Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pregnant? Don’t Wait To Become Educated

You JUST found out you’re pregnant. Congratulations! I could say the same cliche lines that most people give, like everything will change, or you’ll have your hands full or something to that extent. All those things are true, however, my sage advice is this:

Learn as much as you can - and start now.

Most couples wait until they are at the very end of their pregnancies to take a childbirth education class. And truthfully, that makes sense. It is called childBIRTH education after all. However, I think the term “pregnancy, birth, and postpartum education” is more fitting when you’re talking about a quality childbirth education class.

The majority of information that we get about birth in today’s culture comes from our friends, the media, or the internet. Obviously, those are not always reliable sources. Yet they drastically form our opinions about pregnancy and birth, many times in devastatingly deceptive ways.

Your best chance at becoming well educated about this major life transition you’re embarking on is to take a privately taught childbirth education class much earlier in your pregnancy - ideally when you’re around 20 weeks. That way, you do spend the final days and weeks of your pregnancy trying to unlearn false beliefs that you’ve built up for your entire pregnancy.

There is SO much to know about pregnancy, birthing, and the postpartum period. Trying to ingest it all in the last few weeks of pregnancy as you’re already getting ready for baby can feel like too much. Furthermore, there is a lot of valuable information for you to use DURING your pregnancy that you’d feel like you missed out on by waiting until the last minute.

Some people think that they don’t even NEED to take a childbirth education class - they think their doctor or midwife will tell them everything they need to know. So, let’s discuss that. Do you REALLY need to take a childbirth education class?

The average childbirth education class sits at around 8-10 hours of instruction. More thorough courses can be as much as 24-26 hours of instruction, and moderate classes can fall anywhere in between.

Ask any childbirth educator and they will tell you what a challenge it is to fit everything that you should know about the biggest life change you and your body will ever experience, into 8 hours. Most of them will tell you that a full 3 credit-hour semester long class would feel inadequate.

How much time can your doctor spend educating you about your upcoming birth? Let’s do the math.  

The average time that an OB spends with their patient is 5-7 minutes per visit. Monthly visits usually don’t start until 12 weeks. Then you have biweekly visits starting around 35 weeks, then weekly visits from 38 weeks until the birth, you end up with an average of approximately 1 hour of time spent with your OB prior to birth.

Midwives can spend between 30 minutes to an hour with their clients, which amounts to a conservative average of 6 hours you spend with them prior to birth.

Whether you have an OB or a midwife, their job is to be your healthcare provider and to monitor you for medical safety during pregnancy and birth. Their job is not to educate you.

Remember: how many hours was the childbirth education class? A minimum of 8 hours, right? How could they possibly give you thorough, comprehensive childbirth education in an hour prior to birth? Or even 6? Is it fair to assume that your provider is also going to take the role of educator when that’s not their job? Of course not!

It’s your job to become educated, and the sooner you start, the better! Early in your pregnancy, you can start reading. Here are a few good suggestions:

  • Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
  • Birthing From Within by Pam England
  • Childbirth Without Fear  by Grantly Dick Read
  • The Birth Book by Dr William Sears
  • The Complete Book Of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
  • The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

You’re going to have a baby - this is the most exciting season of your life! Learn as much about it as you can. Ask me about referrals for local educators, as there are many great ones to choose from.

To Your Health,
Dr. Felicia Conner

Sponsored by:
Flutterby Birth Services

8 Natural Remedies for ADD/ADHD

The number of kids who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD has exploded in the last couple of decades. ADD/ADHD can cause kids to be inattentive and impulsive, making success in the classroom extraordinarily difficult.

Psychotropic medications are readily prescribed for kids that have the ADD/ADHD diagnosis, despite the fact that the long term effects of these medications are completely unknown.  Naturally, more and more parents are leery of giving their kids mind altering medications. Many find themselves looking for natural alternatives before going the pharmaceutical route.

Fortunately, there are many natural things that families can do to help kids struggling with ADD/ADHD.

Diet changes have been reported by many parents to be an effective way to manage ADD/ADHD. The American diet is rife with sugar, processed fats, unnatural additives, GMO’s, and artificial colors. None of those things was meant to be consumed by the human body, and the effects they have on the brain can be profound. Reducing (or, ideally, eliminating) these in the diet of an ADD/ADHD child can only be beneficial.

Omega - 3’s Studies done on the effects of omega supplements have been favorable in their ability to improve focus and reduce hyperactivity. Omega -3’s are an essential fatty acid (EFA), and most Americans are deficient in this essential nutrient. EFA’s are necessary for healthy brain function and as such they are especially beneficial for those with ADD/ADHD.

Vitamin B Complex can increase absorption of other vitamins and nutrients, as well as support healthy brain function. There are 8 B vitamins in all. B6 in particular is important for optimal brain function, particularly in making serotonin. Methyl B-12 is responsible for regenerating neurons and the myelin sheath. All of these effects can be profoundly beneficial for ADD/ADHD.

Vitamin D should come from the sun!. Vitamin D plays a huge role in many physiological systems, including brain function. Studies have shown lower levels of Vitamin D in people with ADD/ADHD, and it only takes 15 minutes a day in the sun to get the vitamin D you need.

Exercise doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves for helping ADD/ADHD! Exercising releases neurotransmitters including dopamine that are responsible for attention and focus, which is exactly what they ADD/ADHD brain requires..

Magnesium has a natural  calming effect on the body and the mind. It’s a critical component for over 300 enzyme processes within the body, and over 80% of Americans are deficient in it, particularly those with ADD/ADHD..

And of course, chiropractic adjustments should be done regularly on those with ADD/ADHD. Adjustments cannot cure ADD/ADHD. What an adjustment can offer however, is a more balanced mind / body connection which will contribute to a more stable mindset.

To Your Health,
Dr. Felicia Conner

Monday, April 17, 2017

Postpartum Nutrition

More than any other time in her life, a postpartum woman needs proper nutrition. Around the world, the postpartum period is recognized as an essential time of rest and rejuvenation. After birth, women are physically and emotionally exhausted from the strain of childbearing. Their hormones are scrambling to reach a balance, and they are depleted of sleep, energy - and nutrients.

One of the best examples we have of proper care after birth is in the Chinese culture. In China, women are expected to rest for a full 40 days after giving birth. This time literally translates to “sitting the month.” Women are expected to spend this time resting, breastfeeding, and bonding with their babies.

Through the course of those 40 days, women are only allowed hot foods. Birth is said to deplete a woman of all of her warm qi, so the warm foods are meant to replace what was lost.  She only eats nutritious foods like rice, soups, and teas, because her body needs to recover from the most physically trying season of her life.

Women who observe the 40 days of rest after birth benefit tremendously from the nutritional boost that they get during this time. The level of importance that chinese culture places on nutrition as a cornerstone of health and recovery is far from what we experience here in the US.

In the west, we tend to turn our backs on the idea of “balancing qi.” Most even scoff at the idea of using nutrition as a remedy for any sort of physical ailment. Yet, in places where nutrition is a key part of recovery after birth, women have better overall physical and mental health as they recover from birth. It’s worth it to give your body as much of what it requires as possible.

So, if you’re going to try and keep healthy after birth, what should you eat? Well, as much as possible, you should be eating whole, unprocessed foods. It’s really that simple.

Ok, I’m a mom - I recognize that it’s really NOT always that simple when you’re talking about caring for a newborn and yourself. It’s even harder when you’re going at it alone. But it can be done, and a little goes a long way.

Here are a few things that you can make and keep around during the postpartum period:

  • Fresh fruit eaten raw can fill you up and provide a whole host of nutrients.
  • Fresh vegetables - no need to cook these either! Just chop for a couple minutes and you’re good to go.
  • Hot teas. Stay away from caffeinated while you’re nursing. But there are plenty of others that are safe for breastfeeding.
  • Hot soups. Soups are easy to make and they are packed with nutrition. Plus, it’s relatively simple to double or triple a recipe and save leftovers for another time.
  • Nuts and nut butters make an easy and healthy snack.

Women need physical restoration in many ways after giving birth, and nutrition plays a huge part in that. Do the best you can - your body and your baby will thank you.

To Your Health,
Dr. Felicia Conner