Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm not an organic hippie tree hugger... but...

... I am starting to become interested in more natural alternatives in my lifestyle.

When we lived overseas, we had to be content with what we had. I couldn't despair over my disadvantage of living in a foreign country. I had to be resourceful and thankful for what I could come across.

But now that we do live in the US, I am taking some time to research natural remedies. It's been very enlightening... very enlightening indeed.

A few weeks ago I had a health scare that sent me into a whirlwind of insanity and research. Prescription medication was not an option for me because of the safety of my baby (and the unknowns of the medicine affecting pregnant women). So I scoured the internet for alternative natural remedies.

Thankfully my problem was not as bad as I thought, and I didn't end up needing treatment. But, in the meantime I stumbled across some pretty cool ideas for how I can use natural items in place of chemical ones in our lives.

Number one. Lotion. I will no longer use it.

For a long, long time I've wondered about lotion and all those ingredients on the back labels that I can't pronounce. Like I mentioned before, I'm not a crazy all-natural goo-roo, but in the back of my mind I've always thought it might be something I could avoid. Honestly I've never really liked lotion. I feel like it evaporates into my skin too fast and I need to reapply it over and over for results. I've wondered about the "smells" that we often consider luxurious, but at a chemical price. When Sitora was a baby I would use baby lotion to help me massage her body to calm her before bedtime... but I often cringed thinking of the chemicals in the lotion.

I can tell you now that I am completely sold out on essential oils in place of lotion! My skin has never felt this way before. I put some on after a shower or bath and feel soft and moisturized all day long. I usually get a slight case of exema on my shoulders and arms during the winter and just except it as my lot. But not anymore! The second I put the oils on my dry patches, they stop itching immediately and disappear within a few hours.

Here's how I make my own oil concoction!

I take a small 6 ounce bottle and fill it about 3/4th full of virgin olive oil (this is called a carrier oil, meaning it helps dilute the essential oil drops you will add in).

Then I add about 10 drops of a few different essential oils I picked up at my local health food store. You can research essential oils and determine which kinds you need for your specific ailments (like on this website here). Of course you need to keep in mind the oils need to be diluted and used with caution, especially in pregnancy or with children. Do your research :)

I have also decided that when our little man is born, instead of massaging him with baby lotion I will use coconut oil. I didn't stop massaging Sitora as a baby, she still gets them and loves them! Even I, as an adult, love a daily massage. Yes, SuperDan gives me a massage every day- he is the best! We also try to implement other methods of touch with Sitora by wresting with her and blow-drying her hair after a bath (Daddy does these mostly). Touch is so important and I think we underestimate it's healing abilities.

The following is a short list of ways coconut oil can help improve the health and overall well-being of your baby:

Coconut Oil Is Rich In Lauric Acid

Just like breast milk, coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid. A study published in the 1998 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that lactating women who consumed coconut oil and other coconut products on a regular basis had significantly higher levels of lauric acid in their breast milk.

Pregnant women who wish to increase the levels of lauric acid in their breast milk should consume coconut oil and other coconut products, such as coconut water, on a daily basis. This will ensure that as their bodies begin to store fat in anticipation of lactation, this excess lauric acid stored withing their fat supply will be incorporated in their breast milk as they begin the process of lactation.

Studies have shown that if a pregnant woman’s diet does not contain sufficient levels of lauric acid than her breast milk will contain only around 3% lauric acid. But, when a pregnant or lactating woman adds foods rich in lauric acid to her diet the levels of lauric acid in her breast milk increase by as much as three times.

Coconut Oil Will Boost Your Baby’s Immune System

Lauric acid, a fatty acid present in human milk, has potent antimicrobial properties. Since a newborn baby’s immune system does not fully develop until he/she is six months old, his/her only protection against everyday viruses comes via the lauric acid present in the mother’s breast milk.

Since the 1950′s scientists and doctors have been studying the role of lauric acid in infant immunology. Therefore, this topic is one of the most studied and best understood aspects of pediatric medicine. So, it is not surprising to note that today lauric acid rich coconut oil is a main ingredient in most infant formulas.

Coconut Oil Will Improve Your Baby’s Digestion

Coconut oil is unique in the sense that it is primarily made up of medium chain triglycerides. These medium chain triglycerides or MCT’s are more easily metabolized by the human body, which is another reason why coconut oil is often used as an ingredient in infant formula.

The ease by which coconut oil is digested by the body can also help ease an array of stomach and digestive tract problems that often plague infants. This is because the antimicrobial properties of coconut oil combat many of the bacteria, fungi and parasites that often contribute to infant indigestion. Recent studies are also starting to suggest that consuming coconut oil, on a regular basis, can help improve the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Coconut Oil Will Soothe Cradle Cap And Other Skin Disorders

Infants, especially newborn infants, often suffer from a mild skin condition commonly referred to as Cradle Cap. Cradle Cap is characterized by flaking or scaling of the skin. Though the name implies that this skin condition only presents on the baby’s scalp, the reality is that this condition can affect the delicate skin on the baby’s head as well as the baby’s nose, ears, eyebrows and torso. Cradle Cap is mainly caused by overactive glands in the baby’s skin that lead to inflammation.

Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for all skin types, including very dry skin and highly sensitive skin, such as that of a newborn infant. Furthermore, because of the fact that coconut products closely resemble human plasma the chances of your baby experiencing an allergic reaction to the coconut oil are extremely low. Therefore, coconut oil is the perfect infant massage oil. This is especially true for babies suffering from Cradle Cap as the antimicrobial properties of this oil are highly effective at soothing this skin inflammation.

Coconut Oil Massages Will Help Your Baby Sleep Better

Including a 15-20 minute massage into your newborn baby’s daily routine has been shown to have tremendous physical and mental health benefits both for the mother and the child. Hospital data suggests that teaching new mothers infant massage techniques helps ease symptoms of postpartum depression mainly due to the fact that this improves the new mother’s confidence and helps her bond with the new infant.

Furthermore, an overwhelming number of studies have concluded that massaging newborn infants can help speed up their physical and mental development, strengthen their bones, as well as alleviate their stress and help them sleep better at night.

A University of Miami Medical Center Study found that infant massage is especially beneficial to babies born prematurely. During the course of this study, twenty premature babies were massaged for fifteen minutes, three times a day. The babies who underwent this massage therapy showed a 47% greater weight gain per day than their peers and had increased activity levels, alertness and neurological development. Best of all, their hospital stays averaged six days less than their peers.

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with ya Casey! I've been studying up on herbal remedies and natural skin care and it's fascinating. I'm starting to weed out all the chemicals from our home- not because it's trendy but because the research is pretty convincing. Here's a website that has been a great resource-

    They just came out with a book full of recipes for herbal remedies during pregnancy, skin care for mamas and babies and great meals for pregnancy.