Saturday, January 16, 2010

My article on getting healthy before you get pregnant was published in Natural Awakenings Magazine

Healthy Women Make Healthy Babies!

I have been a RN (in the fields of newborn care, labor and delivery, clinical nutrition, childbirth education, and pediatrics) for 32 years. Additionally, and most relevant to this article, is the fact that I had the great privilege of coordinating the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years. As a result of my interaction with hundreds of parents of children with health and developmental problems, I am convinced that the more a woman does prior to conceiving to maximize her health, the less likely she will be to experience problems with fertility as well as complications associated with pregnancy, labor & birth. Of equal significance is the fact that if a woman minimizes her exposure to toxins and maximizes her nutrition before and during her pregnancy, she may greatly decrease the chances that her offspring will develop health, behavioral and or developmental problems.
No one has all the answers as to why so many of our children are being diagnosed with autism, allergies, ADHD, childhood cancers, diabetes, asthma etc. Better diagnosis some say (I can’t accept that one). Possibly an environmental factor? (getting warmer). Certainly the increase in the number of vaccines must play a role (absolutely). The problem is, while the researchers figure out all the answers, more and more children are negatively impacted by these conditions. So when moms of affected children want to get pregnant with another child, or women who have never conceived before ask: what can be done to increase the chances of having a healthy baby, I believe there are common sense, practical and effective strategies for shifting the odds in favor of a very positive outcome.
First: the present state of affairs: Did you know that the CDC has reported that I out of every 6 children born in this country have either a neurological, behavioral or developmental problem? Dr. Kate Thomsen, MD, MPH (Assistant Clinical Professor at UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in NJ) reported at a recent Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet ( children’s health conference that: “According to the CDC 31% of pregnancies are complicated by maternal health issues, 11% of women who are pregnant smoke, 10% drink alcohol, 69% don’t take enough folate (folic acid), 31% are obese, and 12% of all babies are born prematurely” (which greatly increases their risk of developing health and or neurological problems). At the same conference, Dr. Doris Rapp, MD (a board certified environmental medical specialist, allergist, and author of Our Toxic World, A Wake Up Call) told the audience that according to The National Research Council in Washington, 7% of all couples are now sterile, 50% of all pregnancies end in a stillborn, miscarriage, birth defects or a chronic health problem and finally, in spite of all our medical advances, 7 out of every 1000 US newborns die (which ranks us 27th out of 28 for infant mortality.) I don’t know about you, but I find these statistics startling, more than a little scary, and completely unacceptable.
We all know that the days and weeks immediately following conception are crucial for the development of the fetus. A poor diet, tobacco use, environmental toxins, alcohol, drugs etc. all pose a threat to (what every woman hopes for), a healthy baby. What we don’t often discuss with our physicians or friends (and yet it may be of equal, if not greater significance) is the importance of the health of the mother prior to becoming pregnant. I believe, in order to minimize the complications associated with pregnancy and birth as well as enhance the chances of having a healthy child, a woman should be in an optimal state prior to conceiving. This is why for years I have half jokingly told my daughter, step-daughters and daughters- in- law:”give me your body for one year prior to getting pregnant, and I may be able to save you from the heartache and stress that so many parents of sick or disabled children know only too well”
What do I mean when I say “give me your body for a year prior to conceiving?” Obviously, I’m not a body snatcher and I can’t imagine any of these daughters moving back home for that long a time. What I am suggesting is this: let’s get a good health history and do an assessment of your nutritional status. We also might test for heavy metal toxicity and check to see if there is a yeast (Candida) overgrowth. If there is a history of migraines, fatigue, depression, yeast infections, PMS, acne, constipation etc., we could address those symptoms by implementing a naturally based, nutritional approach that may include a detoxification program. The goal for my daughters (and now my clients) is to get them healthy prior to getting pregnant, so they can increase the likelihood of having a great uncomplicated pregnancy, labor, birth and baby!
Before I get into the specifics of what can be done to ensure an optimal outcome for mom and baby, let me explain a bit about what has changed in our world in the past 60 or so years that may be contributing to the rise in the health problems we are seeing in our children. Around the mid 1940s, exhausted from World War ll, parents of the baby boomers began demanding products that were “convenient.” As a result, many industries began creating items that were derived from plastics and other synthetic materials. The use of both pesticides and prescription drugs escalated, chemicals in cleaning and personal care products increased and processed convenience food became the rage. Industry and technology answered the call of the culture by creating better living through better chemistry. In the 1950s, the 1st generation of children exposed to these chemicals was born (I was one of them!). As we now know, many of these chemicals created for this modern/convenient lifestyle ‘bioaccumulate” or build up in our bodies. Presently, the EPA tells us there are over 80,000 chemicals in our air, water and food and 2.2 billion pounds of chemicals are sprayed on our crops annually. The average American home contains 3-10 gallons of hazardous materials and 85% of the chemicals that are registered have never been tested for their impact on the human body

To read this full article (too long for the blog) with the entire list of suggestions for getting healthy before you get pregnant, go to my website at (Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet) The article is a pdf listed on the left side of the home page. Healthy Women, Make Healthy Babies or try

1 comment:

  1. The pergancy means giving birth to a new life. It is well said in this post that awarness of your health comes first. If you are health you will give birth to a health child. to intake proper food is must.The main thing to avoid in pregancy is alchocol & smoking which injuries a life inside you.