Your Child’s Fever

As any parent can tell you, when your child has a fever, it can be an emotional rollercoaster that ranges from having sympathy for your child to worry and possibly fear. But if you understand what the body is doing and why your child has a fever, it can help reduce some of your anxiety.

 

A fever is the body’s way of sterilizing itself. When speaking with my patients, I call it their body’s way of cooking off the “ick”. If you’ve ever played Pac-Man, you know that when the Pac-Man eats the flashing lights, the ghosts lose their color and slow down. Pac-Man, on the other hand, speeds up. This allows him to catch up to the ghosts and devour them. Your body works much the same way. When you’ve been exposed to an intruder that is trying to wreak havoc on you, your body will raise your internal temperature so that your version of Pac-Man, your white blood cells, can speed up. In this warmer environment, the intruders don’t move as fast as they normally do, which allows your white blood cells to catch up to the intruder and kill it, much like Pac-Man does to the ghosts. 

When you give your child something to reduce the fever, you’ve just reduced their body’s natural ability to protect itself by fighting off the intruder. 

Most of the time, fevers run a predictable course. Your child may express to you that they are not feeling well; with infants and toddlers, you may notice that they are not acting like they normally do. You feel their forehead and notice that they feel warm. This is a low grade fever and is indicative of the early stages of their little body trying to fight off the infection. Your child may want to take a nap at this point; but if they feel well enough to continue playing, that’s usually fine as long as the child is not running around, getting overheated and sweating. After a little while, you may check to see if they are still warm, and most likely they are. At some point, your child may feel very warm, this is when most parents first take their child’s temperature. A reading above 101 degrees often startles most parents into thinking something is wrong and that they must try to break the fever. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When the temperature creeps above 100 degrees, the body is well aware of what it needs to do. It needs to rapidly raise the temperature a few degrees, allowing the white blood cells to kill as many intruders as quickly as possible, and then drop the temperature back down to 100 degrees or lower. This is called a fever spike, and it can be scary and alarming for a parent. We feel how warm our child is, take the temperature at the highest point of the fever spike, and assume there is a problem that needs to be corrected by administering a drug to the child.

Recent research shows that even a temperature of 104 degrees is neither a cause for alarm, nor an indication that anything needs to be done to reduce the fever, as long as the child is not lethargic and still has an interest in food or drink. Remember, the point at which most parents take the temperature is usually the hottest point of the fever spike. If you retake the temperature in five minutes, the fever should be coming back down. Within ten to fifteen minutes, the fever will most likely have dropped back down to 100 degrees. If the temperature remains at 104 for several minutes, you may want to use a few damp cloths to wipe your child’s head, neck and torso to help them feel more comfortable.

It’s important to understand that a fever is the body’s natural method for fighting off infections. In most situations, your child may experience a little fussiness as they try to sleep through this normal process. By allowing their body to go through this process, you allow their immune system to do what it is designed to do. This gives their immune system a great workout and ultimately strengthens their immune response. An interference to this normal process in the form of a prescription or over the counter drug would decrease the body’s reliance on the immune system and ultimately result in a weakened immune response. That means that the next time your child is exposed to an intruder, it has not learned how to defend itself and will have a tougher time killing the infection. We see this in the office in children who have been given multiple prescriptions for antibiotics for recurring infections; infections that the body should have been able to fight on its own had it been given the chance to. 

As a doctor, I understand the science and physiology of the various immune responses such as fever. As a mother, I understand the emotions one might experience when they see their child not feeling well. But I also understand that there is a life force that drives their body; an inborn intelligence that knew to give them arms, legs, eyes, ears and a mouth, as well as a heart that beats without us telling it to, lungs that began to breathe the instant they were born, and a digestive system that knows to pull nutrients out of the foods we eat and discard the garbage. And I know that this inborn intelligence will do everything it can to protect their little body, as long as that intelligence is not interfered with. It does exactly that, everyday, in every one of us.

www.EducatedPregnancy.com

www.facebook.com/EducatedPregnancy

 

 

 

    

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cute Things by My Babies

So at 29 months old, my son started asking for “color bars”. Now he’s been calling crayons “my colors” since he was about 21 months, so at first I was confused. I finally realized he was asking for granola bars. But it ‘s so cute that I haven’t corrected him.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Beautiful

Beautiful women not only look good, they feel great and their bodies perform well. By that definition, I am more beautiful now at 39 than I’ve ever been.

In my teens, beauty was all about looks. My girlfriends and I wore the latest fashions and styled our hair to look like everyone else. Because I associated beauty with being fit, I immersed myself in the newly emerging exercise world…think Jane Fonda, Jazzercise, high heels and leg warmers. I realized that you could design and sculpt your body through exercise to attain your desired look. I devoted time every day toward the pursuit of physical fitness. I became certified as a personal trainer and an aerobics instructor.

In my twenties, beauty was having a purpose. Helping others achieve their fitness goals was so rewarding that I wanted to reach more people, on a grander scale. I moved to Georgia to attend Life University; “smart” became the new “pretty”. I earned my Bachelor’s in Nutrition and my Doctorate in Chiropractic. It was there that I met my future husband and learned about living a life of service to others.

In my early thirties, I believed I had it all. I had always taken great care of myself – I looked good and I felt great. My husband and I were active in our community and our practice was growing. Whether working with patients, teaching aerobics or speaking to a group of people, my body and my brains were serving me well. Hard earned success revealed itself beautifully through gratification.

When the time was right, we became pregnant with our first child. I exercised, ate healthful foods, eliminated stress, spoke affirmations to my belly, read everything that resonated with me and was simply elated by the miracle growing within me. I continued teaching aerobics and seeing patients throughout all 42 ½ weeks of my pregnancy. I was 37 and in the best shape of my life when our son was born. It was a natural birth, and he began nursing within the first few minutes. My husband and I would gaze at him for hours, amazed by his sheer perfection. My second pregnancy was equally as wonderful; I was 38 when our daughter was born at home. She also began nursing within minutes of her birth, still connected to her cord and therefore to me as I held her close and told her how much we already loved her.

As 39 is slowly drawing to an end, I look at my life’s mirror and see beauty in all that I have become. Of course there’s beauty in being a mother, but I also see beauty in my stomach and its ability to have lovingly expanded itself so snuggly around my babies. I see the beauty in my breasts and their ability to provide nourishment for my babies. The curve of my hips seems perfectly designed for holding my babies. My arms and legs are firm and toned from years of faithful devotion to exercise; I still teach several fitness classes each week. I look at my strong hands and I’m reminded of all of the lives they have touched. I’m proud that I’ve been able to use my voice to share my education, teach others how to live a wellness lifestyle or help someone in need. I’ve embraced the lines which are etched on my face, as they hold the memories of laughter and tears that have helped shape who I’ve become.

We have each followed our own path in life, which makes us unique and beautiful in our own ways. I’m pleased with my journey so far, and I look forward to all the beauty life still holds.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Family Bed

Babies Sleeping Holding Hands

A loving, safe environment

Is there anything sweeter than being snuggled up with your babies? Feeling their little bodies wiggle around in their sleep, listening to their every breath? It’s such a beautiful experience that I almost missed out on.

I had every intention of sharing our bedroom with our baby when our first baby was due in 2008. We had no plans to set up a nursery; I constantly joked that the newborn could sleep in a dresser drawer in our room - after all – it was bigger than my womb. As a baby gift, my parents built an addition on our home to make room for a nursery. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, my sister came to visit bearing gifts – one gift was a crib, which her husband was kind enough to set up for us.  At 41 weeks, my mother put all of the sheets and bumpers in the crib and showed me how to drop the sides.  The rocking chair was set up, curtains were hung, clothes were neatly arranged in the dresser. The dresser, by the way, was a handmade gift from the Godparents-to-be. I looked at this nursery decorated with love and wondered how I would ever hear a baby crying for me so far away from where I sleep. 

Our son was born at 42 1/2 weeks. A natural birth, the Bradley Method. My husband helped deliver alongside my midwife. At 8 lbs, 8 oz, he was a beautiful sight to see,  to touch and to hold. He latched on the instant I brought him up to my breast; he seemed to know better than I did how this whole breastfeeding thing worked.  I stared at him for an hour straight, this living breathing baby boy who was so healthy. Who only moments before was inside me, with me, completely dependant on my every breath, on my every heart beat. Yet here he was, now able to breathe without me, able to pump his own blood without my help. I held on tight, the fluid he had survived in for 42 1/2 weeks slowly drying on his soft olive-pink colored skin.

Because I went so far past due, my midwife pleaded with me to not attempt a home birth, so a birthing center it was. He was born at 12:44 am; I needed no sleep that night, just his perfect little body close to me and I was blissfully happy. But the nurse insisted I lay him down in a co-sleeper right next to my bed. I stared at him and wondered if he was okay with being six inches away from me, because I was not. 

When we brought him home, my parents were there to help us once again as we set up the co-sleeper and attached it to our bed. While my parents are always supportive and never judgemental, I could sense their concern with our decision to have the baby in our room. They finished helping us and then left for home, leaving me and my husband alone for the first time with our newborn. It was days later before I realized their intent – they wanted us to be the parents WE wanted to be without THEIR influence, and so, they had left.

That first night, as we got ready for bed, our son neatly tucked into his own little bed attached to our big bed, something seemed not quite right. I woke up probably every 5 minutes to touch him, feel his chest to be sure he was breathing, nudge him a bit so he would move, listen to him snore…I’m pretty sure neither of us got any rest that night. The next morning, I had an appointment with a lactation consultant. When she called at 10 am to say she was on her way to my home, I told her we’d had no sleep and would probably need to reschedule. She assured me that it was best if she come and asked me to wait till she arrived to nurse.

She took one look at our co-sleeper attached to the bed and knew in an instant what I needed to hear. “Why don’t you lie down on your side with your baby and I’ll show you how to position him so you can both get some sleep?” she offered. She suggested I begin feeding with the baby between us. “Then roll him on top of you for a good burp and then over to the other side to finish as he falls asleep.” Sounded easy enough. She explained that a nursing mother is so in tune with her baby that it’s basically unheard of for a mom to roll on top of her baby. Dad, on the other hand, you can’t be too sure. This position would allow baby to fall asleep away from Dad and not be awakened by moving him from my side. It would allow me to hear and feel his breath. It would allow our bodies to touch, for me to share my warmth with him, for us to prolong our bond. And most importantly it would restore that sense of closeness that I – and my son - were missing the previous night.  

We slept just fine that night, like three monkeys all snuggled up in the bed. By the time he was 2 weeks old, I had discontinued burping him at night because he would find the breast and nurse without waking me up. The co-sleeper remained attached to the bed for many months – I viewed it as a safe guard in case he ever tried to roll off the bed. It became a great place to store diapers and wipes. The crib, well,  like so many pieces of home exercise equipment in other people’s homes, the crib has become a place to store clothes. I realize there are many people who put their babies in a crib in another room, but I could never. I can’t imagine taking a tiny little baby who spent every minute of the day with you for the last 9 months and sending him off on his own, away from all the familiar sounds of your heart beating and lungs breathing, away from your warmth and protection, and most importantly away from your love. As for safety, you cannot argue that there is anything safer for my babies than being mere inches away from the 2 people who are 100% committed to nurturing and protecting them.

While pregnant with my second baby who was due in 2010, we decided we’d need a bigger bed; so the co-sleeper was finally moved from its position as guard rail to a nice resting spot under the window. It still holds diapers and wipes within reach, but aside from a few restless hours that first night, it’s never held a baby again. The crib has never seen a baby; we don’t even call that room a nursery…it’s basically just an oversized walk-in closet at this point because  all we do is keep toys and clothes in there.

Our son is now 28 months and he sleeps next to Dad. Next to our son is our 7 month old daughter – usually holding her brother’s hand. And I’m on the other side with her tiny feet tucked up in my belly and his little arm draped across my neck. Now we are 4 little monkeys all snuggled up in bed.

It works for our family, and we couldn’t imagine it any other way.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Move Your Body

Want to lose weight this year? Move your body!

Want to feel younger? Move your body!

Want to decrease your risk of developing arthritis? Move your body!

While nutrition definitely plays a huge role in your overall health, exercise will truly be the deciding factor when it comes to managing your weight. Flexibility and range of motion can be improved through regular exercise and proper stretching. Full body cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging or swimming is most effective for maintaining weight and mobility. Resistance exercises are necessary to increase muscle mass and therefore metabolism; essential for weight loss and long term weight management.

No fancy equipment is needed, although it helps prevent boredom from routine if you have access. Go for a walk, dance around the house, take the stairs at work…find smalll ways to add more movement in your daily routine and you will start to look and feel better.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Role of Fiber

Did you know that the average American consumes approximately five to eight grams of fiber per day?  Most people get their fiber from bran muffins, fruits and vegetables.  Care to take a guess how many grams of fiber a typical adult should consume?  Twenty-five to thirty-five grams per day.  That’s right – four to five times more than the average person already consumes.

Your body is designed with specific reflexes that are subconscious, innate abilities.  That means you were born with these reflexes, you did not have to learn them.  The most recognizable example of a reflex is your Patellar Tendon Reflex, the knee jerk reaction.  When performing an exam on a patient, I would tap on their Patellar Tendon, which is the tendon that crosses over your kneecap and attaches into your quadriceps, or thigh, muscle.  Tapping on this tendon causes a slight stretch of the tendon and muscle, reflexively causing your quadriceps muscle to contract.  That’s how you get the knee jerk reaction. 

Another very important reflex your body possesses is the Gastronomic Reflex, which works in a similar fashion.  When you eat, food passes through the stomach into the intestines.  This new food actually causes a slight stretch of the intestinal walls, reflexively causing the intestinal walls to contract and push any old food out of your body.  In a properly functioning digestive system, you would feel the need to go to the bathroom shortly after every meal.

The easiest way to tell if you are not eating enough fiber is the absence of this reflex.  Without enough fiber, the Gastronomic Reflex may cause the food in your intestinal tract to become compacted, rather than be pushed out.  Early signs of insufficient fiber include painful or hard stools, constipation, and more than 24 hours passing without a bowel movement.  This situation more often than not can lead to diverticulosis or diverticulitis.  With diverticulosis, the intestinal tract is so full and compacted, that the digested food begins to push out against the intestinal walls.  Diverticulosis is commonly described as a blister on the walls of your intestines.  Diverticulitis is when this blister is inflamed because the digested food that is in the blister has begun to irritate your system.  Anyone who has ever experienced this pain knows that they must avoid food with any types of seeds that can get lodged in these blisters or out-pockets.

So how does fiber help?  There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.  The insoluble fiber is the type that acts as a Roto-Rooter in your intestines, essentially pushing all of the old food out.  When you eat enough insoluble fiber, and drink enough water, the digestive system will begin working better and your body will start to push out the old food in order to make room for the new food you have just eaten.  You will notice that your stomach will look and feel flatter, you will not feel as bloated as you may have, and you will start having normal, regular bowel movements.

Soluble fiber has its own benefits; this is the type of fiber that is absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.  The job of the soluble fiber in your bloodstream is to act as a Roto-Rooter for your blood vessels, removing cholesterol, fats and plaque from the walls of your arteries and veins.  When you consume enough of the soluble fiber, you should see your cholesterol levels begin to fall, and your blood pressure may return to normal.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Reducing Stress during your Pregnancy

If there is one overlooked, yet major factor that I can tell you is extremely harmful to your baby, it is maternal stress during pregnancy. Yes, drugs, alcohol and smoking are all horrible – but you already know that. You’ve heard it everywhere, and most pregnant women – at least most of you who are reading my blogs and following my videos – wouldn’t even consider such risky behavior when it comes to your baby’s health. But the stress part…that’s different. Not many people, not even most midwives, are teaching women the importance of reducing their stress levels. Studies have shown that maternal stress on the fetus may lead to increased risk of ADD / ADHD. Why? Because of the hormones you produce in response to stressful situations. These hormones then affect the baby’s development and can potentially alter the chemicals and hormones in your baby’s developing brain. 

So meditate, do yoga, read, practice deep breathing, relax, stretch, exercise…whatever works for you to release some of that stress that can build up on a daily basis. Avoid people and situations that are stressful. Think positive thoughts. Do your affirmations. If you’re not sure how, check out my newest video on youtube.com/doctorcathy – Belly Affirmations.

But for your baby’s sake – and yours - do your best to minimize stress. Maybe you will even have a more peaceful, relaxed, easy going baby as a result. I know, I do!

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized