Environmental Stress & Your New Baby

sleeping_baby_on_a_hand_199952-Copy-300x200Attachment parenting is now a common way to raise children and has been shown in studies of indigenous populations to produce well-adjusted children with lower levels of depression and better self-esteem. Many of the traditional societies on which this philosophy is based share a leisurely childhood where infants are constantly held by their mothers or other caretakers and where young children have enormous freedom to play. There are a variety of ways to attachment parent and as with everything this would largely depend on personal choice and what suits your lifestyle.

In some cultures today, it is still common to keep a baby away from the wider world for several weeks and this may of course be due to ritual or traditional belief. In these populations a child may only be exposed to members of the immediate tribe initially, allowing a slow and gentle introduction to life.

Creating community in this way for baby right from the beginning may be an important aspect of raising resilient children. In times past newborns were kept cocooned at home for up to six weeks as they were considered too fragile to be out in public. These days we are always in a hurry to take our babies out and show them off, to pass them around amongst a wide circle of friends and even complete strangers, and to want to network and connect very early on with other mums and their babies. We photograph and facebook them, we track their development through apps and books, and we start thinking about their early learning from day one!

I’m personally not one to want to hide a baby away from the world but I do wonder how wide exposure to a range of stimulants and a variety of energies very early on may impact a baby. I see so many unsettled babies, babies with colic and reflux, and frazzled, stressed parents that I wonder what is going on out there. And stress in toddlers and pre-school children is huge!

Common sense, a variety of input from other sources and my own experience as a new mum in the distant past tells us there is no reason not to take your baby out of the house, as long as you are sensible. Of course you want to go and show your new baby off and your family is going to want to pass baby around, but there are things to consider that were never explained in the past or were perhaps not really understood.

You may have had a beautiful and healthy pre-conception and pregnancy. You’ve avoided coffee, alcohol and negative energy and stress. You’ve taken your vitamins, eaten well, meditated and done yoga. You may have had a beautiful natural birth at home, continuing that perfect start for your baby. Or you may have had a high intervention birth, with antibiotics, perhaps a caesarean and maybe a period of separation. Your baby is then exposed to bright lights, perhaps a scan or some other medical investigation if things didn’t go so well, and you may have then started on the medical path with Hep B and Vitamin K immunisation at birth and perhaps supplementary feeding.

At this point I urge you to stop and take stock . . . Think about how you feel when you go somewhere completely new, where you’re out of your comfort zone and where you have to get to grips with a whole range of new sensations and experiences.

Your beautiful and tiny baby has just spent nine months in a quiet, soft, watery environment. The transition into the world is often bright, noisy and can be traumatic. Our world is also full of negative energy and toxic pollutants. It’s going to take some getting used to!

Obviously there are also a variety of germs floating about and at this stage your baby has very little in the way of an immune system, except what he or she has inherited from you. If your health was not great in pregnancy, you have a wide family or personal medical history or have been vaccinated fully yourself, baby is likely going to be more vulnerable.

Remember, no child is ever born with a clean slate – we are what we inherit!

Certainly a baby needs to become accustomed to these germs, but maybe not too quickly, which is why it is important to avoid big crowds and public places in the early weeks. This doesn’t mean staying at home because this would be impractical, but just being mindful of where you are taking your precious bundle and what you are exposing them to.

Apart from germs there are a lot more invisible hazards which research shows are starting to impact on children. Obviously vaccines are a major issue with the toxins and chemicals they contain, and we now know of the dangers of “vaccine shedding”, so this process needs to be approached with care. You need to understand that some vaccines contain a live component and we are now told they can “shed” the disease for up to two weeks after a child or adult is immunised. This is perhaps a greater risk than germs.

No doubt you are wedded to your smart phone and you probably have wireless in your home and of course we all live in a web of EMFs which is unavoidable but needs to be considered. Research is now discovering the damage that introducing a child too early to electronic devices can produce. It’s definitely best not to use your phone while you are nursing or holding your baby.

We are also exposed to a huge range of environmental toxins every day. You pop your baby in a baby seat each time you go out, you use washing powders, fabric softeners, you’ve newly painted baby’s room and bought new carpets. All of these things can be toxic to a tiny baby. You de-flea and worm the dog regularly, you have a few cups of coffee, you love that new pink nail polish or lip gloss you just bought and you colour your hair with supermarket dyes or at the salon regularly – really the list is endless!

We need to become label readers to know what we are exposing our babies and ourselves to on a daily basis.

But for me, the worst energy you can expose your baby to is negative energy. Stress, the energies of a big shopping centre (lights, noise, negativity), family conflict, disagreements, the stuff you haven’t quite worked through with your mother, angst about whether baby is going to get into this or that childcare because they have the best early learning program . . . all of these things can produce a higher level of impact than the more physical toxins and make us more susceptible to ill health. I see stress as the main cause of most health problems.

These problems may manifest in any of us as anxiety, depression or irritability for example, but in a baby with limited expression it may manifest more physically as colic, reflux, skin conditions or more serious ailments. All sickness or dis-ease starts on the mental/emotional level (or spiritual if you resonate here) and permeates into the physical if not addressed. Cancer of course often comes from suppressed emotions, perhaps in the form of an issue within an individual or family which has not been addressed and has festered within until eventually it has become physical, by which time it can be too late.

In our modern world it is seen as easy to take a pill, have a problem surgically removed or have some other intervention to “fix” the problem. If we can look more broadly at how we start out in life and endeavour to reduce stress both in ourselves and for our new babies, to see them as an individual who needs to be protected from the energies we actually can’t see and not a possession to be shown off and shared around, we will raise more resilient and well balanced children.

And while this is an ideal that in years gone by would have had the desired outcome, we absolutely need to do this now because our babies are already subjected to major levels of energetic and toxic stress even before conception, often through parental inheritance.

As a homeopath, my (almost) final word for this article would be to say that there are few modalities which are able to reach these deeper levels of stress, which can be used during pregnancy and with newborns, which don’t interact with conventional medications, and which are able to address the family inheritance. At Elements of Health we have also developed simple homeopathic solutions to some of the everyday problems we face.

There are not too many days go by where I don’t say to someone “how do people who don’t have homeopathy manage?” Even just in the small things like a simple case of colic, sleeplessness or baby blues we have amazing remedies to help, and homeopathy can give families a sense of empowerment in those early months and years.

But equally we shouldn’t stress about all of this! We can’t become obsessed about all these things and strive ceaselessly for perfection. This in itself is a major stress for both mother and baby. We can only walk the middle path and do the best we can. We are all human and we cannot compare our experience with anyone else. We are unique and so is our baby, but giving baby a quiet, tranquil start and allowing them to grow into children who play, who are loved and who are protected from early exposure to stress, environmental toxins and EMFs through phones and electronic devices is a good way to start.

Melanie Creedy is a UK trained and Australian Registered Homeopath (AROH). She is currently Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association. Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australian, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services. You can find out more about Melanie or contact her at www.elementsofhealth.com.au.

Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a suggestion or treatment seek advice from your homeopath.