Why This Book Now?
The Problem and How to Fix It
The Immediate Concern
Bringing a new life into America today poses a set of challenges that has never before been seen in history. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), by the time your little one arrives, he or she will have already been subjected to 200 chemicals, of which about 64% are known carcinogens and about 72% are known to cause abnormal birth development and defects. If you are living in America, the chances are that you will need one or more drugs, and possibly surgery, to help your baby emerge from your womb. Your innocent newborn will then enter a world that boasts the highest rates of chronic childhood diseases that have ever been witnessed. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on February 17, 2010, calls this epidemic an “historic shift.”
Something is amiss with the modern hurried baby-nurturing system that we are blindly embracing, often craving, and many times addicted to. Stressed mothers-to-be have lost their ability to breathe correctly and remove toxins from their bodies. Busy moms have traded in leisurely walks for sedentary habits and replaced fresh real foods for packaged microwave meals. Wishful-minded mom’s are led to believe in new food chemicals which are labeled as “generally regarded as safe” (gras), and remain on the “safe” list only until they cause enough public harm to warrant their removal. Advertising leads trusting moms to believe in hospitals and medicines first, forgetting the age-old rule that strength and health often come from within. That same advertising flatly misleads pregnant women to believe in the unerring safety and necessity of household products that are known to be toxic to babies. Western dualism has made today’s pregnant moms completely forget in a mind-body connection. Research has recently proven that the genes of our children are mutating because of the combination of environmental stressors, including dietary toxins, lack of movement, and emotional stress. There is an urgent need for the pregnant mom to discover the emerging field of epigenetics, which is now proving much of the common sense that we’ve known all along. Pregnant moms are not being adequately educated about how to cultivate the most important asset to society: a healthy intelligent and eager child.
“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”
Somewhere along the way, pregnant moms fell off the “wagon of responsibility” and have not yet been given a hand to get back on. American mothers, especially, have traded in that wagon for a high speed sexy convertible…along with a blindfold. These pregnant women have both feet on the accelerator, but cannot see the wall in the middle of the road.
That sexy convertible is a fast paced lifestyle full of modern conveniences and wishful thinking. That wall is the rapidly rising risk that your child will be:
Autistic 1 in 110(2006*)
Neurobehavioral & Developmentally Delayed (ADHD)1 in 13(2003**)
Asthmatic 1 in 11(2005***)
Overweight or Obese 1 in 3 (2000****)
In most cases, rates are rising in “epidemic” proportions. By the time you read this, it can be presumed that the statistics presented above have risen significantly. In all, nearly one in every two infants growing in utero right now will be afflicted by one of the four illnesses listed above. Nearly all can be prevented.
*MMWR, Dec. 18, 2009
**MMWR, Sept. 2, 2005
****JAMA, May 28, 2008
Chronic diseases in children are rising so fast that a pre-publication to a special themed issue of JAMA, in 2006, commented on the financial and emotional toll it is taking on American families, “Having a child with poor health has been associated with higher rates of marital stress, divorce, and paternal unemployment, and one fifth of families report financial problems caused by their child’s health care needs.”
And then there are the more serious diseases. One American Diabetes Association (ADA) publication from 1999 had a revealing title, “Emerging Epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes in Youth.” It concluded that “the full effect of this epidemic will be felt as these children become adults and develop the long-term complications of diabetes.” The long-term effects like limb loss and blindness can be devastating, but ChildrenWithDiabetes.com lists a few immediate problems that affect quality of life now. They include “dark shiny patches on the skin,” increased trips to the doctor, the usual injections, and blood sugar testing “at least twice a day.” Add these to the mounting time-constraints of motherhood and emotional pressures of childhood.
And now, a new leading killer of our children has been identified. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) 2004 fact sheet, “Cancer [is] the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. Children 1 to 14 years of age.” Current research to identify solutions is exploring “…early-life exposures to infectious agents; parental, fetal, or childhood exposures to environmental toxins such as pesticides, solvents, or other household chemicals…parental medical conditions during pregnancy or before conception; maternal diet during pregnancy…”
Be the change you wish to see in the world
Our beautiful car is racing toward a horrifying wall of chronic disease. How long before our babies are emerging from the womb already with cancer? One study that was published in that 2007 JAMA themed report sums up what that impending wall will take from our children:
“It is easy to romanticize childhood, especially in the middle of summer. Memories of lazy days at the beach, playing baseball or double Dutch with friends, catching lightning bugs in a jar and hopefully remembering to let them go, and having no concerns about bills to pay or time pressures or health problems. Perhaps childhood still is that way for some children, but for those with a chronic illness, life can be complicated and difficult. A child with asthma may need to take daily medication, an obese youngster may endure taunts or stares, a child with cancer may be hospitalized for extended periods of time, and concerns about bills and time and health are very real, at least for their parents.”
And what about the blindfold wrapped so tightly over the eyes of the pregnant mom? That blindfold is the lack of time, research, and awareness about her body, food, environment, thoughts, and childbirth choices. Society is making exponential and unprecedented progress toward new foods, new technology, new speed of living and new time demands and constraints. For most pregnant moms, therefore, it is not likely that the car accelerator is going to slow down very soon.
For the last several decades, prenatally-influenced childhood illnesses have been increasing, not decreasing. Based on current rates of pollution and current farming practices, combined with economic and political pressures at play, it is not a trajectory that is likely to disappear anytime soon. By all measures, the doctor has just told the modern pregnant mom that her growing baby has nearly a 50% chance, and growing, of developing a life-long chronic disease if she continues her current trajectory. What’s the appropriate reaction to this kind of news? “Well, there is about a 50% shot that nothing will happen, so I will continue breathing, moving, eating, and thinking the same way…”?
The time for societal change will come eventually, but a few independent women will embrace this change today.
Throughout history, landmark change has been accompanied by more than a benign share of opposition. First, there are those that deny that anything is wrong. They often outright attack those pioneers who first promote change. These are the people in your life who say that things are better than they’ve ever been. They are right in so many areas, but not when it comes to the polluted atmosphere and mindset that is breeding chronic illness in our babies. We are probably nearing the end of this stage. Eventually, as evidence mounts, these deniers admit that there is a problem, but often cling to odds that there is nothing we can do about it. Finally, as time wanders forward, we all look back and say “Look how bad it was at the start of the 21st century.”
In fifty years, society will look back at our sickness and wonder how we could have ever been so blind. A few pioneering pregnant women today will recognize this situation and determine to make healthy changes for their babies.
The question right now is not whether the problem exists; it’s how long it will take to reverse. How deep a hole will we dig and how long will we be digging before our children can breathe health again? When will someone remove the blindfold?
That blindfold is the pregnant mom’s wish to believe that her child will not be one of the two born today with chronic illness. That blindfold is her blind hope that dulls her urgency to do something to prevent it. That blindfold is the naïve belief that prevents her from rising up and doing something that should now be considered imperative for the health of her child. That blindfold can represent the continual societal loss of time, and with it, pregnant moms have also lost whatever time they once had to be complacent. Now there is only time for removing the blindfold and re-claiming responsibility for our children’s health. The time for pregnant Americans to take one step toward better health, instead of another step away from it, is now.
The rest of this book will help the pregnant mom remove that blindfold. She will then be able to put on her seatbelt, steer around the wall, or even jump over it. Along the way, the pregnant mom will find herself taking a fair responsibility for her baby’s health and saving her baby from unnecessary harm.
The beauty of living as a pregnant mom today is that you have the ability to keep the modern conveniences that make life easier while embracing the wise traditional practices that have proven successful for countless generations. Today’s solution is not to avoid modern conveniences altogether, but rather to select those that suit the modern mom’s lifestyle while still improving the health of her growing baby. One by one, the newly aware pregnant mom can adopt simple measures that are proven to help her baby to thrive in today’s world. If you only adopt one small change by reading this book, it will be a gift for your baby that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
“Things do not change; we change.”
Henry David Thoreau
The Big Picture
Taking responsibility for the health of your child has far-reaching benefits that are sometimes hard to see, but are just as important. Making these changes now matters for the state of our planet and for the survival of humanity.
America is the world leader in so many areas. Even at the current levels of diminished respect created by the decade’s foreign policy measures, we are overwhelmingly looked upon as the director for advancement in technology, medicine, health, family life, and way of life. Even the very countries and institutions who may criticize one area of America are found copying our ingenuity in nine other areas.
The world has followed our path toward freedom, globalization, and convenience. Around the world, countries are adopting fast-food, longer work hours, traffic, and stressful lifestyles. The American Dream is being dreamt around the planet as people who formerly had no access to electricity or the internet are discovering the westernized world. They are following our footsteps almost exactly as we have left them fresh in the snow and sand. Places like Europe and Australia are closest behind America, and they have already seen rising rates of obesity and loss of health. South America and Asia are following fast, as well, as the global trend imports the American culture, for better and for worse.
America’s influence is changing the world at a record-setting pace, and baby-nurturing will also be diffused by the spreading tsunami. That diffusion will include all the habits that have culminated into such a horrifying picture of childhood lack in health and happiness. Among the many discouraging chronic health statistics of the United States, it is also true that, among developed nation, our newborn death rate is second to last.
Other nations will undoubtedly follow our lead.
America is like the infamous frog who has been sitting in a pot of warm water. The frog doesn’t know that the pot is set for a slow boil. And unfortunately, the heat only increases slowly enough so that the frog does not notice until it is too late. As leader of the pond, the American frog has set the example for the European frog, the Australian frog, the South American frog, and the Asian frog. All have jumped into the slowly boiling pot, eager to benefit from the American lifestyle that has been so envied for so long.
The biggest danger may be that these steadily increasing rates of chronic illness are just that: steady. The slower and more regular the change, the less it is felt, and the more it is considered “normal.” If everybody else’s kid has asthma, ADHD, or autism, the tendency is to simply fall into line with the neighbors. The lone sheep joins the herd, and then the herd joins other herds just like it. Before long, every child is born with disease and a new generation grows up as the new ordinary.
When will America inspire a freedom from chronic disease, the ingenuity to rise above medical economic drain, and the vision to create a new way of life of health and happiness? America is in the ideal position to lead the path towards positive change. This change includes how we nurture our babies in the womb.
It is time for a new system. For a new system of health and responsibility is required for us to be able to climb out of the ever-widening pit of childhood illness. Ideally, we need a new system that changes the way we think about our pregnancies; a system that changes the way we use doctors and hospitals; a system that encourages us to stress differently, breathe differently, move differently, eat differently, and think differently.
A dream would be if this book could change not only one mom at a time, but the whole system. Alas, it is not likely. Though this book does show pregnant moms how to employ a number of solutions (like breathing, exercise, some household toxin swaps, and thoughts) that are natural, reliable, abundant, and cheap, it is not in place everywhere. Sustainable organic farming is not yet abundant or necessarily cheap everywhere, though there is a movement in that direction. And still, the fast-paced system that has been engrained in the last decades often works directly against many common-sense solutions.
A widespread societal change will only occur as the system is tweaked enough to encourage healthy pregnancies. It will come when society moves from a mind frame of “Me now” to “We together.” It will occur when we take a long term approach that moves our medicine to prevention and helps our political leaders remember that they are actually playing on the same team. Until those systems are in place, pregnant moms who are motivated to take responsibility can use this book as a guide.
Today, American infants and children will benefit most from the moms who have the foresight and imagination to see something better. Until we have that new sustainable system that encourages the health and vitality of our unborn babies, we must start one mom at a time. By passing along the ideology contained in these pages, we can give our children and the children of anyone willing to listen, a precious life-long gift of health and happiness.
Imagine an America where pregnant moms take childbirth classes not only in the third trimester, but when they first get pregnant, or even when they are planning their pregnancy. Imagine an America where pregnant moms join together to walk, breathe, and eat foods specifically to increase the intelligence and health of the next generation. Imagine an America where every child is born unhindered by medical burden, but eager to learn, create, and prosper. Imagine an America where doctors and midwives teach every pregnant mom how to breathe better, eat super foods for their babies, and swap a few toxic cleaners for green ones. Imagine an America where hospitals and birthing centers hold regular exercise classes and visualization classes specifically for pregnant moms. Imagine homes, buildings, and neighborhoods designed exactly to minimize environmental disturbances that affect the unborn child. Imagine an America where rates of childhood illness fell for five straight years. Imagine an America where regular moms were so passionate about molding the future generation that they demanded their doctors and hospitals to make these changes for their children. Imagine an America where those same moms travel and earn income by teaching pregnant moms in other countries how to adopt basic principles for healthier happier babies. Imagine an America where pregnant moms feel a lifelong glow from knowing that they made healthy changes to give their children a happier start in life. Imagine what would happen around the world.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”