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The Gift of Birth is Love Itself

Light and love are inherent in many holidays, especially this time of year.  We love to see light and we feel peace when we feel loved. One characteristic of love is attraction. Newborn babies are full of love – oxytocin is the hormone of love and what helps a woman’s uterus contract to birth her baby. Therefore, levels in the mother and baby are very high at the moment of birth. The gift of birth is love itself.

Newborn babies fill us with awe and wonder. We want to be near to hold and touch them. New parents wonder “Where did you come from?” when looking into their babies’ eyes. This remains a mystery. Did you know a baby’s eyes at birth are about the same size they will be as an adult? https://birthworks.org/do-human-eyes-remain-the-same-size-from-birth-to-death-by-cathy-daub-cce-cd-bwi/  One mother said, “I looked into my baby’s eyes and saw the universe!” Women’s lives are transformed when they become mothers. This is because of love’s transforming potential.

The holidays are also a time of giving.  What are the most special gifts to give our babies, children, parents and each other?  What if we have only positive thoughts and words, seeing what is good, hearing what is good, touching what is good, tasting what is good… so all newborn babies absorb those energies and feel safe. A mother and her newborn are a dyad – they are so connected that what mom feels is felt by her baby and vice versa. Parent/baby skin-to-skin contact sets off a cascade of hormones in both of them. These hormones help lay down pathways in the baby’s limbic brain which impact them for life. Respecting the primal period – from conception to the end of the first year of life – is essential for our health as an adult and it all begins at birth.

The practice of human values of love and giving is the foundation The BirthWorks Experience which is empowering and transforming. Birth in a holistic sense means that the more joy and love we feel for each other, the more the baby feels it in the womb and after birth. In BirthWorks, we establish a deeper awareness of key connections between babies and parents. We do this by holding parents in awe of the gift of birth and nature’s perfect design.  For example, the process of having the smell of amniotic fluid in the womb is similar to colostrum’s smell, which helps the baby find life-giving food at the breast at birth. Breastfeeding establishes an emotional language which later leads to speech – all so perfectly designed for our miraculous growth and development.  In The BirthWorks Experience, we encourage trusting how the universe put all this together, helping every baby have the most positive experience for a good start in life.

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Quick Vegan Fried Rice

Quick Vegan Fried Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup raw brown rice, prepared and cooked
-1 medium onion
-1 cup chopped mushrooms
-1 clove chopped garlic
-1 cup peas
-1 cup chopped vegan “chicken”
-3 TBSP soy sauce (or more to taste)

Instructions:
Cook the brown rice in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil OR use an Instant Pot for faster results
-Saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in ¼ cup water in a scan pan or other frying pan
-Add the chopped vegan “chicken”
-Add the cooked rice and mix well.
-Sprinkle soy sauce and mix in.

Serving suggestions for extra nutrition:
-Add lightly steamed broccoli florets. Allow them to sit 15 minutes after cutting to greatly
increase their antioxidant power.
-Add 1/2 cup finely chopped kale
-Add small pieces of fresh or canned pineapple for a sweet touch
-Serve with steamed brussels sprouts, applesauce, and a green salad

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Fighting Viruses With Whole Plant Foods By Horatio Daub MD, and Cathy Daub PT, BirthWorks Founder

heart shape made of red and green veggies overlaid with quote from hippocrates.“I’m so afraid of getting the Covid-19 virus!” “What can I do to protect myself?” These are the thoughts on the minds of so many people during these uncertain times of the pandemic. It doesn’t matter if we are rich, poor, famous, male, female or a child. We are all susceptible to this equalizer that can invade a human body regardless of race, color, status or creed. We feel helpless and wonder what more we can do to protect ourselves. We are told to wear masks, wash hands well, and social distance.
Well, there IS more we can do. We can eat foods known to strengthen our immunity and thus help
our bodies fight the virus.

What we know:

-The virus binds itself to cells using a protein on the surface of the cells called ACE-2. ACE-2 is an entry receptor for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID 19). These ACE2 receptors are found throughout the body in blood vessels; on olfactory bulbs that provide a sense of smell; on kidneys in the gastrointestinal tract, and even in the brain.
-Covid-19 is a vascular disease because it affects the endothelium present in the lungs and organs of the body. Even if one recovers, it often leaves a “tail” of other symptoms that can go on for weeks and months causing various degrees of dysfunction.
-We know that people with underlying medical conditions are more susceptible to the severity of the disease. This means their immunity may already be compromised.
-The virus has an affinity for fat cells, making people with Diabetes Type 2 and obesity more likely to be more severely affected.
-When the virus infects a cell, it tricks it into replicating itself thus producing symptoms.

But we do know that:

The body is always working to heal itself. When a virus invades the body, our bodies normally work to fight them off with NK (Natural Killer) cells which are large granular lymphocytes (LGL) that help our bodies to provide a rapid response to virus-infected cells. They are known to play vital roles in controlling and eliminating both virally-infected and cancer cells. The more NK cells, the stronger is our immunity to fight a virus.

The Good News: Foods known to enhance our immunity
Here are foods that through randomized controlled trials have been found to enhance our NK cells thus giving us a better chance to fight off the virus? These foods are known to enhance our immunity.

Broccoli Sprouts: The University of North Carolina, University Children’s Hospital Basel, Stanford University, enrolled 29 healthy volunteers. They ate 2 cups of broccoli sprouts in a shake (or placebo) daily for 4 days. Sprout eaters had 22 times more NK T cells and more killing power. They had fewer flu virus in the nose.
(Müller L, Meyer M, Bauer RN, et al. Effect of broccoli sprouts and live attenuated influenza virus on peripheral blood natural killer cells: a randomized double-blind study. PLoS One. January 28, 2016;11(1):e0147742. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147742.)

Blueberries: In a small randomized placebo controlled study of 25 well-trained runners to test the anti-oxidant anti-inflammatory, T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells after eating 250 mg. (1 cup) of blueberries daily for 6 weeks before a 2.5 hour run. The results showed significant increases in NK cells in the subjects consuming the blueberries relative to the controls who did not consume blueberries daily as well as acute ingestion significantly reducing markers of oxidative stress &; increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines. (McAnutty, Lisa et al, Effect of blueberry
ingestion natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running.
Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2011: 36: 976.)

Cranberries: Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human gamma-delta T cell proliferation by 3.2 fold &; reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza by 16% in 54 healthy subjects in a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study. (Nantz etal Nutrition Journal 2013. 12:161
http/www.nutritionj.com/content/12/1/161)

Mushrooms: Dietary intake of white button mushroom (WBM) (Agaricus bisporus) accelerates salivary immunoglobulin A secretion in healthy volunteers. Secretory IgA acts as the first line of adaptive
humoral immune defense at mucosal surfaces when fighting infections including viruses, Be sure to eat the stems that are full of immune boosting power. (Sang Chul Jeong PhD, (www.nutritionjrnl.com =journal homepage Nutrition 28 (2012 527-531) A small study (20 persons)showing that adding !/3 cup/day of WBM x 1 wk caused a 144% increase in salivary IgA which remained elevated x 2wk.)

There is ample evidence that there are a variety of whole natural unprocessed plant foods that can be helpful in improving your overall immune status as well as decreasing the chances of a severe infection from Covid-19 without any adverse effects. So why not eat them?

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Covid-19 and Childbirth

 

The Corona Virus pandemic is a new disease causing massive confusion, uncertainty, suffering,
and death. We all have questions, many of which cannot be answered at this early stage of the
pandemic. We do know that the virus is spread mostly through respiratory droplets produced
when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. We do know that the virus can live up to a
week on plastic and metal and even up to 24 hours on cardboard, making wiping down
contaminated things like doorknobs very important. We are all still learning if it spreads in
other ways, but no matter what your questions, the primary and most effective precautions to
take whether pregnant or not remain:

1. Washing your hands with soap completely and for 20 seconds including between the
fingers and thumb under the nails

2. Respect social distancing. Stay at home with your families whenever possible. Avoid
people who are sick and treat other people wo do not appear sick as symptomatic
carriers of COVID-19 i.e. keep your distance at least six feet to help prevent the further
spread of the virus. We must all do our part to help prevent the further spread of the
virus. It is only when the world works together as a team, that we can fight this invisible
disease.

3. Cover your cough and sneeze and cough or sneeze into your elbow.

4. Wipe down any surfaces that could be contaminated with alcohol wipes of at least 65-
90% isopropyl alcohol. The good news is that even though the viruses are easily
transmitted, they are also easily eradicated upon contact with alcohol.

5. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if you are a health care worker, and follow
all the protocols and instructions for when and how to use and change PPE, to ensure
your own safety.

These recommendations hold true for most questions surrounding pregnancy, labor, birth, and
the postpartum period. This is an invisible disease that must be taken seriously. Here are
questions you may have concerning Covid 19 and birth:

Mothers testing positive for COVID-19 who have tested positive at birth for the virus: There
have been no babies born to mothers testing positive for COVID-19, who have tested positive at
birth for the virus.

If I test positive, will it spread to my baby when I’m pregnant? We still do not know at this
time but precautions must be taken like coughing into the elbow and following other
recommendations above to prevent transmission to others at birth. So far, no infants born to  mothers with COVID- 19 have tested positive for the Covid 19 virus at birth. The virus was not
found in samples of the placenta, amniotic fluid, or breastmilk.

Are my young children more or less likely to get COVID-19: At this time, it seems from the
data that very young children are much less likely to get the disease, however, since little is
known about COVID-19 all precautions above are strongly recommended. Thus far, only one
infant less than one year of age has tested positive for COVID-19.

Will pregnant women be more ill with the disease than non-pregnant women? It has always
been important for pregnant women to protect themselves as much as possible as they have a
higher risk of developing severe illnesses in general, including from influenza viruses. COVID-
19 is no exception. It is especially important for them to follow the recommendations above.

What should I do if I’m pregnant and test positive for COVID-19? Pregnant women with
confirmed COVID-19 or who are PUIs (Pregnant persons under investigation) should notify the
obstetric unit prior to arrival so infection control preparations can be anticipated.

When I’m in labor, can my partner and doula be with me? Many, but not all hospitals are
allowing only one person with a woman in labor and some even allow nobody else in the room
except caretakers. Social isolation is seen as one of the most effective ways to prevent the
spread of COVID-19 and unfortunately this includes women in labor. It is best to call your
hospital to find out what policies they have regarding these questions and they can change
quickly or sometime be negotiated separately with your care provider for special
circumstances.

Can I stay with my baby after birth if I test positive for COVID-19? Infants born to mothers
with confirmed COVID-19 should be considered PUIs. As such, infants should be isolated
according to the Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for PUIs. However, it is
recommended that separation of the mother from her baby should be made on a case-by-case
basis.

If I test positive for COVID-19, can I breastfeed my baby? “Breastmilk provides protection
against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. The CDC has no
specific guidance for breastfeeding during infection with similar viruses like SARS-CoV or
Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). However, much is unknown about
COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the
mother, in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. A mother with confirmed
COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading
the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face
mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric
breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and  follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having
someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.” 2

For more information visit
1. Prevention for 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
2. Interim Guidance on Breastfeeding for a Mother Confirmed or Under Investigation for
C”OVID-19.
3. Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of 2019 Coronavirus Disease
2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings.

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Sleep? What Sleep?

“The one thing nobody told me about having a baby was about sleep and how exhausted I would be! I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over six months!”

Many new parents are completely unprepared to cope with a baby who does not sleep well, who wakes up much more often than normal during the night and cries.  Some infants begin to sleep through the night almost immediately and others do not do so for many months.  Newborns lack a regular pattern for waking and sleeping. Their sleep-deprived parents quickly reach a peak of frustration and experience intense emotions as they struggle to meet the 24/7 demands of their child, at the same time trying to balance that with their own needs for sleep. Dazed parents groggily note this night after night, when the baby wakes time after time for feeding or comforting.  For a while parents have to adapt their own sleep cycle to the baby’s irregular sleep, taking catnaps and rising out of deep sleep to attend the baby’s needs.  The situation intensifies if the parents are arguing about how to handle the situation.

These parents have a dangerous amount of sleep debt. Parents of newborns are said to lose 2 hours of sleep per night until the baby is around 5 months old, which decreases to 1 lost hour per night during ages 5-24 months.  Sleep and nap times shift steadily from day to day, so that parents might find themselves up at midnight one night and at 3am the next. Over the first year of a baby’s life, parents each lose an estimated 350 hours of sleep at night.  Preparation for parenthood needs to include a consideration of strategies for parents to cope with their own loss of sleep as well as wakeful babies.

After a long labor that ended up in a cesarean, and then nights with little sleep, my postpartum days were a fog.  I had all the symptoms of sleep debt – lack of focus and clarity, impatience, worry and anxiety, low energy, and crying.   My husband was in medical school and not home to help much.  My mother insisted on doing everything for me, even taking care of the baby which I wanted to do. My daughter cried a lot and my pediatrician told me it was because I was vegetarian – she couldn’t have been more wrong.

Most people in America today are suffering from some sleep debt and go about their days feeling that the tiredness is normal.  Birthing parents are likely in sleep debt even before they give birth to their baby being up through the night to change positions and urinate due to pressure of the fetus on the bladder.  Couple this with a long labor followed by needing to be awake night after night to feed and soothe their baby.  And what if their baby is one who does not sleep through the night for many months?

Even before pregnancy, we as a nation are sleep deprived and go about our days feeling that tiredness is normal.  This is mostly due to the invention of a single and profound technological advance – the light bulb (1879). Now we could work late into the night, or read for pleasure into the wee hours of the morning. The light bulb mimics daylight and has the ability to shift our internal biological clocks.

When I was travelling around the world years ago with my husband, we often slept in places that had no electricity.  We found ourselves going to sleep just after sunset and rising at sun rise.  We became more familiar with the zodiac moving across the night sky.  We were more in tune with the earth’s rhythms and felt more energy.  There was no light bulb to keep us up. The light bulb has upset the natural order.

When new parents know what to anticipate and expect, and when they have the support they need, the postpartum period can even be enjoyable. I wish I had known more.

Did you know….

  • Our sleep begins well before we are born. The fetus spends most of his time asleep – about 16-20 hours a day.  Many women believe their baby is awake when kicking inside, but the baby is most likely asleep which explains why pregnant women can feel kicking at almost any hour.
  • We have biological clocks and circadian rhythms: The internal pacemaker or biological clock located deep in the brain in two pinhead-size clusters of nerve cells called the suprachiasmatic nuclei or SCN, controls a profound daily continuing oscillation approximating 24 hours. These cycles are called our circadian rhythms. They can be seen in almost every function in the body, from basic cell processes to activities of the whole body.
  • Circadian sleep cycles cross the placenta

The circadian sleep cycles begin before birth by passing across the placenta.  Even though the fetus isn’t exposed to light from outside the womb and can’t tell when it is night or day, the mother is communicating this information to her baby. Research on rats and mice at Harvard University showed that these signals from the mother actually stimulate the fetus to mirror its mother’s circadian cycles.  They found that the mothers’ fluctuating melatonin hormonal levels signal the biological clock in the fetal brain, preparing the babies for the rhythms of life outside the womb.

  • The mother’s circadian rhythm seems to act as a gatekeeper, inhibiting birth during the day and promoting it at night. That is why women often go through “false labor” the night or two before actual labor begins. The mother’s circadian rhythm is opening the gate to a nighttime delivery, even before the baby’s biochemical push to be born is strong enough.
  • The fetus starts labor: The fetus signals the mother when its body is mature and ready to be born and actually starts the labor process. All mammals tend to give birth during the time they normally would be asleep, possibly to make sure the birth happens “at home” and safe from predators.
  • When does dreaming begin? Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

It was found that near term fetuses have about 60-80% of the sleep time in REM sleep, also known as “dream sleep.” Typical newborns spend about eight hours in REM sleep, about 50 percent of their daily sleep. As adults, we spend about 25% or about two hours a night in REM sleep. By old age we have only 15-20% REM sleep.

Immediately after birth, there are only two sleep stages, REM and non-REM sleep.  REM sleep is sometimes called active sleep in babies because the muscular paralysis that always accompanies such sleep is not fully developed. Non-REM sleep on the other hand is often called quiet sleep, because the baby is sleeping like a baby, perfectly still, quiet, and limp.

At birth, infants usually sleep 16-18 hours per day, distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods.  They can pass directly from wakefulness to REM sleep and alternate between REM and non-Rem sleep every 60 minutes or so instead of the 90 minutes adults take to cycle from REM sleep.

Newborns can’t talk but very young children can and do talk about their dreams. Less       than two years old, a little girl was sleeping one morning and her father heard her say           “pick me, pick me.” He looked at her eyes and saw some typical rapid eye movements.        He woke her and she said ‘Oh Daddy, I was a flower.”

  • Newborn sleep states: We now know that a newborn gradually develops more sleep states and these are not random. Stages that have been identified are Deep Sleep (quiet sleep), Light Sleep (active sleep), Quiet Alert state, Active Alert State, Crying State, and Drowsy State. The best time to play with a baby is in the Quiet Alert state.
  • Baby’s biological clock matures gradually. A newborn’s biological clock matures gradually to keep track of the time of day. Therefore, imposing a regular pattern of sleeping and waking is bound to be met with distress for both the parents and baby. However, providing cues such as light in the morning and evening dim light along with regular feeding schedules, can help them along as their biological clocks are maturing. Because new infants have a strong homeostatic sleep drive, they build up sleep debt over a few hours and then pay it back right away with a nap. This continues throughout the 24 hour day until their biological clock is mature.
  • Sleep by the age of 12 months: By the end of the first year, the overall number of sleeping and waking hours has changed very little. The infant still sleeps 14 to 15 hours a day. Except for one to two daytime naps, the sleep periods have shifted to the night and the waking periods to the day.  By about 18 months of age, most toddlers are taking only one nap.  Children slowly sleep less and less until their daily sleep measures about 10 hours which holds steady until they reach puberty.
  • Dangers of sleep debt: Without warning, drowsiness can become sleep in an instant. You are only a few seconds from sleep when your eyelids begin feeling heavy. When the biological clock is not alerting the brain, the sleep debt pushes it toward sleep. The biological clock is at its lowest ebb in the middle of the night and people are more prone to distractions, lack of focus, poor memory, bad mood, and slow reaction times.  This is life threatening if for example you are driving a car.

What you can do…

  • Napping – the most important solution

Taking naps is an excellent and respectable strategy for sleep management.  Naps can make you smarter, faster, and safer than you would be without them.  They should be widely recognized as a powerful tool in battling fatigue and the person who chooses to nap should be regarded as heroic. The longer the nap, the greater the benefit and the benefits seem to be long-lasting. A 45 minute nap improves alertness for 6 hours after the nap. And for 10 hours after a 1-hour nap.  The rule of thumb for new mothers is:  “Sleep when your baby sleeps.”

  • Faith and Surrender: Surrender to the process of parenting, and even in your most tired moments, remember that amazing thing you have done to conceive, grow, and birth a baby.  Have faith that it will get easier as he/she sleeps through the night.
  • Drink a glass of water and feel the peace that it brings.
  • See birth as a miracle: Yes, your life has changed, but soon you will hardly remember the time before birth. Babies and young children make us smile. Their joy is immeasurable.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly: Take long deep slow breaths in and out when you feel you have reached your limits.  Practice awareness by closing your eyes, breathing in love and breathing out your worries.

 

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Food As Medicine (FAM) 2020 Event in New Jersey

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Hippocrates

SOLD OUT!  120 people attend our very successful Food As Medicine event held in NJ on January 25, 2020.   People attended from all walks of life, wanting to know more about how to improve their health through the food they eat.  The message of the day was, “Take control of your health!”

Anthony Masiello gave an introduction on how to get started on a plant based diet which helped him go from 360 to 195 pounds. These changes had a dramatic impact on his life in that he could now use the seat belt on a plane and sit with his son in the train ride at the park.

Sarina Pasricha MD,  gastroenterologist described the importance of our brain-gut connection.  Getting “butterflies” in our gut is a good example.  She said we are 1% human and 99% bacteria, and 95% of our bacteria are in our GI Tract – mostly the large intestine.  The gut membrane connects diet with our immune system.  Most diagnoses are linked to unhealthy gut microbiome.

Robin Wilson-Smith DO, asked us “What is the most common nutritional defect in America?”  The answer is “Fiber.” We eat too much protein and not enough fiber. She went on to say that the most common cancer in the USA today is endometrial, the lining of the uterus and obesity is the number one cause for endometrial cancer.  She emphasized that non-processed soy based foods such as tofu and edamame are healthy and help to decrease cancers, especially of the breast.

Karen Gibson, registered dietician said that every breastfed baby knows that the milk tastes different in every nursing, depending on what their mothers’ eat.  She mentioned that plant based diets provide enough iron and that when eaten with foods high in Vitamin C, the iron absorption increases up to five times.

Laurie Marbas MD, MBA presented on the topic “Chronic Disease Is it a choice?” She said that we as a country are getting sicker. Our medical education teaches one to be reactive, not proactive.  This leads to a sick care system rather than a healthy one.  20% of our children are overweight or obese.  Life span is cut by ten years when one has type 2 diabetes in their 20’s.

All speakers acknowledged that transitioning to a whole foods plant based diet is the best way to stay healthy, so long as there is also  adequate exercise and good sleep.  She said we become the company we keep so choosing to be around like minded people realizing the health benefits of a whole foods plant based diet makes the transition easier.

Cathy Daub and Karen Burzichelli organized the event, their third one in New Jersey and there was tremendous enthusiasm from the audience to return next year.  The combination of healthy food, good company, incredible learning, and yoga stretches with Kayla all made this an event not to be missed.  Be on the lookout for our event in 2021!