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Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care—Part 2

Self-Care

I’m super eager to find out how the self-care tips from Part 1 worked out for everyone! Were you able to implement any of them? Which ones? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post and let us know.

If you missed out on Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care—Part 1, I highly recommend hopping over and checking that one out first. It’s brimming with practical ideas and a brilliant self-care list; a perfect guide for self-care for beginners if it’s not something you currently practice. In Part 1 we covered: why self care is essential, warning signs that you may be lacking in the loving on yourself department, benefits of self-care, how to take baby steps into doing better with self-care, and simple chemical and physical modifications you can make.

Today we delve into Part 2 with mental and emotional modifications. And girl, you NEED to read this. Afterall, mindset is everything: we create our lives with our thoughts; your thoughts quite literally become your reality.

 

Simple Mental and Emotional Modifications

Simple self-care can improve how you feel about yourself and your ability to manage your emotions and deal with daily challenges. This means swapping old ways of thinking and old coping strategies for healthy, positive thoughts and coping tools.

 

Gratitude and Reflection.

Meditating on your daily wins–big and small–throughout the day is the simplest thing you can do for your mental self-care.

A grateful heart has a better, clearer perspective on every situation life may throw at you.

  • Get on Pinterest or Google and print some inspirational quotes or verses. Tape them up around the house where you can see them and be encouraged throughout the day.

 

Allow yourself to process each stage of motherhood.

  • Write a blog or post to process life that’s happening. Even if it is just for yourself.
  • Cry it out.
    • Find an emotional chick-flick (my go-to is Raising Helen) and have a good cry.
  • Call a friend to verbally process your situation.
  • Journal.
  • Meet with a professional counselor that specializes in women’s mental health.  (https://www.facebook.com/SageTreeTherapy/)

 

Rest and refresh.

Sleep is important, but so is guarding your time to rest and refresh—whatever that looks like for you.

  • Implement a Sabbath concept, adding one day of rest to your week (or start with one night a week).

For me that looks like not touching dishes on Saturdays. We also try to not leave the house as a family on Saturdays (since my husband commutes to work through the week, he is also refreshed by a day without driving).

We have to fight to protect our rest and quality family-time. It’s not easy, but totally worth it!

  • Try a technological fast. Remove that social media app from your phone and don’t open your computer for a few days. (Speaking from personal experience, I guarantee you will feel more in-tune with yourself and your surroundings after just one day.)
  • Set healthy boundaries.

That may look like saying “no” to some of those relationships, parties, extra-curricular activities or even family gatherings…yes, I went there. What works “best” for most may be breaking you and preventing you from being the best mom you can be. Take some time to reflect on all your commitments and relationships—are they serving you or breaking you? Often times “no” or “not in this season” brings more freedom than guilt.

Let it go, girl!

Rediscover what refreshes you.

I recently had a conversation with an old  friend who was rediscovering herself as a new mother. I had given her a book for Hanukkah, because I remembered how much she loved to read when we were growing up. She read it, loved it, read it again and rediscovered that she is a “reader” and loves to get lost in a good book.  

Sometimes, becoming a mother changes how we are best refreshed. Where you used to enjoy going to the cinema or golfing, now you may rather walk the dog alone or (please, God) soak in an Epsom salt bath without interruption.

Do you enjoy reading? Writing? Crafts? Painting? Singing? Dancing? Playing an instrument? Animals? Cooking? Time with friends? Playing or watching sports?

The way you receive love may also change once becoming a mother. Take this quiz to learn how you receive love. I was shocked how much my love language changed after my son came into the picture. After completing the quiz, sit down and talk to your spouse and support system about how they can love you the way you can receive it best.  

 

 

Communicate your needs.

Sleep-deprivation and nutrition-deficiency can prevent us from even recognizing our needs. This is why sleep and proper nutrition are essential to self-care, but it is also our responsibility to communicate our needs with those that love us.

They can’t read our mind.

  • Find yourself a trustworthy babysitter and schedule a regular girls’ night and/or date night. Write down your needs, if it will help you remember and communicate your needs to your spouse or friends.
  • If you are in a season where a sitter is not an option, there is always after bedtime, video chats and phone calls.

Ask for help and be willing to receive help. They cannot read your mind.

 

In Conclusion

It is a daily fight for self-care, but you can plan ahead and successfully take action toward implementing more one day at a time! The benefits of self-care are totally worth it, and so are you.

Regardless of the chaos you are facing, self-care is your responsibility.

All of us at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis are proud of you for taking the time to read this article and all of the big and small actionable steps you are taking to be the best you. We are here to support your wellness journey, and that definitely includes your self-care.  

Self-love directly affects your ability to love those around you.

We want to know how we can help you reach your self-care goals. Contact us today.

Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care: Part 1

Why Taking Care of Yourself is so Important

Self-care during every stage of life is a fight, but navigating the unknown twists and turns of keeping your children alive increases your daily stress to new levels. Self-care is vital to stress management and key to being your best and the best mother to your children.

Your time is precious, so let’s cut to the chase.

One of the most difficult things about motherhood–postpartum and beyond–is how often mothers stop caring for themselves.

If I am catching you prior to having or adopting your first child (or next child), this is for you.

If I am catching you in the throws of piles of laundry (maybe you remember if they are clean or not), wiping little noses with a Disney rerun entertaining your toddler, this is for you, too.

We strive to love others as we love ourselves. But how well can we really love those around us, if we aren’t loving ourselves well?

There is no excuse good enough to ignore your self-care.

We get it—a new life always affects the budget and the amount of available time for self-care. So let’s take some extra steps in preparing the budget and schedule to include meeting mom’s physical, emotional and mental self-care needs.

Benefits of Self-Care

Like myself, you probably don’t even realize you’re running on fumes until you get more sleep or sneak out for a night with the girls. We know we are better humans when we prioritize self-care, so why do we always put ourselves on the back burner?

A few motivations to convince yourself to prioritize your regular self-care:

  • Improved health–less sickness, less aches and pains.
  • More energy–be the best fun-mom you can be and sign up for that kick-boxing class.
  • Improved cognition–have you had enough of mom-brain?
  • Improved critical thinking–be able to strategize the best solutions for your growing family.
  • More intimacy–just schedule that belated anniversary date night or girls’ night out; conversations with other adults that love you will remind you that you are still in there somewhere.  
  • Improved self-esteem–stepping away from the hustle improves our perspective of our roles in life and increases gratefulness for our current season.  

Are you lacking self-care?

Our body, mood, actions and inactions can tell us if we are not managing our stress well. Physical, emotional and chemical stressors all play a part in our stress load.

Warning Signs:

  •         Fatigue, exhaustion, low energy
  •         Repeated illness, pain, injury
  •         Overwhelmed
  •         Angry, frustrated or irritated most of the time (short fuse)
  •         Lacking passion for life, work or hobbies
  •         Lacking desire to be with friends
  •         Trouble adapting to change
  •         Low self-esteem
  •         Procrastination
  •         Emotional (crying easily, short fuse)
  •         Critical of yourself, spouse, other family members or co-workers
  •         Cynical, lacking perspective of temporary situation(s)

Self-Care Routine: Baby Steps

During this season of chasing littles or night nursing, self-care may not look like getting to the gym on the regular or a spa day, but self-care can be in the little daily things we are already doing while trying to keep your children alive.

Simple modifications or additions to our daily routine might be all the time you have for self-care in your current season—and that is okay! It’s a start!

This list and the the other steps that follow are not meant to overwhelm you or bring any more guilt into your life. These are simply suggestions to improve your quality-of-life (self-care for beginners if you will) and to inspire you to be more intentional with your self-care, because you are worth it.

  • Pick up a few special treats just for you while you are at the grocery store or throw them in your Amazon Cart
    • Calming tea (Chamomile, Valerian)
    • Grab-and-go protein bars [we love RX and Larabars]
    • Mommy’s special dark chocolate
    • Physician-grade highly absorbable magnesium—magnesium is a natural way to calm your mind before bed, fight depression, anti-inflammatory, reduces PMS symptoms, etc.
  • Consider a grocery delivery service.
  • Eat your dessert first (this is my husband’s favorite)
  • Hide a jar of almond butter to pair with an apple for your sugar-fix.
  • Wash your face.
  • Make a list of your support system–people that can drive to your house or will at least answer your call in a pinch. Put the list where you can see it on the rough days.
  • Schedule yourself a chiropractic adjustment along with your children’s appointments.
  • Use your earbuds more. While driving put one side in and listen to your music or a book.
  • Be more intentional about making decisions and stop asking the kids where they want to eat–where do you want to go?

Once you’ve taken baby steps to include simple daily self-care, you are ready to consider more significant life changes, in order to be the best you for yourself and your family.

Again, these are meant to be suggestions. Please, do not get more overwhelmed. This is about you taking care of yourself.

Simple Chemical Modifications for Self-Care

Drink more water.

Especially if you are still nursing, your water intake should equal at least half your body weight in ounces per day.

Drinking more water throughout the day is the simplest way to increase your energy and improve detoxification from daily chemicals we are all exposed to in our environment and food.

  • Buy yourself a reusable water bottle—preferably glass or stainless—to make it easier to track your water intake while you are on the go.

Need more reasons to increase your water intake?

Find a Coffee Alternative and limit caffeine consumption.

Your adrenals are already in overdrive—give them a break.

Caffeine causes you to be in fight or flight mode which causes your digestion to be off and a whole host of other issues— adrenals. Drinking coffee causes your body to make HCL. HCL should only be made when the body is about to digest a meal. You can only make so much HCL this leads to a lack of digestion, especially protein digestion. What do we need protein for?

Coffee also causes stress to your kidneys thus causing your minerals to be thrown off— think zinc and magnesium. We need those!

Don’t just go switching to green tea–it blocks folate receptors in the brain.

I personally love Dandy Root and therapeutic teas as a coffee alternative.

Reduce your sugar and alcohol intake.

It is easy to lean on quick fixes like sugar and alcohol when we are overwhelmed or stressed out. Instead…

  • Communicate how you are feeling with your support system or journal about your feelings, before these unhealthy coping mechs creep out of control.
  • Swap out that sugar with fresh fruit. Keep a bowl of organic apples on the counter.
  • Revisit the baby steps list and try adding in a handful of simple self-cares daily.
  • Review your current eating habits. Have you slunk into a bad eating habit that could be adding to your stress or worsened your fatigue? (Think: too many simple carbs and sugars—bread, pasta, white potatoes, pastries, etc.—or not enough protein or water?)

Choose more living foods and buy organic and clean meats whenever possible.

Remember–food is fuel.

Your body will function its best when you fill it with the right fuel like living foods and clean protein.

Protein is the most versatile and valuable fuel you can give your body. Ideally, your body needs 100 grams of protein every day to function properly.

  • Clean meat labels should include ALL of the following:
    • Beef and Pork: grass-fed and organic
    • Chicken & Eggs: free-range and organic
    • Fish: wild-caught

Reducing exposure to pesticides and other chemicals found in boxed foods starts with you—the family grocery shopper.

  • Try to always buy organic for the Dirty Dozen:
    • Strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Nectarines
    • Apples
    • Grapes
    • Peaches
    • Cherries
    • Pears
    • Tomatoes
    • Celery
    • Potatoes
    • Sweet Bell Peppers and Hot Peppers

Adding more living foods into your diet will also improve the health of the entire family; which means less sickness, less behavioral challenges and better sleep!

Simple Physical Modifications for Self-Care

Get at least 8 hours of sleep.

Consistent sleep can be impossible at certain stages of motherhood, but making sleep a priority is essential to self-care and being your best.

  • Girl, put down that phone before bed. Give your brain a break and put all your screens away at least 5 minutes before bed. Let your mind rest and day dream for a minute. This is a great time for prayer, mediation, reading or adding a gratitude journal to your routine.
  • If you are blessed with a spouse or support system, strategize with them quarterly about how you can get more sleep in your current stage with littles. Each growth-spurt and developmental-leap may require you to look at your sleep situation with fresh eyes, so pick a time to talk with your support system when you are thinking the clearest and work out a game-plan for you to get more sleep.
  • If you’re still nursing, consider co-sleeping (a.k.a. room sharing) with your nursling. There are endless benefits to co-sleeping.
  • Try adding chamomile tea, or a physician-grade highly absorbable magnesium, before going to bed.

Adding a magnesium supplement was a game changer for me while I was night nursing; it allowed me to fall back to sleep and not feel drowsy or cognitively delayed in the morning, like OTC sleep-aids. I still take it, after night weaning, to calm my mom-list that runs through my head before bed. Magnesium before bed and prayer have also helped me through some rough patches of depression and anxiety during motherhood.

Get movin.

Contrary to my own convictions, chasing a toddler from room to room is not enough exercise. As moms, we need to be more intentional about our exercise and daily activity.

Exercise is essential for eliminating stress, increasing endorphins (the happy brain chemicals) and grounding yourself (fresh eyes, fresh perspective on your situation caused by increased oxygenation in your brain).

  • Spend more time outside. Go for an evening walk or a hike through a trail park.
  • If you are a runner (not me), invest in a jogging stroller. Take full advantage of that nap time.
  • I know several bigger families that have used birthdays or holidays to acquire a collection of bikes for the whole family. These families have a blast together outside.
  • Invest in a swimming pool, Y membership or start being nice to your neighbors with a pool.
  • Find a yoga class near you. We host weekly prenatal, mom and baby and family yoga classes at our office in Kirkwood, Missouri. If life does not permit you to attend a class, buy a yoga DVD or look up yoga on YouTube. Get the kids involved. There are several family-friendly classes and exercise videos out there.

Get regular adjustments and check-ups.

We see it all the time—pregnant mom comes in for bi-weekly adjustments religiously throughout pregnancy, she gives birth to her beautiful bundle of joy, she brings her bundle in for their newborn exam and adjustment, but then we rarely see moms continue chiropractic care for themselves past that initial, postpartum visit.

  • Adjust the budget to include your adjustment and your other medical check-ups.

If your body is not performing at its best, how are you supposed to care for those littles that are depending on you?

Nursing moms especially–twisting and contorting in ways you didn’t think possible to calm your baby–need to be adjusted at least bi-weekly to maintain the best possible breastfeeding relationship.

Women amid child-bearing years, need to be seen regularly by a family wellness chiropractor to maintain balance in hormones, including reproductivity.  

Moms with bigger kiddos need to be careful when lifting and carrying our kids.  

  • Pain is the body’s warning light signaling that something is wrong. Don’t ignore pain. Don’t cover up your pain with OTC pain-relievers. Call your chiropractor and schedule yourself an appointment, girl!

If you don’t have a family chiropractor and you live in the St. Louis area, our doctors at 1st Step Family Wellness are always taking new patients. If you live out of the area, you can find a family wellness chiropractor here: International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

Self-care is essential. Not only for your well-being, but for the well-being of your entire family. It may sound cliche, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. In order to love and care for others to the fullest, we must first love and care for ourselves, or we have nothing left to give. I hope you can implement some of these small changes from Part 1 of: Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care into your routine to start to work towards taking care of YOU; because you my love, are worth caring for.

Check back for Part 2 where we will cover some simple mental and emotional modifications you can make to implement better self-care. Plus, Part 2 has some awesome author recommendations to keep you inspired and thriving!

Holistic Wellness — 5 Baby Steps to Resolution Success

Resolution Success

Resolution success: from a holistic point of view, one that understands your mind/body/spirit are interconnected and regulated by innate intelligence, you can pick any place to start changing your life for the better at any moment and that action will impact your whole being. You don’t have to wait for the new year or a milestone to start transforming your lifestyle with baby steps toward healthier living.

Here at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, Missouri, we are here to help you successfully accomplish your resolutions and healthy lifestyle goals from a holistic point of view one step at a time.

Your ultimate resolution or goal is probably improved wellness. Wellness is a true expression of health in every area of your life: mental, physical and emotional. Consider these five simple steps to wellness the first step toward a better, healthier you.

#1 Increase Your Water Intake

Water makes up about 60% of the human body.

We NEED water to function properly. I think that people undervalue the necessity of water for their bodies, because as Americans we take our constant access to clean water for granted, and most people don’t truly understand that their bodies rely on water to survive. If I were to ask someone if they wanted their body to be able to regulate their body temperature, digest food, and carry oxygen to their cells, I guarantee the answer would be yes! These are all important and necessary functions of the human body for survival.

Did you also know, that the human body can go weeks without food, but can’t go for more than three days without water? Crazy, right?!

That is how vital water is to our health and well-being, and to our resolution success.

In my practice in St. Louis, I often find that people do not drink enough water. When I tell them the amount that they should be drinking daily, I get a jaw dropping response from most people. It is actually really rare for me to find that someone consumes the recommended daily amount of water needed. The amount of water needed is a simple calculation. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces. As an example, a person that weighs 150 lbs should be drinking 75 ounces of pure water daily.

Signs that your body needs more water:

  • Headaches
  • Achy joints
  • Dry skin
  • Slow digestion  
  • Brain Fog
  • Sluggishness
  • Muscle cramps

Many of our patients, that follow the above recommendations for water, come back into our St. Louis office, and report that they have more energy, less pain, better looking skin, and better digestion.

Baby steps. Track how much water you are drinking normally and slowing increase it daily. Get yourself a stainless steel or glass water bottle to make it easier to track your ounces.

It is not too late to join our January Water Challenge! Just follow us on our Facebook page for daily inspiration and accountability to increase your water intake!

#2 Refreshing Sleep

Research has shown that eight hours of sleep is vital to your mental, physical and emotional wellness. This can be affected by not going to bed early enough, insomnia, or not getting restful sleep once you’re in bed. The first step to making a change in this area will be to determine which of these problems you face.

Going to bed earlier is just a matter of telling yourself that you’re going to make the change; if you’re staying up until 11 then start going to bed at 10:45, and a few weeks later go to bed at 10:30, and so on. Insomnia can have several possible causes such as drinking caffeine or eating too close to bedtime, as well as stress. If you do not sleep restfully consider your mattress, diet or physical activity.

One of the biggest enemies of our refreshing sleep is screen time–tv, computers and our phones. The average person spends 4 hours a day looking at a screen. In our busy lives with the demands of family and work it is easier to check-out to a screen, but screen time is actually stealing our valuable peace and our rest.

The problem with busy lifestyles is that we don’t allow ourselves any time to shut down or decompress, and watching television or playing on the computer doesn’t count. Down time is several minutes spent letting go of the stresses of the day, and the best time to implement this is right before bed.

Baby steps. Put the screens away and begin with just five minutes of being quiet before bed.

If you meditate or pray then do so, but even just sitting and trying to empty your mind of racing thoughts will help to calm you before bed.  A  quiet stroll up and down your street or standing in your backyard contemplating the stars can be equally peaceful. The goal is to let go of the stresses of the day and allow your mind and body to shut down and fully rest. Proper rest will help you ensure resolution success.

#3 Purge the Pantry

Anything sitting on those shelves in your pantry is most likely filled with chemicals and preservatives. They definitely are not serving your wellness goals. That goes for those “health foods” as well.

In his book, The Plant Paradox, Steven Gundry, M.D. discusses the hidden dangers of “healthy foods” that cause disease and weight gain. Clearly, sugar is a hidden danger and he addresses this in his book. Providing six alternatives to sugar, he suggests stevia extract, monk fruit, yacón syrup, chicory root, erythritol and fructo- oligosaccharides. For those struggling with their health, dietary options and overall eating related health issues, this book is highly recommended. Having adequate knowledge and planning is an integral part of resolution success.

Baby steps. Purge that pantry and start adding in more living, whole foods.

Seems logical, right? A living seed placed in the soil has all of the nutrients and life force to grow generations of plants for years to come. But take that same seed and slather it in pesticides and herbicides, jam some foreign animal DNA into its gene make-up, irradiate it, ship it an average of 1500 miles to the grocery store where it will sit on a shelf before being shoved in a nutrient killing microwave… well, you get the idea. Most of our food supply, while “edible” and filling to our stomachs, is dead on arrival.

What are living, whole foods? Food that is in its natural state, preferably organic, local, and seasonal. Most of these foods are found around the perimeter of your grocery store.

“Many people feel that if they can’t eat their favorite junk foods, they are being deprived. In reality, the sooner you switch your eating habits, the sooner you’ll enjoy increased energy, normalized weight, a better mood and improved health overall. Knowing this, many initially succeed at implementing an improved diet, but then fall back into old habits… and therefore, the ‘old’ body,” says Joseph Mercola, M.D. “To avoid  this, I recommend you make the changes to your diet gradually, starting with making one meal a day raw, then increasing
from there.”

#4 Reduce Simple Carbs

Food is the body’s fuel.

The body can burn two types of fuel, carbohydrates or fat. Our ancestors used fat as a primary fuel source but today’s Western diet leans more heavily on carbohydrates (sugar). Because of this fact, fatigue may be related to post-meal hypoglycemia.

The obvious “cure” for post-meal fatigue is to train the body to burn fat instead of sugar, which should eliminate such drops in energy level.

Baby steps. Reduce the simple carbohydrates included in our meals and add more foods rich in proteins and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are often broken down into two categories–simple and complex carbs, or bad and good carbs. How our bodies digest the food carbohydrate is how it is categorized.

Simple carbs (often considered bad carbs) are digested faster and turned into sugar; which gives our body a quick burst of energy, but not sustainable energy. Simple Carbs include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Trehalose
  • Sucrose
  • Honey

Complex carbohydrates take a longer time for the body to digest and use as fuel, however they are still sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Complex Carbs include:

  • Whole grains–brown rice, quinoa, barley
  • Legumes–black beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Starchy vegetables–potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash

Other benefits to reducing simple carbs include but are not limited to:

  • Having accessible energy on hand, as the body effectively burns stored fat for energy
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Burning dietary fat for energy effectively leading to less fat being stored
  • Being able to readily depend upon fat for energy during exertion

The Paleo Lifestyle or a Mediterranean Diet are eating plans that will be easy to follow with the least amount of sugar and simple carb consumption. Nutrition is vital to succeeding with your wellness New Year’s resolutions. There are websites that will help explain these healthier dietary choices and encouragement available through online forums. We love Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain cookbooks and website.

#5 Get Movin’

The tagline that describes society’s pandemic of inactivity was introduced in early 2013 when the Harvard Business Review published “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation,” by Nilofer Merchant.

The parallel between sitting and smoking isn’t metaphoric –  it’s real. According to a November  2012 Lancet study, “On the basis of a meta-analysis of published studies, derive an estimate of 5.3 million deaths worldwide attributable to physical inactivity, and contrast this estimate with the 4.8 million deaths attributable to smoking in 2000.”

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. This is defined as a lack of regular, routine physical activity for a sustained minimum of 20 minutes more than 3 days a week. It’s not just being physically active that is required, but being in continuous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Baby steps. Pick two days a week and walk out for ten minutes, then walk home.

If you miss one day then go the next day, but don’t give up on your resolution. After two weeks add a day and begin walking three times a week. Then on the sixth week walk out for fifteen minutes, then walk home (30 minutes total). The ultimate goal is to be walking 45 minutes at a time four or five days a week.

American lifestyle – of working at a desk all day – is mostly to blame for Americans finding themselves lethally sedentary. But so is the American past time of television watching.  In 2012, an Australian study found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent, according to The New York Times.

And it’s not just the adults. There is no bigger distraction for today’s youth than the screen–whether it is a video, TV, tablet, computer or cell phone it’s a challenge much larger than you or I faced in our youth. Screen time is not only stealing our peace and sleep, but it is stealing our physical endurance and quality time with our families.

Baby steps. Unplug! Choose one day a week where you and your family eliminate screen time and replace it with family time outside or during the winter months find an activity you can all enjoy together inside.

Here are a few ideas to get you moving more with your family:

  • Explore your town and find a new park or walking trail.
  • Get involved with your community. Sign up for a walk-a-thon, family-5k or neighborhood clean-up.
  • Consider an art project. Take the children to a local art museum or gallery for inspiration.
  • Plant a garden in the backyard. Nothing big, just a few vegetables and plants can be bought as seedlings so your success rate is almost guaranteed.
  • Go window shopping at the mall. Most malls have a coffee shop and an indoor play area for the kids.
  • Visit the Zoo. Most of us don’t think about visiting the Zoo in the winter months, but this is when most of the animals are more interactive with people. Plus, there are plenty of indoor exhibits to get inside and warm up.
  • Other local family-friendly St. Louis attractions for the winter months include: The Magic House in Kirkwood, the City Museum, the Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum, and there is always your local mall.

So let’s recap. Baby steps to a better you wholisticaly in 2019, or any time of year:

  1. Increase your water intake. Goal: Half your body weight in ounces daily.
  2. Screens away before bed for more restful sleep. Goal: 8 hours of sleep per day. Eliminate screen time before bed.
  3. Purge your pantry and eat more living foods. Goal: More living foods in your daily diet. Minimal box foods.
  4. Reduce simple cards and eat more protein. Goal: Increase energy by avoiding simple, sugary carbs and leaning more on sustainable energy like proteins, vegetables and complex proteins.
  5. Get movin’ more regularly. Goal: Walking 45 minutes at a time, four or five days a week.

The doctors and staff at 1st Step Family Wellness in St.Louis are here to support you–physically, emotionally and mentally–along your wellness journey. Feel free to reach out to us!

Happy New Year!

When Should You Worry About a Fever? Do You Have Fever Phobia? Fever Facts.

fever in child

Understanding “Wait and See”

A normal temperature is anywhere from 96.6-99.4. Most fevers are caused by viral or bacterial infections but can also be a symptom of teething. The body will work without medical help in most cases. Today more and more pediatricians are honest enough to tell moms that even a fever up to 105 degrees is no cause for alarm, because the body is simply doing its job to fight the bug.

What is a fever? The Science.

Simply put, our body’s first line of defense when invaded by any microbe, virus or bacteria is going to be cells called microphages: a strong, healthy immune system may be able to eliminate the problem with this first step alone. If these fail to contain the “bug” then the body creates other pyrogens and proteins to try to assist. Once these have been created the hypothalamus in the brain recognizes that there is an invader and raises the body temperature to assist in killing it off.

This raised temperature will generally be just a couple of degrees, but the hypothalamus determines, based on the number of pyrogens and proteins, what will be necessary to eliminate the bug. If the hypothalamus creates additional biochemicals to try to protect the body then the temperature raises accordingly.

Defining a Fever.

For all children above the age of 3-months, a fever is actually a good thing. It’s a sign that their immune system is functioning properly. Although many parents will panic when their child has a temperature that is anything over 98.6°F (37°C), and this is understandable since many healthcare providers have called this a “low-grade fever,” the reality is that children’s temperatures may naturally run a little higher than what many consider the norm.

A true low-grade fever is anything between 100°F (37.8°C) and 102.2°F (39°C). This is beneficial and with most “bugs” that a child will be exposed to, this fever will assist the body in repelling the invader.

What is a High Fever Temperature?

A fever higher than 102.2°F, but under 108°F, means the body is fighting something a little more serious than the common cold and, while this level fever will not cause brain damage or any other harm to your child it is wise to seek assistance from your healthcare provider.

A serious fever is one that is at or above 108°F (42°C), as this fever can be harmful.

Can a Fever Be Dangerous?

Fevers caused by the body’s immune system are not dangerous, and the hypothalamus will control the body temperature and not allow it to get so high as to cause harm. While it can be frightening to have your child or a child in your care run a moderate to high fever, it is simply their body doing what it was designed to do. The only body temperature that can actually cause brain damage, despite what many parents believe, is 108°F, and this body temperature cannot typically be achieved on its own, but requires extreme external environmental temperatures; for instance, if a child is left in a closed car in hot weather.

What About Fever Reducers?

Since it is a very rare fever that can actually cause any kind of harm to your child, the best response is to let it run its course; most fevers will resolve themselves in 24 to 72 hours. Be aware that fevers will naturally spike a little in the late afternoon and evening so a slight increase in temperature during these times is not a cause for alarm. No matter the circumstances, do not give your child an over-the-counter chemical. Dr. Klass says, “Too small a dose of an antipyretic (fever medicine) may be ineffective; too much can be toxic.” The risks associated with these chemicals far outweigh any potential danger from the fever.

The typical over-the-counter drug is going to contain acetaminophen which has been known to cause liver damage. Other fever reducers include Ibuprofen which can cause stomach upset, and aspirin is associated with Reye’s syndrome when given to children under 19.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend fever-reducing drugs but says, “Fever is not an illness, rather, it is a symptom of sickness and is usually a positive sign that the body is fighting infection.” Even with high temperatures the AAP says, “Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection.”

Fever Treatment at Home: The Best Response.

The best response to a fever below 104.5°F (40°C) for children over the age of 3 years is lots of rest and clear fluids (water and herbal teas). Since the fever will cause your child to sweat they will lose sodium and water which must be replaced with proper fluids. This does not include Gatorade or other sugary sports drinks.

These remedies will help the body drop a fever lasting more than 3 days, and can also offer comfort to a feverish child:

  • Peppermint EO* (Keep away from the eyes! Dilute 10:1 with carrier oil [coconut, EVOO, etc.] and apply to the spine)
  • Lemon Juice Bath (Squeeze half a lemon in a warm bath and rub other half all over the body. Soak for 15 mins. Dry off and put to bed in pajamas.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Socks (soak socks in ACV and wear to bed)
  • Chamomilla 30c (2 pellets every 3 hours directly on the tongue or dissolved in breastmilk)
  • Belladonna 30c (2 pellets every 3 hours directly on the tongue or dissolved in breastmilk)
  • Have their nervous system checked by a Pediatric Chiropractor

* Warning! Keep all essential oils away from the eyes! If EOs accidently get in the eye, flush eyes with a fat-soluble oil (EVOO, Coconut oil, butter or whole milk), NOT Water. Not all essential oils are safe and effective. When using essential oils, make sure you are using therapeutic or supplement grade essential oils such as Young Living or DoTerra.

When Should You Worry About a Fever?

Based on age and temperature a child should see a healthcare provider right away:

  • If a child younger than 3 months is running any grade of fever
  • If a child between 3 months and 3 years has a temperature above 102.2°F (39°C) and appears ill – it should be noted that even teething may also cause a slight increase in temperature
  • A child of any age that has a temperature at or above 104.5°F (40°C)

Additionally, since dehydration is a potential side effect of fever, watch your child for the following: dry mouth, lack of urine or wet diapers for 6 to 8 hours (or only a small amount of really dark urine), dry skin, lethargy, irritability, fatigue or with an older child, dizziness. These signs of dehydration may be a concern and the child should be seen by a healthcare professional; especially if they are unable to keep down clear fluids.

In children that are under the age of 5 years, a fever can also lead to a seizure, known as a febrile seizure. While this can be frightening it will typically have no lasting effects. During a seizure the child should be on their side or with their stomach to the ground and contact your healthcare provider as soon as it stops.

“Fever Phobia”

In 1980, Dr. Barton Schmitt published a now classic article where he coined the phrase “fever phobia”. Many parents believed that untreated fevers could actually rise to critical levels and that even low-grade fevers could have serious neurological effects.

In 2001, Dr. Michael Crocetti, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins was the lead author of a study called Fever Phobia Revisited: Have Parental Misconceptions About Fever Changed in 20 Years? He found that 20 years later not much had changed and that despite education, parents still believe that fevers are dangerous. Though they do increase the need for fluids, fevers in and of themselves are not harmful.

The Chiropractic Factor

Your Family Wellness Chiropractors, including those at First Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, are the only healthcare professionals that recognize and support the body’s natural ability to fight off infection. The immune system, like all other bodily systems, is controlled by the central nervous system via the spinal cord, which is housed in the spine. Your chiropractor helps keep the spine aligned allowing messages to travel without interruption from the brain to the rest of the body.

A fever is, quite simply, a natural part of your child’s immune system. When it is functioning at its absolute best, your child’s body will fight off most foreign invaders so swiftly that they will have no outward effect at all. However, when necessary your child’s immune system will raise their temperature to create a hostile environment for that invader. It’s how a properly functioning body functions.

Chronic Stealth Infections—Lyme, Candida, PANDAS/PANS & More

How Do I Know if I Have a Chronic Stealth Infection?

Unfortunately, most of the allopathic (traditional western) medicine does not recognize or understand chronic stealth infections; so often they are misdiagnosed or go untreated. It is possible you or a family member has been suffering from the effects of a chronic stealth infection and not even know it.

Common chronic stealth infection symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue (chronic fatigue)
  • Hard time losing weight (thyroid/adrenal  function)
  • Food or chemical sensitivities (gut issues)
  • Anxiety/depression (gut issues)
  • Pain (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, restless leg syndrome)
  • Nervous system issues (multiple Sclerosis, tics, sensory issues)
  • Any hard to explain symptoms

What is Chronic Stealth Infection?

They are called chronic stealth infections because they are hard to detect and hard to treat for the following reasons:

  • They hide underneath the surface, not being detected by the immune system. The bugs are smart. For example, Borrelia is a stealth pathogen that has 600 genes, where as a typical bacteria has only 6-15.
  • You can live with a lot of infections for a long time before the body is broken down enough to show symptoms. This can happen when the system is under a lot of stress: physical, chemical, or emotional.

The most common diagnoses that involve chronic stealth infections are Lyme disease and Strep (PANDAS/PANS).  Lyme disease includes infections of the bugs Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, and Ehrlichia. PANDAS/PANS often involves children who fight recurring Streptococcus. Often the children with a PANDAS or PANS diagnosis have a Lyme component and other infections as part of the main issue.

Unfortunately for many people, the infections do not stop there. Some of the other infections that can go right along with the Lyme bugs and Strep are: Epstein Barr Virus, Candida albicans, mycoplasma, cytomegalovirus and the list goes on and on. One person can have many of these bugs hanging out in their system. This is why each person can present very differently with symptoms, and not one person can be treated the same way. This can become very complex and it is important to find a practitioner that is experienced and continues to learn about how to help the body deal with these infections.

How Does Someone Get a Chronic Stealth Infection?

There are many ways that someone can be exposed to these bugs. Most people hear about the tick borne illnesses and think that this is the only way to be exposed to some of these bugs. Along with tick bites, there are other ways of transmission:

  • Mosquitos
  • Spiders
  • Fleas
  • Sexually
  • Saliva
  • In-utero

This is how one person can have many of these infections at one time. It also seems like once the body has been opened to one infection, it opens the door and allows others to just flood right in.

Why Isn’t the Traditional Testing Accurate?

We would love to review any previous testing you may have had completed, but typically we have not seen accurate results from traditional testing.  One reason this is the case is because many of these infections attack the immune system and don’t allow it to sound the alarm; which is how traditional blood work detects infection.

22 Reasons Your Lyme Test Is Wrong

  1. You were recently infected and tested before your body produced Lyme antibodies
  2. You took antibiotics before testing which co-opted the antibody response
  3. You were already on long term antibiotics for another illness
  4. Not enough “free” Lyme antibodies were detectable in your blood because they were all doing  their job binding to the Lyme bacteria
  5. Lyme spirochetes were protected and hiding inside a biofilm colony
  6. Spirochetes were burrowed deep inside your body (i.e., cartilage, fibroblasts, neurons,etc.)
  7. Only small blebs were in your body, no whole bacteria which are needed for the PCR(polymerase chain reaction) based tests.
  8. No free spirochetes in body fluid on day of test
  9. Genetic heterogeneity (there are at least 300 strains of Lyme, 100 in the U.S).  You might be infected by a strain of Borrelia that the test doesn’t recognize.
  10. Antigen variability: Borrelia can change its outer surface protein to suit its environment so the test will detect a “non-Lyme specific” antibody
  11. Spirochetes are in dormancy phase (L-form) with no cell walls so there is nothing for the immune system to attack with antibodies.
  12. Lyme’s surface antigens can change body temperature
  13. You have an immune deficiency (body isn’t producing antibodies)
  14. You have had a recent anti-inflammatory treatment which suppressed the immune system. (i.e., steroids, arthritis meds)
  15. Co-infections with Babesia (protozoa) which causes immune suppression
  16. Down-regulation of your immune system by your body’s own cytokines
  17. Lab error or poor technical capability/training to detect Lyme.
  18. You might have late stage Lyme. Lab test are not standardized for detecting late stage Lyme
  19. The lab tests might only have been approved for investigational use
  20. Lack of adequate reference points for the test (most tests only use a few genetic strains as reference)
  21. The revised Western Blot criteria fails to include important antibody bands (i.e., 31,34)
  1. CDC testing criteria is designed for epidemiological study, not clinical diagnostics

1st Step Family Wellness Testing Process

In our office in St. Louis we use two methods of testing for over 20 different stealth infections—galvanic reflex system and applied kinesiology (muscle testing). By using both methods of testing we are able to get the most accurate results.

Testing takes about an hour per patient. Each patient is tested for all the current chronic stealth infections with available treatment.

1st Step Family Wellness Stealth Infection Protocol

Here at 1st Step Wellness, we take a different approach to helping the body fight and heal from chronic stealth infections. We want to build the body up so that it can fight these infections on its own. This is a multi-faceted approach and is completely customized for each person. This protocol is not an overnight fix. It does take time, but we have seen the results of great healing through the approach we take here are the office. We see the best results when the Stealth Pathogen Protocol is followed completely.

The Stealth Infection Protocol consists of six main components we use for stealth infection treatment– balancing the nervous system, healing the gut, detox, removing lymphatic congestion, targeting the infections, and personalized support.

Balancing the Nervous System

Balancing the nervous system is extremely important. We do this using specific chiropractic work and functional neurosensory work. The chiropractic adjustment is a key component to the body being able to heal because of its effect on the nervous system.

Our comprehensive chiropractic adjustment helps to balance the nervous system and allow the body to start the healing process. For more about visit our chiropractic page.

Functional neurosensory therapy is an integral part of the healing process. This is not started right away, but is added into the treatment protocol. This is important because it helps to balance how the brain perceives the world. Once this balance is achieved the body is no longer stuck in the fight or flight response.

Healing the Gut

Healing the gut is another component that you cannot bypass if you want complete healing. We have found that enzyme therapy is the main way that we are able to achieve gut healing.

Another key component to gut healing is the food we consume. You will find that we recommend a whole foods or Paleo diet. There may be other foods that we recommend removing that would be more specific to your symptoms or additional allergy/intolerance testing that we can run. We will be able to guide you through the process of making a lifestyle change with your food.

Total Body Detox

Detoxing the body is sometimes needed at the beginning of treatment. There are certain signs that a person is extremely toxic and a whole body 21-day detox might be recommend that the doctors have customized specific for their patients with complete meal plans, recipes and grocery lists too.

During the testing process, the toxicity is determined, and which detox process that will be best for the individual will be recommended. Some patients, especially children, only need partial detox of certain areas of the body and might not need a complete detox.

Removing Lymphatic Congestion

Removing lymphatic congestion is the most recent addition to our protocol. We have found that the lymphatic system is often clogged in many of us, but definitely in people with chronic stealth infections.

Most people just think of lymph nodes when they are sick, but this system goes all throughout the body and is critically important. The lymphatic system carries nutrients, especially fats and fat soluble vitamins, throughout the body and it takes the waste to the detox organs (intestine, kidney, lung, and skin) as well. So you can see if this system is clogged up how someone might have swelling in their limbs, show signs of fat deficiency, might not heal well, and are vitamin D deficient to name a few.

Targeting the Infections

Targeting the specific infections that are in the body is done by teaching the immune system how to recognize that the bug is living in the body. We use DesBio Series Therapy kits and homocord dropper bottles to teach the immune system to go into action against the bug and clear out the biofilm as the bugs die off.

You can give the body multiple bugs to go after at one time, but our testing will determine what bugs are priority and if your body can handle doing multiple at one time at the time of testing. We typically see that one person can handle between 3-7 bugs at a time.

  • The first month of treatment with the DesBio Kits is to ramp up the immune system.
  • The second month is for passive immunity.
  • The next 20 weeks is split up into 2 phases and is a deeper treatment to clear the bugs from the deep tissues in the body.
  • After the 6 month Series Therapy is completed, the body will now recognize the stealth bug if it were ever exposed again, and immediately jump into action fighting the bug on its own; this creates a level of immunity to these bugs after treatment is completed.

Personalized Support

We test the body for individualized supplements to support the body during the process of clearing out these infections. We support with nutrients like vitamin D and C, magnesium, fish oils, Methylated B vitamins, etc. We also use specific homeopathic support for the adrenals, liver, kidney, and so on. We will add in additional support as needed for specific symptom presentations like: sleep issues, anxiety, depression, bowel issues, thyroid issues, etc. Lastly, we use herbals to support the immune system and fight parasites. A targeted physician quality probiotic is recommended according to need as well.

What’s Next?

Contact our office to schedule your New Patient Exam, or if you are already an established patient your Chronic Stealth Infection Exam.

  • New Patient Exam – 1 hour consultation with the doctor
  • Chronic Stealth Infection Exam – 60-90 minutes with the doctor
  • Follow-Up Testing (monthly) – 30 minutes

Before You Induce Labor—Understanding Your “Due Date”

Induce or Wait for Nature?

This may not seem like it’s a choice that the mother can make, but it is, and the right choice is always to wait. Due dates have proven to be notoriously inaccurate, and according to Dr. Vern Katz, et al., they should be eliminated entirely.

Dr. Katz and her colleagues from the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon, reported that the calculations used to set a woman’s “due date” based upon her menstrual periods is “flawed”. The use of an estimated gestational period to determine the best care for the patient is causing confusion and the patient does not treat this date as an estimate. She, and her entire family, considers that date a very specific point in time that they are looking forward to quite anxiously.

As the “due date” approaches, if there have been no signs of labor, the mother begins to grow anxious and distressed. This typically leads to a recommendation by her OB/GYN to induce delivery, usually leading to further interventions in birth. The problem with this is that intervention in the delivery process frequently leads to trauma for both the mother and the baby.

Dr. Katz and her colleagues conclude that doctors should expand the concept of a due date to a “due week” and, in this way, “allow biology [or nature] to take it’s a course a bit more”.

Baby Too Big for My Body?

At this point, your baby is no longer growing bone density wise. Baby is only getting pudgier, and fat can squeeze through tight places. Your baby is not too big for your body to deliver, regardless of the size of your pelvis. Receiving Webster technique chiropractic care throughout pregnancy allows your body and baby to be in the optimal position for vaginal childbirth.

The average gestational time for an unmedicated, first time mother is 41 weeks and 3 days. Some babies come before, and some come after. If the fluids are still safe, the placenta will remain intact and able to give nutrients to your baby.

44 Weeks—A Personal Testimony

Dr. Jana Flora, Doctor of Chiropractic at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, safely delivered her second child, Miles, at home after a 43+ week pregnancy.

“With my first born at 40 and 3, I never expected to go 43 and 6 with my second. But both my formal education and my spiritual beliefs kept me grounded in those long final weeks with the understanding that my body has an innate intelligence that supersedes any guideline or expectation. And with the expert care of my homebirth midwife, my baby and I were blessed to experience the beauty and intensity of natural childbirth.”

Check back for her full birth story in a future post, or ask her yourself next time you are in the office.

Natural Ways to Induce Labor from Home.

If the care provider you’ve chosen is not comfortable waiting for your body to go into labor naturally, and wants to induce labor, know that you have the power to change providers at any time during your pregnancy. There are OB/GYNs and midwives out there that understand and respect the natural birth process, and will not push to induce labor. Often, it is the labor facility’s policies that restrict even the most well-intentioned doctors from supporting a woman’s natural birth plan. Contact our office for a list of local, natural-minded care providers.

If you are comfortable with your care provider and facility and are aware of the risks of a medical induction, but are in a situation where you want to avoid an immanent medical induction, you can find  a list below of natural ways to promote labor from home.

As mothers ourselves, we understand the emotional stress that can occur in those last weeks of waiting and wondering “when will I hold my baby,” but be encouraged that you are not alone, we have been there too. So we understand women asking, “What triggers the start of labor?”

Remember, your baby cannot stay inside you forever, so your body will inevitably kick into labor naturally if you’re not induced. These natural, at-home options will support your body’s innate timing for labor and delivery without the potentially harmful side effects of inducing labor.

 

How Can I Induce Labor Naturally?

  • More frequent Webster Technique chiropractic adjustments
  • Lengthy walks of 30 minutes to several hours duration
  • Acupressure at Spleen 6 (a point located four finger widths above the inner ankle bone) maintain pressure for 10-15 seconds for 3 repetitions. Repeat as often as possible. This helps to dilate the cervix.
  • Drink A LOT of Water
  • Increase intake of good fats—wild caught fish, avocados, etc.
  • Nipple Stimulation- You can use fingers or a breast milk pump, which cause the release of oxytocin.  
  • Sex- Sperm contains prostaglandins and can work in the same way as prostaglandin gel.  Make sure to have your husband ejaculate inside you and lie there for 30 minutes. Although the prostaglandin is less concentrated in the semen, frequent sex is reputed to help.
  • Orgasms create a uterine contraction.
  • Evening Primrose Oil- can be started after 36 weeks. Take one capsule orally in the morning and insert 1 capsule vaginally in the evening. Helps to ripen the cervix.
  • Clary Sage Essential Oil—can be started after 39 weeks. Using only therapeutic grade essential oil (Young Living or DoTerra) apply several drops topically and massage the oil upward along the inside of the ankle up along the calf muscle. You can do this several times a day.  
  • Pelvic Tilts- Do 100 pelvic tilts per day.
  • Walk up the stairs sideways
  • Scrub the floor on hands and knees
  • Suck your thumb
  • Eat ripe young pineapple
  • Drink red raspberry leaf tea
  • Turn off the TV- Nothing frightening should be watched since your animal instincts naturally take over telling the baby to stay where it is safe.
  • Dim the lighting in your home—Think about being in a cave or other dark spaces where most other mammals can focus, relax and birth their babies.
  • Share a bottle of wine with a friend–relax
  • Borage Oil- rub on the cervix— causes ripening of the cervix
  • Castor Oil- This is a traditional treatment, although revolting to the palate, it does sometimes start labor for women. 1st Dose- 2 oz castor oil in 1 part vanilla ice cream, 1 part orange concentrate. If after 2 hours there is no bowel movement, do another dose. This can cause nausea and vomiting—make sure you are well hydrated.

Stand strong about denying a medical induction. You are ultimately in charge of your body, and you do have a choice about what happens. Your body was perfectly designed to birth your baby! You can do this!

Still have questions, or feel like you need help? Call us at 314-805-7837.

How Do You Boost Your Child’s Immune System

Your child’s immune system is being bombarded with poor nutritional choices, increased sugar intake and decreased sleep from, Halloween until Christmas. Remember it’s not just the holiday season, it’s also the cold and flu season. With just a few minor adjustments you can arm your children for the assault.

The Diet Factor : Can Diet Affect Your Immune System?

The type and quantity of food your child consumes is very important for their overall health. Food provides energy for their bodies.

During this especially busy time of year parents aren’t as watchful of what their children are eating; and with organized sports and after-school activities taking up so much time, dinner is being skipped altogether or substituted with a quick trip through the drive-thru.   

Most schools report increased absences as more children are suffering from colds and the flu because of weakened immunity.  So, how do you fight back?

  • Eat three meals and two snacks a day: making sure that four out of the five are healthy, and remembering the daily recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Purge the kitchen, eliminating all junk food and sugary snacks – or – store them in a medium sized Rubbermaid container in the garage or master bedroom out of the reach of children (make it an effort to get to these items and they won’t be consumed as easily, or as frequently).
  • Keep fruits, nuts and boxed raisins on the counter; celery with peanut butter or other “like” items in the fridge; and go to your local health food store to find some other great tasting alternatives (i.e., European or whole grain breads, cheeses and fresh or dried fruits).  
  • Consider taking the time once every six weeks to write down what your family eats for a week and look for areas of improvement.
  • Create a weekly meal plan and prep-meals ahead of time. At First Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, you can ask Drs. Sandheinrich, or Dr. Jana, about their go-to meal-prep tips and favorite, family friendly recipes.

What boosts your immune system?

There are several vitamins and minerals that are a fundamental part of a strong immunity, including the following:   

  • Vitamins A, C, E, Beta-Carotene and Selenium are antioxidants, which are part of our body’s natural defense mechanism, and are consumed in fruits and vegetables.
  • The mineral Zinc is important because of the role it plays in increasing your child’s resistance to infection, and is found in red meats, eggs and most dairy products.
  • Magnesium is another important mineral essential for boosting your child’s immune system, and is available in legumes and milk.

The Sugar Factor

This is the most crucial time of the year to consider this important part of your child’s diet:   

Sugar consumption has increased 30% in the last ten years.

Most children are consuming 50% of their calories from processed sugar. Sugar contains absolutely no nutrients and studies have proven that excessive sugar intake can deplete your body of several vitamins and minerals. A high intake of processed sugar adversely affects the immune system since it impairs the ability of white blood cells to sweep up and kill bacteria. It also robs the body of key nutrients such as Zinc; which we know is an important part of your child’s natural ability to fight off infections.

Throw in the holiday factor and the increased intake of sweets, and your child’s immune system is under attack during a vital time of year. With the weather growing noticeably colder, and the average child spending more time indoors, the lack of activity combined with an increased intake of processed sugars all adds up to a weakened immune system.

The Sleep Factor

Having long been considered a restorative process that is a fundamental part of a healthy body, recent clinical studies have found sleep also to be a crucial part of a properly functioning immune system.  Did you know that a sleep-deprived individual’s immune system includes patterns of alteration similar to those found in depressed and alcoholic patients? Yes, a lack of proper rest can potentially cause a child’s immune system to suffer the same changes as those caused by depression and alcoholism.

immune system and sleep

It may be that your child just won’t sleep this long, but, while this chart is certainly not a requirement, it is most definitely a healthy guideline.  The most important thing to remember is that good rest is a prerequisite for a healthy immune system, so begin to establish a simple routine Sunday through Thursday that encourages your child to get their much-needed sleep.

Some suggested routines to introduce would be:

  • No TV, VCR, DVD or computer/video games in the child’s room.
  • No homework right before bed.
  • No overstimulation the hour before bedtime: avoid TV, computer games; instead play soothing music or have “Story Time” with little ones.

The Health Factor

It boils down to this: you don’t want your child sick during the holidays anymore than your child wants to be sick. So teach your child healthy habits to avoid the spreading of germs.

  • Recently documented evidence shows that frequently washing your hands with soap and water can avoid the spreading of most childhood illness.
  • Make sure that your child doesn’t share drinks or food with other children.
  • If your child has recently been sick replace their toothbrush, or take a moment to clean it in vinegar and water.

The Chiropractic Factor: How Does Chiropractic Care Boost the Immune System?

Regular, bi-weekly chiropractic adjustments help the body maintain a strong immune response, regardless of the time of year, by keeping the nervous system functioning optimally. This works the same for adults as it does for children.

The nervous system controls and manages the function of all the systems in the body: respiratory, digestive, circulatory, hormonal, eliminative and the immune system. Any form of stress—physical, mental, or emotional—can impair health by causing nerve interference. The chiropractic adjustment restores nerve system function allowing the body’s ability to express a greater state of health and well-being.

Adjustments are modified to fit a child’s size, weight, and unique condition. Chiropractic adjustments are both gentle and specific to each child’s development.

Most parents report that their children enjoy their chiropractic adjustments and look forward to future adjustments. They also report that their children experience a greater level of health while under regular chiropractic care.

If you don’t currently have a pediatric chiropractor, you can schedule a consultation at First Step Family Wellness in St. Louis.

How can I boost my immune system?

Top Five Tips for a Strong Immunity

  1. Once every six weeks monitor what your family eats for one week, watching for areas where the sugar intake is too high, and the fruits and vegetables intake is too low.
  2. Make sure that four out of five of your family’s daily meals are healthy.
  3. Find a healthy multivitamin, and chewable or powder vitamin C (in the form of Sodium Ascorbate) at our office, or your local health food store (not a pharmacy or grocery store since most of the popular children’s chewable vitamins contain high amounts of sugar).
  4. Make sure that your child is getting adequate sleep.
  5. Have your child wash their hands with warm soap and water frequently!

Colic & Infant Reflux—Natural Remedies

How can you tell if your baby has colic?

Possible Signs of Colic and/or Reflux: Arch back to escape pain, inconsolable crying, frequent spitting up, sleep disturbance, poor weight gain, more crying at night compared to day-time.

Normal Weight Gain: 6-8 ounces/week or 2 lbs/month for the 1st 3 months

What is colic?

Colic has been defined as excessive, inconsolable crying of the infant, and research has shown that 10-20% of all infants under the age of 4 months suffer from infantile colic. Episodes of colic can happen anytime day or night, but will usually begin to follow a pattern.

What is colic caused by?

The general consensus between pediatricians is that colic is caused by excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract and so their response is, of course, to utilize colic medicine. The most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of colic is dimethicone. The side effects of this drug include: fatigue, sedation, blurred vision, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea and headache. While this list is certainly reason for pause, the most alarming fact is that the makers of this drug note on their literature that this chemical should not be given to infants under 6 months of age. Always ask for and read the drug inserts to be informed about this vital information.

Infant reflux

While most infants will spit up a little after eating, infant reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a whole different matter entirely. It typically happens due to a relaxation of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus, and is considered a result of a lack of coordination between the organs of the upper digestive system.

What are the signs and symptoms of reflux in babies?

Sometime reflux symptoms in babies start a few weeks after birth. This is because allergies or sensitivities to foods take time to develop. The infant has a leaky gut until about 6 months old. Proteins from foods and beverages are able to leak through the digestive tissue causing an immune response, therefore causing food sensitivities.

Sometimes the matter being regurgitated is breast milk or formula, but a lot of times it will include stomach acids causing the infant to be extremely distressed due to the discomfort caused to the esophagus.

The highest concern when an infant is suffering from infant reflux is the fear of “failure to thrive.” Since sometimes a large amount of the child’s nutrition is being regurgitated, many parents worry that they aren’t getting enough nutrition. With this concern in mind many pediatricians will immediately prescribe a drug treatment regimen.

Chemical treatment of reflux.

Drugs can be given to infants with reflux, but usually the problem persists. The problem with using a drug that blocks acid production is that the body needs the acid to break down food. The acid in the stomach also helps to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing. Drugs may also cause other digestive issues and increased risk of pneumonia and gut infections later in life.

The drugs most commonly used to treat infantile reflux are H2 blockers such as ranitidine, famotidine and nizatidine (also known as Tagamet, Zantac and Pepcid). With all of these chemicals the side effects can include sleepiness, dizziness, rapid or changed heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and trouble breathing. It should also be noted that since this is a prescription that has to be given on a regular basis at specified times, missing doses can also cause irritating and uncomfortable side effects.

The second round of treatment when H2 blockers fail is usually proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These include esomeprazole, omeprazole and lansoprazole (also known as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid). With these chemicals the side effects can include headache, diarrhea, abnormal heartbeat, rash, dizziness, muscle pain as well as nausea and vomiting. Has it not occurred to them that they’re actually causing what they want to stop?

How do you help a baby with reflux?

Solve Feeding Issues

You are not alone. We can figure this out together. Even if you are bottle feeding your baby breastmilk, we can help. Call us to schedule your lactation consultation today.

  • A strong let down causes the baby to gasp and swallow a lot of air.
  • A poor breastfeeding latch can also cause baby to swallow air. 5 Steps to the Optimal Latch
  • Change feeding positions, take brief breaks, and burp frequently
    • If bottle feeding- feed in an upright position on your lap (“pace bottle feeding”)—this allows the baby’s stomach to catch up and tell the brain when they are full, which prevents over feeding. Check out YouTube for instructional videos on Pace Bottle Feeding.
  • Different Styles of burping include: against your chest, sit upright on your lap and support the neck under the chin, and lay baby across your lap with the head higher than the chest.
  • Keep the baby in an upright position for 15-20 minutes after nursing or feeding.
  • If the baby cries and wakes up during sleep- burp them.

***If formula feeding

    • Feed the infant in an upright position on your lap and support the head (“pace bottle feeding”), which prevents over feeding.
    • Switch formulas (try to avoid corn and soy in the ingredients)
    • Make your own formula

Stay Close and Comfort the Baby

  • Push gently pressure on the belly of the infant while they are laying across your lap on their stomach to help relieve tension.
  • Fold their knees up to their chest
  • Swaddle the baby
  • Wear the baby in a carrier or wrap, stomach to stomach with baby always facing you.
  • Give a warm bath
  • Gentle music
  • Lay the baby on the left side, which helps keep the contents in the stomach. You can use rolled receiving blankets behind the back to prevent rolling. Swaddling the baby also prevents rolling to the stomach because of the fetal positioning.

Eliminate Food Sensitivities

  • Chemicals and proteins in the food that mom eats find their way to the breast milk and cause irritation. The large proteins found in milk and other dairy products, including yogurt, are one of the most irritable foods for a nursing baby.
  • Other Common Irritants: Caffeine, alcohol, food additives, chocolate, eggs, spices, beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts, wheat, soy, onions, and tomatoes
  • How to determine which foods are causing the sensitivity: Avoid all of the above mentioned foods for 2 weeks. Then add one of the listed foods or a suspected food back into the diet every 3 days. The reason to wait 3 days in between each food is because sometimes the baby reacts immediately, but other times the baby may react a few days later. If you notice that the child’s reflux improves during the 2 week period, but has episodes during a certain added food, avoid that food as often as possible while breastfeeding. Then be aware when adding that food into your child’s diet when adding solids.

Treatment Options

  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Digestive Enzymes- DGST-P (pediatric) by Loomis Enzyme
  • Probiotic- reputable brands- Metagenics, Nature’s Way, Klaire, Allergy Research Group
  • Herbal Remedy- Grow and Thrive or Tummy Tamer by Chinese Medicine Works
  • ORGANIC Gripe Water
  • Acupressure massage- Tui na & Sho Ni Shin
  • Fennel/Barley Water or Tea- The mother can drink this and give the baby some in a bottle
  • Homeopathic Remedies- found at a health food store- give a single dose of 12C or 30C tablet and wait. If symptoms return repeat the dose. The symptoms should decrease with each dose and eventually disappear.
    • Chamomilla- calming and soothing for babies that are screaming and failing
    • Colocynth- indicated if pressure relieves the discomfort
    • Dioscorea- indicated for an infant that arches back
    • Jalapa- indicated when the infant cries all night, but is fine during the day
    • Lycopodium- indicated when the symptoms are worse between the hours of 4-8pm, tendency towards constipation, pressure aggravates
    • Nux Vomica- irritable and worse after eating, has trouble in the morning, sensitive to a food or spice in the mother’s diet

 

Have more questions about colic and infant reflux? Call First Step Family Wellness today at 314-805-7837, or fill out our contact form!

 

5 Steps for the Optimal Breastfeeding Latch

Breastfeeding: mastering the latch

“Although breastfeeding is ‘natural’ so is giving birth, and most of us expect to get help with that. Many of us didn’t grow up around breastfeeding and have lived in a society with historically low breastfeeding rates. We may not even have seen breastfeeding up close until we come to do it ourselves. It’s not always easy. It’s important to find help and not struggle alone.”

Human-milk.com

Breastfeeding should be a restful and enjoyable time for mother and baby to bond. The goal of the breastfeeding team at 1st Step Family Wellness in Kirkwood is to provide each mother with the breastfeeding tips, tools, and support she needs to continue a successful breastfeeding relationship with her baby.

Not having an optimal latch can lead to symptoms relating to colic, reflux, less than ideal weight gain, and dental decay; which can result in the need for otherwise unnecessary medications and treatments. Making sure baby has a proper latch on the other hand, can ensure baby receives all the breastfeeding advantages.

Having the proper breastfeeding latch can:

  • Eliminate nipple pain and allow damaged nipples to heal naturally
  • Improve the transfer of milk, which can result in increased weight gain
  • Increase mother’s milk supply
  • Improve sleep patterns—by increasing the efficiency of milk transfer, less time is spent at the breast, which means more sleep for mother and baby

The best time to feed baby is whenever baby is showing hunger cues–sucking on hand or searching. If baby is fussy, bring baby skin-to-skin for several minutes to calm them, prior to bringing baby to breast.

1st Step Family Wellness’ Certified Lactation Counselor, Renee Muehlfeld, has compiled these 5 steps for achieving the optimal breastfeeding latch:

  1. GET COMFORTABLEGet yourself in a comfortable position, with a pillow within reach if you need it to stabilize your arm.
  2. NOSE TO NIPPLE-Express a drop of milk onto your nipple and bring baby’s nose to your nipple.
  3. 140 DEGREE– We want baby to tilt their head back and open their mouth wide (140 degrees is the goal) which will happen naturally by bringing baby’s nose to your nipple. Big mouth, then slide baby’s body up and onto the breast. Aim your nipple at the roof of baby’s mouth to avoid pinching. If baby appears to have a tight or tiny latch, pop your pinky finger into the corner of their mouth to release the latch suction and try bringing baby’s nose to nipple again. This will correct a shallow latch during breastfeeding.
  4. HANDS OFF-Watch your hand placement on baby’s head. You want their neck to settle into the cup between your index finger and thumb. You want baby close, nose to breast, but not smothered in breast. Also, hands off your breast. Bring baby to breast, instead of breast to baby. When you push and pull your breast into baby’s mouth, your breast will slowly go back to where it naturally lies and baby may “pop off”, so it is best to bring baby to where your breast naturally lies to avoid having to relatch.
  5. LIPS CURLED OUT-Like a good vacuum, for optimal performance you need a good suction. Similar for breastfeeding. You need a good suction to have optimal milk transfer. You want to see baby’s upper and lower lip slightly flanged out, enough where you can see the beginning of the inner, wet part of baby’s lips. You can use your pinky to flip the lips out, if necessary. If baby’s lips seem tucked in or tethered to the roof/inside of the mouth by a thin piece of skin or gum, give us a call for further instruction.  Read more about Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding.

How long does the average mom breastfeed?

Remember, it is not about the amount of time spent at the breast. It’s about how much milk is transferred. A successful optimal latch leads to less time on the breast, a happier, full-bellied baby and a happier, well-rested momma!

Need breastfeeding help?

Call us to get connected with one of our Certified Lactation Counselors or find a local breastfeeding group to join, like the groups hosted at Kangaroo Kids on Manchester.

The Webster Technique: A Way to Reduce Pregnancy Worries and Delivery Complications

The Webster Technique for Pregnancy

The Webster Technique: A Way to Reduce Pregnancy Fears and Delivery Complications

Pregnancy can be an incredibly beautiful and exciting time in your life, yet it is never without natural fears and potential complications. Whether your pregnancy has been deemed a low- or high-risk, you may be afraid of or be experiencing your baby being abnormally positioned (a transverse, oblique or breech) near the end of term. If you also hope to experience a natural or limited intervention birth plan, these fears may be exasperated if your doctor suggests the need for a Cesarean or external cephalic version if your baby does not naturally move to the head down position.

First Step Family Wellness, in Kirkwood, understands the emotional toll that such fears and potential decisions can create, and it is our goal to make sure that every mother-to-be is equipped with the best knowledge and understanding of what options are available to reduce the need for a surgical birth. The Webster Technique has become a valuable chiropractic option for mothers throughout pregnancy, to improve fetal movement and optimal nervous system functioning that naturally increases the likelihood that the baby will reposition itself head down for delivery.

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