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Naturopathic Support for NICU Families

Without choosing it, and without knowing much about it until I knew too much about it, I have been given the opportunity to use naturopathic medicine to support families whose universe now centres around a tiny bundle in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  I met amazing, strong, and resilient people while in the NICU and I am honoured to help in any way I can.

 

In the early days I cried a lot while asking “Why me?” in the depths of my own personal pity party.  As time passed and I slowed my thoughts enough to accept the reality of our bumpy and scary introduction to parenthood, I was finally able to hear that the answer to my lament of “Why me?” was “Because you can help”.

 

I heard “Here is a population of good people, with incredible babies, and they are going through hell. Here is empathy so that you can resonate with their concerns, and experience as a NICU parent so that you can use your knowledge of naturopathic medicine to maximize their health while in the bubble of fear.”

 

In July 2014 my son arrived (very) early and we spent 3.5 months visiting him in the NICU before he was discharged home in November.  It was a crazy and emotional time.  I was fine, healthy, happy, glowing, and loving my first pregnancy – and 28 hours after the first symptom started I was on an operating table with my 2 lb son being handled and stabilized by 5 members of the NICU.  It happened SO FAST!  He was 26 weeks gestation, just one week shy of starting the third trimester.

 

Stress was high, self-care became a low priority (food prep was less important than a kangaroo cuddle!), but getting a sniffle or worse was simply not an option. Family and friends were amazing but the support from fellow ND friends and colleagues was crucial in keeping me duct-taped together long enough and well enough that I didn’t have to even consider missing a day of visiting my babe in the NICU. I needed him as much as he needed me.

 

Your journey through the NICU is likely a marathon and not a sprint. Let me help you to be as physically and emotionally strong as is necessary during this time (and beyond!) so that you can focus your energy where it belongs – on your child/ren.  I want to help NICU families to feel supported and as strong as possible while on their personal roller coaster.  You need all the energy you can get for when they do finally come home!

 

Using methods and resources that are all lactation-friendly (unless you’re a dad!), or kid-friendly for siblings I can help your family navigate the NICU journey in a number of ways.

  1. Stress:  I can’t make it go away but I can support you physically, mentally, and emotionally so that the stress doesn’t win!
  2. Immune function:  health is essential for regular visits.
  3. Milk production:  if that’s a concern.
  4. Pain management:  post labour, post C-section, sore nipples, etc.
  5. Post-partum depression:  it can affect healthy women with term babies!  Add in stress, fear, and worry, and it can hit hard.

 

It’s my job to find the best treatment(s) for you.  They may include herbs (again, I’ve ensured that all herbs I work with are safe in breastfeeding!  “First do no harm” is fundamental), nutrient supplements, nutritional support that is quick and nourishing when you’d rather not spend time on food prep, acupuncture, IV nutrition, Bowen therapy (sooo nice and gentle), or other tools in my kit.  The bottom line is a resilient you who can process the stress of NICU life, sleep as well as possible (which is hard with around the clock pumping!), and fight off any illness that dares you to miss time with your baby.

 

As for the babies themselves I cannot and will not treat them directly.  They are under the *absolute* best care that you could possibly hope for for them.  You likely envisioned a different start for them in life, and if you’re like me there was a lot less plastic tubing and medication involved.  I will listen to your concerns, work to mitigate your fears, and I’ll be happy to support their ongoing health with naturopathic medicine once they are released from the NICU.  That being said, I truly believe that my son was helped over his first major hurdle through an energetic treatment at two weeks old.  Here’s that story…