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Natural remedies for children

10 Dec

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Following the natural parenting path isn’t easy, especially when your child becomes ill and you must decide which is the best course to ease their suffering. Although I use to work as a nutritional advisor in the field of testing for food intolerances, I am not a medical doctor or any other certified practitioner of heath care. As a natural mama I do have experience of using natural remedies on my child to ease the transition through various forms of healing crisis.

Medical science has done a great job in providing the technology needed to deal with accidents and emergencies which are man-made e.g. surgical methods to prevent life threatening bleeding caused by a car accident.

Holistic or natural therapies and remedies deal with the whole organism in striving to combat dis-ease whilst modern conventional medicine only ever looks at the individual parts of the body/mind system in a separatist, mechanistic model. Furthermore, naturally occurring exposure to germs, and infectious diseases play an important role in helping to develop and strengthen our immune system for maintaining future health.

For these reasons I have opted to not administer any drugs, vaccines or other man-made chemicals to my child’s developing immune system. I view fevers, childhood diseases and other imbalances as a positive sign that the body has reached critical activation point in toxic load and has now activated a healing purge or ‘crisis’ to allow the body to cleanse the poisons

Instead of using drugs to suppress these important healing symptoms, there are a host of natural remedies and therapies available which do not cause the liver to become overburdened and exhibit more negative side effects.

Below are listed a range of common health complaints alongside some natural remedy suggestions. I recommend that you always talk to a health care practitioner of your choice and do your own varied research before trialling any new remedies. Above all else I trust my own instincts and observations whilst trialling new healing remedies or therapies:-

Asthma: Turmeric and ginger root, Fresh unpasteurized apple juice, Salt pipes, Yoga breathing exercises (for older children 3 yrs plus), Breathing in a steam shower room with eucalyptus oil (to open up the airways during an attack), Chiropractic/Osteopath/cranial sacral adjustments. Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

*The main culprits which cause intolerances or allergic symptoms in the diet are: wheat, dairy, sugar, yeast, MSG and other artificial flavourings, additives and preservatives.

Allergies (non-life threatening): Freshly prepared nettle tea (contains naturally occurring anti-histamines), Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (taken diluted in water), Chiropractic /Osteopath/cranial sacral adjustments. Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

Autism: A complex condition often triggered by heavy metal poisoning from the mercury in dental fillings and/or the mercury added to vaccinations. A heavy metal detox under guidance of a qualified practitioner is paramount to healing the body from mercury poisoning. A natural and safe combination for children to take combines coriander/cilantro herb with the algae called Chlorella.

Constipation: Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Prunes, Apricots, Pears, Figs, Psyllium husk, Aloe vera (in a juice), Probiotics (found in all types of natural yoghurt including vegan coconut yoghurt), Sauerkraut Abdominal massage with lavender oil, Warm bath, Increase water consumption, Physical exercise, Reflexology, Elimination diet* (led by a natural health practitioner)

Colic: Fennel, mint and chamomile tea combined and left to cool to tepid temperature. Baby wearing in a correctly supportive wrap or sling, Switching from formula milk with soya or cows milk to donated breast milk or Goat’s milk as a second best option to human milk, Sound and movement vibration (e.g. riding in a car or dancing and singing to baby)

Congestion/mucus: Turmeric root powder added as a large pinch to homemade lemonade (add a natural sweetener instead of sugar), Neti pot cleansing with sea salt water.

Eliminate mucous producing foods: bananas, wheat, dairy foods such as ice cream, yoghurt and butter; soya, deep fried foods, corn, chips/crisps, cakes, unstable oils such as sunflower and safflower vegetable oil, jams, cereals, biscuits. Increase foods that eliminate mucous such as: green vegetables, ginger, turmeric root, garlic, grapefruit, bamboo shoots, oranges, onions, celery, cauliflower, lemons and limes, asparagus.

Cough: Raw honey mixed with turmeric taken on a spoon.

Cradle cap: Extra virgin coconut oil rubbed on to affected area.

Diabetes: Cinnamon, stevia and xylitol for balanced sweeteners which will not spike blood sugar level. Incorporate as much of the raw food diet as possible to the daily diet.

Eye infection: Breast milk squirted into the eye directly.

Ear infections:  Olive oil poured into the ear canal whilst head is turned to the side.

Fever: Camu camu berry powder mixed with water and a little natural sweetener in a drink.

Flu: To nourish and heal the body use a liquid diet of green smoothies/juices freshly prepared from organic produce in a low speed RPM blender/juicer. Raw garlic and ginger can also  be taken chopped up in small chunks and swallowed like a pill.

Rash: Pure Paw Paw ointment (made from Papaya fruit)

I hope these suggestions help relieve any uncomfortable symptoms. Do remember these healing modalities are not a ‘cure’ for the dis-ease but rather act to buffer and comfort the pain and unpleasant symptoms of healing.

As ancient tribal wisdom and quantum physics all agree, ultimately the root to all dis-ease is first created in the mind through mental disturbance and emotional stress and so can not be ‘cured’ in the long-term by simply treating the physical body.

Techniques such as emotion freedom technique, progressive and attachment parenting methods and other types of emotional therapy are great ways to get to the root of any diseases. (For more information on this see my blog on ‘Mental invitations: the real root cause of disease’).

 Wishing great natural health to you and your children.

Mirror image: Your child as your reflection

30 Oct

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see?…You’re reflection and based upon how you view your reflection will determine  how you behave. Perhaps you use your mirror to apply make-up, straighten your hair and pluck any unwanted hairs before observing your outfit and accessories, making sure you are comfortable with what you see before embracing the day ahead with confidence that you look good….but how do you feel deep inside?

Did you choose your style, dressing the way you truly wanted or did you surrender to societal norms selecting smart clothes and shoes for work, minimal jewellery and discreet make-up in order to conform. For that matter did you surrender your dream job to go and work somewhere which would pay your bills and give you perceived ‘security’?

Is your reflection of who you have become what you thought it would be 10, 20 or even 30 years ago? What changed? What part of you might have been lost?

When the lake is still your reflection is clear, but throw a stone into the lake and you reflection becomes distorted, if you keep on throwing stones, clarity will evade you. Let’s compare the stones here to all that ‘noise’ we hear around us telling us what to do and how to act and all those feelings associated with that noise, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and fear; if however, you allow the water to settle and become quiet, a clear reflection of your true self will be presented.

When we move away from the mirror or the lake do we stop seeing our reflection? Absolutely not, in reality we now come into contact with the mirrors of our inner world, the world we like to hide and distract ourselves from. How many of us find it near on impossible to sit still and quiet without any distraction such as  a book, film or even just running through our ‘to do’ list in our heads rather than remaining quiet by stilling the mind?

Everything we see in others can teach us something important about ourselves, perhaps something we wish we had as an attribute, or even worst something we do not like about ourselves . As a parent we are now given a unique opportunity to experience a completely unbiased and sometimes, painfully true set of reflections directly from the one’s who we cherish the most.

One of our greatest teachers is our two-year old son, but what can someone so young teach an adult you might ask? The answer is everything you have hidden away under the layers, over the years. They will reflect your anger, loneliness, sadness, despair and even your greatest joys and loves. They will reflect honestly every time, without prejudice. When you become angry and sad they will test you further and push all your buttons, reflecting straight back at you, the anger and sadness they can feel and provoking in you even more anger. When you laugh, they will laugh with you, reflecting your joy. A child will also teach you about time, reflecting back to you just how little time you believe you have and your inability to slow down and just be. They will also repeat things over and over, driving you crazy and reflecting back to you your impatience and your ego, ‘I know/have done this already, can’t we move on now?’

Children love to enquire, asking you questions about life and engaging with you by inviting you to see the world through their eyes rather than your ‘all-knowing’ eyes. The reflections are subtle and one of the most prominent reflections they give shows how adults are rarely present in the moment. Children are present all the time, showing imagination, creativity and amazement at every detail. These attributes flourish in the present and diminish in the past and future where most adults find themselves dwelling. Surely adults cannot afford this luxury of being present as they have responsibilities to concern themselves with and money to earn for their family?

Yet all we have is right now, it’s not about quantity, it’s quality and if we learn to be truly present in the precious moments we spend with our children then they will demand less of us. So next time you see your child run to the computer when you ask them a question, ask yourself what is this reflecting back to you, do you often multi task and talk on your phone whilst having ‘quality time’ with your child?

Unconditional love from a child is pure, they smile, make you melt and their innocence can make the most hardened person laugh. Their giving is endless and if you share unconditionally with them they will demonstrate this to others they come across. We were told many times by other parents that ‘not sharing’ phase was inevitable yet nearing on 3 years now it still hasn’t arrived.

If you teach your child possession, not allowing them to share what you deem to be ‘yours’ and demonstrate fear of loss, you may miss the reflective teaching when your child snatches from another and they may grow to become possessive, believing in separation and inequality rather than infinite abundance and connectedness.

A child is never innately violent and spiteful. These traits have become a reflection of what they are seeing around them in their environment; somewhere they have seen this violence play out and they imitate what they’ve witnessed. In our family we once watched The Bee movie, there is a part in the film where the bee playfully slaps the other bees in the hive. All of a sudden soon after viewing the film our then 20 month old son began slapping us around the face. We then began noticing similar behaviour in other animations he was exposed to and even though it was only playful banter we had to accept the responsibility for exposing him to a behaviour he was not yet able to comprehend yet. Thankfully with love, patience, acceptance and surrender we have now overcome this phase.

We live in a fast paced, stressed society and when you have had a tough day and are perhaps feeling exhausted and wired the last thing you need is your child playing up. At this point you must realise that your child doesn’t discriminate between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of behaving, they simply feed off of your energy and reflect it back to you no matter how hard you think you may be covering it up. If you can detach yourself and notice the feelings and reflections, you will see it is not personal. The sooner you can re-set your mood to positive, the sooner your child will follow suit. Maybe a soak in the bath, a short meditation or walk or a tasty meal will help you achieve this, whatever you do though remember to first change yourself rather than trying to change the child’s behaviour. As Mahatma Ghandi famously said ‘be the change you want to see’.

The teaching of reflections isn’t permanent and simply reveals your current transitional state. The more present you can be around your family, the less reactive you will become and the happier you will all be.

Ultimately you create your reality and if it is not the reality that you wanted then the teaching of reflections can guide you to remove the very obstacles that you yourself have placed in your way. By demonstrating to you via the behaviour and mood of those you attract into your life and who share your life with you, you are given the opportunity to grow and learn about yourself using compassion as your guide.

Reflective teaching is simply like attracts like, the difficult part is sometimes accepting who we are when the behaviour we have attracted into our world is negative, we cannot possibly attract negative things into our lives? Well we do on a daily basis and we end up blaming others and passing our responsibility on to others as well as circumstances for its presence. When we practice with compassion we recognise that we are all reflecting our pain and pleasure simultaneously, that we all have mountains to climb and obstacles to overcome, especially you could argue when it comes to parenting. Ultimately compassionate parenting is about honouring the reflective teaching of your child and accepting responsiblity for that regardless of you judging who’s right or wrong, good or bad and simply surrendering and accepting what is before you. If you can meet the reflection with an open heart you will be amazed at what it will reveal about you.

Be present and open to witness the magic occur.

 

(Co-written with Matt Allen http://www.theyogahealthcoach.co.uk)

Naturally healthy kids on a shoestring

8 Sep

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They say your health is your wealth and that is so true when you consider a well man has many wishes but a sick man has only one.  The world of natural, healthy food seems to have gone mad with the average price of an organic apple now matching that of a hamburger in Macdonald’s; is it any wonder more and more kids are suffering from obesity, diabetes and a plethora of other diseases which just a few generations ago were rare or even unknown in the younger generations.

Since becoming a parent and giving up pursuing a high paid career I have committed to full-time attachment parenting without any substantial added  incomes. I have had to learn first hand how to make a budget stretch whilst maintaining the health of all the family.

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Tip 1: Stop buying pre-packaged and pre-made foods, they are expensive and have poor quality nutrient content. Instead shop mainly in the outside aisles of the supermarkets where most of the fresh food is and watch your shopping budget stretch further. Swap sugary cereals for porridge oats, confectionary for naturally sweet dried fruit and crisps for salty nuts or olives.

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Tip 2: Buy foods from local markets and farms, cutting out the middle man

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Tip 3: Grow your own; maybe you have an allotment, garden, balcony or even just a window sill. Everyone can grow something. Tomatoes, salad leaves and strawberries are all easy to grow and don’t need a lot of space. THis is a great way to connect kids with where their food comes from and inspire them to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

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Tip 4: Forage wild food for free; go to your local woods, park or even your neighbour’s front gardens where you will be surprised at how much is growing, even in the city. Apple trees are easy to spot, also  try foods you can’t normally buy in the supermarket which are super nutrient dense: rosehips, dandelion leaves (yes weeds are good for you), wild garlic, watercress, chestnuts, hazel nuts, blackberries, and elderberries

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Tip 5: Eat more raw; it’s more nutrient dense, uses less money on the gas bill and helps to cure all sorts of ailments from allergies to diabetes. For tips on amazing child-friendly raw recipes see Raw food 4 kids book at http://www.therawfoodmum.com

Tip 6: Have vegetarian/vegan days; animal products for protein intake are so much more expensive than protein rich plant foods such as beans, lentils and legumes.

Tip 7: Breastfeed your children full-term (usually between 2 and 4 years), allowing them to wean themselves. All financially challenged countries value extended breastfeeding for ensuring optimum nutrition for the child.

Tip 8: Ensure your child gets outdoor sun exposure directly on unprotected skin, all-year-round, to boost vitamin D levels. Even when it’s cloudy and raining, the rays still come through.

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Tip 9: Learn how to get the most out of your whole foods products. Eg. One fresh coconut can provide you with at least three products; coconut milk, coconut water and desiccated coconut. You can also learn easy ways to tun simple, whole food ingredients like raisins, dates and cashews into home-made versions of popular shop bought snacks such as ‘Naked’ bars.

Tip 10: Take advantage of government initiatives to save you money; healthy start vouchers are a great way to save money on your fresh fruit and vegetables in the UK.

Barefoot baby: how shoes are dis-connecting our children from great health

19 Jun

IMG_1104Once your child begins to walk, the next event many parents get excited about is the first trip to buy the first pair of shoes; some parents get so excited about shoes that they put them on their baby’s feet before they can walk and sometimes even before they can crawl!

Shoes that are commonly worn today ,with rubber insulating souls, are a very new invention in the history of man’s evolution. For eons of years men, women and children roamed the earth with their bare feet and slept and sat directly in contact with the earth’s surface. In extreme cold weathers they may have also wrapped conductive animal skin around their feet and under their bodies whilst they slept for extra warmth but the body was in contact directly with the earth’s energy for at least 80% of the time. Nowadays due to insulating shoes, raised beds, synthetic carpets in our homes and artificial carrying devices for children our human race is now directly connecting with the earth less than 1% of the time, 0.025% to be exact or just 10 minutes a month.

So why should this matter? Does your child like to run their hands along a brick wall whilst being pushed along in a buggy? Have you ever wondered why so many children ask to take their shoes off whilst outdoors? Have you ever noticed small babies chewing on the metal chain of a swing and wondered why they find it so appetising?

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The answer lies in the earth’s natural medicine that can bring health and happiness back to us all. The earth acts like a giant, constant, self regenerating battery, re-charged by lightning storms with a never-ending supply of free electrons also known as negative ions. For those of you who are scientifically minded check out this interesting study (http://electromagnetic-pollution.com/attachments/EFX_science_Ober_chronicInflammation1.pdf).If you’re confused then stay with me and I’ll break it down…

Our bodies are full of cells which all have an electrical charge to keep them functioning effectively. The movement of nutrients and water into and out of the cells is regulated by these electric fields. The atoms that make up our cells each have a pair of electrons whizzing round them in constant orbit. When our bodies are attacked by stressors such as electromagnetic pollution from mobile phone masts and domestic appliances, a process known as free radical damage takes place. Free radicals are solo electrons which want to pair up with a second electron; in the process they rob an electron from the next stable pair that they come across. To understand this better consider a single person running off with someone else’s partner and breaking up their relationship. This then results in a domino effect for surrounding coupled electrons. The single electron becomes unstable, without a partner, and in search of a new mate then steals off the next pair it comes across….quite the home wrecker!

This process is how inflammation and disease is created. “A build-up of free radicals over time will wreak havoc with your immunity by causing a cascade of cellular destruction; all because these little molecules are electrically unstable and require a ‘donation’ of an electron to stop the damage from continuing.” (http://www.bdlive.co.za/blogs/health/2013/05/29/earth-yourself-the-benefits-of-barefoot-healing)

Fortunately for us planet earth has created a way to help guard against the body’s damaging attack on itself. Much like plugs and electrical devices have a grounding wires to stop any interference in the signal occurring, we humans too have the ability to directly re-connect to the earth which provides us with a constant flow of free electrons. These free electrons act like speed daters; they will happily pair up and prevent those free radicals from interfering and breaking up the healthy relationships by donating them a flow of new partners to satisfy their pairing needs.

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The higher up from the earth we travel, the more positive charge we experience. This is often noticed as static charge in our hair or an electric shock when touching a door handle; something we experience more in the winter time when we are least connected to the earth and the air is artificially heated, creating friction and more positive charge. The earth has an abundant supply of negatively charged ions which neutralise the effect of electromagnetic pollution in the atmosphere around us.

Grounding or earthing is a process which not only aids in decreasing inflammation (which is the root to most disease) it also improves immune function and helps to regulate body temperature and circadian rhythms (sleep wake cycles). As a result, the more grounded you can become the better you sleep, the less cold you feel, the less you will ‘catch bugs’  and the less pain, inflammation and depression you experience.

The key to connecting back to this vital healing source is to allow yourself and your children to go barefoot on the earth and touch it  directly with the skin as much as possible. It’s important to realise that only natural materials conduct the earth’s free electrons, not man-made insulating materials.

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Natural Materials:

grass, mud, metal (unpainted), cotton, linen, bamboo, trees and plants, human and animal skin/hair (e.g. leather), glass and sand, marble, concrete, stones, tiles and brick, natural bodies of water such as lakes, sea, rivers and even running water coming directly on to the skin from taps and the shower through metal pipes.

Man-made synthetic materials which insulate and therefore do not conduct:

plastic, synthetic rubber (incl. souls of shoes and pushchair wheels), polyester and acrylic (clothing and fabrics), carpets, dead and treated wood (decking and flooring), tarmac, chemical coatings in paint, bath tub, lined paddling and swimming pools.

In addition to the numerous benefits of grounding, going barefoot also enables healthy development of the muscles in the feet and creates correct spinal alignment. If your child has collapsed arches or balance and postural problems one of the first things a chiropractor will encourage is to take off their shoes and give your child more barefoot time.

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Perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving this may be the fear of your little one treading on something sharp or undesirable. My little one walks barefoot on seemingly sharp and rugged surfaces all the time including pebble beaches and wood chips; due to the lack of tension in his legs and body he does not feel pain like we adults might do. If you do still want them to have some layer of protection there are now leather moccasin slipper style shoes for ALL ages to give protection to the feet when the weather is dry/cold. Don’t forget that even these wont keep your kids grounded if they aren’t wearing natural cotton fibre socks underneath. (http://www.star-child.co.uk/)

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It can also be difficult to ground if you live in a particularly cold or wet climate; it’s much more appealing to take your shoes off and jump in a lake or the sea to have a grounding swim when it’s warm outside. The cheapest way to combat this is to encourage your kids to go climbing and touching the living trees more often, rolling in the grass and playing in the sand pits getting their hands dirty. For young babies you can wear them in a sling and through touching your skin and connecting to your electron flow they will also be grounding. At least 30 minutes a day of making direct contact with the earth can make a huge difference to your child’s health, try it and see for yourself!

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If you have a little more cash to splash there are some great products which allow you to sleep grounded in bed using a cotton and silver threaded sheet connected to the earthing prong in a plug socket. This increases your connection to the earth to nearly half of the time. There are also handy conductive grounding mats, also plugged in to a socket and are especially useful for putting under little feet whilst playing the computer or watching a film. (http://www.earthing.com/)

Next time your kids ask to take their shoes off instead of worrying about the dirt and the cold think of it as a nutritional supplement boost of free electrons which will help to calm, regulate, restore and re-balance them…..and after they’ve finished there’s always wet wipes for a quick and easy clean.

For more information on going barefoot and its benefits, read the book ‘Earthing’ by Clinton Ober.

Mental invitations, the real root of childhood illness

6 Jun

grumpsHave you ever noticed that your child becomes unwell during times of major changes, trauma and emotional stress? Maybe they’ve just started nursery, a new sibling has arrived or they’ve got a test coming up. Perhaps there’s an unwelcome visitor who creates feelings of awkwardness and judgement or an appointment coming up such as the dentist.

Disease has many triggers: poor nutrition, environmental allergens, lack of exercise and toxin overload; the real root cause to why the disease has manifested in a particular way may lie far deeper in the troubled mind.

Shamans and ancient healers have long believed that all dis-ease originates from disturbances in the mind/ psyche and they treat their patients through techniques such as chanting and invocations to access and ‘release’ the negative energies causing disruption.

Humans are energetical beings affected by everything around them that has its own energy field, even that which we cannot see or touch; whether it be mobile phone radiation or a domineering person exerting their forces of control.

Have you ever notice how some people uplift you and others make you feel drained and depleted? This is due to how our energy fields interact with others, some build your energy higher whilst others deplete it. If it becomes too depleted, disease will manifest in the body. As children are under the guidance and control of the adults surrounding them, the adults issues will have a direct affect on their well-being whether we accept it or not.

Below I have taken a selection of common childhood imbalances from Louise L. Hay’s book ‘You can heal your life’ and given their mental invitations/thoughts that have helped to manifest that particular illness.

Try not to discredit or take this information too personally; as the Buddhists teachings say, we all come here with our own karmas and the only certainty in life is that all humans will endure suffering at some level.

  • Accidents – Inability to speak up for the self. Rebellion against authority. Belief in violence.
  • Aches – Longing for love/to be held.
  • Allergies – Denying own power.
  • Anemia – Lack of joy. Fear of life. Feeling not good enough.
  • Adenoids – Family friction. Arguments. Child feeling unwelcome or in the way.
  • Anxiety – Not trusting the flow and process of life.
  • Asthma – Smother love. inability to breathe for oneself. Suppressed crying.
  • Baby asthma – Fear of life. Not wanting to be here.
  • Bedwetting – Fear of parent, often the father.
  • Childhood diseases – Childish behaviour in the adults around them.
  • Colds – Too much going on at once. Mental confusion.
  • Colic – Mental irritation. Impatience. Annoyance in the surroundings.
  • Pink-eye – Anger and frustration. Not wanting to see.
  • Eye problems – Not wanting to see what is going on in the family.
  • Earache – Anger. Not wanting to hear. Too much turmoil. Parents arguing.
  • Eczema – Breath-taking antagonism. Mental eruptions.
  • Fevers – Anger. Burning-up.
  • Overweight – Represents protection. hypersensitivity.
  • Hay fever – Emotional congestion. Guilt. A belief in persecution. A fear of the calendar.
  • Headaches – Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.
  • Infection – Irritation. Anger. Annoyance.
  • Inflammation – Fear. Seeing red. Inflamed thinking.
  • Influenza (Flu) – Response to mass negativity and beliefs. Fear
  • Jaundice – Internal and external prejudice. Unbalanced reason.
  • Motion sickness – Fear of not being in control.
  • Nail biting – Frustration. Eating away at the self. Spite of a parent.
  • Nose bleeds – A need for recognition. Feeling unwanted and unrecognised. Crying for love.
  • Polio – Paralysing jealousy, a desire to stop someone
  • Stuttering – Insecurity. Lack of self-expression. Not being allowed to cry.

(extracted from ‘You can heal your life’ by Louise L. Hay)

Only you can figure out how best to help your child once you have identified their emotional imbalances. The most important remedy is nearly always to bring back a sense of security and love in to the child’s life. Allow them to talk with someone who will act as a sound board rather than offering solutions and judgements on the issues.Make them feel loved, giving them quality time and showing affection through physical affection, no matter what their age.

Sometimes a bit of TLC along with offloading their emotional baggage in a safe space is all kids need in order to feel heard and understood and begin to heal.

Don’t cut the cord: A lotus, free birth story

3 Jun

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The words ‘natural birth’ often conjure up images of a relaxed home birth with a birthing pool, homeopathic remedies and few interventions from midwives, sometimes even a doula is present. To me natural birth means a whole lot more than just birthing in the comfort of your own home without forceps and drugs.

To truly understand how nature intended women to give birth we must look to the wild animals who are untouched by man. When animals are near the end of their pregnancy they instinctively know when to retreat and allow their offspring a safe passage into the outside world. They choose a quiet and peaceful place without too much stimulation from light or noise and begin their labor alone. Nothing else intervenes for this would cause the mother stress, contracting her birthing muscles which must remain relaxed in order for the labor to progress successfully. Once the offspring have arrived there is no weighing, measuring or wrapping in blankets; the young mammals simply find their way to the breast to suckle and to connect to the vital touch of the mother’s skin who will help regulate their body temperature and provide a feeling of safety and comfort. This closeness with a familiar smell and touch also provides a much-needed buffer against the shock of the transition from a warm, dark and quiet womb to a harshly over stimulating outside world.

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The placenta is the baby’s life source delivering oxygen, food and also expelling waste for a lengthy nine months in most cases. It has grown with the baby, constantly present. Even after birth the placenta continues pumping oxygen to the baby for at least five whole minutes whilst the baby learns to transition to breathing fully with it’s lungs. For as long as the cord pulses, not only oxygen but also other precious nutrients such as iron and stem cells are also being delivered to the baby’s stores, providing an optimal chance for survival and growth.

When we clamp and cut the cord too soon we risk loosing this precious fluid and gas exchange. Some wild animals such as our closest relatives, the chimpanzees must know this instinctively as most of them continue to carry around the placenta with the cord attached to their babies until it naturally drops off and is returned to the earth; what we otherwise refer to as a ‘lotus birth’.  Other animals do chew the cord off shortly after birth but as a vegan this option did not appeal to me.

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Just recently there has been much concern amongst the medical profession of Obstetricians regarding the potential danger of cord non-severance possibility of causing Septicemia. Interestingly even though this subject is talked about with much concern there does not exist any evidence/cases of actual Septicemia or deaths of newborns caused by a mother opting not to sever the cord. There does however, exist many cases of Septicemia in instances of cord severance.

The physical benefits of not cutting the cord include optimum immune protection and reduced risk of infection as no open wound is created. Other benefits are, in my opinion, of a more spiritual nature.

I decided to opt for an unassisted birth without any intervention. I felt strongly to allow my baby to be born at the exact time and in the way that I felt most comfortable. Even though I had emergency numbers on hand, I chose not to have any midwives or medical professionals present as I felt I could not trust them to respect my wishes and follow through on my birth plan. After hearing numerous stories from other women who had birthed with the medical profession I did not feel reassured that I would be fully supported. For these reasons I chose to only have my husband present at the birth.

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We adopted a child-led parenting approach to raise Ulysses, which allows the child to take more control of what happens in their life. Child-led parenting involves raising the child with freedom alongside guidance, without force and punishment. In allowing children to take life at their own pace they learn to trust their own instincts and develop a set of morals and values based on their own experiences rather than the parents interpretation of the world. Such practices as baby-led weaning, non-violent communication and unstructured play form part of a non-forceful approach, much like lotus birthing where the baby’s body decides when to let go of the placenta rather than a third-party.

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Growing up as a conventionally parented child I often felt a sense of powerlessness that in turn created a dependency on others and lack of self-confidence. Natural birth and child-led parenting provides ways you can show the most precious person in your life that you respect, trust and honor their innate wisdom.

lotusbaby

The lotus flower is a symbol most widely recognized from India. Many times I get asked from where does lotus birth originate? I am not entirely sure how it became named, but I would guess it has something to do with the placenta resembling the flower. If you have ever observed a placenta with the cord attached it has a beautiful network of veins running through it as the leaves on a flower have, the cord also bears resemblance to the stem.

Central to all spiritual paths is the concept of ‘letting go’; everything in nature takes its cycle and in it’s own time transforms into the next phase. Just as the mother’s body knows instinctively to release the placenta after it has received the chemical messages released from the baby suckling on the breast, so does the baby’s body know exactly when to release the cord from it’s point of attachment without any intervention.

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During my lotus birth, a lovely six-day period of bonding and closeness was established. We washed and wrapped the placenta everyday to keep it clean and placed it in a waterproof pouch. As the placenta did not release until five hours after the birth this provided for a special bonding period in a close embrace, without separation. During this vital period of bonding between us I felt strongly that it was important that no one else take the baby away and having the placenta still attached to the cord helped to ensure this.

Shortly after the birth, the cord dried quickly into the texture of an electric cable. During the nights we slept with the baby on the bed and the placenta was placed next to the bed. Transporting the placenta with baby around the house was made convenient by using a stretchy wrap, which had a pocket in the front to hold the placenta.

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After six days of healing and bonding we woke up one morning to find baby Ulysses had gripped hold of the cord and detached it by himself, leaving a neat and healthy looking belly button. For the 6 days the placenta was still attached he was very peaceful and slept extremely well. Due to the damp environment where we lived and also choosing to wrap plastic around the cloth, the placenta did not dry out as well as it should have and did leave a musty smell for the last few days however, as the cord had already sealed off and we kept the rooms well aired, I didn’t feel this posed any threat to Ulysses. Despite the minor inconvenience of learning to maneuver around the cord for 6 days and dealing with the cleaning of the placenta I feel the potential benefits of lotus birthing far outweigh any cons and will definitely be having a lotus birth for my next child. With regards to the unassisted part of the birth I’d like to say most likely yes.

In cultures where they maintain their placenta after cutting the cord, a tradition exists for the placenta to be buried to the right side of the front door for a male and the left side for a female. We lived in a block of flats at the time so did not have this option and decided we much preferred the idea of returning the placenta back to the land through the sea rather than burying it. As we love to travel, the sea is a symbol of adventure and freedom, a life I hope Ulysses has the opportunity to experience.

Let the sunshine in!

3 May

P1000665 In the above photo Ulysses is sporting the typical expression I receive from people when they find out we don’t use sunscreen….arghh!

We all know the documented benefits of a moderate amount of sun exposure to the skin: increases vitamin D levels, kills unwanted fungus, heals skin conditions such as Psoriasis, aids in producing sweat and thus detoxes the body, provides us with the full spectrum of light to balance our mood, regulates our circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) and generally has a healing effect on the body.

Then there’s the well documented con of the sun’s dangerous nature, triggering skin cancer; that’s enough to make any parent reach for the sun cream bottle isn’t it?

A word in defence of that beautiful ball of fire in the sky we call the sun; the burning star that gives life to everything on planet Earth and, without which, we would not exist.

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The sun has such great healing powers that it actually purges anything out of the human body that should not be there, not create a state of disease crisis but sometimes creates a healing crisis in the form of the big C word.

‘Anything that shouldn’t be there’ includes a whole array of man-made, toxic chemicals, many of which are located in your average sun cream. It is interesting to note that Australia, one of the biggest countries for using sun screen protection also has one of the highest rates of skin cancer.

These chemicals often cause allergic reactions in many people as well as blocking the body’s pores which form part of the lymphatic drainage system, this is how the body cleanses its internal environment and regulates the body temperature, through sweating.

My family spent 7 weeks in beautiful sunny Gozo when my 7 month old son was suffering from a severe mould allergy. We spent a little bit of time everyday in direct sunlight without any sun cream and the rest of the time kept in the shade. We did not suffer any sunburn and in fact, came away with a revitalized and healthy child back to England.

What then should we do, unlimited sun exposure with no protection? of course not!

No culture does that. The mediterranean people take their siesta in the middle of the day at the hottest hours and shut up shop during this time. The Arabs chew on the root or seeds of the Amni-Majus also known as ‘toothpick’ (a white flower also native to British Isles) and the Indians chew on the seeds of the Babchi plant to increase the Melanin, and thus darken their skin pigment in the sun. Many people in hot countries also wear long, dark clothing to absorb heat away from the skin.

Nowhere in the world is more careless in the sun than in the Western ‘civilised countries’, this is especially surprising taking into account the fact that we usually have the fairest skin!

In order of decreasing natural protection, the following skin colours exist: black, brown, olive, fair, albino. We were all designed to ive in certain climates and must respect our skin colour and adjust sun exposure times accordingly to reflect our own personal exposure limits.

There are many ways to protect yourself naturally from the powerful effect of the sunshine in full force.   We are, after all, living in a very toxic world within which we cannot help but be contaminated to a certain extent. Here are some useful tips to protect yourself from the sun naturally:

  • Limit exposure during: the sun’s strongest hours usually between 11am-3pm, after a winter period with little or no exposure to direct sunlight and during illness or de-hydration when the body is more prone to sunburn.
  • Build up your sun exposure gradually starting with no more than 10-15 minutes per day and building up to a limit that suits your individual tolerance levels. Expect some pinkness as pale skin adjusts to the sun, it is nothing to be overly concerned with. Sunburn will display itself as sore and/or peeling.(NB: if you are a fiery, red or fair-haired, fair-skinned individual with freckles, you will have the lowest tolerance and must take the greatest care)
  • During the hottest hours, when you have reached your own tolerance levels for direct exposure to sunlight, use hats and long-sleeved clothing made out of natural linen or cotton to cover up. White is the best colour for reflecting sunlight.

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  • Beware sunglasses! They were originally invented for pilots flying high in the atmosphere where there is high, unnatural UV exposure. They have no practical use on land other than as a fashion statement or disguise. It is as important for your eyes as for your skin to allow the retinas to receive the full sunlight spectrum directly.

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  • Hydrate your body as much as possible; before, during and after sun exposure. Pure spring water is the best as well as coconut water. If using regular water, add a pinch of quality pink or grey salt to every litre to help structure the water for optimum hydration. Fresh snacks such as watermelon are an ideal option for hydration. Vegan ice cream such as ‘Booja Booja’ and home-made frozen fruits blended up as a sorbet are also very tasty and cooling summer snacks, however, the best way to cool the body is actually using spices and hot foods to encourage heat regulation through sweating. (NB: mint or fennel are better food flavourings than hot spices for those fiery types)

P1020351Plate of Red Chili Peppers

  • Alkalise your body with fresh raw foods; cucumber, greens, celery and fresh juices will help to bring your body into a state of balance so it can cope better with sunshine exposure.

P1030086 P1030087Examples of fresh fruit and vegetable juices

(Left contains: grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple and berries. Right: strawberries, watermelon and cucumber)

  • Be aware of the areas on the body most prone to sunburn; shoulders, nose, feet, ears, chest and anywhere the skin is thin. Oxtinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone and Homosalate are typical sunscreen ingredients that act as either irritants, allergens, hormone disruptors or carcinogens.If you must use sun cream pick a sun block which uses a mineral that sits on top of the skin rather than absorbing into it. Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide is a safe option and is used in the ‘Burt’s Bees’ sun cream.

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  • Like sun creams, after-sun cream can also contain all sorts of undesirable chemicals you wouldn’t want absorbing into your little one or your own skin. 60% of what you put on your body absorbs directly in to the blood stream so opt for natural Aloe vera to cool sun burn. Later on when the skin has cooled you can use extra virgin raw coconut oil to heal any damage.

Finally, remember the rays can still reach your skin through the clouds, just as well too otherwise we might not get any healing sun exposure through those dreary winter months!

 

 

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and do not give medical advice)