My approach to healthcare for our family: a holistic, gentle, natural way

For the last 10 years I have been on a journey of discovery and learning in regard to taking care of my mind and body. I have gradually, over time, come to realise that a holistic approach to healthcare is right for me. I rarely if ever take “medicine” as I believe and live by:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C

I try to follow also my founding philosophy of Imperfectly Pure – one of balance and, over the years, have discovered so many ways to naturally heal my body and restore balance internally. I use my own, homemade skincare and rely on natural remedies to keep me feeling great.

Approaching Rex’s birth I knew that I wanted to follow this guideline and way for him, but was nervous about what that would mean. I mean, it’s all very well “experimenting” with remedies on myself but how could I follow this for him? I thought to myself, is it just me that thinks this way? Surely other people must do too do?

My first realisation that there was another way and encounter with this was in one of the classes we attended at the hospital to prepare us for his imminent arrival. The amazing doula (who then turned out to be the Wonder Woman who supported us throughout the 10 hours we spent in the birthing pool as Rex made his way to us) said to us something that really struck a chord and stuck with me. Showing us the bag of “goodies” we would be given to take home from the hospital once baby was born, She picked out a sachet of Johnson and Johnson baby oil and said “do not use this – throw it in the bin or give it to your worst enemy” and I thought, hmmmmm. First off,  I had already been researching how to develop my own massage balm for Rex and nipple Balm for me, which coincidentally is now my most popular Face Föda product , the Buddha Balm (developed for breastfeeding nipples, babies bottoms and all the bits in between) , and so I thought, right I am definitely going to make sure I have something ready for him. I then thought, WHY is this stuff pushed on new parents then? if it’s as bad as I assumed, and as the doula clearly thought? and I suppose that thought then stuck with me and kind of informs this post. In the 21st century we are BOMBARDED from so many angles with drugs for this, an injection for that, a pill for this. We have been conditioned to believe that in order to keep ourselves healthy we need tablets and medicines, and because we are told this by people in positions of power and authority, like doctors, nurses, the government and shiny adverts on TV, that this must be true. That that MUST be the case. Especially as new parents who have no idea, we are vulnerable, exhausted- we have very little energy reserve to start questioning things and our fears are almost preyed on by big pharmaceutical companies pushing products full of nasties on us, for our babies. Many new parents therefore, because holistic health and wellbeing is not on their radar, simply don’t question, and do what they are led to believe is “right”. And who can blame them?

The point of this post, therefore, is to really raise awareness that, actually, there is another way. I am not saying here that this is what you should do, I am just speaking from my own experiences and what I have found works for us as a family. And also I think that it’s only fair to share this kind of information because, surely, if there was a way to keep you vibrant and healthy without intervention from modern medicine, wouldn’t you want to know? If you do, please read on!

Before I dive right in, as an aside, there is a whole other subject related to this blog post which I won’t go into now. It is the subject of the “routine” child immunisation schedule. “Routine”, as in, “oh it’s routine, it’s nothing major, so just, you know, go along with it.” Hmmm, OK then…… This a whole other extremely emotive topic in itself that divides friendships and opinion, even families. If you are interested in my route then please feel free to contact me directly.

Back to this post! So, once Rex was here I was suddenly like “oh my god. It is now MY responsibility to keep this little guy alive for the next 18 years AT LEAST. How on earth do I do that?!? How do I give his tiny developing immune system the best chance of thriving ?” To me, when it comes to Wellbeing, Knowledge is power so when Rex was around 8 weeks old I started my research. I knew I didn’t want to rely on medicines such as Calpol to help him when he inevitably would get sick, so I spoke to friends with older children who also took the approach I wanted to take and discovered something I knew very little about. Homeopathy. I also called on my amazing friend and mentor, Vera, who is the most wonderful Bowen practitioner.

Bowen

Vera has been treating me with Bowen for the last 5 years or so now, and it is the most wonderful experience! It works on the superficial layer of muscles right below the skin, and I would describe it as very light touch body work, with the aim of releasing tension. The Bowen move is very distinctive and is applied at very precise points on the body. It involves the movement of soft tissue in a specific way. The move is a rolling-type move of the thumbs and forefingers, and is designed to stimulate the tissue and nerve pathways, creating a focus for the brain. When Rex was a few weeks old he also had his first Bowen treatment.  It was amazing to see how his little body responded! Heat literally radiated from him, and dispersed into the air around him once Vera had worked around his skull and neck, releasing trauma and tension from the birth. Vera held my hands over the areas she had treated and I could feel the heat dissipate. When a baby is born, no matter how they arrive, there inevitably is going to be some degree of trauma they carry from the experience. Even though Rex was born naturally with no intervention, no drugs, into the water and caught by my own hands he did have some trauma associated with his birth. I mean, imagine, as a baby you are suddenly born into this brand new world, thrust almost into the biggest, scariest place ever. Rex had spent an hour or so bashing his head into my pelvic floor, trying to make his way out, so that obviously had an impact on him. The Bowen therapy that he benefited from at the hands of Vera was so so healing for him.  He was so so calm and relaxed after each treatment, it seems to me the treatments almost freed him a little each time from any negative feelings that had been inside. He has now had 4 treatments and I would absolutely do this again with another baby and wholeheartedly recommend it to all new parents for their babies 🙂 Vera is an angel on this earth and I feel so grateful that Rex has felt her healing touch.

Homeopathy

Now, homeopathy. The British Homeopathic Institution describes homeopathy as below:

Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine used by over 200 million people worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. In other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if taken in large amounts.

The holistic nature of homeopathy means each person is treated as a unique individual and their body, mind, spirit and emotions are all considered in the management and prevention of disease. Taking all these factors into account a homeopath will select the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health to stimulate their own healing ability. Homeopathic medicines are safe to use as they rarely cause side-effects. This means when used appropriately under the guidance of a qualified homeopath they can be taken by people of all ages, including babies, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

On my journey to discover what I could rely on to keep Rex healthy I also came into contact with the most incredible woman, Dr Jayne Donegan, who is a paediatrician and homeopath. She is someone who has crossed between “conventional” medicine and now takes a completey holistic approach and is a practising Homeopath. I attended a lecture given by Jayne earlier this year, “Nursing Children Supportively Through Acute Illness”. We had already had a private consultation with Jayne to discuss Rex and how homeopathy could help him and so this lecture was the next step in my education- to me it was the most important way I could spend a Sunday afternoon as it provided me with the confidence in my abilities as a parent to nurse Rex through illness. I took away some key learnings from this lecture and have been putting them into practise ever since. They are:

  1. How to manage a fever/ temperature and what is the fever trying to do: So – when a baby is born they are basically an empty “box”, in that they have no junk or toxins inside their little tiny bodies. However, because we live in the 21st century we are exposed to numerous toxins daily (a toxin here is defined as anything we cannot use in the body) and so gradually the baby will begin to fill up with toxins. This is just a part of life. A healthy baby will have a threshold point where they collect no more toxins and instead start a “clear out” and start detoxing. The way in which this happens is that, firstly, they develop a fever. This happens because the detoxification organ, the liver, has been activated and the enzymes in the liver that are responsible for the detoxification process work better at a higher temperature because the reactions that need to happen, happen much quicker. If, at this point, you give your child paracetamol (Calpol) you will will overload their liver meaning it cannot do it’s job, and also bring down the temperature which will stop the clear out of the toxins from happening.
  2. You may notice your baby goes off their food: Which completely makes sense as the body needs to focus its energy and resources on clearing out the toxins or virus, rather than digesting food. We work much better and get better quicker with no food, especially dairy, which creates mucus and then gives the baby a whole other thing to deal with , which is getting rid of the mucus!! This can then manifest itself as a cold (snot= mucus), or an ear infection.
  3. The mucus can then also lead to diarrhoea and vomiting, which is another sign that baby’s body is trying desperately to get rid.
  4. The final thing that may happen is that the toxins / virus will try to release through the skin in the form of a rash.

If the fever is not allowed to run it’s course, and if the baby is overloaded with food (especially dairy), and if a cream is applied to the skin to “cure” the rash then the baby’s body will be blocked from clearing out the accumulated toxins.  But, the body will keep trying again and again to clear out. Until the tiny body reaches a point when it is toxic- literally full of toxins – and very sadly characterised by limp hair, sallow skin, moving too much or too little, being uninterested in what is going on around them, and constantly snotty. The heartbreaking reality for this child is that they have been set up for chronic disease later in life. My learnings from the lecture and many other sources, and the way I handle things when Rex gets sick (which, interestingly is not often at all which I put down to the fact that his start to life has been pure and natural with nothing I do not know about or can describe as “natural” entering his body and immune system, and I have let his fevers do their job. I can count on 1 hand the number of times he has been ill since he was born, because his immune system is strong) is to do this:

  • Let the fever do its job and clear out the toxins. I never take his temperature I just use the back of my hand on the back of his neck and think “is he hot or very hot?”, I use my eyes to look at him. A number on a thermometer may mislead me and also send me into panic stations which will then send my coping skills out of the window. And my aim is that I nurse him because I know how to.
  • No food. The last time Rex was sick he had a high temperature and all he wanted to do was breastfeed all day. I kept him with me, just in his nappy , on my skin and Breast fed him and let him sleep on me. This was what he needed as well as water. He had a few small things to eat like slices of apple but nothing major. He doesn’t have dairy anyway but I was also sure to not let him have any other foods that can cause mucus like banana for example.
  • Lots of rest. The body needs energy to restore and this comes from food and rest so as he doesn’t really eat he needs lots of rest. I include in this as little TV as possible as for little people being exposed to TV is draining for them, it takes a lot to concentrate on Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle!
  • Fresh,cool air!!! At night our bodies repair, and mucus membranes tighten up with cool air. I never ever have the heating on in his room and ALWAYS have his window open. Generally speaking , if a baby is kept in a stuffy environment with too many layers of clothes this is much more dangerous for them as it can lead to inflammation of cells. Also, heat encourages the thyroid to go to sleep, whereas cool air turns the thyroid on and gets the metabolism working. The body functions optimally cooler as opposed to too warm.
  • Fluid. Extra sips of water and also ginger steeped in boiling water and allowed to cool. This will help the fever to naturally come down.
  • No paracetamol- this just suppresses the fever AND overloads the liver so the detoxification process cannot happen.
  • My Helios Homeopathy kit. This has been a revelation for me and has provided Rex with relieve from colds and teething. I have learnt so much from using it this last year.

Generally what happens once a baby or child recovers from a fever or virus is that they go up a developmental leap- for Rex this has meant sprouting many new teeth! Clearing out the toxins allows the body the space it needs to produce something new from within, which, when you think about it makes perfect sense. The first time I handled Rex being sick, inside me I admit I was thinking “should I give him Calpol?!” however my instinct and gut told me not to, as all that would do was satisfy MY fear, and help ME because then he wouldn’t appear sick. My job as his mum is to nurse him supportively and provide him with what his little body needs to find its way through.

I have followed this protocol with Rex 3 times now and feel extremely confident that it is exactly what he needs. It is my job as his mum to take care of him and I believe that by letting the systems of his body do their job his immune system is becoming very strong. I see with my own eyes every day that he is growing into a vibrant boy, super super engaged with his surroundings and interested in life! He is calm, kind and strong, with a real determined streak. When I look into his eyes I see someone that knows so much more than I realise. When I was deciding how to approach Rex’s health I actually asked him to help guide us. To let us know , what was the right way for him, listening to him is so so important to me. He is the best thing in our world and he deserves my best efforts in trying to set him up for a happy healthy life. I feel that I am well on the way to achieving that for him 🙂

This turned into a longer post than I thought!! I hope you find it interesting. As I said at the start, I am not trying to say that my way is the only way, or the right way as every parent will do what they feel is best. I simply want to raise awareness.

With Love

Katie x

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