments.
  • Passenger: This balanced pelvis contributes to optimal baby positioning in birth.

Emotional Causes: Fear is the greatest enemy of a mother in labor. Understanding the autonomic nervous system (ANS), we realize that if we can establish a state of ease and overcome sympathetic override (fight-or-flight) in pregnancy and labor, the production and effects of oxytocin are maximized. Chiropractic adjustments affect the ANS via the vagus nerve. By impacting the ANS, we are building resilience to sympathetic override and strengthening the function of the ANSs social branch. Additionally, the vagus nerve is responsible for oxytocin release. Care up to and during birth may have a significant effect in the release of this important hormone.

Whats more, when a pregnant mother is surrounded with the hope and ease offered by the chiropractic philosophy (Life expresses intelligence), her social vagus is further activated, and she approaches birth in a stable, assured, trusting manner.

Technocratic Causes: The typical technological birth comes from the premise that pregnancy and birth are a disorder to be monitored and controlled. Somehow we have allowed the mystique of technology to overcome our practical understanding of normal physiology. Technological intervention can be lifesaving at times. However, when every pregnancy and birth is approached from the fear based premise of what can go wrong, we create problems that do not even exist. It then becomes easy to justify needless and invasive interventions, which have been shown to lead to further intervention. Although a woman may be led to believe that these interventions are better for her and her baby, she is frequently unaware of the potential harm these interventions can create.

Chiropractors have been a steady support for informed, conscious choice for over 100 years. Their greatest desire is that parents make evidence-informed decisions on all of their family's healthcare needs. This means reading all evidence of interventions, and not depending solely on the one-sided, popular, technocratic perspective. I have known many chiropractors who are more knowledgeable of peer reviewed literature on birth practices than many birth practitioners. And let's remember that chiropractors deduce from the greatest evidence-informed practice there is: the science of normal physiology.

To Heal the Earth, We Must First Heal Birth

The virtue of humility appears to be devolving. If you burden yourself with watching the news, if you are on any social media pages, or if you are simply observant, you may notice the hostility and aberrant behaviors so prevalent today. Where is the love? Why is it so hard for us to show respect and consideration to each other, or even to ourselves?

As my esteemed colleague Chris Kent, D.C., says, Everything we experience is processed through our nervous system. If our nervous system is not functioning to its optimal level, our perception of the world is distorted and our ability to respond appropriately is compromised. This not only affects our physical health, but also our emotional and psychological function as well.

I propose that our nervous systems are being reprogrammed throughout pregnancy and especially at birth due to physiological, emotional, and technocratic causes. Modern lifestyle habits and technocratic birthing procedures have contributed to a deficit of our neurological function. The physical and emotional traumas to both the mother and baby in these widely accepted birthing practices have a direct effect on the healthy development of the infants social vagal branch. As stated before, this nerve is responsible for the release of oxytocin, the hormone of love. By depriving children of the proper development of this nerve function from birth, we are directly affecting the social well-being of generations to come. The consequences of this may impact the human potential in an immeasurable and insidious way.

Imagine during pregnancy, instead of relying on ultrasound to see our babies, we learn to be still and feel our babies presence as they communicate with us. Imagine gently talking with them, conscious that they hear our words and feel our attention. Now imagine this quiet communication evolving into a powerful trust so strong that ordinary hunches emerge as vivid signals pointing us directly to our best course of action in birth.

Now feel how wonderful it would be to experience encouragement, respect, and support in pregnancy while approaching labor. Imagine the nervous system being strengthened and building resilience to the sympathetic overload we are exposed to daily. As we approach the time for birth, we allow labor to initiate on its own. We choose our birthing place based on comfort and safety parameters that we choose from confidence, not fear. Instead of an atmosphere of procedures or interventions, there is an ambiance of support and trust. The mother's choice for movement or rest is respected. Since there are no artificial chemicals interfering with natural hormonal production, the body's hormones are performing their amazing feats, and labor progresses just as it should.

When the baby's head appears, no physical force is applied to the baby's fragile neck and spine. There are no cuts to the mothers perineum, and so both mom and baby are in a state of awe. They are given as much time as desired to look into each others eyes, activating the social vagus and priming it for its important lifelong role of loving, human expression. With no rush to whisk the baby away, to cut the cord, examine or weigh her, we take a birth pause, and in that moment silently celebrate a new, unique human life.

Then, when we are both ready, following each others cues, we bring our little treasure to our breast and together, from inside ourselves, with ease and assurance, we relax into the most comfortable position and continue the nurturing of our babies that happened so effortlessly in the womb. Mom is purring, baby is making those sweet suckling sighs. The vagus is communicating. Oxytocin is surging.

I will leave you with these wise words by Christiane Northrup, from the documentary Giving Birth:

The way babies are meant to be is with their mothers, skin to skin, between their breasts, the outer womb. They've just been in the inner womb for nine months, but we think somehow we have evolved technologically where we are beyond that, and so we lose instinctual wisdom.

Birth is a magical time of bringing a new human consciousness into the world. The baby's brain is ripe for the first impressions of what its like to be on earth. How it's done affects that baby for the rest of its life. A child needs to be greeted with gentleness, with calmness, with love, and with a sense of, It's OK, you can relax now. You're here.


Pathways Issue 51 article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #51. Source: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/New-Edge-Science/healing-birth.html


Flu Vaccination During Early Pregnancy Linked to Nearly Eightfold Risk of Miscarriage

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

Most pregnant women know to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and other obvious toxins to protect the child growing in their womb, but what about vaccines?

In recent years, pregnant women have been told to get an increasing number of vaccinations, even though there's a shocking lack of studies to confirm the safety for mother and child.

As noted by Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) in her 2013 article, "Vaccination During Pregnancy: Is it Safe?":1

    "Although since the 1970s public health officials have recommended influenza vaccinations for pregnant women in the second or third trimester,2 relatively few obstetricians promoted the vaccine until the past decade when, in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strengthened recommendations that all pregnant women, healthy or not, should get a flu shot in any trimester.3

    [C]urrent vaccine recommendations4,5,6 are endorsed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)7,8 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical trade associations.9,10

    With these recommendations, the time-honored rule of avoiding any potential toxic exposure that might interfere with the normal development of the fetus has been suspended and replaced with an assumption that vaccination during pregnancy is safe."

Vaccinations During Pregnancy Have No Basis in Science

Fisher goes on to list no less than 10 vaccine facts pertaining to the lack of evidence of safety in pregnant women. For starters, drug companies did not test the safety and effectiveness of giving influenza vaccine to pregnant women before the vaccines were licensed in the U.S.,11,12 and data on inflammatory and other biological responses to vaccination during pregnancy that could affect pregnancy and birth outcomes is still lacking.13

As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, it's still unknown whether the influenza vaccine can cause fetal harm or affect your reproductive capacity,14 which is why the vaccine manufacturer product inserts state that the influenza vaccine should only be given to a pregnant woman if it's "clearly needed."

Pregnant women are essentially expected to stick to recommendations out of sheer faith, since vaccine recommendations are not based on weighty scientific evidence. In fact, health statistics suggest there's something very wrong going on in the U.S., seeing how we have one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.

As of last year, global rates for maternal mortality had fallen by half — except in the U.S., where the number of women who die from pregnancy-related complications has significantly increased.15 Infant mortality rates are also far higher in the U.S. than in any of the other 27 wealthy countries surveilled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).16

Could this be related to the fact that American babies and pregnant women receive the greatest number of vaccines? While there's no research clearly proving this, there's also no evidence to refute the hypothesis that excessive vaccinations may be part of the problem.
Flu Vaccine May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Miscarriage

In 2009, reports of miscarriage following administration of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine started emerging.17 Dozens of women claimed they lost their babies just hours or days after getting the vaccine, which had not been tested on pregnant women or, if it was, the evidence was never published. Not surprisingly, these instances were passed off as coincidental. After all, miscarriages do happen, and for any number of different reasons.

Now, a paper18, 19,20 published in the journal Vaccine is yet again raising questions about whether it is safe to give pregnant women flu vaccine. They found that women who had received a pH1N1-containing flu vaccine two years in a row were more likely to suffer miscarriage within the following 28 days.

While most of the miscarriages occurred during the first trimester, several also took place in the second trimester. The median fetal term at the time of miscarriage was seven weeks. In all, 485 pregnant women aged 18 to 44 who had a miscarriage during the flu seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 were compared to 485 pregnant women who carried to term.

Of the 485 women who miscarried, 17 had been vaccinated twice in a row — once in the 28 days prior to vaccination and once in the previous year. For comparison, of the 485 women who had normal pregnancies, only four had been vaccinated two years in a row. While the study could not establish direct causation, the researchers call for more research to assess the link. Commenting on the study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Amanda Cohn, CDC adviser for vaccines stated:

    "I think it's really important for women to understand that this is a possible link, and it is a possible link that needs to be studied and needs to be looked at over more [flu] seasons. We need to understand if it's the flu vaccine, or is this a group of women [who received flu vaccines] who were also more likely to have miscarriages."

At present, the CDC is not making any changes to its recommendation for pregnant women, which states they should get vaccinated against influenza no matter which trimester they're in.21 This is reprehensible public health policy at its worst. Sacrifice the health of women and their unborn children so corporations can profit.

Remember the former head of the CDC, Julie Gerberding, left the CDC in 2009 to later become president of Merck Vaccines, a position she held until December 2014, when she became Merck's executive vice president of strategic communications, global public policy and population health.
Washington Post Tries to Minimize Impact of Its Report

Not surprisingly, vaccine industry shills are up in arms about the findings, and already, there are signs suggesting industry pressure is being applied to stifle the news. The original story published by The Washington Post, written by Lena Sun, was headlined "Researchers Find Hint of a Link Between Flu Vaccine and Miscarriage." That headline was quickly changed to "What to Know About a Study of Flu Vaccine and Miscarriage."22

Notably, this edit was done without disclosing the edit made, which is standard practice. I would not be at all surprised if the study actually gets retracted in coming weeks for some perceived shortcoming or flaw, even though it's virtually impossible to find a published study that isn't impervious to such critique. As noted by J.B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue:23

    "The mainstream media is doing their best to minimize a devastating study showing a high correlation (7.7-fold) between flu vaccines and miscarriages. A review of the scientific literature shows a body of evidence that supports the new study's conclusions."

Commenting specifically on The Washington Post's obvious tiptoeing around the issue, he writes:

    "[W]hile I've seen a number of different ways for reporters to try and minimize the implications of damaging studies, Ms. Sun's headline may just take the cake: 'Researchers find hint of a link between flu vaccine and miscarriage' … 'hint' is not a statistical term nor does 'hint' in any way provide a specific assessment of risk.

    'Hint' is more like a word that you hope might keep people from reading your article … [T]he actual conclusions by the study authors were deeply troubling … [A]n odds ratio is 'a measure of association between an exposure and an outcome. The OR represents the odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure.'

    In plain English, an odds ratio greater than 1 would tend to imply that two things are in fact linked (like tobacco use and lung cancer). What was the odds ratio for spontaneous abortion for women who had received an H1N1 shot in 2010 to 2011 and then a flu vaccine in 2011 to 12?

    The study says 7.7 … that's not a 'hint,' that's a giant disturbing alarm (which is why the damage control is being rolled out en masse today). Women who had received the two flu shots in successive seasons were almost 8x more likely to have a spontaneous abortion than those who had not …"

Safety of Flu Vaccine Has Not Been Established in Pregnant Women

Sun's article deserves further critique, which Handley also addresses, and that is her statement that the CDC's advice to vaccinate pregnant women is "based on a multitude of previous studies." This simply isn't true, and you can verify this for yourself (which is what Sun should have done).

While you can certainly take the time to pore through the medical literature, available on PubMed for example, all you really have to do to confirm or refute this particular statement is to look at a flu vaccine package insert, which will tell you that safety and effectiveness have NOT been established in pregnant women. This means there are no studies showing pregnant women will benefit from flu vaccination. Nor are there any studies to support the claim that getting vaccinated during pregnancy is in fact safe.

If something has not been established, the issue is still wide-open for debate. To claim anything else is simply to spout opinions. Handley provides the following screen shot, showing the fine print from a 2016 package insert for Sanofi Pasteur's Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccine, which is routinely given to pregnant women.

Source: Medium, "Devastating Flu Vaccine-Miscarriage Study Sparks Ridiculous Spin," September 13, 2017

The company's patient information sheet24 for this vaccine also points out that "Sanofi Pasteur Inc. is collecting information on pregnancy outcomes and the health of newborns following vaccination with Fluzone Quadrivalent during pregnancy." In other words, pregnant women everywhere are participating in an uncontrolled experiment in progress.

They just don't know it, and articles like Sun's perpetuate the false idea that "a multitude" of studies have already established safety and effectiveness of flu vaccination during pregnancy.


Successive Flu Vaccinations Depress Immune Function

We've actually known that successive flu vaccinations take a toll on immune function, raising your risk of more severe infections as time goes on — including the possibility of miscarriage if you're pregnant.

For example, a study25 published in Human & Experimental Toxicology in 2012, based on reports from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database during three consecutive flu seasons, starting with the 2008/2009 season, found "an ascertainment-corrected rate of 590 fetal-loss reports per million pregnant women vaccinated (or 1 per 1,695)."

Canadian researchers have also found that people who receive consecutive flu seasonal vaccinations start to experience declined flu protection. As reported by CBC News in January 2015:26

    "During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control originally thought seasonal flu shots from 2008 might offer extra protection against the new pandemic strain. They were puzzled to find instead, seasonal flu vaccination almost doubled the risk of infection with pandemic flu.

    Dr. Danuta Skowronski and her colleagues went on to do five more studies during the summer that showed the same effect in people and in ferrets, which are considered the best animal model of flu."

Vaccinating Pregnant Women Is Unwise

It has always been a principle of medicine that one should not vaccinate pregnant women, except in extreme cases, because the risk to the baby developing in the womb is too high. It's only in recent years that this policy is being blatantly violated.

Research has shown that stimulating a woman's immune system during midterm and later-term pregnancy significantly increases the risk that her baby will develop autism27 during childhood, and/or schizophrenia during the teenage years or early adulthood.28 It may also increase the risk of seizures in the baby, and later, as an adult.29 In fact, a number of neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems can occur in babies born to women immunologically stimulated during pregnancy.30,31,32

Despite such evidence, ACOG issued a notice September 13, the same day the featured study was published, saying it's perfectly safe to receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy, no matter what the study in the Vaccine journal suggests. According to ACOGs press release:33

    "The safety of vaccines used during pregnancy is of critical concern to ob-gyns. ACOG carefully tracks pregnancy-related vaccine safety information through its involvement in the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    For many years, ACOG and the CDC have recommended that every pregnant woman receive a flu shot in any trimester. Multiple published studies, as well as clinical experience, have all supported the belief that the flu vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy."

As you can see, even ACOG claims there are "multiple published studies" in existence showing flu vaccination is safe during pregnancy, despite the fact that vaccine makers actually negate such claims in their package inserts — and vaccine manufacturers are prevented, by federal law, from outright lying in their package insert.

The rules are looser, apparently, for everyone else. All in all, this is one giant experiment on pregnant women and infants — which Sanofi Pasteur even admits in its patient information sheet — and it is being driven by pharma greed and institutional power, infected with denialism.


Why Vaccinate Newborns With Unjustifiable Vaccine?

If vaccinating pregnant women isn't bad enough, giving newborns, even preemies and low birth weight babies, a completely unnecessary and risky vaccination on the first day of life may be even worse. On August 28, 2017, the AAP recommended that newborns weighing at least 2,000 grams (4.4 pounds) should receive their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.34

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices started recommending this in October 2016, and the AAP is now following suit. I cannot think of a more unnecessary and unjustifiable vaccine than hepatitis B to an infant weighing only 4 pounds. Hepatitis B is transmitted from IV drug abuse, sexual activity with an infected partner, a blood transfusion using contaminated blood or from a hepatitis B-positive mother.

This recommendation is medically unjustifiable, absolutely irrational and has no basis in science. The singular threat of this disease during infancy is if a child is born to an infected mother. Since that's the case, why not screen all pregnant women for the disease and only give the vaccine to those infants whose mothers actually test positive for hepatitis B?

That kind of revised rational policy would be a lot less expensive, and far safer for the majority of babies born in the United States. The AAP admits that "the birth dose of hep B vaccine is a critical safety net for infants born to infected mothers when the mother's results are not obtained, are misinterpreted, are falsely negative, are transcribed or reported inaccurately, or are not communicated to the infant care team."

In other words, because medical records are in such disarray, and future compliance to questionable vaccines simply can't be predicted, let's just vaccinate all the babies instead of trying to figure out if the mother might be hep B positive. That kind of attitude really does not instill confidence in basic medical record keeping — especially if the mother is indeed tested during pregnancy.

If false negatives are truly of such great concern, just test her twice, say, at her first obstetrics checkup and then again just before giving birth. Two false negatives are unlikely, and if they cannot keep track of test results obtained in the last nine months, then something else really needs addressing.

Unsurprisingly, the hepatitis B vaccine35 has also been scientifically linked to 69 different diseases and adverse consequences, including death. A 2001 study,36 which assessed adverse events associated with the hepatitis B vaccine in children under the age of 6, concluded the "hepatitis B vaccine is positively associated with adverse health outcomes in the general population of U.S. children."


Your Body Has Two Different Immune Systems

When it comes to vaccination, it's important to realize there are two parts of the immune system that fight disease in your body. One is the innate immune system that is always ready to work and the other is the adaptive immune system. The adaptive arm consists of Th1 and Th2. Th1 is commonly known as the cell mediated arm, and Th2 known as the humoral or antibody arm. Most vaccines preferentially stimulate the Th2 or humoral part of the immune system that produces antibodies.

The benefit of only measuring humoral immunity (antibodies) as a means of measuring vaccine effectiveness is that it can be easily determined by drawing blood samples. If specific vaccine-induced antibodies are present, the person is presumed to be immune to that infection and protected.

The whole point of vaccines is to stimulate antibody production without a cell mediated reaction preceding it. The theory goes back to the early days when it was believed that the humoral (antibody) arm of the immune system was the most important part of stimulating immunity.

However, research reveals that individuals who, due to a genetic abnormality are unable to generate antibody production, actually recover from infectious illness just as well as those able to make normal antibodies.37 They also usually have protection in the future upon re-exposure.

This demonstrates the importance of the Th1 arm of immunity, and suggests humoral immunity may only play a secondary role in natural resistance against targeted "vaccine-preventable" diseases. This, and the fact that vaccines fail to confer lifelong immunity, suggests that having a cell mediated response is necessary. What's more, research suggests that when Th2 is excessively stimulated through vaccination, your immune function may be compromised long term, leaving you more vulnerable to cancer.

Autoimmune diseases involve excessive antibody production while cancer involves cell mediated immune failure. This is why therapies that stimulate the cell mediated or innate immune system, such as Coley's toxins, can be helpful against cancer. What this suggests is that our modern vaccine policy, which is a full-scale assault on the cell mediated immune system, is a contributing factor to many of the chronic diseases we see.

There are also dozens of studies demonstrating that contracting certain childhood diseases actually protects you against various types of cancer later in life — everything from melanoma to leukemia. There's even evidence suggesting childhood diseases help protect against future heart disease.

These and hundreds of other studies can be found in Neil Z. Miller's book, "Miller's Review of Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers." If you're on the fence when it comes to vaccination, this is a book not to be missed.

Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions

With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it's critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.

THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.

National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.

It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your smart phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community.

Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips. So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.


Share Your Story With the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination, will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination.

The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.


Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), at www.NVIC.org:

  •     NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  •     If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  •     Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.
  •     Vaccine Failure Wall: View or post descriptions about vaccines that have failed to work and protect the vaccinated from disease.

Connect With Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents.

It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect, and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/09/26/flu-vaccination-miscarriage-risk.aspx

 

 


Sugar During Pregnancy Linked to Allergies

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

Allergies are your body's reaction to a protein (allergen) and are a sign your immune system is working overtime. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America,1 nasal allergies affect nearly 50 million people in the U.S., and that number is growing. As many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children suffer from allergic diseases, including asthma. sugar during pregnancy linked to asthma

These conditions are the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. and the third chronic disease in children under 18. In 2010, Americans with allergic rhinitis spent nearly $17.5 billion on health care related to the condition, lost more than 6 million work and school days and had nearly 16 million doctor visits.2

During the second encounter with an allergen, your body is ready to react, sending a powerful cocktail of histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins to protect your body. They trigger a cascade of symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing, sore throat, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Histamine may also cause your airways to constrict, triggering an asthma response or hives.

Pollen is one common allergen that triggers this reaction, but other protein molecules may as well, including mold spores, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches and cleaning and personal care products. The activation of this allergic response may be related to your dietary intake and your gut microbiome. Recent research has identified a higher risk of allergies and asthma in children born to mothers who ate high amounts of sugar during their pregnancy.3
Sugar During Pregnancy Increases Your Child's Risk of Allergies

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London evaluated survey data from nearly 9,000 mother-child pairs in the ongoing Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, tracking the health of families with children born between April 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992.4 Lead author Annabelle Bedard, Ph.D., commented on what triggered the researchers to evaluate the association between sugar and allergies:5

    "The dramatic 'epidemic' of asthma and allergies in the West in the last 50 years is still largely unexplained — one potential culprit is a change in diet. Intake of free sugar and high fructose corn syrup has increased substantially over this period. We know that the prenatal period may be crucial for determining risk of asthma and allergies in childhood and recent trials have confirmed that maternal diet in pregnancy is important."

Using self-reported estimates of sugar intake from questionnaires, the researchers calculated the amount of sugar the mothers ate during their pregnancy and compared this against the number of children diagnosed with allergies or asthma by age 7. Sixty-two percent of the children did not have allergic reactions, 22 percent had common allergies and 12 percent had asthma.

As a comparison, 10 percent of children in the U.S. were diagnosed with asthma in 2010, six years prior to this analysis.6 When the children were grouped into those with the lowest sugar intake during pregnancy (less than 34 grams or 7 teaspoons) and those with the greatest (over 82 grams or 16 teaspoons) the researchers discovered that children whose mothers ate the highest amounts had a 38 percent increased risk of allergies and a 73 percent higher risk of becoming allergic to two or more allergens.7

Women who ate high amounts of sugar were also twice as likely to have children who developed allergic asthma.8 Co-author Seif Shaheen, Ph.D., said:9

    "We cannot say on the basis of these observations that high intake of sugar by mothers in pregnancy is definitely causing allergy and allergic asthma in their offspring. However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency."

Impact of Asthma on Your Community

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames the lining of your lung tissue and narrows the airways. The inflammation in your lung tissue is sensitive to environmental stimuli, also called triggers, which differ from person to person.10 Allergy triggers include dust mites, cockroaches, mold, pet dander and pollen.11

However, you may develop an asthma exacerbation from triggers other than allergic proteins. For instance, strong irritants, such as chemical sprays, perfumes and tobacco smoke or scented products may irritate your lung tissue and narrow your airways. Other triggers include cold weather, exercise, upper respiratory infections, food sensitivities and stress.

In the featured study, researchers found children whose mothers ate high amounts of sugar while pregnant developed asthma triggered by allergens and not by fragrances, cold weather, exercise, infections or food sensitivities. In the past 30 years, the incidence of asthma has increased worldwide. While the condition is generally accepted as costly, some countries do not consider it a health care priority.12

The total cost of treatment and lost work and school to society is difficult to estimate, due in part to different definitions and characterizations of the conditions and different assessments of the socioeconomic impact on society. Although variable from country to country, an average cost per patient in Europe is $1,900, while in the U.S. the cost hovers near $3,100.13
Vitamin D During Pregnancy Helps Reduce Asthma Risk

Low vitamin D levels in children who have asthma may increase the number of severe exacerbations they suffer, including the need for a trip to the hospital.14 A previous study, which followed over 1,000 children for nearly four years, found vitamin D insufficiency was linked to a 50 percent increased risk of a severe asthmatic attack necessitating a visit to the emergency room or hospitalization.

A more recent study15 published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology also links low vitamin D levels in pregnant women to a higher risk of asthma in their children.16 This study supports similar findings from Harvard Medical School,17 in which vitamin D intake in over 1,100 mothers from the Northeastern U.S. was assessed. Children from mothers whose intake was higher during pregnancy had a decreased risk of recurrent wheezing by age 3, whether the vitamin D was from diet or a supplement.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology study evaluated the effect of using an oral supplement of vitamin D3 during the second and third trimester of pregnancy at nearly 4,000 IUs higher than the recommended daily intake of 400 IUs.18 After birth, researchers took a sample of the cord blood, testing the newborn's innate immune system response known to provide the baby with long-term protection against environmental pathogens.

The samples from babies whose mothers had taken the higher supplemental dose of 4,400 IUs of vitamin D3 responded with a healthier innate cytokine response and greater IL-17A production after T lymphocyte stimulation. The researchers believe this would likely lead to improved respiratory health as the child grows, since past research has linked a strong immune response with a reduction in asthma.

The lead researcher, Catherine Hawrylowicz, Ph.D., professor of immune regulation in allergic disease at King's College London, commented on the importance of the results as it relates to both the health of future children and the importance of investigating further links between vitamin D and immunity:19

    "The majority of all asthma cases are diagnosed in early childhood implying that the origin of the disease stems in fetal and early life. Studies to date that have investigated links between vitamin D and immunity in the baby have been observational.

    For the first time, we have shown that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy can effectively alter the immune response of the newborn baby, which could help to protect the child from developing asthma. Future studies should look at the long-term impact on the immunity of the infant."

Impact of Sugar on Your Body

Sugar is 50 times more potent than total calories in explaining the rising rates of diabetes worldwide, explains Dr. Robert Lustig in this short video. While both glucose and fructose are sweet, they are two different molecules.

Research demonstrates not only the detrimental effect sugar has on your developing baby and their future health, but also on your own health. Despite the American Heart Association's seal of approval on products that meet or exceed their own recommended daily limit on sugar, there is no nutritional reason to eat foods with added sugar.

In fact, the opposite is true. Diets high in net carbohydrates and added sweeteners may do far more than spike your blood glucose and insulin levels. Sugar will overload and damage your liver. High levels of sugar in your body will also trigger metabolic syndrome, a combination of weight gain, abdominal obesity, rising cholesterol levels and elevated triglycerides.

Eating a diet rich in net carbohydrates and excess sugars has also been linked to hypertension. As your insulin and leptin levels rise in response to sugars, your blood pressure also rises. Your body uses magnesium to fully relax your blood vessels, but your body is unable to store magnesium as you become resistant to insulin from a diet rich in sugar. When your body doesn't have enough magnesium to relax your blood vessels, your blood pressure also rises.

Eating high amounts of sugar is also linked to brain-related health issues, such as depression, learning disorders, memory problems and food addiction. Sugars trigger the reward center in your brain, leading to cravings that may rival cocaine addiction in some individuals.20 However, not all sugars have identical effects. For instance, fructose may activate your brain to increase your interest in food, while glucose triggers your brain's satiation signal.
Your Gut Microbiome and Allergies

High sugar intake also affects the growth of bacteria in your gut. In an evaluation of data from market research firm Euromonitor, researchers found people in the U.S. ate more sugar per person than any other country evaluated.21 The average person in the U.S. consumes more than 126 grams of sugar each day, nearly twice the amount consumed by 54 monitored countries and twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization.

Researchers have demonstrated that diets rich in sugar will alter your gut microbiome,22,23 likely since your beneficial bacteria thrive on fiber and pathogenic bacteria thrive on sugar. Increasing the amount of sugar to the diet of mice transplanted with human fecal material demonstrated the gut microbiome would change dramatically within 24 hours of adding sugar to their diet.24

Scientists have found infants who go on to develop allergies start with early-life abnormalities in their gut microbiome and microbial function.25 While research continues to find links between healthy gut microbiota and a reduction in allergic response in adults and children, the evidence to date suggests that your gut microbiome is a significant target in the prevention and management of allergic asthma.26

In a recent scientific review, scientists found an association between immune-regulated epigenetic imprinting from mother to child during pregnancy that may support the immune system of the growing child after birth.27

However, if your gut microbiome is altered from high intake of sugar and net carbohydrates, this may alter your body's ability to support the growing immune system of your child. In yet another study, doctors were able to associate altered intestinal microbiota with the development of asthma and allergies in children, suggesting the mother's immune system may also play a role.28
Break Free From Sugar

Research supports making a break from processed foods and added sugars in your diet to optimize your health and the health of your children. While sugar is an additive that can be challenging to reduce or eliminate from your diet, the benefits to your overall health, energy level and brain function may become rapidly evident, helping to motivate your efforts.

If you currently eat a lot of sugar, there's a good chance you're struggling with sugar addiction. If so, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping. It has helped many "soda addicts" kick their sweet habit, and it should work for any type of sweet craving you may have.

As you begin eliminating sugar from your diet, be sure to avoid most processed foods, as added sugar can be found in nearly 74 percent of processed foods under more than 60 different names.29 If you're already fighting diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or are overweight, you would be wise to limit your total fructose and sugar intake to 15 grams per day until your condition has normalized.

For all others, I recommend limiting your total fructose to 25 grams or less per day. As you move toward limiting your sugar intake, here are several tips to help reduce cravings and help you on your journey to good health:

• Exercise: Anyone who exercises intensely on a regular basis will know a significant amount of cardiovascular exercise is one of the best "cures" for food cravings. It always amazes me how my appetite, especially for sweets, dramatically decreases after a good workout. I believe the mechanism is related to the dramatic reduction in insulin levels that occurs after exercise.

• Organic, black coffee: Coffee is a potent opioid receptor antagonist, and contains compounds such as cafestol — found plentifully in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee — which can bind to your opioid receptors, occupy them and essentially block your addiction to other opioid-releasing food.30,31 This may profoundly reduce the addictive power of other substances, such as sugar.

• Sour taste:  Simply tasting something sour, such as cultured vegetables, helps reduce sweet cravings, too. This is doubly beneficial, as fermented vegetables also promote gut health. You can also try adding lemon or lime juice to your water.

Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/07/19/sugar-during-pregnancy-linked-to-allergies.aspx


No-Nonsense Guide to A Naturally Healthy Pregnancy and Baby

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Mercola

What You Need to Know for a Happy and Stress-Free Pregnancy

    Making sure that your baby gets a healthy start in life is one of your biggest priorities. That means ensuring that your nutritional intake is at optimal levels.

    The purpose of this article is to give you the absolute best and most current recommendations that I have culled from over three decades of being involved in health care. I know it is a major challenge to sort through all the confusion, so I am going to do the hard work for you and provide some simple, practical, and solid tips for helping you to bring the healthiest child possible into this world.

    Some of the main things I will be discussing with you include the importance of:

  •         Healthy daily doses of omega-3spregnant, pregnancy
  •         Optimizing your vitamin D levels
  •         Regular exercise
  •         Eating for vitality and health
  •         Just saying no to vaccinations
  •         Removing your mercury amalgams
  •         Treating severe gum disease
  •         Minimizing pesticide exposure
  •         Using the safest cosmetics
  •         Avoiding exposure to phthalates

The Importance of Omega-3 Fats During Pregnancy

    After reviewing many tens of thousands of articles on nutrition, I am convinced that the single most important dietary influence on your prenatal health is adequate omega-3 fats.1 Most women have major deficiencies of this fat, and given the statistics, it's very possible you do too.

    A study in March 1991 at the Mayo Clinic of 19 "normal" pregnant women consuming normal diets showed that all were deficient in omega-3 fats. Another study of Inuit (Eskimo) women, compared to Canadian women, revealed omega-3 deficiency in the milk of the Canadian nursing mothers.2

    Omega-3 fat and its derivative, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child's development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child's nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.

    While most people are seriously lacking in omega-3s, they are overdoing another type of fat: omega-6. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Today, though, most Americans' ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1! 3

    It's very important to get your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio closer to the ideal 1:1. To do this, simply cut back on all vegetable oils (this includes those in processed foods, like cookies, chips, and crackers) and get a regular supply of high-quality omega-3 fat, which I'll be telling you how to do, later on.

    In the next few sections you'll learn even more reasons why omega-3s are so critical to you and your baby's health, and why I recommend that every pregnant woman maintain an optimal daily dose of omega-3s.

Omega-3s Provide Phenomenal Protection Against Prematurity

    Optimizing your omega-3 intake will virtually guarantee that your baby will be full term. Prematurity is the leading cause of death during a baby's first month of life, and serious complications can occur later in life for preemies who survive.4 Studies show that the earlier a child is born, the higher the risk of complications, including:

  •         Respiratory distress syndrome
  •         Bleeding in the brain
  •         Less ability to fight off infection due to immature immune system
  •         Mental retardation
  •         Cerebral palsy
  •         Lung problems
  •         Gastrointestinal problems
  •         Vision and hearing loss.

    The good news is that the DHA in animal-based omega-3 fats will prevent the vast majority of premature deliveries, 5 as well as the other complications listed above.

More Omega-3 Benefits for Mom And Baby

    Omega-3s contain a powerhouse of nutrients to ensure that your baby will develop properly and reach its highest potential. These nutrients help to maximize the intelligence7 of your child, and protect your baby from brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay, and ADHD.

    Studies have shown that sufficient levels of omega-3 fats optimize brain growth in children, especially during the third trimester.8

    And in addition, omega-3 fats have been found to be highly effective in combating cardiovascular disease and depression. With hormones fluctuating so wildly during this time, you might find yourself dealing with some depression. It is a very common occurrence in pregnancy.

    Research has now shown that low plasma concentrations of DHA, one of the main fats in omega-3 oil, are associated with low concentrations of brain serotonin. Serotonin has a calming effect on your brain and nervous system, so it is no surprise that a lack of it caused study participants to feel depressed and suicidal.9

    However, in a British study, researchers found that women who consumed greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during the third trimester were less likely to show signs of major depression during pregnancy, and for up to eight months after the birth.10

    Dietary supplementation with omega-3 oil concentrates has also been shown to reduce both the progression of cardiovascular disease and related mortality, including sudden cardiac death,11 so make sure you get plenty of this critical nutrient to protect you and your baby during this important time.

    Another great benefit of adding omega-3 oils to your diet is that they will help prevent your child from developing diabetes later in life.18 This goes back to the role of omega-3 fats in helping you carry your baby to term. Studies show that premature babies have a greater risk of developing diabetes. Let me also add that studies link this tendency towards diabetes to a lack of sufficient vitamin D prior to birth.

    Hopefully all this has convinced you how important it is to have plenty of omega-3s in your diet so you can be amply protected against these risk factors during pregnancy.

Finding the Best Sources of Omega-3s

    In past years, I have recommended that the best way to obtain your essential omega-3 fats was to consume fish, but because of the ever-increasing danger of ingesting too much mercury, my current belief is that fish should generally be avoided. The mercury contained in fish has been well documented to cause a variety of neurological birth defects.12,13

    Even the conservative FDA has warned that women should avoid most fish during pregnancy.14

    Because of this issue, I recommend that you supplement your diet with a high-quality krill oil instead.15 Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that inhabit the Earth's oceans. The purest oil is made from krill that are harvested in the deep, clean waters of the Antarctic.16

    The reason I prefer krill oil to fish oil is that krill oil contains potent antioxidants, whereas fish oil is weaker in antioxidant content.

    The major drawback to taking fish oil is that, as you increase your intake of omega-3 fats, you actually increase your need for more antioxidants.

    Why it this?

    Because fish oil is quite perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of those unhealthy free radicals. Therefore, you need to take antioxidants to ensure that the fish oil doesn't oxidize and become rancid inside your body. But krill oil makes life simpler because you don't need to pop extra antioxidants every time you take your omega-3s.

    And the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA are also present in krill oil. At one time, fatty fish like salmon was an excellent source of these acids, but because of the mercury contamination mentioned previously, as well as PCB contamination17 and even more, it is no longer a safe choice.

    All these contaminants outweigh the benefits you could get from their omega-3 content (particularly since you can get them from krill oil, which is purified of contaminants). And please note that your prenatal vitamins do not contain one microgram of DHA!

    Another healthy source for obtaining omega-3 is beef fed exclusively on grass. If you can find a local producer, it would be wise to seek out this food source.

Are Plant Sources of Omega-3 Acceptable?

    It is important to note that plant-based omega 3 fats do not provide the same benefits as animal-based, because most of us can't convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the appropriate amount of DHA that is required.6

    Flax seeds, walnuts, and other plant sources of omega-3 should not be substituted for animal omega-3s, as you will simply not receive the same benefits because they are not metabolized as efficiently. For more information and precautions about nuts during pregnancy, please see the section titled Limit Nuts.

Add Sunshine for Optimally Healthy Baby

    Without question one of the single most important strategies you can have for a healthy baby is to make sure you have optimal vitamin D levels. There is about a 90 percent chance that you do NOT have healthy vitamin D levels for a variety of reasons.

    If you work indoors a lot, it's likely you don't have sufficient levels of vitamin D, because sunlight is where most or all of our vitamin D comes from. Also, if you live in a northern latitudes where you don't spend much time outdoors even when you aren't working, there's an extra good chance you may be D-deficient as well.

    Your windows also screen out the vast majority of UVB rays from the sun shining through, so you will NOT generate significant levels of vitamin D by sitting in front of a sunny window. There are other benefits to doing that, but generating healthy vitamin D levels is not one of them.19

    A recent study has shown that even in you live in more southern areas and spend more time outdoors, you may still be deficient in vitamin D. The study showed that adults in southern Arizona were found to be deficient in vitamin D, particularly those with darker skin which produces less vitamin D in response to sunlight.

    More than a quarter of Arizona adults who were tested had dangerously low blood levels of the vitamin.

    On top of that, most people don't eat much vitamin-D rich fish, which these days is actually a good thing. While missing the vitamin D, you and your baby are also happily missing the high mercury levels that most fish contain,20 due to the ongoing pollution of our waters.

    I believe the very best way to optimize your vitamin D level is with regular exposure of large portions of your skin to the sun. However, I realize that may be difficult if it's snowing outside, so that's why I recommend you get your vitamin D from an oral form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

    Vitamin D3 comes from fish oil, and is the best and most effective form of oral vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is also found in eggs, organ meats, animal fat, cod liver oil, and fish. It is the equivalent to the vitamin D3 formed on your skin from UV-B.

    However, you must have your blood levels checked before you begin any supplementation program. This is best done by a nutritionally oriented physician. The advantage of having your medical doctor perform the test is that it will usually be covered by your medical insurance.

    It is also very important that you order the correct test.21 There are two tests with very similar names, so don't be confused. They are 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. The correct test is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Make Sure Your Doctor Uses the Correct Testing Lab

    Recent developments in 2008 also made it clear that there are irregularities in the values obtained from different testing methods. So while you may get results from any of the three assays that are analytically accurate, they might not be clinically accurate, which is, ultimately, what matters.

    Therefore, in order for the test to offer you clinically relevant results, I recommend using LabCorp. Their radioimmunoassay (RIA) method for measuring total vitamin D levels has become the gold standard, not because it's more accurate than others, but because it's the one used in almost every major vitamin D study, on which the blood levels for clinical efficacy are based. 22

    As far as test results, you should strive for levels of 60 ng/ml. This is currently considered the optimal level for vitamin D.

Add Exercise to Your Daily Schedule

    Exercise should be an important part of your health routine while you're pregnant, as long as your doctor has not indicated otherwise. In fact, vigorous exercise has been shown to decrease the possibility of premature birth.23

    In a study conducted between 1995 and 1998, close to 1,700 pregnant women were questioned about their leisure activity during the three months before pregnancy, as well as during the first and second trimesters. Of the women questioned, 22 percent exercised vigorously before pregnancy -- 14 percent during the first trimester, and eight percent during the second. Vigorous activity included jogging or bicycling at a moderate to fast pace, swimming, or aerobic, fast-paced dancing.

    Women who exercised vigorously during the first trimester were 20 percent less likely to deliver prematurely, compared with those who did not. Those who reported vigorous activity during their second trimester reduced their risk of premature, or pre-term birth, by 48 percent.

    A later study indicated that women who exercised at the same rate throughout their pregnancies had larger placentas than their more sedentary peers. The volume of the placenta is a general marker of its ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your baby. The study also indicated that a more intense exercise regimen may result in babies who weigh less at birth.24 However, none of the babies born to women who exercised moderately or intensely through the ninth month were considered unhealthy.

    These findings indicate that regular weight-bearing exercise is beneficial for both you and your baby, and that the amount of benefit varies with the timing and amount of exercise.

Eating for Two

    I'm sure you have heard the term "eating for two." For many years, mothers-to-be were told that because they were pregnant, they must eat for two. But this is a very misleading statement. Some women gain far too much weight in the misguided belief that they must provide additional nutrition for their growing child.

    Others may simply use this statement as an excuse to eat whatever they want. In either case, surveys now show that roughly half of all pregnant women are overweight or obese.25

    The truth is, obesity can wreak havoc on your health, and that havoc will extend throughout your pregnancy and affect your unborn child. The side-effects of obesity include birth defects,26 infertility,27 heart disease,28 and much more. Studies also show that overweight or obese women have a greater tendency than normal-weight women to produce children who will also become overweight.29

    So it's important to your health and to your baby's to keep your weight within reasonable parameters, so you can both avoid problems down the road.

Eating the Right Foods for Baby

    While it is true that we should always strive to eat properly, remember that a precious cargo – your baby -- is now sharing your food supply. His little body has no choice but to try to make good nutrition from whatever you eat, so it is more important than ever to choose the right foods so that he can be assured of a strong, healthy adulthood.

    In general, choose fresh, organic foods whenever possible. And eat a well-balanced diet consisting of adequate protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.

    Be sure to include plenty of leafy green vegetables, because they are loaded with folic acid, a B vitamin that studies have shown reduces the chance of your child being born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are a type of birth defect that affects the brain and spinal cord, and includes spina bifida.30

    You can find many good sources of locally grown organic vegetables and fruits at your neighborhood farmer's market.31 A good way to make sure you are eating properly is to eat according to your Nutritional Type.™

    There are basically three Nutritional Types™:

        Protein

        Carb

        Mixed. 32

    Protein types do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat diets. Carb types normally feel best when the majority of their food is carbohydrate. However, I do not mean refined carbs, such as from commercial cakes, pies, cookies, and the like. They will only create more health problems. Getting most of your carbohydrates from vegetables is very important.

    And, if your Nutritional Type™ is mixed, your requirements are between the carb and protein types.

    Ascertaining whether you are a Protein, Carb, or Mixed Type will assure that you get the right balance of foods to nourish your particular metabolism. You can find out more about all of these Nutritional Types™ at Mercola.com.

Eggs -- Powerful Pregnancy Allies

    A very important food for pregnancy are raw eggs.33 Raw eggs are a rich source of protein, carotenoids, and choline. Eggs contain yellow or orange carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown that high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a significant reduction in the risk for:

        Cataracts (up to a 20-percent reduction)

        Age-related macular degeneration (up to a 40-percent reduction).34

    Other good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.

    Choline, another important nutrient in eggs, has been shown to improve learning and memory in animals. Researchers say this data could mean that choline can boost human cognitive function, diminish age-related memory decline, and decrease toxic "insults" to the brain.35

    Also, despite what you may have heard, the risk of salmonella from raw eggs is extremely low when you buy healthy, organic eggs. Salmonella infections are usually present only in traditionally raised commercial hens. If you are purchasing your eggs from healthy chickens, the infection risk reduces dramatically. Remember, only sick chickens lay salmonella-contaminated eggs. If you are obtaining high quality, cage-free, organically fed, omega-3-enhanced chicken eggs, the risk virtually disappears.

    Other egg myths that should be debunked are that eggs increase cholesterol levels or are a causative factor in heart disease. The most recent research has clearly shown that eggs do not cause a worsening of cholesterol, nor do they increase the risk of heart disease.36

    What researchers in previous studies never took into account, when studying the link between bad cholesterol and eggs, are the specific subclasses of LDL cholesterol. The smaller fractions of LDL are more dangerous and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while the larger ones are not dangerous. So rest assured, if you choose free-range, organic eggs, they are one of the healthiest, and safest, foods you can eat.


    A few notes about breastfeeding. After you deliver your baby, you should keep the following points in mind when deciding about breastfeeding your infant. I strongly recommend breastfeeding because it strengthens your child's immune system, protecting him against many physiological assaults later in life.

    One of the reasons for this is that a healthy mother's milk is high in essential fats, GLA, and other precursors to prostaglandins (potent, hormone-like substances that control a wide range of physiological functions such as blood pressure, contraction of smooth muscle, and modulation of inflammation).

    However, cow's milk is low in essential fats and other prostaglandin precursors, and high in saturated fats. For this reason, cow's milk is not an adequate substitute for mother's milk. Neither is baby formula.

    At a recent international symposium on Dietary Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids, Dr. Neuringer, an authority on infant milk, stated that the low omega-3, high omega-6 content in infant formulas was of great concern because of the imbalance it causes among the prostaglandins.37 These imbalances can impair your baby's immune system and predispose your infant to cancer and heart trouble later in life.

    However, should you decide not to breastfeed, feeding your baby a few drops of flax seed oil daily will help to make up the deficiency of omega-3 essential fatty acids .

Are Vaccinations Really Necessary?

    Many mothers may feel that vaccinations are beneficial, and without them, they or their baby might suffer harm. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    First and foremost, vaccines contain mercury, which has been shown, even in low concentrations, to impair energy production, impair neurotubule stability (neurotubules are essential to normal brain cell function), and activate brain free radical production, among many other destructive things.38

    To avoid these potentially grave effects, you should avoid all vaccinations while you are pregnant, as well as avoid having your baby get any vaccinations after birth.

    The brain has one of the highest metabolic rates of any organ, and impairment of its energy supply, especially during your baby's development, can have devastating consequences.

    A study undertaken by Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, representing the CDC at that time, looked at data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink and found a significant correlation between thimerosal (49.6% mercury by weight) exposure in vaccines and several neuro-developmental disorders including tics, speech delays, and possibly even ADD.39

    Despite the damning evidence that vaccines contained a potent neurotoxin, and despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and others that thimerosal be removed, five years after the Verstraeten study, in 2004, the CDC still insisted that there was no scientific evidence of harm from exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines.40

    Currently, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Washington ban thimerosal in vaccines.41

    Furthermore, children are getting mandated to have more and more vaccines at younger and younger ages. It has gotten so ridiculous, not to mention dangerous, for children whose immune systems are delicate and still developing, to have this many vaccinations.

    Under the conventional schedule of immunizations, before a child reaches the age of two, he or she will have received 32 vaccinations, including four doses each of vaccines for Hemophilus influenzae type b infections, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis -- all of them given during the first 12 months of life. Seven vaccines injected into a 13-pound, two-month old infant are equivalent to 70 doses in a 130-pound adult!

    In the wake of this, Dr. Donald Miller, a medical doctor and instructor of cardiac surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine, has suggested a better approach, what he calls a "user friendly vaccination schedule."

    Dr. Miller states that the most rapid period of brain development begins in the third trimester, and continues over the first two years of extra uterine life.42 He believes that until randomized controlled trials demonstrate the safety of giving vaccines during this time of life, it would be prudent not to give any vaccinations to children until they are 2 years old.

    Also, his user-friendly vaccination schedule requires that vaccinations, after the age of two, be given no more than once every six months, one at a time, in order to allow the child's immune system sufficient time to recover and stabilize between shots.

    For more details on Dr. Miller's vaccination plan and other suggestions on how you can protect yourself and your baby from unnecessary vaccinations, please go to Mercola.com.

Remove Your Mercury Amalgams

    Please understand that if you have mercury amalgam "silver" fillings, you are dumping the mercury from your fillings into your baby. Ideally, it would be best to remove your fillings BEFORE you become pregnant. But if you are already pregnant, it is probably best not to remove your fillings until after you deliver.

    And if you have mercury amalgams, it would be wise to avoid chewing gum, because chewing liberates mercury vapors that can deposit in your child.43 And mercury vapor easily enters breast milk, so this is an ongoing issue after birth as well.

    Studies have already shown that mercury in the mother can cause birth defects in her child, but the orthodox medical community has remained slow to accept this, until just recently.

    The FDA reluctantly admitted last year that the mercury contained in amalgam fillings "may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses."44

    At least two studies have shown that elemental mercury accumulation within a developing baby increases with time, so that the levels of mercury in the fetal organs are significantly higher toward the end of the pregnancy than during early pregnancy.45

    And it is now confirmed that mercury levels in a baby's brain reach even higher levels following birth, despite an end to exposure from the mother's mercury. Researchers think this is due to a redistribution of the mercury from the fetus' liver to its brain.

    This transfer of mercury from a mother to her child has been confirmed in at least two human studies as well.46 Another case involved a female surgeon exposed to 0.05mg/M3 mercury vapor at work, who bore a baby with severe brain damage. The baby's blood mercury was shown to be elevated.

    The study stated that these levels of mercury can easily occur when a pregnant mother has a large number of dental amalgam fillings, chews gum, and is exposed to hot food and drinks.

    Therefore, if you have mercury amalgams, not only avoid gum chewing, but also try to let liquids and food cool down before eating, so they do not liberate more mercury.

    There are some other steps that you can take to help protect your baby from mercury toxicity, and diminish possible harm. Vitamin C and selenium are both helpful when it comes to protection from the toxic effects of mercury. For example, we know that vitamin C detoxifies oxidized fat, and that it can also protect your body against DNA damage.47

    Selenium, a trace mineral found in fish, meat, eggs, and some other foods, helps your immune system defend against viruses. Selenium has also been shown to bind with mercury, and logically, should cause it to be excreted from the body.

    If you decide to take a selenium supplement, be sure to choose inorganic selenium rather than organic, since the organic form can build up in the tissues, while excess inorganic selenium is excreted automatically.48

    Both of these natural aids, as well as eating a properly balanced diet with plenty of green, leafy vegetables and fresh, organic foods, should help afford protection for you and your baby until you deliver and are through with breastfeeding. At that time, I recommend that you have your mercury amalgams removed by a dentist licensed in mercury removal protocols.

Protect Your Child from Pesticide Exposure

    Alarming statistics have been coming to light daily about the dangers of exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. A 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times reported that women who lived near California farm fields that were sprayed with organochlorine pesticides might be more likely to give birth to children with autism.51

    The autism rate was highest for children whose mothers lived closest to the fields, while it declined as the distance from the fields increased.

    Another study, conducted in 2008, found that pregnant women who worked at a Denmark greenhouse reported that their sons had a higher incidence of reproductive abnormalities than had been preciously reported in that area, and their blood hormone levels differed significantly from normal.52

    Additional studies have found that exposure to chemicals has been believed to be a causative factor in miscarriages,53 childhood learning problems,54 and even fetal death.55

    This indicates how critical it is to make sure you safely dispose of any pesticides around your house so you do not come in contact with them, and preferably, have someone else do it so you won't risk further exposure.

    And, if you have a job that potentially could expose you to hazardous chemicals while you are pregnant, consider taking a leave of absence or otherwise distancing yourself from the source of the chemicals.

Dangers Lurking Inside Your Home

    The previous studies just concerned chemicals outside the home. But with the increasing use of all types of commercial household cleansers, even your home can be an unsafe place.

    A recent study involving almost 14,000 children was conducted to see if there was a link between prenatal exposure to cleaning supplies and asthma. The children in the study were followed until they reached 3-and-a-half years of age. Results from the study revealed that the babies who were exposed to these chemicals most frequently were the ones most likely to develop persistent wheezing as young children.56

    Some of the chemicals most likely to be used in the home by pregnant women include:

  •         Bleach
  •         Carpet Cleaner
  •         Dry Cleaning Fluid
  •         Aerosols
  •         Turpentine/White Spirit
  •         Air Fresheners
  •         Paint Stripper
  •         Paint or Varnish
  •         Pesticide/Insecticides
  •         Window Cleaner
  •         Toilet Bowl Cleaners

    So, how can you protect yourself and your baby from these dangers? Here are some guidelines:

        The easiest way is by not introducing these kinds of chemicals into your home in the first place. Especially if you are pregnant, they could potentially be harmful to your unborn child.

        Consider getting rid of your existing towels, sponges, rags, and other conventional tools you clean your home with, as they are some of the top sources for illness-causing germs in your home. They also do a very poor job of cleaning the biological and toxic aspects of dirt in your home.

        Make dietary changes to strengthen your immune system, as I describe in the section, Eating The Right Foods For Baby.

So What Should I Use to Clean My House?

    I have discovered that a safe and inexpensive way to clean your house and to avoid the effects of harmful chemicals on your baby, is by using either vinegar alone as a cleaning agent, or with the addition of hydrogen peroxide.57 This combination works exceptionally well both as a disinfectant and a sanitizer.

    And it's economical as well. For example, it only takes a half-cup of white vinegar to make a quart of this simple, all-purpose cleaner.

    Other economical and effective cleaners that are equally safe to use inside your home before and after pregnancy, can be made from ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice. These items should be readily available in your kitchen or easily purchased, and have been proven effective as cleaning ingredients for generations.

    There are also home cleaning "recipes" you can make that are safe to use during your pregnancy, such as those found at ems.org. These will help you create cleaning products that will also be environmentally safe, so they are a good investment for the future of our planet as well.58

Beautify Yourself Safely

    While you are being careful to protect your baby from the potential chemicals in many areas, be sure to consider the toxins in your everyday cosmetics. Over time, the chemicals in these products can impact both you and your baby's nervous systems, reproductive systems, and cause other health issues.

    Most cosmetics, such as hair dyes, hair sprays, facial make-up, and fingernail polish are composed of a dizzying array of chemical compounds. The Toxic Chemicals Laboratory of New York State College studied many of the chemicals and found them to be mutagenic (having the ability to damage genes and chromosomes).59

    Recent studies have confirmed that these neurotoxins can easily pass through your blood and affect your unborn child. Unlike an adult, your growing baby does not have a functional blood-brain barrier to protect itself from toxic insult. This lack of a natural defense allows chemicals into your baby's brain with the potential to cause serious harm, such as a disruption in the delicate brain growth process.60

    In another study, a University of Nijmegen, Netherlands student investigated 306 mentally retarded children and their mother's job occupations. Results showed a 3.7 times increased risk of women cosmotologists having a mentally retarded child after being routinely exposed to hair care products or dyes during her pregnancy.61

    However, you can avoid exposure to these chemicals by avoiding commercial cosmetics and hair care products, and seeking out natural items from your local health food store.62 You can also purchase safe cosmetics online.

    EWG has a safe cosmetic site where you can purchase cosmetics, lotions, and other products that can keep you and your baby safe from harm. Find out further information at Mercola.com by entering the keywords "three green beauty" in the search window.

Halt Gum Disease

    It's clear from numerous studies that pregnant women who suffer from dental disease have an increased risk of premature birth. One study found that the worse the gum disease is, the more likely a woman is to have a pre-term birth.63 While scientists are still studying the biological mechanisms, animal research has shown that periodontal infections impair fetal growth.

    So what can you do to minimize the risk? A number of things. Recently, studies have shown a strong correlation between increased vitamin C use and healthier gums.

    In one such study, researchers analyzed the vitamin C intakes and periodontal disease indicators in over 12,000 adults, and found that patients who consumed less than the recommended 60 mg per day (about one orange) were at nearly one-and-a-half times the risk of developing severe gingivitis as those who consumed three times the RDA (more than 180 mg).64

    And in a 2005 German study, people with gum disease who ate two grapefruit a day for two weeks showed significantly less bleeding from their gums.65

    Lack of vitamin C has also been linked to premature deliveries and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling due to fluid retention).66,67 Women with preeclampsia were found to have lower blood levels of vitamin C than women without the condition.

    So my best recommendation is that you increase your consumption of vitamin C-rich foods. These include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, sweet red peppers, and broccoli. You should eat these foods fresh rather than canned, as canning destroys most of the vitamin C, and drastically reduces most of the other vitamins as well.

    If you have diabetes, blood sugar abnormalities, or other conditions that might limit your intake of citrus fruits, which are some of the foods highest in vitamin C content, you can supplement with vitamin C in the form of Ester-C. This form of vitamin C has been shown to absorb significantly better and faster than regular ascorbic acid.68

    But just how much vitamin C is enough? Dr. Linus Pauling, a leader in vitamin C research for many years and the author of a number of books on the subject, suggests that adults take at least 2 grams of vitamin C daily.

    While that's well over the recommended R.D.A., Dr. Pauling states, "There is much evidence about increased health with 2 grams a day, and of course even more with 4 or 6 grams a day."69

    Other vitamins that play a role in improving your periodontal health include folic acid and vitamins A and E. In one study, patients with normal plasma folate levels ingested 2 mg folic acid or a placebo twice daily for 30 days, under double-blind conditions. The folate increased the resistance of the gingiva to local irritants, leading to a reduction in inflammation--even though plasma folate levels were unchanged.70

    Vitamins A and E have been linked to a marked reduction in periodontal inflammation during pregnancy,71 so be sure you get plenty of these in your diet.

    Vitamin A is plentiful in beef and chicken livers, mangos, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and kale.

    Vitamin E-rich foods include mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, spinach, and almonds.

    But along with loading up on these vitamin-packed foods, be sure you greatly decrease or stop your intake of sugary foods and sweets. Excess sugar in your diet worsens gum disease. Once eaten, sugar becomes gooey, sticks to your teeth, and is difficult to remove. It forms plaque, which, if allowed to remain on your teeth for even a short time, can cause dental decay and periodontal disease.72

    That's why my personal preference for optimizing oral hygiene is the use of a dental scaler, the instrument that dental hygienists use. It seems to be one of the most effective ways to remove the plaque and help prevent dental and gum disease.73

    This must be used carefully, however, as you could damage your gums and teeth otherwise. I also enjoy using a hydro-floss, a magnetic water pik, which can also remove scale on your teeth.

Can Plastic Hurt Your Unborn Child?

    Exposure to phthalates, a chemical commonly used in plastics, could cause you to be at risk for birth defects, as well as for a shortened pregnancy. A recent study researched various chemicals, nicknamed "gender-benders," that have been released into the environment, and found that the chemicals are causing male animals and male humans to take on feminine characteristics.

    As I'm sure you'll agree, this is a very alarming trend! But is it really true? Are males slowly "disappearing," morphing into females?

    Well, many studies now indicate these toxins may indeed be wreaking silent havoc within our male population. Male infertility is on the rise,74 and about 250,000 fewer boys have been born in the last 30 years in the United States and Japan.

    Scientists are linking these phenomenon to a body accumulation of these types of gender-bending toxins.

    In Britain, scientists found that 50 percent of the male fish in lowland waters were growing eggs in their testes. Hermaphrodite polar bears have also been born.75 Their disturbing findings are also relevant for humans, because all vertebrates have similar sex hormone receptors.

    Another study reported that women exposed to phthalates gave birth more than one week earlier than women who were not exposed to them.76

    Exposure to phthalates is extremely common among pregnant women. These chemicals are added to numerous products including moisturizers, nail polishes, hairsprays, insect repellants, and more. They are also added to plastic products such as food containers, to add flexibility. The chemicals are known to leach out of these products and into the environment.

    It was previously thought that exposure to phthalates occurred primarily through ingesting contaminated foods. But researchers have now found that phthalates can be inhaled and even absorbed through the skin, significantly increasing your exposure.

    There is another chemical I want to warn you about, and that is Bisphenol A, or simply BPA. This chemical is used in hard, clear plastics such as baby bottles, food-storage containers, and the lining of soda cans. Every year, over 6 billion tons of BPA are used to make polycarbonate plastics.77

    This chemical can mimic hormones and cause birth defects. BPA can leach out of plastic products into food, and it is also a danger in baby formula cans.78 Studies indicate it can also lead to early puberty.

    Yet another plastic I recommend you avoid at all cost is Teflon, also known as PFOA. Manufactured by DuPont, this common, non-stick substance coats many cooking implements – frying pans, cooking pans, bake ware, even utensils. It is also found in anything from clothes to stain repellents, food packaging, and once again, cosmetics. 79 In addition, DuPont uses Teflon in other products such as firefighting foam and phone cables.

    In a study conducted by DuPont itself, it was found that employees exposed to PFOA had elevated levels of total cholesterol and fats called triglycerides, which can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.80 However, in typical fashion, common to most companies whose products are their livelihood, DuPont denied that there was any association between exposure to PFOA and the employee's symptoms.

    And in infants, preliminary findings of a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have linked PFOA to lower birth weights among newborns. The study sampled the blood of 300 newborns and looked at the levels of a variety of fluorinated chemicals in relation to their birth weight, head circumference, and other developmental markers.

    The results? The higher the infants' level of exposure to PFOA, the lower their birth weight and head size.81

    I previously ran a news item detailing the dangers of using products coated with Teflon.82 Specifically, the article reported that Teflon has been appearing in people and animals worldwide -- one study even found that in 23 states, 96 percent of 598 children tested had traces of the chemical in their blood!

    The Environmental Protection Agency later made a statement, based on a risk assessment study done on animals, that exposure to PFOA creates a potential risk of developmental and other adverse effects, and they fined DuPont $16.5 million for hiding data on PFOA toxicity for more than 20 years.83

    Because of these dangers, I would strongly suggest you avoid contact with these chemicals as much as possible by choosing natural care products. This is also a powerful motivator for choosing a place to live that is minimally polluted, so your developing child and others in your family will be protected from harm.

Other Pregnancy Do's and Don'ts

    DO:

  •         Eat a healthy breakfast
  •         Get plenty of sleep
  •         Use probiotics
  •         Avoid anti-bacterial soaps
  •         Limit cell phone use

Get a Good Start with Breakfast

    You have certainly heard the statement that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there's a good reason for that. According to a 1992 study, eating breakfast appears to have beneficial effects on appetite, insulin resistance, and energy metabolism.84 Spanning eight years, this study followed the breakfast habits and risk factors for heart disease in over 2,800 adults, black and white, between the ages of 25-37.

    The findings showed that obesity and insulin resistance syndrome rates were 35 percent to 50 percent lower among those who ate breakfast every day, compared to those who frequently skipped it. And eating a good breakfast makes sure that your baby is amply supplied with all the nutrients it needs for proper growth and development.

    So when you plan your breakfasts, or other meals, make sure your baby doesn't share in any former junk food habits of yours, or be exposed to foods that can later cause allergic reactions, diabetes, or other lifelong problems. You should therefore immediately exclude:

  •         Doughnuts
  •         Cereals
  •         Fruit juice
  •         Waffles and pancakes
  •         Bagels, toast, and cereals (usually even whole-grain, organic types).

    While there are some people who can tolerate whole grains and even thrive on them, others cannot. It is safe to assume that you should avoid them if you:

  •         Are overweight
  •         Have high cholesterol
  •         Have high blood pressure
  •         Have diabetes
  •         Have food allergies to wheat, oats, rye, or other grains.85

    If one more of these factors are present, you will best be served by avoiding these foods.

    However, if you are a Nutritional Type86 that is carbohydrate-oriented (this is only one-third of people) and you don't have any of the above problems, then grains are a possible option for you.

    If you abide by these guidelines, you will find that your health will improve and you will have fewer pregnancy-related problems.

Get Your Zzzzzzzs if You Want a Healthy Baby

    Sleep plays as dramatic a role in your overall health as do proper nutrition and regular exercise. Without sufficient sleep, your body will be challenged to reach its optimal state of health, and your baby's wellbeing will also suffer. So getting sufficient sleep should be a priority in your life.

    Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes talked with sleep researchers across the country and found out some interesting things. For example, you can die from sleep deprivation, just like you can die from being deprived of food, and sleep deprivation can cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders.

    Further, sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you've already eaten. And consistent sleep deprivation can also raise your blood pressure and make you a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke.87

    Your body depends on your biological clock (circadian rhythm) to steadily regulate your sleep/wake cycles. But when this process gets thrown off balance -- which is, unfortunately, very easy to do -- it can wreak havoc on you and your baby's health.

    So how much sleep is enough? Sleep research indicates that if you are getting less than 6 hours a night, you are not getting enough sleep.88

    Although there is little or no data on how sleep deprivation in the mother affects her baby, since sleep deprivation affects your immune system, you can be sure that it also affects your baby's. And it is logical that when you lose sleep it can also affect your baby adversely, so to be safe, maintain good sleep habits.

    Studies show that sleep deprivation can also leave you susceptible to many diseases, including diabetes,89 obesity,90 and even cancer. 91

    Pregnant women often need several hours more sleep than usual during their first three months of pregnancy.92 A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you feel tired when you wake, you probably aren't getting enough sleep.

    But don't despair. There are ways to erase that sleep debt. Here are a few tips for a better night's sleep:

        Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into the liver, which then back up into your entire system and cause further disruptions.

        Don't drink any water, or just a minimum, within 2 hours of retiring. This will reduce the likelihood, or frequency, of having to get up and go to the bathroom.

        Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.

        Sleep in complete darkness, or as close as possible. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in your room, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as possible, if you get up in the middle of the night.

        Keep your feet warm. Wearing socks to bed can keep you from waking up in the middle of the night. A study has shown that wearing socks to bed reduces night wakings because feet have the poorest circulation, so they often feel cold before the rest of the body.

        Keep the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes, and particularly the upstairs bedrooms, too hot. This interferes.

    Another thing you should be sure to avoid is either TV or the Internet 30 minutes prior to bed. The blue light coming from your television and computer monitor have been shown to "power up" your brain and alter your biological clock. Be expecially careful to avoid video games, because these can keep you hyper for hours after you're done.93

    Visit Mercola.com for many other tips to help you get a healthy night's sleep.94

Use Good Bacteria to Optimize Your Intestinal Health

    Probiotics could turn out to be an expectant mother's best friend. They are referred to as "friendly" bacteria, and are responsible for a number of important biological functions. Some of these include assisting with digestion, keeping other harmful bacteria at bay, and stimulating the immune system.95

    A number of studies have proven their many health benefits. Specifically, they have been useful in the prevention or control of:

  •         Premature labor
  •         Food and skin allergies in babies
  •         Inflammatory bowel disease
  •         Recurrent ear and bladder infections
  •         Chronic diarrhea
  •         Bacterial vaginosis.

    Researchers in Finland used a type of bacteria found naturally in the gut called Lactobacillus GG (Lactobacillus rhamnosus), to try to prevent allergy development in at-risk infants. This type of bacteria is a safe and effective treatment for allergic inflammation and food allergies in babies.96

Avoid Anti-bacterial Soaps

    Antibacterial soaps can be very hazardous to your baby's health as well as to yours. There was much hoopla over these soaps some years ago, yet tests show that they offer little protection against the most common germs -- but more importantly, studies show they actually form a carcinogen when mixed with water.

    In a study published in the March 2, 2004 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, participants who used antibacterial soaps and cleansers developed a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms just as often as people who used products that did not contain antibacterial ingredients.97

    Further, many traditional medical circles now accept the "hygiene hypothesis," which centers on the idea that children need to be exposed to some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their immune systems. Children who are not exposed to common bacteria, which are wiped out by antibacterial soap, may be more prone to allergies and asthma.98

    But a more critical problem is that antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, which can react with chlorine and form a carcinogen.99 Triclosan, which is a widely used antibacterial ingredient in hand sterilization products, breaks down rapidly when exposed to chlorinated water, producing a number of toxic chemicals, including chloroform.

    This finding was based on two studies that produced similar results, and researchers concluded that anyone using these products would be exposed to chloroform levels 40 percent higher than that found in tap water.100

    Another serious problem with these soaps is that they contribute to the problem of antibiotic-resistant germs, a growing threat to everyone's health.101 When disinfectants are used in low levels, researchers found that they actually make certain bacteria more resistant to antibiotic treatment. This is true in hospital settings, and certainly applies to the low-level disinfectants you may use around your home.

    Last but certainly not least, antibacterial products are endocrine disrupters that can contaminate human breast milk, and certainly can also be absorbed through your skin.102

    Because infants are so much more susceptible to chemicals than adults, especially in utero, if you have any antibacterial soap or disinfectants in your home, please remove them to avoid harming yourself or your child.

Use Serious Precautions When Using Your Cell Phone

    A study by top research scientists concluded that women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems. This study included more than 13,000 children. Pregnant women using the handsets only 2-3 times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions, and relationships when they reached school age.

    The likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of 7.103

    This study is far from being the first showing that the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones poses a hazard to a developing fetus. Animal studies have also shown that electromagnetic fields in that frequency range can affect their liver enzymes, glands, muscles, hormone balance, and heart and bone marrow.

    In fact, the cellular stresses caused by information-carrying radio waves have been shown to cause DNA damage to the brain cells of rats,104 and this means they have the potential to alter the DNA structure of a baby in utero.

    Aside from the startling findings of this study, I believe that the increase in cell phone usage is also one of the primary causes of the autism epidemic.105

    Over 1 billion people who use cell phones on a regular basis are putting their health at risk, along with the health of their children and those waiting to be born, so be sure to keep cell phones away from your baby and other children.

    The density of children's skulls is far less than adults', and their brains are more susceptible to damage from information-carrying radio waves. A child in the womb may be near defenseless against this damage.

    Here are some tips to minimize the harmful effects of cell phones and other electrical devices on you and your baby:

        Do not use a cell phone while pregnant, and don't allow your children to use them.

        Limit the amount of time you spend on a cell phone or cordless phone.106

        Use a wired headset to limit your exposure. Ideally, an air tube headset that conducts sound but prevents any radiation from traveling up the wire to your brain. Also, make sure the wire is shielded, which prevents it from acting as an antenna that could attract more information-carrying radio waves directly to your brain. Wireless BlueTooth headsets should be avoided.

        Limit your exposure to WiFi routers. Find out where they are located in your work environment and stay away from them.

        If you have any land-based (non-cellular) portable phones, do NOT use anything other than the 900- MHz phones, as the Gigahertz phones stay on continuously, blasting you with information-carrying radio waves 24/7.

        Use the speakerphone instead of putting the phone to your ear; this is probably one of the single most important steps you can take other than not using your cell phone.

        Limit calls inside buildings.

        Use your cell phone only where reception is good. If reception is poor, your phone has to work harder, and therefore emits a much stronger radiation signal.

Critical Items to Avoid During Pregnancy

  •         Soy products
  •         Caffeine
  •         Nuts
  •         Artificial sweeteners
  •         Fluoridated or chlorinated water

Avoid Soy

    Soy products are perhaps the most hazardous of the Don'ts, even when you are not pregnant. But they should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy, because a diet high in soy during pregnancy and breastfeeding can have a subtle, but long-term impact on the development of your child.

    Soybeans contain compounds called phytoestrogens or isoflavones, which have been found to produce a variety of hormonal actions within your body. These hormones can adversely influence the way your baby's brain develops, the way the reproductive organs and cells grow, and even the way immune function develops. 107

    Infants exposed to excess amounts of phytoestrogens in utero, or after birth in the form of soy formula, risk a variety of health complications, including early puberty, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.108 They also are at greater risk for developing severe allergies.

    One study has linked soy consumption to brain damage and cancer.109 For more information about the dangers of soy, including its impact on fertility and fetal development, I recommend you check out Kaayla Daniel's excellent book, The Whole Soy Story.

Caffeine Caveat

    I've been warning about the dangers of caffeine to pregnant women for years. It has always been my position that no amount of caffeine during pregnancy is safe.

    A recent study on caffeine, conducted in 2008, shows that one dose of caffeine -- just two cups of coffee -- ingested during pregnancy, may be enough to affect fetal heart development and reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child.110 Take note: that's the equivalent of two cups of coffee during the entire pregnancy – not two cups of coffee per day!

    Caffeine is an addictive, stimulant drug that passes easily through the placenta to your developing baby. It is also transferred through breast milk. In babies (newborns and unborn), the half-life of caffeine is extended. It stays in your baby longer, and a developing infant has no ability to detoxify caffeine.

    And never, ever -- drink coffee from a Styrofoam cup. The heat draws toxic chemicals from the cup, and you will drink those along with your java.111

    Additionally, most coffee contains pesticides, something you definitely don't want in your baby. Pesticides have been linked to stillbirths and miscarriages.111 Also remember that caffeine is not just in coffee, tea, and chocolate, but also in colas and energy drinks, and a number of other beverages. Make sure you carefully check the labels on any beverages before you buy them.

    You can do your baby and yourself a favor by swearing off caffeine for your entire pregnancy. And since breastfeeding is the best start you can give your child in life, do your baby another big favor and remain off caffeine for the duration of your breastfeeding as well.

Limit Nuts

    Recent research has found that regular consumption of nut products during pregnancy raises the odds of your child having asthma symptoms by nearly 50 percent.

    About 4 percent of American children have food allergies, and roughly 3 million people in the U.S. are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. It's already recommended that children under three not be given nuts or nut products, because their immune systems are still developing and may be more susceptible to allergens.

    I think it's important to note that while DAILY consumption of nut products increased the odds that a child would develop asthma, the researchers did not find an association between rare or regular consumption of nuts.112 So this warning is really aimed at those of you who indulge in nut products on a daily basis.

Use Natural, Not Artificial, Sweeteners

    To put it frankly, artificial sweeteners are very dangerous for both you and your unborn child. I've written an entire book on the topic of artificial sweeteners, but let me take you through a brief look at these dangerous drugs posing as sweeteners.

    After pouring over countless literature from the FDA, plus medical and scientific studies, I am more convinced that ever that artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet® (aspartame) and Splenda® (sucralose) can ruin your health, and that you should stay away from them. They are present in numerous foods, from baked goods, to yogurt, to soft drinks.

    Artificial sweeteners can cause depression, migraines, and even brain tumors.113

    A seven-year study on aspartame (also known as NutraSweet® or Equal®) has linked it to high rates of lymphomas, leukemias, and other cancers in rats.114 The rats were given the equivalent of four to five bottles of diet soda a day for a human. The carcinogenic effect of aspartame was found at levels as low as about 20 milligrams a day for humans. This is far less than current daily limits in America, which is 50 milligrams.

    And if you are using Splenda® because you think it is a safe alternative to sugar or other artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet, then you are in for a big surprise. Splenda® is marketed as a "healthful" and "natural" product since it is derived from sugar, however, its chemical structure is very different from sugar. Sucralose is actually a chemical substance.115

    Studies have shown its use has resulted in reduced growth rate in newborns (and adults) at levels above 500 mg/kg.day, decreased red blood cells -- a sign of anemia (at levels above 1500 mg/kd/day), thyroid abnormalities, and aborted pregnancies.116

    I think you must realize by now that having a drink or other product sweetened by one of these artificial sweeteners is just not worth the risk to your baby. Nearly every month I receive a report from someone who has had an adverse reaction to Splenda. You can see many of them posted on my site.

    Thankfully, there are a few really safe and natural sweeteners on the market today. Stevia and xylitol are both tasty and healthy sweeteners that you can use instead of either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some people have complained of a metallic, bitter taste to Stevia, but this comes from the processing method.

    Check out different brands and you'


9 Common Questions About Breast Milk

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Josh Axe

9 Common Questions About Breast Milk

Breast milk Q&A - Dr. Axe

Final Thoughts on Breast Milk

  •     Breast milk is loaded with exactly the right nutrients in the exact amounts a new baby needs.
  •     Colostrum is loaded with nutrients and antibodies to give your baby exactly what she needs in her first days of life. After three days or so, the body naturally begins to make mature milk, which contains an ideal combination of protein, sugar, water and fat.
  •     Antibodies are also a vital part of the mother’s breast milk. Antibodies protect your vulnerable newborn from both viral and bacterial infections.
  •     Breast milk also has antioxidant properties; it contains vitamin C and E and enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
  •     There are a number of ways to increase breast milk supply naturally, but the golden rule is that nursing is a supply and demand process.
  •     There are certain rules to follow when pumping and storing expressed milk to ensure that you reduce bacterial growth and maximize the nutritional content in breast milk.

Source and full article available here: https://draxe.com/breast-milk/

 


6 Ways to Tackle Morning Sickness Naturally

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Josh Axe

morning sickness - dr. axe

Nausea during pregnancy more commonly known as morning sickness is a common symptom that many moms-to-be experience, especially within the first trimester of pregnancy. Estimates show that 50 percent to 80 percent of all pregnant women deal with morning sickness at some point during their pregnancies. And many of those women feel nauseous for a good portion of the day, far beyond just the morning hours. (1)

In the medical community, morning sickness is sometimes known as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Something that might surprise you about morning sickness? There's actually some good news associated with feeling nauseous during pregnancy. According to the Institute of Health Sciences at Oxford, research shows that morning sickness actually seems to have a positive effect on pregnancy outcome and is associated with a healthier mother, delivery and newborn baby. New moms who experience morning sickness are at a decreased risk of having a miscarriage. The baby is also less likely to be delivered preterm or at a low birth weight. (2)

That being said, morning sickness can be very unpleasant to deal with, especially when it stops a mom-to-be from being able to eat enough or if it lasts for months on end. Researchers still dont have concrete answers about the exact causes of morning sickness, although factors including blood sugar fluctuations and having a high body mass (BMI) prior to pregnancy both seem to play a role.

What can you do to help lower the frequency and severity of morning sickness? Some ways to help prevent and treat nausea or other digestive issues during pregnancy include reaching a healthy weight prior to pregnancy, eating healthy meals regularly throughout the day, and using natural remedies like essential oils and exercise.


The Top Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

1. Avoid Foods that Make Morning Sickness Worse

Its normal for morning sickness to cause a decrease in appetite and cravings. Experts believe that this might be the body's natural way of blocking the embryo from potentially dangerous food chemicals, especially those that come from foods that become easily spoiled or toxic when not refrigerated (like meat). If you experience morning sickness, its not totally necessary to force yourself to eat things that don't agree with you (even if they're superfoods for pregnancy). Instead, eat plenty of the healthy things that you can tolerate well.

Although every pregnant woman is different in terms of he food aversions and cravings, common foods to avoid during morning sickness include:

Alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol can harm the embryo/fetus and should be avoided throughout pregnancy for many reasons. This advice is usually pretty easy for most pregnant woman to abide by, since many experience very strong aversions to alcoholic and nonalcoholic (mostly caffeinated) beverages anyway.


Strong-tasting or smelling vegetables: Although vegetables are nutrient-dense foods and important in an overall healthy diet, if they disagree with you for several weeks, its OK to skip them. Strong-tasting veggies that might cause vomiting and loss of appetite include bitter greens, broccoli, mushrooms or cauliflower. In their place, focus on eating milder veggies like squash, tomatoes or carrots.


Low-quality meat, fish, poultry and eggs: Many studies show that a high percentage of pregnant women experience a reduced appetite for animal products when experiencing morning sickness. A cross-cultural analysis found that among 20 traditional societies in which morning sickness has been observed, along with seven societies in which it has never been observed, those with much lower incidence of morning sickness tend to consume less animal products overall. Societies in which morning sickness rates are low are very unlikely to include animal products as dietary staples. Instead, they're more likely to focus on plant-based foods. One reason this might be true is because low-quality animal products become dangerous to pregnant women and their embryos if they contain parasites and pathogens. (This is most likely to happen when they aren't fresh or when they're stored at room temperatures in warm climates. This causes bacteria to grow.)


Greasy, fatty foods: Its harder to digest foods that are high in grease and fat, especially trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Skip fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, lots of cheese and foods made with refined vegetable oils (like safflower, corn, sunflower oil).


Salty, processed/packaged foods: Most packaged foods are high in salt, added sugar, refined fats, preservatives and artificial ingredients that arent good for you or your baby. Fresh, low-processed, cooked foods that aren't too spicy tend to be easiest to digest. You can also avoid consuming too much sodium/salt by cutting down on processed foods and ultra-processed foods, which can contribute to dizziness, weakness and other complications.

2. Consume Foods that Help Lower Morning Sickness Symptomsmorning sickness - dr. axe

Pregnant women are more vulnerable to serious, even deadly infections. This means its crucial to support a strong immune system and avoid nutrient deficiencies as much as possible. That being said, when you strongly dislike a certain food during pregnancy, its not necessary to force it. Chances are there's another food that provides similar nutrients that wont trigger nausea.

Foods that can help lower morning sickness symptoms include:

Ginger (fresh ginger root, ginger tea or ginger slices): Ginger root has been used for thousands of years to curb nausea naturally. Its a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmatic, infection-preventer and soothes the digestive tract, thanks to its active ingredient gingerol. (3) Use grated ginger when cooking, sip on cooled or heated ginger tea, or even chew on real ginger chews or mints between meals.


Any veggies you can tolerate: These serve as important sources of antioxidants and fiber.


Fresh fruit: Fruits like berries, apples, kiwi, citrus and melons are high in antioxidants like vitamin C, other vitamins, fiber and water.


Starchy veggies: Starchy vegetables like potatoes, turnips and winter squash are high in carbohydrates, low in protein, low in fat, low in salt and easy to digest. They also provide important nutrients like beta-carotene and fiber.


Soups and bone broth: These serve as great sources of nutrients like collagen and electrolytes.


Organic/unsweetened dairy products: These provide protein and important nutrients like potassium and magnesium.


Healthy fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil provide essential fats and are easy to digest.

Other dietary tips for helping you deal with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy include:

Don't skip breakfast. Eat something early in the day, and if you already feel nauseous, try something bland like toast.


Eat smaller meals throughout the day, instead of several large meals. Try not to go more than three or four hours without a snack.


Drink plenty of water or herbal tea. It's very important to stay hydrated. It's best to drink low-sugar drinks rather than juice or sweetened beverages, but a little seltzer spiked with fresh juice can also help you consume more water. You can also add fresh mint, lemon or grapefruit juice, raw honey, basil, or ginger to juice/seltzer to help you find it more appealing.


Take your prenatal vitamins at night or with a snack rather than in the morning.

3. Take Supplements to Reduce Morning Sickness Symptoms

Before taking herbal supplements, its a good idea to run them by your doctor, especially if you take medications. Interactions can sometimes occur even when an herbal product is natural, so err on the safe side. That being said, the supplements and herbal treatments used below are often prescribed for pregnant women to safely help curb morning sickness symptoms: (4)

Ginger (tablets, ginger essential oil or extract): Not only do they curb nausea and vomiting, but these supplements can also ease colic, indigestion, diarrhea, spasms and other types of stomachaches.


Magnesium and calcium: These are important for lowering muscle cramping and reducing other symptoms associated with nausea, such as dizziness and headaches.


Vitamin D: The best way to get vitamin D is from spending abut 20 minutes outdoors in the sun. However, a supplement can help if this isnt possible.


Probiotics: These gut-friendly supplements help establish a healthier digestive and immune system, lowering risk for complications.


Omega-3 fatty acids: These help lower inflammation that can contribute to hormonal problems and digestive issues.


Vitamin B6 and vitamin B12: Taking Vitamin B6 (50 milligrams) daily has been shown to help ease pregnancy-induced nausea. Vitamin B12 can also reduce fatigue and help with digestion.

4. Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture, hypnosis and meditation help many women feel calmer. This is important for controlling pain and digestion. One blind, randomized, controlled trial conducted at a maternity hospital in Australia tested whether acupuncture treatments could help reduce nausea, dry retching and vomiting in pregnant woman. Researchers found that the majority of participants experienced positive outcomes over the course of four weeks compared to a placebo group. (5)

5. Use Key Essential Oils

Aromatherapy helps many women feel more relaxed and soothes digestion. Essential oils that can help calm your stomach, lower cramping, and improve your mood or appetite include ginger, chamomile, lavender, frankincense, peppermint and lemon. Inhale them through a diffuser, or add several drops to a bath for the best results.

6. Do Moderate-Intensity Exercise

The benefits of exercise extend dont go away just because a woman is pregnant. In fact, exercise can help promote a healthy pregnancy. Most women can resume their usual exercise routines in their first trimesters, although it might be necessary to take the intensity down a notch. Exercise can help control nerves that might contribute to nausea and also regulate hormones and improve appetite. (6)

Studies also show that exercise helps release natural endorphins that can reduce digestive pains and make you feel happier and more awake. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, including walking (especially outdoors), prenatal yoga, swimming and cycling.
Morning Sickness Symptoms

When does morning sickness start? The first trimester of pregnancy (around weeks one to 12) is infamous for causing an array of unwanted symptoms, especially loss of appetite and vomiting associated with morning sickness. Many pregnant women start to experience nausea just two to three weeks after conception, sometimes along with other signs and symptoms like blood spotting and breast tenderness. For most, however, morning sickness starts between weeks four and nine.

What does morning sickness feel like for most women? An ongoing joke among pregnant women seems to be that morning sickness should really be renamed all-day sickness or even afternoon sickness, since digestive issues can really strike at any time.

According to the What To Expect website, common symptoms of morning sickness can include: (7)

  • feeling nauseous/queasy (this can occur after getting up in the morning but also other times of day or even all day)
  • vomiting
  • a decrease in appetite, especially for veggies, meat, eggs, and drinks with alcohol and caffeine
  • stomach cramping
  • other symptoms that occur at the same time, such as headaches, fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, sweating, nervousness and tenderness

Wondering how long morning sickness lasts? Most pregnant women (but not all) feel relief from morning sickness after about 1416 weeks. A lower percentage start to experience decreased nausea and improved appetite between 2 - 22 weeks, and finally a small (but unlucky) group of women have morning sickness for most of their pregnancies up until delivery. (8)

Morning sickness seem to be especially common among first-time moms (perhaps because excitement/anxiety/nervousness is higher), but about 20 percent of women who have nausea during their first pregnancies develop it again during their next pregnancies too.

And if you're wondering if its a bad thing not to feel nauseous or have morning sickness, the answer is luckily no. Some women experience no morning sickness symptoms at all during a healthy pregnancy, and this is perfectly fine, although not very common!


What Causes Morning Sickness?

Experts believe that morning sickness is mostly triggered by changes in hormone levels, especially rising HCG and estrogen levels. Fluctuations in these hormones are normal and affect every woman differently. Studies have found that morning sickness symptoms are more common among Caucasian and Middle Eastern women, those living in Western countries, and those from urban populations, but rarer among Africans, Native Americans, Eskimos and most Asian populations. (9) This means its likely that genetic and/or cultural factors influence hormonal levels that trigger morning sickness.

Other factors that make you more likely to deal with morning sickness include: (10)

  • younger age younger women have higher nausea and vomiting rates during pregnancy
  • having less than 12 years of education and a low income
  • being overweight or obese
  • being a first-time mom women who are pregnant for the first time tend to have more morning sickness, although this isnt always the case
  • carrying twins or triplets
  • having a mother who experienced trouble with nausea in her pregnancy
  • having a history of digestive problems, motion sickness, migraine headaches and dizziness
  • having a history of nausea when taking estrogen-containing oral contraceptives (birth control pills)

Is morning sickness dangerous to the mom or baby?

For most women, no, it's not. However, a small percentage of women have a prolonged course with symptoms extending until delivery, which can cause malnutrition and a higher risk for birth defects. Women with severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can sometimes develop a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which when untreated can cause significant damage to the growing fetus and sometimes even birth defects or death. For the pregnant women, symptoms can include electrolyte imbalance, rapid weight loss, dehydration, micronutrient deficiency and muscle weakness. HG is rare, however, especially in comparison to normal morning sickness. HG occurs in only between 0.3 percent to 2 percent of all pregnancies. (11)

While some women seek help or even medications for dealing with morning sickness symptoms during pregnancy, doctors usually advise most women to avoid taking drugs or prescriptions as much as possible, to wait it out, and to listen to their bodies. Many pregnant women fear that skipping meals, eating less and vomiting might cause harm to the developing embryo/fetus, but doctors usually advise women to follow their appetites (and even aversions) and make sure to drink enough water, instead of forcing themselves to eat certain things. As you'll learn, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy actually have some benefits, so its OK for a period of time to listen to what your body is telling you.

That being said, if you experience these morning sickness symptoms for an extended period of time, talk to your doctor right away as they might cause complications: severe vomiting, urine that's dark in color, not being able to keep down liquids, fainting, having a racing heart or throwing up blood. (12)


Can Morning Sickness Actually Be Beneficial?

Although morning sickness might be very uncomfortable and inconvenient, you'll be happy to known it might be for a good cause. Numerous studies have found that women who experience morning sickness are significantly less likely to miscarry than women who do not, and women who vomit suffer fewer miscarriages than those who experience nausea alone.

Several hypotheses have developed throughout the past century in regard to why pregnant women deal with nausea. According to the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, today its believed that morning sickness serves as an adaptive function that helps: (13)

  • support the developing fetus and placenta by changing certain hormone levels
  • make the moms body partition calories and nutrients being consumed to be used for the growing baby/placenta, instead of being stored as body fat
  • reduce cravings and appetite for ingredients, chemicals and foods that might harm the baby or cause too much weight gain
  • protect the mom from infections, illnesses and even death during a period in pregnancy when the immune system is suppressed
  • force the pregnant woman to reach a healthier weight early on in the pregnancy if she was overweight to begin with

How Morning Sickness Can Help Protect Mom and Baby

Evidence suggests there might be a positive relationship between morning sickness and having a higher pre-conceptional BMI. In other words, women who are underweight tend to experience less severe symptoms of morning sickness compared with women with normal or high pre-conceptional BMIs. This might be the body's natural way of helping the pregnant women reach a healthy weight prior to entering the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, when body weight increases even more.

Some research shows that morning sickness can cause an increased secretion of hormones, including HCG and thyroxine, which lower the womans appetite. At the same time, a decrease in secretion of anabolic hormones, including insulin and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), can occur, which also help control appetite, body weight, blood sugar levels and cravings. Morning sickness not only results in decreased appetite and reduced food cravings for most women, but also changes the way certain hormones are produced that control the growth of the placenta and fetus.

During early pregnancy, nausea and vomiting can help stimulate placental growth and also make the pregnant mom-to-be avoid foods, toxins and chemicals that can be potentially harmful to the fetus. In fact, theres a correlation between a higher intensity and frequency of morning sickness and the point during pregnancy at which the fetus and placenta are most susceptible to damage from toxins and certain chemicals (between weeks six and 18). This is exactly why many women experience the most nausea/vomiting during their first trimesters and then tend to feel better toward the middle or end of their pregnancies.

Its now hypothesized that morning sickness protects both the embryo and pregnant woman by forcing the woman to physically expel and avoid foods that contain teratogenic and abortifacient chemicals that can be found in things like strong-tasting vegetables, caffeinated beverages, meat and alcohol. Researchers also believe that morning sickness helps ensure that calories and nutrients consumed by the mom are used to develop the placenta rather than to be stored as extra body fat or tissue. And finally, morning sickness might protect the mom from infections and illness during a period in pregnancy when the immune system is suppressed, while also reducing the chances of the woman's body rejecting tissues of the developing offspring.


Final Thoughts on Treating Morning Sickness

Nausea due to morning sickness is very common, affecting up to 80 percent of pregnant women, but usually not harmful in most cases.
Morning sickness symptoms are caused by hormonal changes, although these are very normal and even beneficial effects for both baby and mom.
Foods that can make morning sickness worse include fatty/greasy foods, high-sodium packaged foods, strong-smelling veggies and too much animal protein.
Tips for reducing morning sickness include staying hydrated, eating fresh fruits, consuming ginger, using essential oils and keeping up with exercise as long as possible.

Source: https://draxe.com/morning-sickness/


The Risks of a Planned C-Section

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Josh Axe

Caesarean section risks - Dr. Axe

In the U.S., nearly one in three babies are born by caesarean section. While a significant number of caesarean deliveries are performed for health reasons and obstetrical indications, some are simply due to a mother’s request. Regardless of the reason, a “c-section” is not the ideal end result of a healthy pregnancy and increases the risk of health conditions for the child.

New research suggests that babies born by planned c-sections experience more health problems than those delivered by emergency c-sections or vaginal delivery. A recent study published in JAMA evaluated 321,287 infants born in Scotland and the U.K. between 1993 and 2007. Researchers compared offspring born by planned caesarean section delivery in a first pregnancy with offspring born by unscheduled caesarean section delivery and delivered vaginally. In comparison with infants born vaginally, those born by planned c-section were at increased risk of asthma requiring hospital admission and using an inhaler prescription at the age of 5. (1)

As the trend of increasing c-sections continues to rise, so does an epidemic of both autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis, and allergic diseases including asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis. (2)

Vaginal Births vs. Caesarean Section

When a baby is born vaginally, it comes into contact with bacteria from the mother. These bacteria, or microbes, that are passed onto the baby during vaginal delivery will then grow in the infant’s intestines and make up his immune system. It is important that the microbes colonize in the infant’s gut in order for him to develop a well-functioning immune system.

Soon after birth, 500–1,000 difference species of microbes begin to occupy the skin, mouth, vaginal mucosa and gastrointestinal tract. These organisms play a vital role in nutrient breakdown and provide resistance to the colonization of pathogenic microorganisms.

More recently, studies have demonstrated that the microbes can have a profound and long-lasting effect on the development of the baby’s immune system both inside and outside of the intestine. The baby’s immune system innately recognizes harmful bacteria and leaves the helpful species alone.

You can say that in the establishment of the immune system, the baby and the microorganisms establish some kind of co-dependence. The immune system builds a tolerance to the bacteria and becomes less sensitive to a foreign substance when it is ingested. This tolerance is important because it reduces overreactive immune responses that lead to disease-causing inflammation, such as autoimmune disease, as well as allergies. (3)

It’s the infant’s contact with the mother’s vaginal and intestinal flora during vaginal delivery that plays an important role in the infant’s ability to colonize microorganisms. During a c-section, this direct contact does not exist; instead, the infant receives non-maternally derived environmental bacteria that will colonize in the intestines. A 1999 study conducted in Finland found that the primary gut flora in infants born by cesarean delivery may be disturbed for up to six months after birth. (4)

Another study, conducted in 2004, assessed the microbiota composition in 7-year-old children and compared the effects of vaginal delivery and caesarean sections. Sixty children participated in the study — 31 had been delivered by caesarean section and 29 by vaginal delivery.

At 7 years of age, significantly higher numbers of clostridia (a type of bacteria) were found in children delivered vaginally compared with c-section–born children. Bacteria like clostridia play a viral role in immune system function; for example, children with asthma diagnosed by a physician had lower numbers of clostridia in their fecal specimens while healthy children had higher clostridial numbers. (5)

You may be asking yourself, what’s the difference between a planned and emergency c-section? If anything, you would have thought that planned c-sections are done under more controlled conditions and should therefore come with less risk to the baby’s health, right?

When a mother labors, even if she will eventually need a c-section, the baby is being exposed to bacteria that he wouldn’t be exposed to during a planned c-section. The baby is also preparing for birth. When labor begins on its own, there are physiological changes that take place in the mother and infant in order to prepare.

For instance, when labor begins, fluid is cleared from the baby’s lungs. The baby is also exposed to stress and reproductive hormones that will help him to adapt to the laboring process and life outside of the womb. Being exposed to labor and delivery also preps the baby for breastfeeding and makes him more alert of his surroundings.


Breastfeeding after Caesarean Section Delivery

A 2010 study published in Birth found that cesarean delivery has negative effects on breastfeeding. The study included 677 newborns delivered by c-section and 1,496 delivered vaginally. Researchers found that breastfeeding prevalence in the delivery room was significantly higher after vaginal delivery compared with that after c-secion delivery. This may be because mothers have to wait a longer period of time after surgery to initiate breastfeeding. (6)

Another study published in Indian Pediatrics evaluated 100 mothers undergoing c-section delivery and their infants. Researchers found that mothers who initiated breastfeeding within 12 hours of surgery were successful in practicing total breastfeeding, while only 6 percent of mothers who initiated breastfeeding after 96 hours were able to breastfeed successfully. This study suggests that early initiation is key and has a highly significant correlation with the establishment of breastfeeding, while the separation of babies from mothers discourages breastfeeding. (7)

If you are having trouble with the initiation process after a c-section, ask for support. The staff at the hospital or birthing center can help you to get started and find a comfortable position after surgery, avoiding incisions and sore areas. Breastmilk is loaded with the best nutrients in the exact amounts for your infant, and it provides antibodies that will protect the newborn from both viral and bacterial infections. It can be argued that infants born by c-section need breastmilk even more than infants born vaginally, so it’s important that you utilize your resources and try to initiate breastfeeding soon after delivery.


What’s a VBAC?

A VBAC is a vaginal birth after caesarean section. Because the c-section rates continue to rise each year, researchers suggest that a VBAC is a reasonable and safe choice for the majority of women with prior cesarean. Not only will a VBAC be beneficial for the infant, but there is emerging evidence of the serious harm relating to multiple cesareans for the mother. (8)

In 2013, the North American Journal of Medical Sciences published a study that evaluated 100 women who were attempting a VBAC delivery. Eight-five percent of the cases had a successful VBAC and 15 percent underwent a repeat emergency caesarean section. The researchers found that cervical dilation of more than three centimeters at the time of hospital admission was a significant factor in favor of a successful VBAC. Birth weight of more than 6.6 pounds was associated with a lower success rate of VBAC. (9)

The best ways to boost your odds of a positive experience when attempting a VBAC delivery is to learn about VBACs by taking a childbirth class on VBAC and reading up on risks and benefits. You will also want to plan the delivery at a well-equipped hospital with a staff who is experienced in VBAC deliveries. Hiring a doula with VBAC experience may also be helpful. When attempting a VBAC, natural birth, without any drugs that induce labor and make contractions stronger, will reduce the risk uterine rupture.
Final Thoughts

    Research suggests that although caesarean sections are appropriate and necessary in some situations, they are a poor substitution for labor.
    Vaginal birth is the best mode of delivery because mothers pass bacteria to their infants, which colonizes in the gut and makes up their immune systems.
    Even infants who are eventually delivered by emergency caesarean sections are prepping for birth during labor and are exposed to the mother’s bacteria before the c-section.
    One c-section delivery does not mean that all deliveries must be c-sections. A VBAC is a safe choice for the majority of women with prior cesarean. A mother should work closely with her doctor or midwife to prepare for a successful VBAC.

Source: https://draxe.com/caesarean-section/


Top 7 Benefits of Natural Childbirth & 6 Steps for a Safe & Natural Childbirth

Posted: October 4, 2017
By: Dr. Josh Axe

Natural childbirth - Dr. Axe

Research suggests that the way in which a woman experiences pregnancy and childbirth is vitally important for a mother’s relationship with her child and her future childbearing experiences. Unfortunately, we are currently in an era characterized by increases in obstetric intervention and cesarean section birth nationwide. With the U.S percentage of deliveries by C-section at 32.2 percent, now is the time for women to take control of their birth experiences through natural childbirth. (1)

According to Dr. Judith Lothian, who wrote “Why Natural Childbirth?” for the Journal of Perinatal Education, women are inherently capable of giving birth, have deep, intuitive instincts about birth, and when supported and free to find comfort, are able to give birth without interventions and without suffering. (2)

Choosing a natural childbirth, without interventions, allows a mother to feel completely in control of her birth experience and has many benefits for both the mother and baby.
What Is Natural Childbirth?

Natural childbirth is when a woman chooses to give birth using no medications or interventions. Instead, she uses techniques like controlled breathing and pain-relieving postures to deal with labor pains. With natural childbirth, the mother is in control of her body, and she is guided through the stages of labor with her chosen support system. Women who approach childbirth as a natural event end up feeling empowered by the experience, and research shows that women who feel in control while in labor feel more satisfied as a result.

According to research published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, natural childbirth is a system of intellectual, emotional and physical preparation for childbirth to ensure that mothers enjoy a healthier and happier pregnancy and delivery. (3) By choosing natural childbirth, women feel more in touch with the birth experience and better able to deal with labor in a proactive manner.


7 Benefits of Natural Childbirth (for Mother and Child)

1. Allows You to Avoid Interventions

The No. 2 benefit of natural childbirth is that you avoid the cascade of interventions that sometimes come with a conventional birth. Without becoming knowledgeable about coping strategies to deal with the pain, women end up opting for an epidural for pain management. When a woman has an epidural, a small amount of anesthetic is injected into the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord. The anesthetic numbs the spinal nerves and blocks the pain signals, which lead to side effects. Common epidural side effects include a drop in blood pressure and fever.

Births also take longer when an epidural is used, and it may make it more difficult for some babies to get into the best position for birth. For this reason, research shows that when a woman has an epidural, the baby is more likely to need to be delivered with the help of instruments that use vacuum suction or forceps. (4)

An epidural is typically the first intervention during childbirth, and it may lead to more interventions being necessary. A woman’s body is designed to give birth naturally, and her hormones help facilitate childbirth. One of the most important hormones is oxytocin, which is responsible for stimulating contractions. Oxytocin helps labor progress naturally, but with an epidural, natural oxytocin production is inhibited, resulting in decreased plasma oxytocin concentrations.

Because epidurals typically slow the labor process, this leads to the next intervention — pitocin or syntocinon, which are synthetic forms of oxytocin. Sometimes pitocin is used to induce labor as well. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia found that patients who have their labors induced request analgesia sooner and are at a higher risk of cesarean section than are patients who go into labor spontaneously. (5)

Cesarean section surgeries result in increased pain, including headache and backache, as well as increased risk of hemorrhage and uterine rupture. A C-section also results in greater risk of bladder injury and postpartum bladder infection or incontinence. C-sections also pose a risk to the baby. Researchers at the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in the U.K. reported a 69 percent higher incidence of fetal deaths in C-section surgeries versus vaginal births. There is also a chance of fetal laceration, respiratory difficulties, inadequate transition to birth and increased incidence of mechanical ventilation. (6)

2. Lets You Move Around Freely

Lying on your back during labor can result in poor quality contractions, dystocia, slow dilatation and effacement, prolonged labor, and failure to descent. The result of laboring while lying on your back increases the rate of C-section surgeries because of fetal distress or failure to progress or descent. Unfortunately, bed rest is required after an epidural because the woman’s legs are numb and she is a fall risk, and women must be monitored to be sure the baby’s heart rate isn’t dropping. In addition, bed rest can cause more pain, necessitating additional pain medications.

Research shows that unrestricted movement during labor allows the mother to find a position that’s more comfortable for her. It’s been found to decrease maternal pain, facilitate maternal and fetal circulation, increase the quality of uterine contractions, and facilitate fetal descent. Positions such as the knee-chest can reduce back pain related to posterior fetal position, and the use of the shower or bath can aid pain relief. (7)

3. Allows You to Eat and Drink

Research from the American College of Nurse-Midwives indicates that the lack of nutritional support during labor can cause maternal dehydration, ketosis, hyponatremia and increased maternal stress. Women who give birth naturally at a birthing center or hospital are able to eat and drink freely, which sustains their energy levels during labor.

Natural childbirth by the numbers - Dr. Axe

4. Initiates Breast-Feeding More Easily

An infant may be impacted by labor and birth medications in a way that impairs launching breast-feeding. The natural process of labor and birth prepares both mother and baby for breast-feeding. Birth practices including induced labor, routine interventions, epidurals and separation of mother and baby disrupt the process of early breast-feeding.

Research shows that the way the birth proceeds powerfully influences the first hours and days of breast-feeding. Normal, natural birth sets the state for problem-free breast-feeding, while complicated, intervention-intensive labor and birth set the stage for difficulties with breast-feeding. (8)

5. Makes You Feel in Control

It’s well-known that a woman’s sense of control during childbirth is related to a positive birth experience. In a concept analysis, the idea of control during childbirth was evaluated. Researchers found that women mostly described control in relation to bodily function and pain. Their ability to handle pain and other difficulties was a source of satisfaction that contributed to their positive experiences. The experience of control made it easier for the women in labor to turn their focus inward, letting go of the outside world.

When a woman feels like she took command of her birth, this makes her feel more capable of giving birth naturally, and it gives her a sense of empowerment. And after the birth, she feels proud of the experience. Even if you end up needing some kind of intervention, the fact that you are a part of the decision and in control of your experience contribute to your positive memory of the birth. (9)

6. Gets Your Partner Involved

According to a 1999 study published in Midwifery, support provided by the male partner during childbirth evoked very positive responses from the women participants. A natural childbirth allows your partner to get involved in the process by helping you carry out pain-relieving positions. (10) Simple strategies like applying pressure to your lower back and hips during a contraction, standing and leaning against you so you can sway back and forth, and counting for you in the pushing stage bring you and your partner closer during the birth experience.

7. Improves Baby’s Gut

Researchers at Columbia University suggest that disrupting the mother-to-newborn transmission of bacteria by C-section delivery may increase the risk of celiac disease, asthma, type 1 diabetes and obesity in the child. During a vaginal delivery, bacteria colonize the infant gut, and after birth, breast milk promotes the colonization and maturation of the infant gut microbiome. This is important because it helps the infant develop a strong immune system.

Because childbirth with interventions are more likely to lead to a C-section delivery, a natural childbirth ensures that your baby passes through the vaginal flora and relieves healthy bacteria. (11)

 

6 Steps to Take for a Safe and Natural Childbirth

1. Find Support

On the big day, it’s so important that you have the right team by your side. Find a supportive health care provider who is comfortable with your plan to give birth naturally. Look for a midwife or doctor who agrees with your perspective and ensures you that he or she will take all measures to avoid intervention unless absolutely necessary.

It’s common for women seeking natural childbirth to use a midwife, and research shows that midwives provide one-to-one delivery care and continuous attendance when at the bedside of delivering women, which have positive effects on birth outcomes. (12) Recently, midwives are playing a prominent role during childbirth in many hospitals as the first-line hospital provider or as a part of a team with physicians. (13) That means that you don’t have to give birth at home or in a birthing center to benefit from midwifery care.

A doula also serves as a supportive birth coach who is strictly there for you. A doula stays by your side in the delivery room and serves as the rock that you need, especially if you wish to give birth naturally.

Six steps for a safe and natural childbirth - Dr. AxeA 2013 study found that expectant mothers matched with doulas had better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have low birth weight babies, two times less likely to experience birth complications involving themselves or their babies, and significantly more likely to initiate breast-feeding. Researchers also indicate that communication with and encouragement from a doula throughout the pregnancy may have increased the mother’s self-efficacy regarding her ability to impact her own pregnancy outcomes. (14)

2. Pick the Perfect Environment for You

When it comes to picking the location of your childbirth, you have options. You can research hospitals with low C-section rates in your area and go on tours to see if you feel at ease in the space. Many women prefer to give birth in a hospital because it feels safe and comforting to have the appropriate equipment and medical team in case an intervention is needed. But do consider your options before automatically choosing to give birth in a hospital.

Research published in Midwifery Today with International Midwife suggests that planning a hospital birth is not safer than planning an attended home birth for women with one head-down fetus, between 37–42 weeks, no high blood pressure, no previous caesareans and no serious medical conditions that affect pregnancy outcomes. (15)

You can also look into local birthing centers, which are becoming more and more popular. A birthing center is a home-like setting where care providers, usually midwives, provide family-centered care to healthy pregnant women. Most birth centers are located separately from hospitals, and some are physically inside of the hospital building. The benefit of giving birth in a birthing center is that women are allowed to make their own decisions regarding the circumstances of their births. Women are encouraged to eat if they’re hungry (which isn’t typically allowed in a hospital), move around, spend time in a tub if they wish and choose the positions that make them feel comfortable.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health shows that birth centers provide first-rate care to healthy pregnant women in the U.S. Of the 15,574 women who planned and were eligible for birth center birth at the onset of labor, 93 percent of them had spontaneous vaginal births, 1 percent had assisted vaginal births and 6 percent had cesarean births. (16)

Another option is a planned home birth. While the number of women in developed countries who plan home births is low, it has increased over the past decade in the United States. In 1938, 50 percent of women in the U.S. had home births, and that number dropped to fewer than 1 percent in 1955. Hospital births became the cultural norm in the later years of the 20th century, but the numbers are slowly beginning to increase again.

According to research published in the International Journal of Women’s Health, the benefits of planned home birth include lower rates of interventions and maternal morbidity. Women who have planned home births have high rates of satisfaction related to home being a more comfortable environment and feeling more in control of the experience. (17)

3. Prepare Yourself Physically

Labor has been defined as “powered by the innate human capacity of the woman and fetus.” It’s within a woman’s physical capabilities to give birth to a baby, but that requires some preparation beforehand. While in labor, you respond to the pain of uterine contractions by moving around. Movement is a coping strategy for pain, and the freedom to be mobile in labor is very important.

According to research published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, women who use upright positions and are mobile during labor have shorter labors, receive less intervention, report less severe pain and describe more satisfaction with their childbirth experiences than women in recumbent positions. (18)

To prepare yourself for a natural childbirth that will require you to change positions throughout the course of your labor, stay physically active during your pregnancy. Long walks, yoga and light weight-lifting during your pregnancy help boost your endurance and flexibility while in labor. Prenatal yoga can be especially helpful because you can use the same positions to open up the cervix and relieve pain during a natural childbirth — plus, yoga changes your brain and helps you relieve anxiety and feel more in control. 

4. Take a Class: Women with proper education and preparation can be taught to give birth naturally. Although childbirth is a natural occurrence and women are born with this ability, it certainly helps to be prepared with coping strategies on the big day.

During your pregnancy, take a class or course that focuses on natural childbirth. This helps prepare you and your partner by solidifying your birth plan and giving you the tools to get through labor without intervention. A 2012 study found that attending prenatal education classes was associated with higher rates of vaginal births among women in the study sample. (19)

The Bradley Method is a popular form of natural childbirth that uses the help of a coach/advocate along with various pain-reducing techniques to help moms deliver their babies without unnecessary interventions or drugs. The method is usually taught over the course of 12 weeks through childbirth classes that ideally involve both mother and father (or another person who acts as the birching “coach”). Taking a course like this encourages you to learn to trust your body and rely on natural methods for birthing.

5. Stay Nourished

Poor nutritional balance may be associated with longer and more painful labors. In most hospitals today, women are not allowed to eat or drink water while in labor incase they have to be given general anesthesia. Since the 1940s, it’s routine practice to prohibit food and drinks during labor because during general anesthesia, there is an increased risk of the stomach contents entering the lungs. With better general anesthesia techniques, these rules may no longer be necessary, but many hospitals haven’t changed their protocols. (20)

This is one reason why giving birth at a birth center or at home may be a better option for you. If you choose to give birth at a hospital, labor at home for as long as possible first, and be sure to drink plenty of water at that time. Before going to the hospital, eat a well-balanced meal or drink a smoothie if you’re in too much pain to eat. In the days leading up to your due date, stay hydrated and stick to a healthy and well-balanced diet to be sure that you’re well-nourished for labor.

6. Stay Positive

Every woman’s birth experience is different, and it’s important to remember that you will write your own birth story. That’s why you shouldn’t compare yourself to other women and their experiences. You will hear plenty of horror stories about emergency C-sections and vacuum extractions, but this mind-set will only hinder your ability to stay strong in the delivery room.

Politely disregard the naysayers, and focus on positive thoughts leading up to your due date. Even establishing a mantra or prayer to focus on during childbirth can be helpful. Mantras such as “I am powerful” or “my body knows what to do” can help you remain focused during a contraction.
Something to Remember with Natural Childbirth

Sometimes a mother experiences feelings of failure and guilt when she planned a natural childbirth but ended up using interventions. A 2001 study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that 88 percent of the participants who chose natural childbirth but ended up requesting an epidural for pain reported being less satisfied with their childbirth experiences than those who did not, despite lower pain intensity. (21)

Remember that each woman’s birth experience is different and planning a natural childbirth proves that you’re focused on providing the healthiest experience for your newborn. If an intervention becomes necessary, you should be proud that you were able to stay in control of your birth experience and make important decisions for your family.


Final Thoughts on Natural Childbirth

    Research suggests that the way in which a woman experiences pregnancy and childbirth is vitally important for a mother’s relationship with her child and her future childbearing experiences.
    Natural childbirth is when a woman chooses to give birth using no medications or interventions. Instead, she uses techniques like controlled breathing and pain-relieving postures to deal with labor pains.
    Some benefits of natural childbirth include avoiding interventions (many of which have side effects), initiating breast-feeding more easily, feeling more in control of your experience, boosting the baby’s immune system by providing healthy bacteria through the vaginal flora, and getting your partner more involved.
    Some steps to take in preparing for a natural childbirth include finding a supportive team, choosing the right environment for you, getting physically and mentally prepared, taking a class, moving around while in labor, and being well-nourished.

  Source: https://draxe.com/natural-childbirth/

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