The Conscious Family Team is a team of professionals in York Region who support, guide and aid those who want to do their best each day to love, cherish and respect their children, and who want to learn and grow from their roles.

Giving birth and raising a family consciously used to be a matter of instinct. We trusted our bodies and our feelings to do the right thing. We learned from our families, and our communities how to care for and raise our children, and we just knew it would be okay. We had the support of those close to us - the village helped us to raise our children. There was no internet, no 24 - hour medical centres or helplines, and no bookshelf stocked with 50 or so of the latest advice books from "the experts", usually celebrities. Mom was at home during the day to lend a hand with the washing, or your neighbour would pop by with a casserole when times were tough.

These days, we're lucky to know our neighbour's first name. And if we need advice, we're more likely to consult Google than our brother, sister or mother. The village is truly gone.

Here with the Conscious Family Team, we want to bring the good days back by being your village and helping your family and village grow.

We believe that in order to accomplish these tasks, parenting must be a conscious endeavour, meaning that we are willing to examine ourselves, our background, beliefs, motivations, behaviours, and how these aspects affect the way we parent. Let's find the positives in the way we were parented, recognize the lessons we learned and empower ourselves to trust our own intuition and emerge as the parents we want to be.

Decisions made prior to conception, during pregnancy and in baby's first year and beyond provide the foundation for the creation of a conscious family. By consulting with one or more of the Conscious Family Team members, you will be inspired to take initiative to choose the style of caring for yourself and your infant/child that resonates with you and you'll be connected to the tangible tools and resources to support you on your journey.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making the Most of Winter and the Cooler Months with Baby

By taking care of yourself, you set a good example for your child(ren). In addition, by taking care of yourself, you can meet the needs of your baby or children much better. Though instead of trying to fit baby into the existing pre-baby scedule and "me" time, come up with creative ways to design new routines that include baby.

It is proven that exercise improves mood and helps avoid slumps of depression, especially in the winter. Tuck your little one under your coat in a sling or carrier and get yourself out on a walk in the colder months when the sun is at it's best in the earlier morning or mid afternoon for some vitamin D and reduction of sadness/blues. Putting your baby into a sling has a calming effect on both baby and mommy.

Call upon a few of your mommy friends and make it a ritual on a weekly or daily basis to surround yourself with laughter and a positive social circle of moms who have the same goals and mothering philosophy as you.

Is ours not a strange culture that focuses so much on childbirth -- virtually all of it is based on anxiety and fear -- and so little on the crucial time after birth, when patterns are established that will affect the individual and family for decades ~ Susan Arms

2 randomized trials comparing exercise to sertraline for adults with major deprssion. Both found that exercise was as effective. (Babyak et al. Psychosom Med 2000, 62; 663-638; Blumenthal et al. Psychasom Med 2007, 69; 587-596)

Exercise lowers inflammation, increases wound healing, overall fitness lowers infalmmatory response to stress (emery et al. J Geronto A Biol MED Sci 2005; 60 1432-1436; Kolut et al, Brain Behav Immun 2006;20;201-209. Starkweather, Buiol Nurs Res 2007; 8, 1-9)

For mild to moderate depression; 2-3 times a week, moderate intensity, 20-30 minutes. For major depression; 3-5 times a week, 60% to 85% maximal capacity, 45 - 60 minutes.

Randomized trial comparing luoxetine to bright lifht for seasonal depression (SAD) 67% response rate for both groups, response within one week for light group (LAM et al. AM J Psychiatry 2006; 163, 567-573)

Timing of light exposure; 53% remission with morning light, 32% and 38% for afternoon or evening (Teman & Teman, CNS Spectrums 2005; 10, 647-663)

American Psychiatric Assn indicated that bright light therapy was effective for both seasonal and non-seasonal deprssion. Equivalent to antidepressants and faster response (Golden et al. AM J Psychiatry 2005; 162, 656-662)

Denise Martin is owner of 4 The Love of The Family
She is a birth and postnatal doula, educator, breastfeeding councillor and La Leche League Canada Leader

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Now that we have some sunshine...

How much have you thought about your Vitamin D? Vitamin D is much more important for health than previously given credit for. Do you know with the increase use of sunscreen, the incidence of skin cancer has decreased but the incidence of many other cancers has increased? Vitamin D is an important factor in the body's ability to prevent cancer. It is also important with preventing the flu, improving mood, allergies, asthma and other immune regulation.

Right now is really when most people are at their lowest point for Vitamin D status. It's a great time to get your blood levels checked (25-OH Vitamin D), but it is also the time to start thinking about how you are going to build up your stores for next winter. I know - who wants to think about next winter... The sun is shining, the birds are starting to sing and spring is on its way. That also means the intensity of the sun is getting stronger. Great news for getting your own natural production of Vitamin D. Go outside! Spend time in the sun!

This winter I checked a large number of people's vitamin D stores and not one was optimal. Many were deficient. As a population we have become very fearful of the sun. Never mind the fact most of us spend our days working inside. That has led us to a position of deficiency.

So what to do with this beautiful sunshine? Go outside, spend time with the sun on your skin (not through a window - it doesn't work). Your body produces its own D it just needs the sun. As the intensity increases be more careful, but if you are going out just for a short time do you really need the sunscreen? Weigh the length of exposure, the time of day and your complexion. Really fair skinned people will burn quickly - so go out earlier in the day. Inside workers take a walk at lunch time. Wear a hat if it is too hot but let your skin see the sun. Work on it over the spring, summer and by the time fall rolls around again you will be in a much better state to cope with the winter.
Until next time,

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor at Rise Up For Health. She is passionate about health in general and especially for families. With a special interest in fertility and birth she helps families take an active role in their health. For more information please visit our website