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During the newborn and infant stages:
Bond with your baby as much as possible. You will need your sleep, so rest when you can. But be sure to hold and talk to your infant as often as possible. Co-sleeping is an option many parents are adopting to ensure continued contact with their babies.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to not only provide optimal nutrition, but to ensure there is a good amount of bonding time between mother and child. While breastfeeding, keep up your excellent dietary habits of 6 to 9 servings of colorful, antioxidant-rich veggies and fruit, 80 to 100 grams of high-quality protein sources (divided into four or five 2-ounce servings) and plenty (6 to 8 glasses) of filtered water per day.
Wear your baby as often as possible, utilizing various baby carriers. Having you baby held close allows them comfort, emotional ease and, very importantly, constant motion. These factors all strengthen and enhance neurological development in your baby.
Because birth is strenuous on both the mother and baby, you should both be checked by a qualified chiropractor shortly after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for your healthy recovery and continued stamina. Your baby’s cranial and spinal development will affect her nerve system function for the rest of her life. Early care supports strong nerve and immune system function.
Consume extra fiber to ensure a good bowel movement each day.
Purchase an organic crib and or bed mattress. Be aware of bedding and clothing treated with flame retardants, as they contain high levels of antimony and other toxic substances.
Continue taking multivitamin and fish-oil supplements with extra vitamin D if your blood work shows a deficiency.
Unless you are positive for hepatitis B, there is no need for your newborn to receive the hep B vaccine in the nursery or within the first few months of life.
I would suggest you avoid all vaccines until the child is older, and then make an informed decision about each one based on its potential affects to your child’s immune, digestive and neurological systems. This issue of Pathways has an outstanding article on informed choice by Barbara Loe Fisher, cofounder of National Vaccine Information Center. [See page 52.]
To minimize the possibility that your child will develop food allergies, postpone the introduction of solids until at least 6 months. When it is time to introduce solids, only use organic vegetables. Steam them and purée them in a blender. You can make batches of these and freeze them in ice cube trays. Introduce each new food no sooner than 4 days apart to make sure there is no reaction. After a few weeks, you can begin introducing fruits. Grains should not be introduced until the baby has teeth. Before teeth appear, babies do not have the digestive enzyme to assimilate grains. If you have a history of eczema, food allergies, celiac or autism, avoid dairy, soy and gluten grains (such as wheat, barley, oats, rye and Kamut).
Continue breastfeeding for at least one year (preferably two). A child’s own immune system does not kick in until they are about 18 months of age, and your breastmilk offers the best immune system support available. Contact your local La Leche League for support and knowledge before and during the breastfeeding period.
Almost every article about autism and vaccines printed in the mainstream media states that all studies have shown there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. This is simply not true. There is good science pointing to a connection, including studies published in Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry and The New England Journal of Medicine. More important, there are thousands of parents of sick children who can tell you they had a normal child until he or she received several vaccines in one day, or that their child was vaccinated despite being ill. More research needs to be done, but these accounts by intelligent, observant parents cannot be discounted. To me, these reports are of equal or greater importance to any scientific study.
Parents are choosing which vaccines to give after careful consideration of their child’s history and genetic background. If a child was born prematurely, for instance, or has had recurrent ear infections, or if the parents have a history of autoimmune disorders or allergies—these are all indicators that the infant or toddler may not respond well to a vaccine (and certainly not when several are given at one time). I’d like to suggest discussing all of this with your pediatrician, but, unfortunately, most would not agree to postpone, spread out, or avoid vaccines based on a family history or current illness. As a matter of fact, I have heard several respected pediatricians say that a child’s immune system can handle hundreds of vaccines in one day. Honestly, what are these people thinking? And where are the studies proving their theory? They don’t exist!
If you do decide to give a vaccine, make sure your child has not been ill recently, or is not coming down with something. You also shouldn’t give a vaccine if the child is (or recently was) taking antibiotics. Ask for single-dose vials of the vaccines, and give them one at a time. There are no long-term studies showing that giving multiple vaccines at once is a safe practice. I also suggest, prior to vaccinating, that you prime your child’s immune system with immune-protective nutrients. Give 250 mg of vitamin C, 2 or 3 echinacea drops and 1/2 teaspoon cod-liver oil each day for a few days, before and after the vaccine. For more information, please download the pdf “A Safer Way to Vaccinate,” at sokhop.com/pdf/a_safer_way_to_vaccinate.pdf.
If you decide not to vaccinate, know you are among a growing group of parents who are shifting their paradigm of health from a fear-based, disease model to a vitalistic, trust-based wellness model. Although you may sometimes feel isolated, there are many parents making this shift, and support and updated information are available. On the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (icpa4kids.org) and Holistic Pediatric Association (hpakids.org) websites, you can find listings of providers who have have committed their practices to be a resource for vitalistic family wellness options. There you can find information, support and holistic care congruent with your choices.
We don’t have all the answers. No one does. But we should consider the research that has already be done, and the stories of improvement and recovery told by parents who have already traveled this difficult path. Let’s apply common-sense precautionary principles as we prepare for and enter motherhood. If we wait for all of the research to be conclusive, or for public health policy makers to issue new edicts and catch up to what many smart and observant parents, researchers and physicians already know, how many more children will be unnecessarily affected by autism? The time to prevent autism is now.
About the Author:
Maureen McDonnell has been a registered nurse for 33 years in the fields of childbirth education, clinical nutrition, labor and delivery, newborn nursery and more. Since the late 1970s, she has been a vocal advocate and promoter of whole foods, green living and preventative health measures as the most logical and cost-effective methods for minimizing complications associated with pregnancy and birth and reducing chronic illnesses in children. From 1998 to 2008, Maureen coordinated the Defeat Autism Now! conferences. In 2008, she cofounded Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet (sokhop.com), and established the blog Raising Healthy Kids Naturally. Visit her online at RaisingHealthyKidsNaturally.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #26.
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