Focus on Family Health
Much joy surrounds the birth of a child. Families gather to coo over and admire the new addition. But once you’re back on home turf, the shine can quickly be taken out of this sunny time.
As a naturopath, I regularly see new mums – and dads – who are despairing for various reasons. However, many of these “problems” are not unusual and can easily be tackled naturally and safely.
‘Breastfeeding issues respond well to herbs and homoeopathy’
Unfortunately, this doesn’t come easily to every mum. The good news is that breastfeeding issues respond well to herbs and homoeopathy – a consultation with your naturopath can help narrow down the cause and define a treatment. For example, to increase milk flow, one option is a tea made with the herbs goat’s rue, fennel, fenugreek, horsetail, shatavari and chaste tree berries. Blend in equal parts and drink up to three cups daily.
Make sure you include plenty of good fats in your diet, which you can get from avocado, nuts, olive oil, butter and fish – I suggest sardines as they are believed to have the lowest heavy metal levels. This supplements breast milk’s nutritional value, providing your infant with vital building blocks for their life.
When baby isn’t getting enough sleep, everyone in the household can suffer. Extreme tiredness causes tempers to fray, which impacts emotionally on the infant as well. Simple remedies such as essential oils of lavender and valerian sprayed lightly or diffused around the home or used in infant massage (at recommended doses) can help. Most importantly, it is essential to identify whether your baby is fretting because of an undiagnosed complaint, and discussing your child’s moods and habits with your naturopath can be invaluable in contributing toward this. Useful herbal medicines can include skullcap, chamomile, passionflower, Californian poppy and Jamaican dogwood – please consult your naturopath to discuss.
With many babies, rashes and other skin conditions come with the territory. Some common creams and lotions may be too harsh for a baby’s sensitive skin, so it’s important to treat these complaints carefully.
Skin complaints may have their origin in a compromised gastric environment – improving gut flora balance by removing unwanted intestinal bacteria while repopulating it with healthy bacteria is a helpful start, and best performed homeopathically in infants.
Nutritional imbalances may also need to be addressed. For example, is the child getting enough zinc and vitamin E? In breastfed infants this comes from the mother, so a diet rich in foods such as cashews, spinach, liver, pumpkin seeds, beef (grass fed), wheat germ, and mushrooms is important.
Post-natal depression is a real and confronting issue that can be emotionally and socially debilitating for individuals and families. Fortunately, there are some wonderful herbal and homoeopathic remedies that can contribute strongly to helping mum cope and move toward establishing a strong family connection. Clinical trials have shown herbs such as St John’s wort to be as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
During breastfeeding, nutrients are frequently lost through breast milk, especially tryptophan and zinc. Growing babies need these nutrients, but this depletes the mother’s own stores, affecting the way her body works. It may be one way depression develops, because our bodies require these nutrients to produce serotonin. You may feel better by ensuring your intake of B vitamins, zinc and iron are high enough.
Remember, when breastfeeding you have a higher nutritional requirement. Foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan may also help the way you feel. These include turkey, whole milk dairy products, fish, nuts and eggs. A well-balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is necessary to ensure the body works in a healthy, happy manner.
A great many herbal and homoeopathic remedies are traditionally used to help the body cope with conditions regularly experienced by parents and babies. An appointment with a qualified naturopath may be beneficial to determine the safest options to improve your family’s health.
By Stuart Morick, Bachelor Health Science (Naturopathy), Member ANTA & AHA Further information: www.purehealthandwellness.com.au
Tel: 08 9378 2774