Health Choices Part 2: Our Decisions

(In Part 1, I shared my observations on the effects of diet and medications on children’s health. I’d recommend reading that post first.)

Then I learned that that “far off day” was finally coming. It was July of 2007 and I was pregnant! The baby was due in March, we had just moved to a new state and my husband wasn’t even starting his new job until the following Monday. Okay, we’d wait a month for insurance to kick-in and I’d see a doctor. Nope. THIS insurance didn’t “kick-in” until he’d been on the job for three months. Okay. Lots of women didn’t see an OB/GYN until they were over the first trimester, anyways. We’d just wait. (And here I will have to cut out tons of the story, or else we’d all be here for hours!) In the end, we moved near my parents when I was 16 weeks pregnant. New state, new job, new insurance waiting period… and I finally had my first doctor’s visit at just over seven months pregnant.

Since I was pretty much on my own for prenatal care until well into my third trimester, I did what I LOVE to do. I got on-line and I went to the library and I researched!

  • First, I checked out what medications were “safe” during pregnancy. Um… that would be NONE of them. Even harmless old Tylenol is only “generally believed to be safe”. There are no studies on its safety. There is no proof. All that “they” know is that there hasn’t been a study that conclusively proves that it is NOT safe, so the doctor’s tell you it’s “safe”. Having read that, I checked out what the FDA had to say. Acetominophen causes liver damage. Yepper. If you take “too much” you can even cause liver failure. (Check it out at this link: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/psn/transcript.cfm?show=87#8 ) “WHAT?! I thought Tylenol was THE safe thing to take while you’re pregnant! If it can cause liver damage/failure in adults, what might it do to the unborn baby?! They haven’t done any studies to see how much of the drug gets to the baby, but they tell me it’s “safe” to take… and to do so while the baby’s liver is developing?!” I was less than thrilled with the FDA’s supposed protection of us innocent citizens out here depending on them. Not to mention with all the doctors who tell pregnant women to take Tylenol. If Tylenol, the “safest” drug to take during pregnancy, was clearly not a safe thing, I decided right then that I would steer clear of all pharmaceuticals while pregnant, unless something REALLY needed treatment. Turns out, I went through my entire first pregnancy without taking any meds at all. (During this pregnancy, I had a severe sinus infection that I couldn’t get under control with home remedies, so I had to take a short round of antibiotics. I did everything possible to counter the negative effects.)
  • I already knew I didn’t want any unnecessary medical interventions during labor and birth, but I also knew that I wanted to be educated and prepared in case I needed to make decisions during an emergency. I dove into books and websites to learn all about the drugs, equipment and procedures that are commonly used in the maternity wards. That is enough information to be its own post, so I won’t go into detail here. What I will say is that all of my “friends” who had told me I would change my mind and beg for an epidural or C-section were wrong. They obviously had not taken the time to learn about the effects these interventions have on the baby. Knowing what the doctors do and why they do it further cemented my resolve to do everything possible to have a natural birth. (Just to be clear, I am very thankful for well-trained doctors. In an emergency that requires medical intervention, I am happy to have them available. My problem is with routine interventions that are not only unnecessary, but can (and usually do) cause harm to the patient.)
  • While studying the possible birth situations and decisions I might face, I ran across an article about all of the “standard” newborn procedures. Antibiotic goo in the eyes that can cause severe burning and blurry visions for up to two weeks, the vitamin K shot, the metabolic blood panel, immediate cord clamping… that’s all for another post, too. 🙂 In the end, we declined everything (you have to sign a bazillion papers stating that you understand all of the “risks”), except for the metabolic screening. It was made to seem like an immediate life-or-death issue and we just didn’t understand it well enough to say “no” in good conscience. It was horribly traumatic for all three of us, and in the end we learned that the results were invalid anyways because the nurse took our daughter’s blood too soon after birth! (More on all of that in my post on “standard” newborn procedures.)
  • Learning about how silly a vitamin K shot at birth is (serious physical problems resulting from the shot are much more statistically likely than a problem from not getting the shot), led to research into vaccinations. Although I did not have the time to research in as much depth as I wanted to before our daughter was born, we decided that we would loosely follow the Dr. Sears delayed/alternative vaccination schedule (http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/vaccines ). The doctors and nurses were always saying, “Oh, you really need to get caught up on her vaccines! We can just give her six or so today and then you can come in and get a bunch more every two weeks until she’s caught up.” As long as I mentioned that we were doing an alternate vaccination schedule and slipped Dr. Sears’ name in there, they didn’t put up much of a fuss. If I didn’t mention Dr. Sears, they really got worked into a dither about all of the “risks” of not vaccinating! His name was like the secret code to get past the lectures. It may not work with your pediatrician, but it’s worth a try! Having done much more research since that time, this baby will be subjected to far fewer vaccinations, if any. Again, that’s enough for a whole different post!
  • I breastfed Pumpkin until she was about 16 months, and we only ever gave her organic baby food (although it was packaged in plastics… hmm…). Once she was ready for solids, we usually gave her some of what we were eating, which was often organic, but was still usually pretty processes up until last December. She only ever got organic, whole milk and when she was just over two we started buying fresh (“raw”) milk from a local farm. In December (2010) I learned about “real” food and the Weston A. Price Foundation. That is an entire series of posts, but the point for this post is that between the time she quit nursing and the time we started switching to real foods, Pumpkin did have a healthier diet than the average American. No junk food, a wide variety of different foods (not just PB&J for lunch every day), and only water or milk to drink.
  • We did give her Tylenol and Motrin (usually only for the “mild reactions” to the vaccines she received). Having learned about how the body works and why fevers are good, we don’t use fever reducers for any of us, anymore.

(The last post in this series, Part 3: “The Results”, will be posted soon.)

Have you made health decisions that are non-mainstream?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *