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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

A GUIDE TO CONCEPTION & PREGNANCY

‘Jan Roberts’s knowledge and expertise are second to none’ Dr Rosina Mladenovic, University of Sydney

Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

A Doubleday book Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060 www.randomhouse.com.au

First published by Doubleday in 2012

Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian Copyright Act 1968), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.

‘In your kitchen’ recipes reproduced with kind permission from Pauline and David Nemeth.

Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at www.randomhouse.com.au/offices

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry

Roberts, Janette.

Healthy parents, healthy baby / Jan Roberts.

ISBN 978 1 74275 217 4 (pbk.)

Conception. Pregnancy. Pregnant women – Health and hygiene.

618.2

Cover photograph by Chris Ryan, Getty Images Cover design by Christabella Designs Internal design by Christabella Designs Typeset in Sabon 11/17 pt by Midland Typesetters, Australia Printed in Australia by Griffin Press, an accredited ISO AS/NZS 14001:2004 Environmental Management System printer

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The paper this book is printed on is certified against the Forest Stewardship Council ® Standards. Griffin Press holds FSC chain of custody certification SGS-COC-005088. FSC promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

NOTE TO READERS

In this book I refer to many self-help and some practitioner-guided treatments. If you are in any doubt about what you should do on your own or what requires professional assistance, be sure to seek help.

When consulting a health professional, find one that is committed to

a natural approach and ideally, one who has knowledge of precon- ception health care. Some of the nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals that

I recommend are available from holistic and natural health prac-

titioners and selected health food stores and pharmacies. If not,

they are all readily available from Jan’s Picks on my website, www.flurishh.com. I have provided guidelines regarding general use, but always follow the dosage insert. There are risks involved in over- supplementing. If you have any specific concerns, you should consult

a natural health practitioner. Finally, throughout this book, you’ll find your baby referred to

as ‘he’. Indulge me – it’s not a preference for male babies but rather

a convention that I find easier to use in order to distinguish between mother and baby. Definitely no discrimination or sexism intended!

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Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

PART 1:

What you need to know

Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

CHAPTER 1

Before you conceive

1. The Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby secrets

Here are some important things you may not know about preconception health care.

2. Why do you need it?

You might be asking why – current statistics provide the answer.

3. History tells us

Preconception care is not a new idea – even the ancient Greeks and Romans knew that it mattered.

4. Modern research confirms

There’s no doubt, preconception care has never been more important and the benefits are clear cut!

5. How effective is preconception care?

Maybe those problems that you think are just ‘par for the course’ aren’t so normal after all.

6. It’s for both of you and it’s for everybody

The word ‘both’ is at the basis of the most effective precon- ception care. You are definitely in this quest for a very healthy baby together.

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Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

7. Get practical

Having a child will affect every aspect of your life, so you need to have a good idea of what’s involved and what it will mean for you and your partner and your lives together.

8. Conceiving consciously

When conception takes place with conscious intent, it’s an excellent start.

9. Summary – what you need to do

Here are your preconception actions in a nutshell.

10. Do you need the help of a professional?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to eat well and clean up your lifestyle, you need help.

11. Summary – what you need to know

Here they are – the positive outcomes you can expect from preconception health care.

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Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

JAN ROBERTS

1. The Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby secrets

Here are some important things you may not know about precon- ception health care. Ensuring that both you and your partner are in really great shape before you get pregnant means that you’ll improve your fertility, reduce your chance of miscarriage and increase the likelihood of an uncomplicated, symptom-free, full-term pregnancy. You can look forward to a short, straightforward labour (yes, really!), a happy postnatal and breastfeeding period and an exceptionally beautiful, healthy baby! When both you and your partner are in great shape before conception, you will reduce the need for IVF treatments, minimise the likelihood of a multitude of reproductive problems, give your child the opportunity to realise his full genetic potential and also reduce the likelihood of chronic degenerative disease during that child’s entire lifetime. These aren’t idle promises – the modern research is clear! And if you think that preconception health care is a new idea, nothing could be further from the truth – our modern scientists have some very sound (and very old) historical precedents to support their recent studies.

2. Why do you need it?

You might be asking why – current statistics provide the answer. But hey, you might be thinking, ‘Do we really need all this prepa- ration? Surely babies have been coming into the world from time immemorial without too much fuss?’ Of course you’re right to some extent, but the confounding factors that can compromise the health of the next generation – levels of toxicity, unhealthy lifestyle habits, oversupply of under-nutrition and stress, to name just a few – are at unprecedented levels and rising. It should then come as no surprise that today’s rates of infertility, miscarriage, premature

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

birth, congenital abnormalities, postnatal depression, breastfeeding failure, learning and behavioural problems, allergies and other issues are at record levels – and are also on the rise. The following statistics show clearly that reproduction is compro- mised at every step along the way. What you see here is a very inauspicious beginning, with huge physical, mental, emotional and financial cost for individuals, families and carers, but also for health systems and society as a whole!

• 1 couple in 6 is infertile

• 1 woman in 4 will miscarry

• 1 baby in 10 is born prematurely

• 1 baby in 30 is born with a congenital abnormality

• 1 woman in 5 has a C-section

• 1 woman in 3 suffers from some degree of postnatal depression

• Only 1 woman in 10 breastfeeds beyond her child’s first birthday

• 1 child in 10 has a learning or behavioural problem

• 1 child in 5 suffers from asthma

• There is an epidemic of children with subtle (and some not so subtle) metabolic, immune, neurological and digestive disorders

But the evidence is also unequivocal – most of these problems can be prevented when both partners are in excellent health before they conceive their child.

3. History tells us

Preconception care is not a new idea – even the ancient Greeks and Romans knew that it mattered. But while preconception health care has never been more important, it’s been around a while – the ancient Greeks and

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Romans knew that alcohol, drunk before and around the time of conception, was damaging to the foetus. Both societies banned the drinking of alcohol by young women and newlyweds! Many tribal societies fed special diets to their young women (and young men) of child-bearing age. Back in the 1930s, American dentist Dr Weston Price studied communities from around the world and clearly established the link between consumption of a refined Western diet and compro- mised reproductive outcomes. In his classic work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration he also demonstrated increasingly compro- mised physical and mental health in every successive generation in those communities where white flour, sugar-containing products and chemically altered vegetable oils had replaced traditional diets. More on this in ‘Eating for two?’ on page 53. The Great Dutch Famine or ‘Hunger Winter’ as it was known, which lasted from October 1944 to May 1945, also provided fascinating insights. Numerous studies have shown that women exposed to the food shortages before and around the time of conception had poorer reproductive outcomes than the women who were subjected to food shortages only during their pregnancy. But that’s not all. In a thesis entitled ‘Obstetric performance of women after in utero exposure to the Dutch famine (1944–45)’ by L. H. Lumey from the Graduate School of Columbia University in 1988, the next generation was also shown to be compromised if the mother was in utero during the first trimester when her mother was exposed to food shortage. This introduces us to exciting new studies in epigenetics. Research in this field demonstrates that the effects of harmful physical and emotional traumas are carried down through generations, but what’s really exciting is that the converse holds true: you and your partner can positively affect the health of not only your children, but your grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Having confidence that

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

your healthy diet and lifestyle, toxicity- and stress-free environment, regular exercise and positive attitude are going to make a difference to the health of generations to come is a powerful motivator for ongoing commitment to the Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby Program. Read more about epigenetics on page 143. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that farmers have always ensured the optimal health of their livestock before breeding. Forgotten for ages by the human population, preconception health care is now regaining popularity for very good reasons. If we are to reverse the trend of increasingly compromised reproductive health and the trend towards chronic degenerative disease at a younger and younger age, we need to turn our attention back to the very beginning of the life cycle.

4. Modern research confirms

There’s no doubt, preconception care has never been more important and the benefits are clear cut! Research focused on the very beginning of life includes two important emerging fields of study – epigenetics and foetal origins. David Barker, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton’s Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Research Centre, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald article ‘Chronic disease may start pre-conception’:

Preventing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes needs to begin before a baby is even conceived. Research has found low birth-weight babies to be at increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Professor Barker’s work confirms that a great deal of chronic degen- erative disease begins prior to conception and, consequently, we need to turn our attention there if we are to have any chance of

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optimal health throughout our lives and if we are to avoid serious decline at the other end. Professor Barker’s work was pooh-poohed when he first published 30 years ago. After all, at the time cardiovas- cular disease was directly linked to high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise and high-stress lifestyles, not to birth weight. Professor Barker was finally awarded a CBE in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List – the award recognising his pioneering medical research work on the links between low birth weight and the later development of disease. UK-based Foresight, Association for the Promotion of Precon- ceptual Care, established in 1978, has played a major role in my interest in this area. Foresight’s work, like Professor Barker’s, has been groundbreaking and has involved the research of many eminent scientists from around the world. For those of you who like research, Foresight publications, each one containing hundreds of cited references, cover the topics of vitamins, trace elements, hormones, food additives, genetically modified (GM) foods, alcohol, smoking, cannabis, agrochemicals and heavy metals and their effects on reproduction. You might find these useful resources for a sceptical or reluctant partner.

5. How effective is preconception care?

Maybe those problems that you think are just ‘par for the course’ aren’t so normal after all. Are you still trying to fall pregnant? Have you had a miscarriage? Have you had a premature baby? Did you need a C-section? Does your child have asthma or allergies? Does your child have a learning or behavioural problem? Did you suffer from antenatal or postnatal depression? Maybe you’ve heard of so many others experiencing the same issues that you’ve come to believe they’re pretty normal. The good news is – they’re not! Let’s consider the original Foresight program. As you might expect, a large proportion of couples who come to Foresight

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

have previously experienced the distress of miscarriage, stillbirth, medical termination, malformation, unexplained infertility, post- natal depression and health problems in their child. In fact, in the initial study group of 367 couples, more than half had a previous problem or series of problems. But with comprehensive precon- ception care for all those couples, at the end of a two-year period Foresight had achieved remarkable results. The statistics speak for themselves

• 89 per cent had a healthy baby

• 81 per cent of infertile couples had a baby

• No births occurred before 36 weeks

• No baby was lighter than 5 lb 3 oz. (2368 g)

• No miscarriages in the study group

• No perinatal deaths

• No malformations

• No baby was admitted to intensive care

Just think carefully about what these results actually mean. Not merely 89 per cent of couples had a live, healthy baby, but there were no miscarriages (when in the normal population you might expect 85 in a group of the same size) or malformations (in the normal population you might expect 20 in a similar group). There were no premature or very low birth weight babies either, which is important in light of Professor Barker’s findings! This study was first published in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine in 1994 and was also scheduled to be published in the (very prestigious) Lancet. After months of procras- tination, the Lancet editors declined to publish. Their reason? Lack of control group. Foresight argued in vain that the group acted as its own control (remember 59 per cent had a previous problem including infertility of up to ten years’ duration). Regarding the perceived lack

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of control group, I would argue that it is unethical to do nothing except suggest ‘trying again’ to a couple with a history of recurrent miscarriage, a series of therapeutic terminations, a malformed baby or a child with learning or behavioural problems. Even when Foresight tripled the number of couples in their trial, there were only 3.5 per cent miscarriages, compared to somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent in the UK and a malformation rate of 0.47 per cent compared to 6 per cent in the general population. Those problems were identified as linked to specific toxic exposure or incomplete preconception preparation. Foresight’s program also achieved a healthy average birth weight and vastly improved success rate for those couples completing preconception care prior to IVF (which is sometimes still necessary if there are physical barriers to conception). When couples resorted to IVF, or other assisted reproductive technologies after completing their preconception prep- aration, the average success rate was 43.5 per cent compared to an expected rate of 22.6 per cent. In Australia, Francesca Naish, my original co-author in the Better Babies series and founder of the Jocelyn Centre, has helped thousands of couples to have a truly healthy baby. Her results further establish preconception health care as an absolutely fundamental health promotion measure.

6. It’s for both of you and it’s for everybody

The word ‘both’ is at the basis of the most effective preconcep- tion care. You are definitely in this quest for a very healthy baby together. Your preparation should be completed, with all health-promoting measures in place, at least four months before you start ‘trying’. Give yourself as much time as you need (the longer the better), but make sure that both of you have the healthiest possible diet, lifestyle and environment during that critical four-month period.

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

Attitudes have changed significantly since I began promoting preconception health care, but there is still occasional reluctance on the part of the male partner to acknowledge his role in ensuring the physical and mental health of his offspring. Whatever the reasons for his reluctance, the evidence now points overwhelmingly to his equal contribution (some researchers in fact suggest it may be even greater than 50:50). Here are some of the significant findings:

• In 1938 only 0.5 per cent of men were considered to be ‘functionally sterile’. Today, it is estimated that between 5 and 12 per cent of men are infertile.

• Because sperm are smaller and constantly being formed they are actually more physically vulnerable to toxic exposure than a woman’s eggs.

• Cigarettes, alcohol and social drugs (even if only occasional) all have to go. This is just advance notice; you’ll learn exactly why in Chapter 6: Habits.

• Men are more frequently exposed to toxicity in the workplace, with this exposure linked to stillbirth, preterm birth, central nervous system defects and testicular cancer in their children.

• Leukaemia, asthma and respiratory and mental diseases have all been linked to the male.

• Wi-fi radiation has been demonstrated to affect sperm motility and causes damage to the DNA.

• New evidence links the high-fat diet of a father-to-be to obesity in his children (epigenetic/trans-generational effects).

And gentlemen, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Now you really have no excuses for thinking this is just a program for the mum-to-be. Preconception might be the real first trimester, but it’s a trimester that you and your partner must share in equal measure.

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There are two reasons why those four months are so very important:

1. The egg is particularly susceptible to damage for about 100 days before ovulation; and

2. Sperm formation can take up to 116 days.

Maybe you think this Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby Program is just for couples with problems? Then think again! This program is for anyone who might ever become a mum or a dad – whether your pregnancy is just around the corner or several years down the track. Ever since my own positive experiences, I’ve firmly believed that this

program is not about dealing with issues such as infertility (even though it’s extremely effective in that area), but is something that all prospective parents should embrace. I encourage every one of you to give this the same time, loving care and attention to detail that you lavish on your wedding plans! Understanding that you have the health of the next generation in your hands is empowering but also brings great responsibility. It’s up to you and it’s never too soon to get started. No matter how much you intellectualise the situation, Nature’s design for the propagation of the human species makes having babies much more of an emotional than a rational decision. Whether that emotional desire is hard-wired, a function of a ticking biological clock, plugged into hormonal cycles or to some bigger astrological blueprint is not the issue. But it happens. For years and years I said, ‘I don’t want babies – I’m having too much fun. Why muck up this

fabulous hedonistic lifestyle with kids?’

and so on. Then, without

any rhyme or reason, in my mid-thirties I did a complete about-face and nobody was more surprised than me. I have to question the couples for whom a child becomes a completely rational, calculated, unemotional decision, little more

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

than another acquisition or a tick on their achievement board Education, travel, career, house, car, boat – all done. Next on the list? A baby! Now back to work! That may sound harsh, but I’ve seen it. Before embarking on your parenting journey, there are some things you need to consider carefully. Read on for more

7. Get practical

Having a child will affect every aspect of your life, so you need to have a good idea of what’s involved and what it will mean for you and your partner and your lives together. I can still hear my partner saying quite confidently that ‘Our baby won’t change anything.’ Yeah right, Al! When things unfold according to Nature’s plan, the extraordinary baby–parent bond is so amazing, all-encompass- ing and far-reaching in its effects – ditto the love and emotional changes that come with the baby – that it will forever change what you consider important and what you do not. In addition to your joint commitment to healthier living, there are lots of other things to think about.

What having a baby means

If you’re really not sure whether parenting is for you or you don’t know what to expect, then do some homework. Talk to family or friends about their experiences, babysit for friends who have children, read. These days the sources of information are many and varied – via the internet, the whole world is at your fingertips and everyone’s prepared to share their story! This also means you need to be discerning about what you take on board. I firmly believe that if I’d listened to the stories of horror and heartache, I’d have stuck to my Burmese cat. In fact, it was exactly those stories, and my belief that new parents were doing it unnecessarily tough, that led

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me down this path! Keep in mind that your reasons for embracing the Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby Program are because you want your own experience to be the best it can possibly be – in making that decision you also acknowledge that for many couples today, their reality is very different.

It’s a big decision

Your decisions about parenting will last a lifetime, so it’s vital that you give yourself time to think things through wisely and creatively. Here are some important issues you should consider.

• Think about your reasons for wanting a child. Write down your life plans, goals and dreams.

• What have you achieved so far and what is still most important to you? It’s okay to enjoy the hedonistic lifestyle – giving it up before you’re really ready could lead to resentment.

• Do you have enough time, money and support to have a child? How will your work be affected by raising a child? Are you prepared to become a stay-at-home mum or dad for a few years?

• Are you prepared to make the commitment necessary to give your child the healthiest possible start in life?

• Do you have issues to resolve about your own childhood? This is a big one for many prospective parents. If your own family upbringing left something to be desired, a conscious decision not to repeat past mistakes can be supported by sharing with others who’ve had similar experiences. Consider attending some group workshops.

• Parenting classes can be helpful too – the Positive Parenting Program and Parent Effectiveness Training are just two options, but also remember that nobody has the perfect upbringing and we all make mistakes. The trick is not to make those mistakes over and over again!

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

• What about life as a single parent or in an alternative family? These choices present different challenges and a support network is absolutely essential!

By giving some thought to all of these things, you’ll start to get a clearer picture of what parenting might mean for you.

Time

How do you currently spend your time? Can you imagine how you might spend your time differently if you had a child? Do you enjoy the time you spend with children? Few parents are prepared for the amount of time, love and energy that rearing a child requires. Being a parent means 24 hours a day, seven days a week for an indeterminate number of years, so good time management skills are essential. For a start, work out who will be responsible for child care (you, your partner, a professional nanny or a childcare centre). Recognise that you could well change your mind about child care once you are actually holding your baby in your arms (and I hope you will!), so you need to keep that eventuality in mind. Consider how you’ll juggle time at work, time with your child, and time alone or just with your partner.

Work

What are your career plans and goals? How much satisfaction and self-worth do you derive from working and earning your own living? Can you work from home or find suitable part-time work? Do you and your partner value the hours of unpaid work either of you would do at home caring for a child? What maternity and paternity benefits does your employer offer? Would a different employer give you more flexibility in your parenting roles? Find ways to meet your child’s needs and your own career goals that also match your beliefs and values about good parenting. The prospect of leaving or slowing down your career may be daunting.

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However, having a baby will bring new feelings, thoughts and expe- riences into your life that you may not be able to imagine right now. Make mental space for a baby in your life. The ability to accept change wholeheartedly and positively will make your transition to parenthood much easier and more enjoyable.

Money

There is no one right way to organise your finances for having a child. Some people save until they feel they have enough financial security to support a family. Others simply go ahead and have a child, keep working and make ends meet. The bottom line is that having children costs money and you will have to factor this expense into your budget. (If you don’t have a budget, then maybe it’s time to create one!) Ask friends who have children what it costs to raise a family. These costs will change – teenagers cost more than babies. Look at your own expenditure over a month or a year and imagine how you would budget for a child. You should also make plenty of time to discuss your financial arrangements with your partner. Of course it’s possible (I actually think it’s desirable) to keep your initial costs to a bare minimum by purchasing only the real necessities and even these can often be bought second-hand or handed on from friends. It actually doesn’t matter to your baby if his snuggly, his stroller, even his clothes and other ‘must-haves’ have been pre-loved. My boys were both glamorously attired in designer hand-me-downs. It’s not difficult to find someone only too willing to see their own children’s no-longer-needed items go to a good home! You may also change your priorities around money and material possessions. I question the value of expensive schooling, tuition, coaching, lessons and other ‘essentials’ for your child’s success, when the financial reality of being able to afford them keeps you in the workforce rather than at home with your child.

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Support and community

Support networks are essential. You may find that your social circle changes when you have a baby, as some friends are not interested in your new lifestyle. You may equally find that their lifestyle no longer interests you now that you’re a parent. Good friends, as well as your family, mothers’ groups, playgroups, online forums, childcare centres, midwives and community nurses, family doctors, counsellors and therapists can all provide support when you need it. Maintaining a strong network takes a little bit of effort. Be proactive – get out of the house and make contact with like-minded people. Taking the time to do this before your baby is born will pay dividends. If you can’t find a support group that suits your particular needs and interests, start one of your own.

Building alternative families

Like the world itself, families are becoming more diverse and complicated. Today, children are successfully raised in traditional nuclear families, as well as in single-parent families, extended families, merged families and lesbian and gay families. Children are loved and cared for by their biological parents, as well as by grandparents, step-parents, co-parents and family friends, and they develop a complex array of relationships that sometimes include step- or half-siblings, donor fathers and surrogate mothers. Alternative families may encounter some prejudice. It can also be difficult without models on which to base your family – you are mostly a pioneer. However, the very fact that alternative families challenge the norm opens up opportunities for the children. For example, alternative families can model egalitarian and non-sexist relationships; they can provide children with a broader perspective on the world; they can help children to turn outside prejudice into

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inner strength; and family members often enjoy particularly close and supportive relationships.

In summary, there are lots of things to ponder before you begin your parenting journey! If you don’t think you’re quite ready, don’t let anyone pressure you into the decision. My partner would have been happy to start a family years before I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ His parents certainly never understood why I wasn’t planning to provide them with grandchildren. But I know for certain I’d have made a lousy mother if I’d had my babies in my twenties. I guess my only tiny regret is that I really left it too late to have more than two – and of course the age at which you start is just one more thing for you to think about

8. Conceiving consciously

When conception takes place with conscious intent, it’s an excellent start. It’s time! You’ve done the work, you’ve actively avoided all those unhealthy lifestyle and environmental factors, your diet has never

been better, you’ve been taking your supplements

done some great groundwork in establishing new social networks and you’re firmly committed to being a full-time mum or dad for a while. You know that both you and your partner are physically,

mentally and emotionally as ready as you can be for this baby you’re about to conceive! You’ve been charting your cycle, taking your temperature, noticing how your cervical mucus changes and today you’re absolutely certain

Light the candles, play the music,

dim the lights! This is the love-making that you’ve anticipated for so long. You’ve both looked forward to ‘conceiving consciously’ and being able to welcome your child’s existence from its very earliest moments. You’re feeling confident that this act of love will lead to

that you’re ovulating. Drum roll

You’ve also

the conception of your baby.

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

Since the charting of your cycle is now second nature, you know that all your preparation has paid off when your temperature is still elevated after 20 days. The baby that you’ve waited for so long is currently about the size of an apple pip, but you also know that its beginnings have been as healthy as they can possibly be and that you can anticipate a pregnancy and birth that reflect the care you’ve taken. Your delight in the conception of your baby is overwhelming, and you both know that your months of preconception care were well worthwhile. If you’re a single mum, or if you’re otherwise undertaking this momentous journey courtesy of donor sperm, donor egg or some combination other than the original, you can make a similar ritual of a conception attempt. While the sperm or egg donor may be unknown to you, honour their participation in the creation of your baby and ask for their love and support in spirit.

9. Summary – what you need to do

Here are your preconception actions in a nutshell. The key to success is to take things one step at a time, each one a sort of positive affirmation. Once you’ve made the commitment and a start on your preparations, then the rest falls into place little by little. Be gentle with yourself – don’t try to do it all this week! Be gentle with your partner too – it’s easy to become resentful if the commitment of one party doesn’t match that of the other.

Make a timeline with your partner.

Eat organic produce for a higher concentration of essential trace elements and reduced exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

Take a high-quality probiotic to restore gut health.

Do the zinc taste test and supplement accordingly.

Take comprehensive nutritional supplementation that is specifi- cally designed for preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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JAN ROBERTS

Avoid single nutrients such as folic acid, which should always be taken in combination with other vitamins from the B-complex group. (More details on all these recommendations in Chapter 3: Eat.)

Begin an exercise program. Moderate, aerobic and muscle- building exercise improves the delivery of nutrients.

Flexibility exercises, stretching and yoga are important too.

Remember your pelvic floor exercises once you’re pregnant. (More details on all these recommendations in Chapter 4: Do.)

Reduce stress and maintain a positive attitude.

Practise affirmations and visualisations.

Imagine all toxicity leaving your body, replaced by an abundance of vital nutrients. Imagine your healthy body nurturing a healthy baby.

Maintain a strong belief in your ability to positively affect your fertility and pregnancy outcome! (More details on all these recommendations in Chapter 5:

Think.)

Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine and other drugs.

Drink at least 2 litres of purified water daily. This helps get rid of the toxicity that can adversely affect the health of eggs and sperm.

Use alternative contraception to the Pill. (More details on all these recommendations in Chapter 6:

Habits.)

Avoid environmental toxicity – reduce your use of chemical- laden products (at work and home). Your bathroom, kitchen and laundry cupboards can be major sources of chemicals and other toxins. Read labels.

Limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation. (More details on all these recommendations in Chapter 7:

Surrounds.)

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

Play the game at www.flurishh.com. Not only is it fun, but it will help you create your beautiful healthy baby in the real world.

10. Do you need the help of a professional?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to eat well and clean up your lifestyle, you need help. If either one of you has a chronic or unresolved

health issue, get advice from a practitioner (ideally an integrative GP or naturopathic doctor). You’ll also find a wealth of detailed information on resolving particular health concerns in my first book, co-authored with Francesca Naish, The Natural Way to Better Babies.

A practitioner who has expertise in the area of preconception

health and fertility will perform some or all of the following assessments:

• Urine analysis for heavy metals

• Hair analysis for heavy metals (and nutrient absorption)

• Functional liver detoxification profile

• Thyroid function

• Allergy testing

• Iron stores (serum ferritin)

• Cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis

• Rubella immunity

• Infections, especially genito-urinary infections (GUIs)

Testing for GUIs is particularly important since you may have no symptoms, but a hidden, untreated infection in either partner will have a profound effect on your pregnancy outcome. At one Foresight clinic, over 70 per cent of couples had multiple infections. Test both partners, treat, retest and re-treat if necessary.

• Women: smear, blood and urine

• Men: semen, blood, urine, prostatic secretions

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Screen for Chlamydia (tested from cervix or blood antibodies to

show pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or dormant past infections),

Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasmas, anaerobic bacteria, group

B Haemolytic streptococci, Streptococci millerii, Staphylococcus

aureus, Gardnerella vaginalis, Enterococcus, Haemophilus influenza,

Klebsiella, E. coli and Candida.

After the initial investigations, your practitioner will know which

of the following treatments are appropriate for you. But this doesn’t

mean it’s now out of your hands – all the treatments will be most

effective when fully supported by your own efforts, which should be

continued (but may need reviewing in line with your own specific

issues).

• Ensure healthy function of the gut

• Restore hormone balance

• Improve sperm health

• Detoxify (especially heavy metals)

• Treat any malabsorption problems

• Get rid of any chronic infections

• Educate about Natural Fertility Management

• Reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals

Your trained practitioner will not only implement and guide you

through these protocols, but will also give you the green light when

it’s okay to attempt conception.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that babies conceived by IVF were two to three times more likely to suffer from certain birth defects than those conceived naturally.

from certain birth defects than those conceived naturally. 23 Copyright © Jan Roberts 2012. All rights

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Healthy Parents, Healthy Baby

11. Summary – what you need to know

Here they are – the positive outcomes you can expect from precon- ception health care. There’s no doubt about it: making sure that you and your partner are in tip-top physical, mental and emotional shape before you set about your baby-making is going to pay handsome dividends! These include falling pregnant easily; a pregnancy free of the usual complaints and one that lasts the appropriate number of weeks; a short, uncomplicated labour that ensures your baby makes his entry into the world under his own steam and then an abundance of breastmilk that keeps you and your beautiful, healthy, happy baby calm and bonded and blissfully breastfeeding – until he weans himself. Sound good? Print out this list and attach it to your fridge or your workspace at home. Make one for your partner too. These are the positive outcomes you’re working towards. Refer to it any time that your resolve weakens or when you need a reminder of why you’re making the commitment and the efforts towards a healthier you!

• Optimal fertility (vastly reduced need for assisted reproductive technology)

• A healthy, full-term pregnancy (avoid miscarriages or pre- mature births)

• A short, straightforward labour (less need for medical inter- vention, reduced C-section rate)

• Enhanced bonding (no postnatal depression)

• Successful long-term breastfeeding (WHO recommends a minimum of two years)

• A beautiful, bright, happy, healthy baby (free of metabolic, immunological, neurological and digestive disorders)

• Ongoing optimal physical/mental health for all of the child’s life

• A wonderful start to family life for everybody!

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