Friday, July 25, 2014

WHY Heal mom First?

Here is a picture of me and my oldest daughter.. Perhaps you can see the resemblance. It is obvious that I have passed on huge amounts of genetic coding to her. She has my facial structure, my eyes, my build. She shares a preference for short hair and funky colors. She somehow inherited my habit of incessant hair twirling. She is fantastic at analyzing literature, public speaking and cooking as well. All characteristics which we share. So you can see that we pass on both physical and behavioral characteristics, good and bad.

If we accept the fact that we "pass down" these characteristics to our children, is it also reasonable to assume that we pass down predispositions for health or illness? Why does your doctor always want your family health history before he will see you? He understands that disease runs in families. So if you are looking to heal some health issue in the family you are raising, there's a good chance that the foundation for that issue was laid before that child was even born. Of primary concern is the health of the Mother. For instance, A child born to a  mother who was exposed to second hand smoke during her pregnancy is significantly more likely to develop asthma in their lifetime. What you may not have know, is that the child of that child, who was never personally exposed to second hand smoke, is also at increased risk for asthma.  So, if we want to create families that are physically healthy, the most important place to start is with the health of the mom. 

Now i'd like to talk about emotional health. As I have filled out numerous intake forms over the past 15 years, I have been shocked by one question they always ask-"What was the mother's attitude toward the pregnancy?" It seems like a very abstract question of little relevance over a decade later, doesn't it? Here is why it matters. What if I were incredibly stressed during my pregnancy because I was experiencing financial struggle, or I was working full time and felt a lot of guilt over that? Those emotions create chemical changes inside of my brain that in turn create physical changes in my body. The fetus forming inside of me is exposed to all of those chemicals (increased cortisol, decreased seratonin) and that child's brain forms differently because of that exposure. If I am totally hooked on root beer floats during a pregnancy and consume them with reckless abandon, the child I am carrying is at elevated risk for diabetes, low thyroid, and a host of other metabolic problems. My intent here is not to create guilt in mothers who had difficult pregnancies or whose children are (heaven forbid) already born. I simply want to establish that there is a logical basis for focusing on the health of mother before we look to her children. Fair enough?

Now stay with me as I bring this out of the abstract and into the raw truth.  I get a call from a mom who has a child who is creating a lot of discontent at home because he has some behaviors that she thinks are consistent with ADHD. He acts impulsively, has intense emotional outbursts, and can't seem to get his school work done to save his life. He annoys his siblings,  bullies the neighborhood kids, and makes his scout leaders cry. She wants to know what she should do to help him. I can give this mom a protocol that has been demonstrated many times over to help with the symptoms she has shared. They are scientifically proven to alter brain chemistry and improve behavior.  They also require buy-in from the child, some changes in diet, and consistent application. And where does the responsibility for all these things fall? You got it. On mom. On the tired, frustrated, discouraged, burnt out and sometimes angry mom. She has been trying her best to function on not enough sleep and no time to herself. These factors are surely making the child's symptoms worse as he picks up on her agitation and impatience. She struggles to provide consistency which he so desperately needs. She has nothing left to give, so how can I possibly ask her to give more? I can't. Not until I help her reach a place of balance and peace within herself. When she is well supported and her needs are being met, then, and only then, can we begin to address her son's problems, which likely look very different from a place where she is balanced and happy. So if you have a child who you desperately want to help, and you are consulting every specialist you can find to heal him. Do me a favor, help yourself first. He will thank you in the end.

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