This time around I’ve taken a completely different approach to pregnancy. Before falling pregnant with Gracie I did discover I had the auto-immune condition hashimotos and that I was insulin resistant. I was quite over weight and managed to lose over 20kg before conceiving. As I had a healthy pregnancy I didn’t really think I needed to do anything additional for my health.
It was only after having a traumatic labour and post-partum complications, combined with Gracie’s gut health issues did I start to realise that I should have probably have been more focused on my own gut health pre and post pregnancy.
One of the complications I suffered post-partum with Gracie was my thyroid completely crashed and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Over the next couple of years I struggled to lose the extra weight I had gained from my thyroid dysfunction but it didn’t matter what I tried I could barely shift a few grams and the weight would creep up again.
I would like to add that unfortunately the majority of mainstream medical practitioners do not treat patients with hashimotos when their thyroid levels are still within range, when really this is the window of opportunity to prevent even further damage to your thyroid. If you have been diagnosed with hashimotos I would really recommend getting a second opinion or seeing an integrative practitioner for further support.
After getting to the point of despair I decided to go and see Dr Min Yeo an Integrative Medical Practitioner based in Sydney.
Dr Min did a couple of things that no other doctor had done in the past couple of years, she firstly tested my insulin levels and my thyroid antibodies. The results came back that I was insulin resistant again (the pre-cursor to diabetes) and my antibodies were extremely high and therefore so would the inflammation in my body.
We decided that I would follow Auto Immune Paleo protocol to reduce the inflammation in my body and hopefully ‘reset’ my system. I followed AIP strictly for several months and was able to lose around 8/9 kilos and this in turn resolved my insulin resistant issues and my thyroid antibodies went dramatically down – yay!
Once my weight was down and insulin levels back to normal we wanted to focus further on my gut health to make sure everything was nicely balanced before conceiving. I did a Faecal Microbial Analysis (FMA) at Bioscreen. These tests aren’t cheap, but I was keen to get tested after the journey we have been through with Grace (I think it cost around $400 and you aren’t entitled to a medicare rebate unfortunately). It takes a few weeks to get the results back and there is literally pages of information and results to go through. From the results Dr Min was able to work out what I needed to take to help re-balance my gut flora with certain supplementation/herbs. I also started on the usual pre-natal/conception supplementation and other supplementation for my general health and wellbeing.
Now I’m pregnant I’m on slightly different supplementation and one of the main differences is that this time around I’m taking a probiotic which I will make sure I take for the entire pregnancy and post-partum. I’m also having weekly chiro sessions as I suffer from chronic back pain and it’s got a lot worst since falling pregnant as well as a lot of ligament and pelvis pain and I’ve found its helped immensely. I’m also doing weekly pilate classes which I started last year as I have had pelvic floor weakness since having Gracie and I’m trying to regain my strength and keep on top of things throughout this pregnancy.
I would love to know from the other Mums out there what you did differently in your next pregnancies for your health.
Please note, this post is not intended as medical advice. If you have health concerns about yourself or child please seek medical advice.
I am mummy to a sensitive little tot who has many, many food allergies and intolerances.
My husband Scott and I have been on quite an eye-opening journey on our quest for health and healing.I’m thrilled to say that we have seen amazingly positive changes in my daughter’s health by overhauling our diets and lifestyle.The results have been slow but overwhelmingly positive!
Our success has motivated me to begin a little blog (My Petite Pantry) to share the recipes I have developed along the way.I have great hope that my recipes will help to nourish, comfort, and delight other families with similar struggles… especially the breastfeeding mummies out there who sacrifice so much for their allergic and/or intolerant babes.
Anyway, to stop beating around a bush let me tell you ‘the story so far’ of my sweet Lila Daisy, the sparkliest little girl I have ever met, who also happens to be the little girl who calls me ‘mummy’.
My pregnancy with Lila was a mixture of joy and awe at the miracle taking place inside my body.I simultaneously experienced moments (AKA months) of horridly unglamorous morning sickness like many women before me.I also spent much of this time concentrating my mind on positive birthing stories and quieting unhelpful fears that tried to plant themselves in my head. Much to my own scepticism I took a hypno-birthing course and did all the homework diligently.
Long story short, the birth was a dream come true and I even got to finish delivering my own baby!With a rush of overwhelming love, relief and heady euphoria I held my baby girl for the first time, and all was right in my world.
Over the following hours and days my husband and I soaked up the miracle that was our ‘Daisy girl’, but slowly things began to unravel.
She didn’t take the breast until six hours after birth and did not feed well from the start. Our breastfeeding story is a novel in itself so I will try to give you a brief summary that results in only a little yawning! I ended up with chronic Mastitis in both breasts that resulted in four months of oral antibiotics, and two re-hospitalisations (during which I received intensive antibiotics via IV for 72 hours – each time).The antibiotics resulted in a rather extreme thrush infection in my breasts requiring three months of intensive antifungal treatment.
You might be wondering what this has to do with my little girl.You see, she was exclusively breastfed the entire time, so she was technically medicated too. More and more the research shows just how detrimental both antibiotics and anti-fungals are to our entire microbiome, and unfortunately my little girl was not an exception, in fact she was of the most vulnerable, and her poor little body continues to suffer terribly from the damage that was done.
From four weeks of age we noticed our little girl begin to show signs of extreme gastrointestinal distress.Her nappies varied from dark greeny brown to frothy fluro green and always had an unhealthy dose of mucous.
In the hours following her first vaccinations she developed a high pitched scream and level of distress that will haunt me forever.After speaking to a ‘nurse-on-call’ we ended up presenting at our local hospital with a nappy full of jelly-ish blood, and a floppy, unrousable child who would suddenly burst into bouts of hysterical rigid screaming that could not be comforted.Unfortunately life with a newborn continued to be a high stress time in which our daughter suffered and we would receive no answers.
At six months of age – and six months of numerous doctors, hospital visits, IBCLCs and Osteopaths – she continued to suffer from extreme sleeplessness (she would wake in distress every 2-20 minutes *every single* time she slept), reflux, passing blood, gut lining, and mucous in nappies, extreme gastrointestinal distress, constipation, vomiting, eczema, and poor weight gain.
Finally a paediatrician advised me to trial a dairy free diet guaranteeing that CMPA(cow milk protein allergy) was her problem.After a month on a dairy free diet (and a reduction in bloody nappies) her level of distress hadn’t reduced at all.In the subsequent months we removed soy, gluten, eggs, nuts, and fish.Removing these foods made very little improvement to her reflux and distress.During this time her constipation got to a point where she was on quadruple the dose of 2 laxatives at once – used alongside suppositories – to no avail.At this point she was completely dependent on enemas to pass a bowel motion and her distress had my mummy heart in shreds.
During that time my mum mentioned a compounding pharmacy that made a product to help babies with “extreme unexplainable colic”.I promptly visited this pharmacy and spoke extensively to the pharmacist who referred us to their in-house Naturopath.
At this point of utter desperation I was willing to try anything, as long as it wouldn’t result in greater distress for my little girl.
The Naturopath listened to our story attentively and gave us a clear plan forward.Meanwhile, he scared the pants off me about the reflux and laxative medications that we had been administering to her, thankfully he gave us natural alternatives that worked SO much better than their conventional versions.
After multiple evaluations he recommended a new diet for Lila (and I, as her breastfeeding mother).This allowed us to carefully (and successfully) trial Lila on eggs, nuts and fish but required us to remove corn, rice, legumes, lentils, nightshades, mushrooms, yeast, garlic, ginger, and apples, as well as dairy and soy.This change in diet made the biggest, positive change for our Lila so far and she began to gain slightly more weight, her eczema reduced, and her vomiting ceased.
Unfortunately I knew that things were still far from right with my little one and at 12 months of age I took her to see an Integrative Practitioner (both a qualified GP and Naturopath) with a special interest in gut health and allergies. He initially prescribed some melatonin drops to help her settle at night (at that stage it was taking over 3 hours to settle her).He also ordered a comprehensive stool analysis, multiple blood tests, and urged us to remove any preservatives and additives that remained in Lila’s diet.
The result from the stool analysis was rather alarming and found that Lila had an overgrowth of some particularly nasty bacteria.One strain of bacteria was of particular concern because it eats away at the intestinal wall.These perforations in the gut lining cause food proteins to leak out into the body (where they aren’t welcome) and, to put it simply, allergies are born.Unfortunately, until we could heal Lila’s gut we were to expect more food sensitivities to appear and her symptoms to either stagnate or keep spiralling.
As overwhelming as this was to discover it was a relief to know a little about what was going on.To my despair treatment involved round after round of antibiotics.Going against my gut, we proceeded with treatment. This part of the story gets rather foggy for me.But the gist of what happened is that after 5 courses of antibiotics, and a child in an absolute world of pain, I pulled the plug on her treatment.With nothing else to offer us our Doctor decided to take a ‘wait and see’ approach and I delved head-first into managing and treating what I call ‘Lila’s labyrinth’ on my own.
At eighteen months of age she had been failed by medical professionals more times than I care to recall, and I had a gutful of condescending language and useless (if not damaging) treatments.My approach was simple.I followed my mother’s intuition.I kept a diary of what we ate, where we went, and how she was each day (sleep, poo, reflux, behaviour, sinuses, development, and skin condition).I weaned her off all alternative supplements for her sleep, reflux and laxatives, and managed her symptoms the best I could through diet and lifestyle. Over time we honed in on triggers and adjusted our lifestyle accordingly.Lila began to gain weight, sleep better, her eczema all but disappeared, she was able to pass bowel motions without assistance, and her reflux became manageable.
At two years of age we took Lila to a birthday party where she came in contact with dairy and soy.Over the next three days we watched a complete unravelling in the health and happiness of our little girl.Her reflux came back with a vengeance, as did her eczema.After much crying and complaining of a sore tummy she passed shreds of gut lining, blood, and mucous in subsequent nappies, but most terrifyingly she experienced a series of worrying episodes that I would later learn were “most likely allergy-triggered absence seizures”.
This reaction resulted in a midnight visit to the Royal Children’s Hospital and a thorough assessment by one of today’s leading gastroenterologists.Relieved and nervous we felt that we would *finally* get our little girl the medical diagnosis that she (and we) so desperately needed.
Fortunately/unfortunately no such diagnosis was found.Instead the gastroenterologist told us to keep “doing what we are doing”.That her allergies are “real, alarmingly unusual, and may or may-not diminish as she grows”.It was concluded that the level of antibiotics and antifungals that she has received was essentially like an “atomic bomb to the gut” and we should expect improvement to be very slow.Moreover she impressed the need to be “extremely vigilant” that Lila doesn’t come into contact with any dietary or environmental triggers, that is, until a controlled trial is scheduled in a few years time.
So, where are we now?We eat a meticulously careful, ‘from-scratch’, whole-food diet that is free from dairy, soy, grains, legumes, lentils, beef, potato, eggplant, apples, preservatives, additives, and seed oils.Our diet optimises healing foods and whole-body nourishment whilst also catering to the needs of the fussy toddler palate.
If she receives an allergen we fill her with preservative free organic prunes and plenty of filtered water.This flushes the offending proteins out of her body as quickly as possible, minimising the amount of time these proteins can damage her body.
She has regular magnesium salt baths to help her body with detoxification and all household products and toiletries are as clean, pure, and homemade as possible.
I manage this whilst I continue to read medical journals, papers, and research during the twilight hours.I’ve come to learn that education is key, especially in the area of gut health where the research is still rather new and many doctors are often fairly ‘green’ on the topic.
Now to you reading this story, if this world of gut-health and healing is new to you, or if it feels overwhelming, please know that there is a fabulous, loving community of mums out here who are willing and happy to offer support and advice.Mostly, I urge you to educate yourself.I know that for most of us mother’s time is scarce, BUT whenever you do find a little time, grab it with both hands, and read the latest literature out there.I’d also encourage you to keep an open mind to the very powerful ability of food to be your, or your child’s, medicine.
Last of all I’d love to leave you with one of my delightfully allergy-friendly recipes.
This lovely little recipe is simple, quick, and perfect with a cup of your favourite tea.
So I’ve recently created a Support and Chat group as an offshoot to my Instagram and Facebook pages as I wanted to create a comfortable and safe place for parents or carers to discuss what they’re currently going through and share knowledge with others going through similar. I would love for you to join and for us to connect so we can share more of these stories.
Since creating this group I keep getting asked how I cleared Gracie’s eczema and I realised that I haven’t written a more clear and detailed outline on what we did and what worked for us. Obviously every child is different and I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a Mum who did her research out of desperation to help her daughter.
You can read more about the beginning of our story here
Eczema is a sign that there is inflammation within the body, once you get your head around this you can move forward in working out the causes and helping your child heal. Unfortunately creams just mask the problems and don’t get to the root cause (believe me I’ve been there!).
One of the main causes of Eczema is ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome‘ which Gracie was diagnosed as having. This is when the lining of the gut becomes thin and small food particles leak through the gut wall and cause inflammation and food sensitivities. Gluten and dairy are the biggest food causes for causing eczema, for us it was dairy. Gracie would consume milk and within hours break out in hives and then eczema all over her body.
Now I understand there can be other triggers for eczema such as environmental rather than food but either way it all comes down to inflammation and the gut plays a major factor.
So how did we tackle it?
We worked out what her triggers were
We eliminated the triggers for quite sometime to give her gut time to rest
We introduced gut healing food
Working out the triggers
So how did we work out the triggers? At the beginning of our journey it was quite obvious that dairy was causing a lot of issues. Grace would have milk and with within hours be breaking out in hives and then eczema patches. She had IgE testing and it all came back negative for the common food allergies and nothing else showed up in other blood work testing.
I decided to get her tested for food intolerances, IgG testing. If you’re in Australia (Sydney) and interested in Food Intolerance testing I highly recommend Australian Biologics where I took Grace. Otherwise an Integrative Doctor or even a good Naturopath should be able to assist you with this.
Food Intolerance testing is done via a painless finger prick test and they have a finer paediatric needle for children – Grace didn’t even flinch when she had hers done, which was a relief! What I like about Australian biologics is that there testing seems to be way more comprehensive than any other tests I’ve seen on the market within Australia.
If you’re finding working out the triggers to be unclear, gluten and dairy are normally the two main food offenders for causing eczema and I would also recommend keeping a food diary to see if you work out a pattern.
Once we worked out the suspected triggers we eliminated them. I had suspected dairy all along, it wasn’t until we saw Gracie’s Integrative Paediatrician who used her IgG test results as a guide that she just advised us to just stop completely which was overwhelming at first. One of the main reasons I had sat on the fence for a bit, was my concern for her calcium intake and how I would make this up without her consuming any form of dairy.
As well as eliminating these foods I basically ditched anything that was from a packet or even remotely processed.
It took around a three months for Gracie’s eczema to clear completely, the early days are frustrating as you think nothing is happening but slowly and surely her skin cleared and it’s remained clear with no flare ups!
During this time we rested Gracie’s gut, along with her supplements we tried to introduce as many healing foods as we could.
Bone broth – if you’re going to make anything make this! It’s super easy to make and can be drunk as is, base of a soup and used for cooking casseroles etc
As well as taking a good probiotic, I try and make sure Gracie has foods that have Prebiotic properties – so foods that help the existing good flora within the gut. So think banana flour, onions, leeks and garlic (she’s not keen yet on Sauerkraut ha!)
Using her IgG test results as a guide, I have very slowly over time tested and reintroduced some foods that showed a lesser reaction successfully. This is something that we continue to work on in conjunction with her chronic constipation issues (so far she’s never had an eczema flare up!) The idea being if the gut is healed then these foods should be ok to reintroduce, but this is a process that requires testing and we still have some foods that we have yet to reintroduce on the advice of her doctor because her other issue is yet to be resolved.
I would like to thank Dr Ana-Maria Temple of Family Wellness Tips for allowing me to share some of her wonderful and informative videos that I think you will find really helpful connected to this subject. Dr Temple is a Paediatrician currently practising in New Zealand, Wife and Mum to 3 beautiful children. Make sure you follow her on Instagram to watch her fantastic 1 minute Paediatric advice videos and wellness tips.
Gracie absolutely loves doing yoga with her Nanna, it’s become their thing! I know Yoga is good for your general well-being, but I’ve recently been reading more into the benefits around doing Yoga for gut health and, as you know, we’re all about good gut health here! I’ve teamed up with Flavia Munn to share some tips on Yoga poses beneficial for Children.
Downward Dog time!
Flavia Munn is a Yoga teacher based in London (and also an award winning Journalist) who as a child suffered from frequent constipation, bloating and was also prone to anxiety. She found things did improve with age, but when she took up yoga in her 20’s the bouts became rare to never.
Flavia says there are many postures you can do to improve bowel issues. But really it is yoga itself that’s doing the work. Yoga asanas (postures) stimulate the rest and digest part of the nervous system, known as the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).
Here are a few tried and tested poses that may help your child with gut conditions:
Cat-cow with lion breath – On hands and knees, round the spine and look to the belly button. Then, arch the spine, look forward, open the mouth and stick the tongue out to let the air out in a lion ‘roar’. Even teenagers laugh at this…in the end.
Breathe fully – Make it fun by suggesting they are blowing their bellies up like balloons and then letting the air out. Anything working with the breath helps to relax the body. It’s the exhale that works the PSNS so aids relaxation and digestion.
Wind-releasing posture – Lying on their backs get them to pull one knee into the chest, with the other leg out straight. Repeat the same on the other side. You can always make fart references as who doesn’t find that funny?! This does literally release trapped wind!
Twist again and again – Lying on their backs, take the arms out to either side (in a T-shape) and then bring both knees into the chest and over to one side. Repeat on the other side. Move the knees from one side to the other like windscreen wipers. Twists help to stimulate our digestive organs.
Go upside down – Kids do this naturally. Handstand anyone? But a simple downward dog (inverted V) or legs-up-the-wall are very calming. They can do legs-up-the-wall by lying on their back with either feet flat on wall, or bottom up close to the wall and legs straight up the wall. Try playing some (soft-ish) music they like or reading them a book to keep them in position.
Also, if your child is at an age that they understand they have gut problems, try not to make it a big issue. Be relaxed, even about not going for a while, as tension will get no-one anywhere, least of all to the toilet.
To find out more about Flavia and her wonderful classes go here