health

Children Can Meditate Too

ImageI LOVE this concept. Children meditating. Children engaging in stress-reducing activities at a young age. My daughter has learned “The Volcano Breath” at school.

They rub their hands together while calming and then blast them into the air with a big out breath! I use it when things are getting riled up in the household and the energy level is about to blow off the roof.

“Volcano breath, Honey! Quick, Volcano Breath!”

She stops whatever whirlwind she’s in the middle of and runs to me all smiles. She quick starts rubbing her hands together and then blast-off! 

She’s calm, if only for a minute.

This is from an article I cut out on the topic of health and mindfulness meditation:

http://ecologyhealthcenter.net/node/1064

“A few minutes of daily mindfulness meditation can help take attention away from tummy troubles of all kinds for school-age kids, too.

Here’s one way to get started:

Have your child hold a flower (or another small, pretty object) in her hands. Encourage her to pretend she’s never seen a flower before, and have her describe what it looks like, what it smells like, how the petals feel—even what it sounds like. Gaylord says that focusing on something other than symptoms brings a person’s attention into the present moment—helping her think less about stomach pain or anxiety.”

Let’s try it! Find ways to integrate “living in the moment” into our children’s live. Let’s work on those self-calming strategies if only for a few moments or perhaps before going to bed.

There’s more to explore on this topic and I’m looking forward to it. I’m guessing that nature has its own natural sedative properties…how can they be put to use in this process?!

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Breastfeeding for Six Months Can Significantly Cut Risk of Cancer Death

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Breastfeeding for Six Months Can Significantly Cut Risk of Cancer Death—As Can Less Alcohol and Staying in Shape, Study Finds
By Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff

PostsBy Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff | Healthy Living

Breastfeeding is good for you, study says.

Women still confused by the breast milk vs. formula debate may want to listen up, as a new study has found exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least six months could cut your chances of dying from cancer and all other diseases by 17 percent—and death by heart disease alone by 8 percent.

The mass study, published online Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined breastfeeding and other lifestyle recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and its umbrella World Cancer Research Fund International and their effects on nearly 380,000 people in several European countries over 13 years.

It found that both women and men could cut their risk of death on average by a third, simply by adhering to one or several healthy lifestyle choices: keeping lean but not underweight, eating a plant-based diet, being active for at least 30 minutes daily, avoiding sugary drinks and highly caloric foods, lowering meat intake, and limiting alcohol intake.

But findings on the additional breastfeeding recommendation for women represented perhaps the freshest recommendation in the mix.

“No previous study has investigated the association between breastfeeding and mortality in the mother,” lead researcher Anne-Claire Vergnaud told Yahoo! Shine. Dr. Vergnaud, of London’s Imperial College faculty of medicine, added that a previous study found “failure to breastfeed” related to an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and other conditions.

There are several connections between breastfeeding and longevity, AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham explained to Yahoo! Shine. “Longer breastfeeding means fewer menstrual cycles and reduced lifetime exposure to the hormonal factors, especially estrogen, that influence breast cancer risk,” she said. “Physical changes in breast tissue that accompany milk production provide some protection as well.” She added, that the shedding of breast tissue during lactation and the cell death after also decrease cancer risk, “because cells have potential DNA damage get shed before they can spark the cancer process.”

There are even benefits for the baby, Dr. Higginbotham said, as breastfeeding decreases the likelihood that a child will be overweight during early adulthood, and being obese or overweight are major risk factors for seven different kinds of cancer.

Currently, only 16 percent of women in the U.S. exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months, according to the CDC. That percentage jumps to 36 for those exclusively breastfeeding for three months, and 47 for those who breastfeed for six months but combine it with using other nutrition sources.

For the study, researchers examined the data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC), one of the world’s largest ongoing studies of diet, lifestyle and cancer. At the end of the study, nearly 24,000 participants had died of various causes. Participants in the highest healthy-lifestyle score category (5-6 points for men, 6-7 points for women) had a 34 percent lower chance of death than those in the lowest category (0-2 points for men, 0-3 points for women).

But even adhering to just one of the lifestyle recommendations—developed by AICR and WCRF in 2007—can save your life, according to the report. Maintaining a healthy BMI, for example, can lower your risk of disease-caused mortality by 22 percent, while eating a plant-based diet can lower it by 21 percent.

“We’ve known for years that following AICR’s lifestyle advice could cut the worldwide incidence of cancer cases by about one-third,” Dr. Higginbotham said of the study results. “Today we have evidence on mortality, which shows that this same practical advice could also save millions of lives from cancer and other chronic diseases around the world.”

Choosing a Pediatrician: It’s Like Going on a Date!

When my baby was about six weeks old my pediatrician told me that my baby shouldn’t be nursing for more than twenty minutes per breast. More than twenty minutes, she informed me, and “She is using you as a pacifier.” What? She’s using me as a pacifier? Is that bad? Hello, parenting decision. And here I thought she was eating. “But maybe she’s just hungry…,” I mumbled. 

“No. She’s using you as a pacifier.”  There was no hesitation; no ands, ifs, or buts about it. It was definitive. My child was using me. I was being used.

Later, when my child was about six months old, this same pediatrician informed me that my baby no longer needed to be nursing at night. “A baby this old has no need to be nursing at night any more. She can sleep through the night just fine. If you continue to nurse her at night like you are now, she’ll be yours for life.”

What did that mean, she’ll be mine for life? Isn’t she already mine for life? Did she mean that my baby will still be wanting to nurse as a teenager? I didn’t get it. The only think I could figure is that she wasn’t in favor of long-term nursing. That then raised  more questions for me. How long did I want to nurse at night? Isn’t that for the baby to decide? I was confused and my baby’s doctor wasn’t making it very easy for me to wrestle with these tough parenting issues. She was giving flat out advice and that style just wasn’t working for me.

It was at this point that I realized my doctor and I needed to break up. I would do it gently. “It’s all about me. It has nothing to with you. Really!” The fact that we probably didn’t really see eye-to-eye on some pretty important parenting practices was a big part of the problem, but even bigger was the fact that I didn’t feel there was space in the examining room for my opinions. And what did I know? This was my first baby. I didn’t feel very confident in disagreeing with her and there was no room for conversation or objection or even curiosity. I simply didn’t feel comfortable in our relationship anymore. And counseling clearly wasn’t an option.

The pediatrician-parent relationship is a complex and important relationship, especially for the first-time parent. During those really early months of your baby’s life a zillion questions come up about caring for this new little being. And the books just don’t have the answers. (Either that or you’re too sleep deprived or petrified to read them.) So who do you turn to? Your pediatrician. Your pediatrician and the clinic where you have those appointments every week. And don’t kid yourself—in between those appointments, you’ll end up calling about anything from a pimply butt to a red face. Maybe she has the measles! Maybe it’s a life threatening rash! I’d better call the doctor.

Choosing a doctor before the baby comes is one of the most important things you will do prior to giving birth. As soon as that baby is out of the womb she already has about ten doctor’s appointments lined up that she’ll need to go to over the course of the next couple of months. During those first visits the doctor will be direclty and indirectly evaluating you as a parent and whether that baby is thriving in your care: Where does the baby sleep? How long does she sleep? What is she eating? How much is she eating? How much does the baby weigh? How much has she gained since I saw her a week ago? Is she breastfeeding or bottlefeeding? How much and for how long?

And then the big question: “Your baby is scheduled for three vaccinations this visit. Do you want to give them all?”

Because of all the decision-making that goes into parenting and caring for your baby, you need to find a doctor that fits your personality, your parenting style and your expectations of a physician. You and your doctor might not agree on every issue but hopefully you will enter into a relationship with someone who will  listen and honor your decisions as a parent while giving you the information you need to make informed choices. Most importantly, you will want to find someone you like as a person and whose opinion you respect.

I initially chose the doctor that I did because she seemed to be a pretty liberal doctor and was open to a delayed vaccination schedule. However, six months after the baby was born we split up because of irreconcible differences. The marriage was annuled. Our views on breastfeeding seemed to differ pretty radically and our communication didn’t feel like a two way street.

If you and your doctor have radically different ideas about how to care for a baby, it might not be a good fit. It’s kind of like going on a first date. You may think you’re in it for the long haul but as you find out more about the potential partner, your opinion may change over time. If you can get it right the first time, it can make things a little bit easier.

Part of the reason this relationship with your doctor is so important is because parenting requires loads of on-the-fly decisions regarding your baby’s health and well-being. In addition to the “What do I do right this second?” decisions, it also involves the questions about “How do I want to parent my child over the next year or two years?” Some of these decisions will be about issues that you will want to run by your doctor. When do I introduce solids? When do I stop breastfeeding? Is it safe to co-sleep with an infant? How long should a breastfeeding session last? These are topics that you’re going to want to discuss openly and honestly with your pediatrician, and the more comfortable you feel with your doctor, the better. Every doctor has their views on raising children and if your doctor’s methods are drastically different from what you want and care about, you won’t be getting the most out of the relationship.

Looking back on the process of choosing a pediatrician, I realize that I grossly underestimated the importance of finding a doctor that I liked as a person and whom I would respect.

When you pick a pediatrician you want to pick someone to whom you really want to go for advice; someone who will be open to hearing your opinions and point of view; and someone whose opinion you will trust. You want someone you can stay with for years to come. Find a pediatrician to walk down the aisle with and one with whom you can work, both in sickness and in health!