Solid Introduction: Baby Led Weaning vs Purees

Solid Introduction: Baby Led Weaning vs Purees

julien

Starting solids can be a confusing time for both parents and babies.  As the entire subject matter deserves a book, this short article will serve as clarification around a popular movement called Baby Led Weaning.  

Right around 6 months many babies will lose their tongue thrust reflex, simultaneously begin to have sufficient core strength to sit with their esophagus right over their stomach and finally, their stomach’s lining will begin to acidify.  Some physical indications of readiness for solids include: babies sitting on their own confidently, not pushing food with their tongue straight back out, and deftly grabbing at things on your plate can all be signs of physical readiness.  

Much of the beginning of solids is truly more about exploration than nutrition. Emotionally some children are more adventurous than others. Food introduces brand new sensations through both taste receptors and the tactile senses both in the mouth and their fingers.  Some infants are excited by this new frontier while other babies shy from it. Luckily, until an infant is over 1 year old, the majority of their calories and nutrition will continue to come from breastmilk or formula.  Therefore, there is no need to rush. Know this though, an early refusal usually has less to do with the particular food and more to do with overwhelming sensations. I caution folks to introduce sugary fruits later because the sweetness can alter babies perceptions at both a neuronal and synaptic level.  Sugar, even fructose, is a powerful drug. Antioxidants are naturally a bit bitter. Just keep that in the back of your mind when choosing first foods. Introducing one food every 4-5 days will help you recognize if any given food doesn’t sit well in your infant’s system.

In the media there is a wonderful debate regarding purees versus table foods as the best way to introduce solids to infants.  In my community, Baby Led Weaning has taken hold. With any health movement, I strongly encourage parents to take this type of theory in stride and with a large grain of salt.  There is NO one perfect way to introduce solids to infants. Amazingly, folks have been doing pretty well making the transition to solids intuitively since the caveman days without any internet or commercial influence.

Mindfulness is always the most important first step of any transition.  Pay attention, play present witness to your individual developing baby. Some infants are good and ready for food way before others.  Some have a mouthful of teeth before others. Some infants have no teeth and act like they are entranced with each bite you feed yourself and they beautifully coordinate a chewing motion with just their gums!

Regarding the puree and table food battle, I do agree that most infants have a pretty decent gag reflex to help protect them from choking on their siblings Legos.  And, I do agree that gagging is not the same as choking. However, remember that gagging can scare both mom and infant and this can lead to aversions for both parties.  Know thyself. If you already know that seeing your kid gag is going to give you anxiety, start with purees or fork pressed foods from your plate. Remember that each of your babies temperaments are different.  Some fall and get right back up. Other go down and cry for a good long time. The same analogy applies to your young eaters, wherein some will gag and go right back to getting that baked carrot stick down. Unfortunately, some will not go back and aversions can start forming.

There are specific foods such as grapes, hot dogs, popcorn, raisins, uncooked hard veggies, fruits, and leafy vegetables that require grinding motion (2 sets of molars) or are shaped exactly like the airway of your child and clearly pose risk.  These are known hazards to young children. Even grown children should sit down and eat the above foods carefully. I also strongly believe that all parents would benefit from learning how to help a choking child.  Also, it is very important to be good at recognizing the difference between gagging and choking.  

One very difficult and important final piece is, if your child is gagging, do NOT be tempted to stick you finger in their mouth.  Allow them to work what’s back there forward or your gagging situation can become a true choking situation as your finger accidentally pushes what’s in their mouth further back than where they can’t get hold of it.

In summary, remember physical and emotional readiness come into play simultaneously and both parents and infant are players.  Purees and table foods can be great places to start. And, finally I see no reason developmentally to not use both.  There is no shame in the mush, the pouch nor the convenience of table foods.  They will grow up beautifully nourished whichever way you go.

As always, you know your infant best.  And, in the same moment, I am here for you as you journey.  Reach out with any specific questions.

         

Intuitive Healing

Intuitive Healing

nebula

You are an intuitive healer.  To think intuitive prowess is a special gift handed out to only a few gypsy souls, is fallacy.  Intuition, at its root, is simply a receptive type of awareness.  Sure, theoretically it could give you clues to the future but most commonly it gives you insight into the now of any given moment.  It is in this now, this very moment, that powerful healing happens.

There is no one who knows your child better than you do.  Purposefully, I have created a practice placing parents back into their seats of authority over their children’s health.  This power does not belong in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies, in the pockets of the insurance companies, nor do I believe our children deserve to be at the mercy of the machines of capitalism that have replaced actual science.  Authority over their health belongs to those who love them most rather than someone who sees them as a profit margin.

If any of the above resonates, you may be a good fit for this “intuitive” practice model.

What an intuitive practice looks like is guiding parents in continually developing mindfulness around their own physical and emotional health and also that of their children.  I see these as deeply intertwined and in no way can parent and child’s health simply be separated.  Child and parent are constantly in interaction and lasting healing comes from working with both simultaneously.

If you are willing to look at your own behaviors, emotional well-being and how this affects your child, you may be a good fit for this model of care.

Conscious Dance

Conscious Dance

18684 H

Over the past few weeks many people have asked me, now what is this Conscious Dance thing you do?  I decided I better write a quick blog explaining what I’m up to as I get ready to start my beginner’s series on Friday in case someone out there needs to be there and didn’t realize it yet…

Conscious dance is a mindfulness practice not terribly different in its purpose from yoga.  You will often find these two practices housed in the same spaces. There are currently over 100 flavors of conscious dance and another will likely be born before I finish this article.  The reason there are so many is because each teacher brings forth their unique transmission of awareness through movement. Amidst these many teachers, there have been influential masters of this art that have touched us all. Through their lifetime of work, they tapped into universal truths and made them apparent and accessible to beginners and advanced dancers alike. This ability to give access to the deep work through a word, a look, or a ritual is what sets masters apart and creates powerful transmission of awareness from teacher to student. If you’re called, there are living conscious dance teachers that can take you straight to the heart of matters, if you’re ready to go.

So why the dance?  Well the truth is, it’s what humans do.  We’ve danced forever. Before our hairy ancestors even had words, humans danced to communicate about their hunts.  Every single human is a dancer. Put on a beat and watch what a young baby does.  They bop. They laugh. Humans in movement have access to ecstasy. I’m not talking about the peak experience kind.  That can be sort of confusing for folks. Alan Watts, one of my favorite philosophers, defines ecstasy in a gorgeous way.  Ecstasy is the sensation of surrendering to vibrations and sometimes to insights, that take you out your so-called self.  In defining it, he contrasts ecstasy to being-uptight. Ecstasy is most simply the opposite of being uptight. What I have found is that there is no faster, more efficient way to get out of my ego-bound head and into the ecstasy of being present in my body than a beat.  I swear. You put one on and I start to reflexively move inward towards that free, baby self, bopping and laughing.

I have to be honest though, this work isn’t all gumdrops and kittens.  Trauma has the ability to freeze parts of bodies. The body really does remember each traumatic event and it stops us from being free in both movement and in our daily lives.  As a physician, I think it is the deep healing that I have witnessed in myself and others through this practice that has led to my desire to teach. Part of why dance works so well as a healing modality is, in movement or the lack of it, we learn about ourselves.  We see our unconscious patterns. We dance our patterns all over the place. For example, it took me years to be able to move in “weird” unconventional ways because I was trapped in a performance and perfectionism. It has taken even longer to loosen up my hips. They are still holding hurts that I am working on.  Luckily, this dancing thing has no finish line. It is instead a lovely spiral that offers us continually, a path home.

If you would like to join us, the link to the Beginner’s Series starting Sept 14th @745pm is below.  Please feel free to email any questions.

https://www.facebook.com/events/307292260032368/

The Dance, art by Rassouli
Website resources for further reading:

http://soulmotion.com/

https://www.5rhythms.com/

https://nianow.com/

 

Fear

Fear

I recently had the privilege of holding space for a frightened client as her child went through a complete cycle of a severe asthma attack.  What hit me hardest in walking with this mother, was the intense energy of fear. It was a “me too” moment. My own child has put me face to face with deep penetrating fear more than once.  This fierce love of our children creates the deepest attachments formed in life. When they are ill, fear of losing them can cut loose in our bodies and beings. There is no ritual to move this energy at this time.  Worse, you may even be shamed for feeling it. How many times have you been told, there’s nothing to worry about?  You go to the doctor and prescriptions and treatments are prescribed but who is helping us examine and move fear?  My best friend (Dr. Julie Von) has often told me that she felt her asthma was wrapped into her mother’s fear and anxiety.  She sensed that her body became a way of manifesting her mother’s fears, sadness and other unresolved emotions. If this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to look deeper.  This is not to dismiss the physical realm of asthma or blame her mother. It’s to bring awareness. To continue to completely dismiss the psycho-spiritual aspects of pediatric medicine is absurdly bad science.

A child depends upon us to understand complicated situations or those that feel out of control.  Chest tightness and hypoxia definitely signal to the body that things are out of control. If this fearful child is met by the energy of fear from their mother, the potential for the entire situation to build energy towards chaos absolutely follows.  Now imagine this same child faced with a calm, grounded mother, acting from intuitive wisdom. Could you imagine how these two scenarios could create a completely different oxygen level in the same child?

So let’s pretend we’re not all the Zen calm mother in the second scenario all the time. Something big happens and we freak the f*ck out. How do we authentically experience our fear and not get it all over our kids?

As my client was battling her fear for her child and his asthma, my own child lay raging fever in his sleep.  I was already curious about fear, and now here I was standing in my own. My mindfulness practice helped me to know that I was caught in fear.  I cannot stress enough how important a mindfulness practice is to know what is going on! Without I would never have had access to even the first layer, which is simply recognizing the emotion. I feel terrified right now.  I then let myself breathe into the arising fear.  I literally sat down into this fear and traced it. And there it was.  It was connected to the scariest thing in this world.  The fear of losing him. I then let myself enter that awful layer. What would it be like if I lost my son?   Tears came hard as I dropped in fully. I allowed myself to actually feel the depth of what was happening to me.  It didn’t last super long and then the fear shifted. Simply by allowing it to be recognized, experienced and held; fear shifted.

There is no escaping fear when you love the way we do.  I agree that it is so very uncomfortable and would rather just not.  And then of course there is the bitter irony that it is bravery that is required of us to sit still enough to feel our less desirable feels.  To hold honor to what is there in the moment, without judging and welcoming it, will allow what is next to happen. It may be another fear. It may be something entirely different. 

 

Love and tenderness to each of you brave, brave souls as you journey the hard stuff.  -Heather

 

      

      

Radical Self-Care

Radical Self-Care

engine light

Radical self-care.  You will see me writing on this concept over and over again.  I want to ooze the importance of self-care with my existence.  I want to be contagious in my liberation to others.  Culturally as women, we are trained early on to place our desires on the back burner to better care for those around us.  It is therefore a revolutionary act when we move even momentarily from the demands of those outside of ourselves (the other) inward.  Caring for others can absolutely bring a wonderful sense of fulfillment and joy, however it requires a delicate balance and self-awareness.  It is through these two concepts we can prevent the slip into depletion.

Finding balance depends upon our inherent constitutions, stressors with us in the now, our immediate health and our ability to know ourselves and our own needs/desires.  Dr. Julie Von, fertility expert, has taught women through an exercise she calls “Find Your Pillars” how to identify the things in our lives that help hold us up (i.e., keep us sane). Once we have identified the parts of our lives that fuel the soul, the next trick is learning how to consistently make them a priority.  For me, I know I need to dance, practice yin/meditation, and have time in nature; however, despite this intellectual knowledge of my pillars, I let things get in the way.  

Currently there are around one million reasons each week that explain why I cannot take proper care of myself.  My personal favorites are guilt and too busy.  My own child would like to be next to me 100% of everyday.  Familiar to many of us loving Moms, is the heart wrenching tearful departure that comes from separating from our child, often regardless of their age.  As an empathetic mother, we share this pain when we part.  The natural maternal empathy is beautiful, however a disconnect happens when that awareness of other turns to guilt.  Though utterly unfounded, guilt strikes through tendrils of the unconscious notions of what a woman “should” be doing with her time and what a mother is.  This is an area worth exploring in oneself as it houses many obstacles to being able to fully step into balance.

Another great source of my barrier to self-care is time.  I mean the fact that I work two jobs and one of those jobs is running a busy practice on my own clearly validates the too busy, right?  Despite my best intentions, I sometimes overdo it.  And, if I let my own care slide, sometimes too busy gives birth to too tired.  And then, cue the check engine light!

Like any vehicle, each of us has a dashboard with indicators of how we are doing both physically and emotionally.  The flashing of my check engine light looks like this on the emotional plane:  A feeling of being near tears, mild irritability, resentment towards my husband, hypersensitivity and a sense of being overwhelmed.  (In many ways, this warning phase feels similar to PMS.)  After choosing to ignore these softer signs, I can begin to tip into serious engine damage.  On the physical plane my adrenal glands begin pumping out epinephrine to keep up with the demands I am putting on myself.  Here I can sense rage, despair, and rampant irritability.  The key to preventing this type of damage is early recognition.  Also, at a deeper level, I’ve had to work hard with a coach to heal the fun trans-generational pattern of worn-out, angry women.  Though all of them amazing and utterly justified in their anger, it is not how I choose to live my lifetime.  

As much as I’d love to be that infallible, magical superhero version of a mother that our culture has perpetuated to make all Mom’s feel inadequate, I’m not.  I am simply a human being that has her own needs.  So as I wave goodbye to my son to go have my hour of me time and the guilt comes, I remind myself of the miserable version of me I become when I don’t take care of myself.  I remind myself that self-care is prerequisite to the function of my higher intuition.  Then, it becomes a simple and clear choice and my heart lifts.  

 

Methylation Status

Methylation Status

Thanks to internet genomic services such as 23andme and genetic genie many of you have not only heard of the various methylation mutations, you know you have the dreaded MTHFR and you’re heterozygous for C677T!  The big question that is facing us, as our personal health information pool continues to grow, is what do we do with this data?  If you haven’t already, before you run out and perform these tests or begin supplementing with methylated folate, understand there are some risks and there are alternatives available.

If one knows they carry a risk of increased clotting, miscarriage, or Alzheimer’s, can this type of information influence our health outcomes?  Anxiety itself is a “dis” ease state.  Also, once we know we carry a defect are we inadvertently gathering kindling, fueling the fires of self-fulfilling prophecy of health mishaps?  Or on the brighter side, is it possible that this information will allow us to heal or prevent disease in more meaningful ways?  When I discovered I was under-methylating, I started making real changes in my diet and most importantly, my relationship with stress. I had known intuitively it was at the heart of my illness but there was more urgency for change when I saw my off the chart histamines come back from the lab.  The physical realm began to ground the more ethereal wisdom I had gained in my own healing process.  With my methylation status, I was immediately gifted insight into the physical pathways that stress was using to cause my disabling disease.  Yin yoga was given medicinal status and I could suddenly justify the time and the expense consistently.  Since that time of discovery and understanding of my methylation status, I have taken exponential strides in my own healing.  As an intuitive, I do not feel the need to confirm my exact mutations. Simply identifying myself as an under-methylator has been enough to create incredible change.  After 6 years of disabling bladder disease, I am truly healing and my genome has remained secret.

At this time insurance companies cannot use genetic information to calculate the cost of your health care.  Nor can they deny you access to coverage.  However, in the future, as we understand genetic disease susceptibility and methylation better, it is possible that this data will be released to insurance companies.   Remember these billion dollar industries have been known to influence Congress.  It is not impossible that in the future the laws that currently protect your family from genetic discrimination will be null and void.  There is no going back once your genomic data is collected.    

Importantly, you should know there exists another way of understanding your methylation status without releasing your genome.  It is simply done using whole blood histamines.  This practice was developed for clinical use by Dr. William Walsh, PhD.  In addition to Dr. Walsh’s work, functional psychiatrist, Judy Tsaffir, MD wrote a beautiful and approachable article summarizing much of his work.  Also, both of these authors responsibly discuss the complexity of supplement use.  Methylation pathways are vast, and in reality incredibly complicated.  Simply adding methylated folate to one’s diet can sometimes be disastrous.  I highly recommend if you are going to supplement that you are followed closely by a functional practitioner who understands the complexity of methylation issues.  Also be aware that supplements serve as an income for many practices.  Get clarity around this conflict of interest with your chosen provider before you buy something that your body may not agree to. 

My own healing has come completely through herbs, food sources and lifestyle changes.  Much damage is reversible in this way.  However do know there are extreme cases where the systems are so irrevocably damaged, that supplements are the only viable way they can begin to heal. Also, in these complex cases, the benefit of revealing the genome may be worth the risk. 

As you learn about methylation, you will see much of the exciting current research is in neuropsychiatry.  As a pediatrician, the most interesting data has been the relationship between methylation defects and the rise of autism.  Methylation is an enormous subject matter with discoveries being made currently! As you read you will see that authors conflict with one another.  Like anything, ultimately healing is intuitive.  However,  sometimes the right information from the physical realm can better point the intuitive beam.

 

MTHFR Reading:

http://dramyneuzil.com/the-best-dose-of-methylfolate-for-mthfr-mutants/

https://www.merrittwellness.com/mthfr-mistakes-assumptions-dangers-and-whats-true-about-mthfr/

http://mthfr.net/

Local Provider Resource:

Barry Smeltzer, MPAS, PAC

http://www.healingprovisions.net/

 

 

My Kid Never Gets Sick

My Kid Never Gets Sick

embody

“My kid never gets sick.” This is the most common sentence I hear from prospective families when they reach out the first time.  I always smile when I hear it and here’s why. This sentence is partially true. The kids I care for in my private practice are well-nourished in body, mind and spirit.  Most have intact immune systems and very few battle chronic diseases.  The parents I serve are vigilant and catch illnesses early. In addition to this, many utilize holistic methods that prevent illnesses from going deeper and causing complications and secondary infections. The truth in this statement is my kid doesn’t seem to get terribly sick and they usually get better without issues on their own.  The reality is unless your kids are completely cloistered they are going to pick things up due to viral shift and drift (more to come on these as we head into this coming flu season).  That runny nose that looks like mild allergies is your healthy kids’ innate immune system effectively flushing out something that could land a more vulnerable child in an ICU.  Just because your kid isn’t flat out in bed doesn’t mean they are not “sick.”  This becomes very important in preventing the spread of communicable diseases. But, there is more at stake in starting conversations with this sentence.

This sentence contains evidence of a subtext and it is this deeper level that often proves most relevant.  I want to relieve my holistic community from a specific burden.  One of the reasons we start conversations with “my kids never get sick” is we hold a belief that others think we’re crazy and that we need to prove ourselves and our decisions through our kids’ brilliant health.  This belief is self-limiting.  Honor where it came from.  Most likely our need to defend or prove came as the result of cruelty and attack.  When we choose to let this hurt go we can breathe more freely in our power, we can stand in true confidence not on the defensive of our choices.  There is nothing to prove when one is acting from the seat of intuition.  With regards to this sentence, the next place to do some psychological dusting is around the idea that we have control over everything.  This related and common thread manifests in the holistic community within the concept that everything happens for a reason.  And this belief is great as long as you’re not holding yourself at the center of the reason that good or bad happens.  Sh*t happens sometimes. It’s not your fault and whatever you’re blaming yourself for happened and is most likely beyond your immediate control.  Again, feel free to let this one go into the bigger mystery that contains us. Breathe deeply into the gentler truth, which is most of this, we are merely here to witness.  Our conscious breath; our coming home to truly embody this life, this is where our true power lays.  Our job is to simply explore what keeps us from coming home.  That’s it.  Trust me, the rest is a crap shoot!  And yep, included in this is the fact that even healthy kids sometimes get sick.

Much love and tenderness as you explore around these spaces.  So many of us have been badly hurt by ignorance.  You are not alone.  You are living your truth and I love you for it.