There seems to be an epidemic going on and I'd be really surprised if I was the only one who noticed. "Baby soft" isn't that the cliche? Isn't a baby's skin supposed to be super soft and incredibly healthy? Why do so many kids now have eczema and other skin issues?
Here's the scenario I'm seeing most often. A woman becomes pregnant and is determined to do absolutely everything to ensure the health of her child. No compromises are made. Home birth with a midwife or as close to it as possible. Breastfeeding not an option but a necessity. Baby slings, co-sleeping, nature based products and only organic foods - this mom feels like she is doing everything right. Then why does her baby have red angry bumps all over and intense itching? Now her friends and family are questioning her choices and she feels like a failure. What is going on?
As a mother myself, I know that questioning our parenting techniques comes with the territory and feeling guilty is a regular emotional state. But in this case I can truly tell these moms, it is NOT YOUR FAULT! The blame lies in the food industry, the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. These multi-billion dollar corporations have undermined every bit of common sense that human beings have developed over the last couple thousand years and they did it because they wanted to make money.
The problem is Antibiotics. The wonder drug of the last century. Antibiotics should have been reserved for life-threatening situations but instead were handed out like candy to anyone with so much as a sniffle. Now its in our food supply and our water. We can't escape it. These antibiotics have drastically altered the state of our own microbiological ecosystem within our digestive tract. In combination with a food supply rich in processed sugars and simple carbohydrates the symbiotic balance human beings have developed with certain strains of bacteria over millenia has been compromised in less than a generation.
Our intestinal systems are overrun with pathogenic organisms that compromise the integrity of the gut wall and allow undigested proteins to leak into our blood stream causing food intolerances, allergies, and auto-immune diseases. In a breastfeeding woman, these undigested proteins get into her milk supply. The baby's sensitive digestive system is designed to handle predigested foods not fully formed proteins and so these proteins leak into the baby's blood. The immature immune system handles this onslaught by eliminating the toxins through the skin, the most mature elimination channel the baby has.
The standard medical treatment of cortisone or steroid creams calms the inflammation but does nothing to address the cause of the rash. Discontinuing with breastfeeding only makes matters worse as most infant formulas contain sugar and other undigested food substances that promote ear infections and asthma. Elimination diets can provide temporary relief but the mother may find she has fewer and fewer foods that do not aggravate the condition. Once the baby's immune system matures and other elimination channels take over the skin condition may go away but as I've often seen, the same pathogens affecting the mother will continue to do damage to the infant resulting in more serious digestive and immune diseases like autism, IBS, Crohn's disease and more.
This situation is quite frankly appalling. New mothers and fathers do not need this type of stress piled onto them in addition to being forced to cut maternity leave short, work full time to make ends meet, and fight against a society that still discourages public breastfeeding or breaks for lactation pumping.
I wish I could go back in time and tell my great-grandmother about what I am seeing today. My great-grandmother had twelve kids and helped other women give birth during the Great Depression. She experienced hardship I won't even talk about here but I can bet she would listen to my story and know exactly who was to blame. "What are they eating?" she would say. "That's not food! You can't feed new mothers and children that and expect them to be healthy!" And grandma would be right.
There is a way out of this and I'm doing my best to get the word out. I know the GAPS diet seems difficult to many but it is extremely effective and not a diet you need to follow for the rest of your life. Once you get started on it, it really is not that hard to follow and it has the most dramatic results I have seen in my practice. If you know anyone who is going to have a baby soon I highly recommend they start supplementing with probiotics now. They can even do the GAPS diet (Full diet not the Intro) before the baby is born. Better yet, heal your gut long before conception and you can enjoy that beautiful baby soft skin, which is the way it is supposed to be.
Enough for now.
To Your Health,
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.