Be sun smart for summer

Yippee, spring is here 😊!  With the gorgeous weather and the unmentionable restrictions easing, everyone is so excited for the opportunity to play outside – on the beach, in the bush, in the garden - anywhere, as long as it is in the sun.  Of course, with that lovely time outside we have to consider sun protection. Now, I know you know all about sunscreen.  When, where, how much and all that.  However, there are some important facts about WHAT that you may be interested to know.

A recent FDA study by Matta (1) looked at human absorption of the active ingredients in sunscreen, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate. 48 healthy adults applied different types of sunscreen to 75% of their body over 4 days – once the first day and 4 times per day the other 3 days.

Results: All participants showed plasma concentrations of those various chemicals exceeding FDA safe levels by many, many percent after just one application of sunscreen.  The levels increased with each day of subsequent use. The chemicals were still detected on the skin and in the blood 21 days after application.

The study reiterated that there is no data in the literature on the effects to humans of exposure to these active ingredients in sunscreen.  However, there is no scientific data showing the safety of the ingredients with regards to cancer and developmental and reproductive health, either.  Many of the chemicals were on the market before FDA started researching the safety of chemicals and the sunscreen ones were grandfathered on to the safe list.

There are studies showing that octinoxate and oxybenzone have been detected in human breast milk.  Oxybenzone and homosalate have been questioned in the literature for their role in endocrine activity.  Oxybenzone has been linked to lower testosterone levels in adolescents, poor sperm quality in males and endometriosis in females (2). Interestingly, many holiday destinations are banning these sunscreens due to their damaging effects on sea life (3).

Matta’s study was done on adults.  It is worth remembering that children have comparatively larger skin surface, faster metabolism and larger brains relative to body size.  If there is a potential issue with these chemicals, our children are much more at risk.

Based on this and other studies, the FDA updated its classification of sunscreen ingredients in February 2019 (4).  They stated that there was lack of evidence to designate 12 out the 16 sunscreen active ingredients as ‘generally recognized as safe and effective’ (GRASE).  These 12 ingredients include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone.  The only two sunscreen ingredients that can be said to be safe and effective are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Unfortunately for us these are mineral compounds which create a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting the UV rays away.  These sunscreens are harder to apply, leave an opaque sticky film on the skin and are a pain to wash off.  However, this may be a small price to pay for playing safe in the sun this summer.

 

 

1 - ‘Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients A Randomized Clinical Trial’ Murali K. Matta, JAMA. 2020;323(3):256-267. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.20747

2 - https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

3 - https://phys.org/news/2019-03-beaches-sunscreens-coral-reefs.html

4 - https://www.fda.gov/media/124654/download


flourishing families podcast cover

FF 21: Best Parenting Advice

To raise our children to be happy and successful is every parent's goal and dream.  Deb Arthurs is an ex-teacher and educational board advisor and she is passionate about children's learning. On this podcast you will love to learn her ideas about creating thriving families. Her website 'Best Parenting Advice' is also a goldmine of free tips and tools to help you stay focused on what is important.


couple holding pregnant belly

3 absolute essentials for any pregnancy

Pregnancy is something we have a special interest in at Family Chiropractic Charlestown.

It’s a time of great change in a Mum-to-be’s body and it can have a lifetime of influence on the health and wellbeing of the little person you’re eagerly waiting to meet.

It can also be a challenging time for many women. There’s a lot of information to process and decisions to be made. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed - but that’s why we’re here.

We want the best start to your parenting journey for you and your baby - and an easier pregnancy is a great place to start.

There are lots of ways to optimise your pregnancy. For each person, there will be different needs and requirements that will best be worked out with individual consultation - but there are three considerations we feel are essential for any pregnancy.

The best part? They’re generally quite easy to implement - so read on!

#1. Nutritional supplementation

This is something nearly every pregnant woman could benefit from during pregnancy and very often, into the postnatal period as well.

Morning sickness, cravings, and additional nutritional requirements means that it can be difficult to get the best standard of nutrition for the whole 40ish weeks of pregnancy and beyond.

However, to get the best support, it is often not as straightforward as taking a multivitamin. Each woman has different needs and considerations (e.g. hyperemesis, MTHFR) and some supplements are better than others.

#2. A great support team

A great support team is essential - and not just for your labour and delivery. A great support team is essential throughout your pregnancy.

Research has shown that continuity of care has been shown to bring about better birth outcomes. It’s important to take this into account when it comes to choosing the model of care to birth in.

Plus, it’s important to take this into account when it comes to choosing who supports you throughout your pregnancy.

#3. Movement

Good movement or exercise is an important part of everyday life, so it is no surprise that it can be the key to a better pregnancy. Not only can it make Mum-to-be feel more comfortable, but it has been linked with better delivery outcomes like shorter labour times.

Appropriate pregnancy-specific modifications will need to be made to your workout schedule, and of course, you want to feel comfortable and able when it comes to your exercise of choice - but that is something we can help you with and more if you choose it.

Starting or growing your family is one of the most exciting and daunting times of your life - and we are here to support you along the journey.

Our team is here to support you all the way through your pregnancy and beyond. Get in touch to make an appointment!

Image: Unsplash


FF 19: Two eyes- no spares - Behavioural optometry

Susan Walton, a Newcastle behavioural optometrist, talks us through the importance of our eyes working as a team.

We are all aware that 20/20 vision is essential for health and learning.  However, having the eyes work together as they alternate between focusing close, looking into the distance and moving here and there is equally important.  Susan enlightens us about how the function of our eyes reveal how our  brain functions.  She also shares what we can do to improve function of them both.


Brexting & the importance of parent/child bonding

Being well into the middle of my life, I am frequently exposed to terms and concepts which are new and foreign to me. 

I am all over FOMO and LOL, but when someone mentioned “Brexting” to me, I was well off track when I felt stressed over the European division.

Brexting is an increasing phenomenon where mums text and surf the internet while breastfeeding their babies. Lots of mums use their phones to stay connected with friends and family members, or even to take a mental break and check out the latest on their social media feeds. 

Brexting, Bracebooking and Brinstagramming may be new terms in my vocabulary, but the concept is not. I have been worrying about bottle and breastfeeding Mumma’s in my waiting room for years, gazing lovingly into their phone screens rather than their baby’s eyes. 

I used to have a sign on the front door of my practice saying “please turn off your mobile devices” due to the sensitive, developing brains present, but as you can imagine, my success rate was close to zero!

Now, although I am so old that I didn’t even have a PC when my children were growing up, I understand the need to have a break, keep in touch with friends and feel “normal”.

I recognise that feeding time seems to be the perfect opportunity to multitask when your baby is otherwise gainfully engaged. However, it is important that mothers understand what happens at feeding time other than the transfer of nutrients, to facilitate informed decisions about when to use their devices.

Eye contact and bonding with your bub 

First and foremost is the question of eye contact. 

From birth, human babies have been found to show a preference for looking at faces, focusing particularly on the eyes. Even tiny infants can detect and understand the emotional states of others by looking into their eyes and this has been found to be involved in social connection and development later in life.

Also, while baby appears to stare vacantly at mum while feeding, she is actually busy mapping out mum’s face in her little brain. 

This results in early face recognition (baby recognises mum’s face from 4 days old), increased interaction and connection with mum, and an oxytocin reward for both, resulting in the all-important ingredient for secure attachment: bonding

Dysfunctional bonding is associated with increased risk of future depression, anxiety, learning difficulties and challenges with memory - so bonding is worth working hard to achieve! 

In their article The Importance of Early Bonding on the Long-Term Mental Health & Resilience of Children, Winston and Chicot talk about how to support pregnant mums and new mothers with practical skills to help her bond with her baby. 

They suggest skin to skin contact, early breast feeding, cuddling, and lots of face to face time with your baby to establish non-verbal communication.

Eye contact also causes mum and baby’s brain waves to synchronise, stimulating baby’s vocalisation and communication and helping to build baby’s social neural networks

Studies have shown that babies as young as 2 days old can differentiate between direct and averted gaze - plus, the electrical activity in babies’ brains is increased with direct gaze. Research has also shown that eye contact and joint gaze is involved in language development

Studies have shown that exposure to distressing or worrying screen content is more likely to cause feeding difficulties.

Distractions can have a major impact on bubs - so let’s give mum a helping hand

If mum is breastfeeding, being distracted while feeding can interfere with the let-down. Distractions can come in many shapes and sizes - toddlers, partners, the weather as well as screens. 

Some can be managed, and some can’t. 

What new mums need more than anything is love, support and understanding, as well as a helping hand with cooking, cleaning and rocking baby. 

I want to emphasise that my intent is not to give new mothers more do’s and don’ts - all I want is to provide some facts so mum knows best what to do about it.

Forget brexting - breastfeeding is the perfect opportunity for parent/child bonding. Check out our podcast for more essential mum & bub info

Image: Pexels


FF 18: Tongue ties

Breast feeding is recommended by WHO for the first 12 months of a baby's life, but it can be heart-breakingly hard work for some mum's and babies.  Tethering of the tissues in the mouth may affect baby's ability to create a good seal and an effective suck when feeding, potentially causing tummy pain and reflux. Tongue, lip and buccal ties may also lead to trouble with chewing, swallowing and speech.

Kristie-Lee Anning is a local dentist with a masters degree in oral tissue revision. She shares with us the in's and out's of what this is all about and what can be done about it.

 

Dorte Bladt: I've got Kristie-Lee Anning with me today from Honeysuckle Dental and she’s going to talk to us about tongue-ties, and lip-ties and things like that. I'm so pleased you could be here. Thank you for joining us.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Thank you for having me.

Dorte Bladt: I've given people your name. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristie-Lee Anning: I'm a general dentist and I've done some additional training in laser dentistry, so I did a Master’s of Laser Dentistry over in Slovenia. That's given me the opportunity to have a bit of better understanding about tongue-ties and things like that, and the release and benefit of the release. But I've also got a nursing background before I did dentistry. That's also piqued my interest in that area.

Dorte Bladt: We just spoke before about you potentially being a little bit hyperactive. You have definitely been. You have confirmed my suspicions. You're crazy. So why taking a course in Slovenia?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah. The academy over in Slovenia, the Laser & Health Academy, they produce the lasers that I use in my clinic and they're one of the best lasers in the world. So the training academy that they have there is really comprehensive so that's why I've done the travel over to Slovenia to do the training on site.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. Excellent. So tell us a little bit about... I think for many parents, there’s a lot of confusion about what the tongue-tie or lip stuff, what is it that you actually look for and work with?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Often, I get a lot of mums coming in with babies that are having challenged with their feeding patterns, sleeping patterns. Babies have not been able to breastfeed effectively and have had to go onto bottle feeding. And parents that are wanting to improve the feeding experience often reporting that their children or their babies have got reflux or colic, very unsettled sleeping.

So when they come in to see me, we’re doing an evaluation to see if those feeding patterns, if there's a contributing factor from tongue-tie release or tongue-tie that might require some release or some intervention. But also checking the other tissues within the mouth, checking lip ties as well and buccal ties and just seeing what the movement or range of movement is of all of those oral tissues.

Dorte Bladt: So what I hear you say is that you're doing quite a comprehensive assessment both of the symptom, if you wish, but also what may be the cause.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: It's not enough just to come in and say, okay, I lift my child’s or my baby’s tongue up and I can see that it's tied and I want it done.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. There are quite a number of factors that we're evaluating. Everyone has a freedom attachment or that piece of tissue that's under the tongue or under the lip that tethers the tongue in some way. It's whether or not that tissue is restrictive and functionally limiting in feeding, food consumption for older toddlers as well, not just babies, speech development and other factors. So there has to be some limiting factors there that contribute to it in order for us to want to treat that.

Dorte Bladt: Right. Is there a way that parents can have a look in their baby’s mouth and say, “Oh, it looks like I should possibly see someone about this”?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. Some parents will come in and say, “Look, I can definitely see they've got tissue under their tongue that's going all the way to the tip of the tongue and I've got a family history and my other kids have had a release and I think my child needs a release as well.” That's often why they come in.

Sometimes they just don’t know what they're looking for, which is understandable. You have to have a trained eye as to know what to check for and others just say, “I just want to get it checked”. That's perfectly fine as well.

Dorte Bladt: So do you work with lactation consultants and people like that?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah. We have a really good network where we work, liaise with lactation consultants, people like yourself as well, where we refer off for body work or myofascial work as well. So it's not just limited to the release. There are other aspects that we need to consider in that treatment.

Dorte Bladt: As in retraining after not having function properly.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah, absolutely. As you know, if the tissue is restricted there, any muscle or any other tissue in the body, if it's not being able to be used effectively, you then have to train it how to work properly or how to do something properly. That's the same with the tongue.

Dorte Bladt: Someone told me that the tongue, is it the strongest muscle in the body?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah.

Dorte Bladt: The one that works the most.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah. That's quite a group of muscles that all work together so it's a very strong muscle.

Dorte Bladt: It's pretty cool. So you mentioned buccal ties. That's not something that is spoken so much about. Do you want to explain what that is?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. It's one of the least treated tie in the mouth. It doesn’t tend to affect as many people. But when we're doing oral assessment, we're checking for all of the different tissue types and anatomy there and seeing whether or not there might be some restrictions in the movement of the lips as well as the tongue or the cheeks. That's just one of the assessment areas.

We tend to find buccal ties affect more so people who are a little bit older and they've got the eruption of their teeth and they might have some recession to the gum as a result of really tight ties around their cheeks. So they have functioning and they've got good muscle strength there but then, with that, there's actually pulling on the gums. Sometimes we might release that when they're a little bit older if needed as well.

Dorte Bladt: Right. Does buccal tie affect breastfeeding?

Kristie-Lee Anning: It can. It's like any tissue. If it’s restricted and it's limiting movement, it can affect it. So wanting to get all that muscle working nice and freely, and if that's one of the ties that’s restricting that then, yeah, definitely.

Dorte Bladt: That's excellent. What are your thoughts on this epidemic in tongue ties as it seems like some people they're referring to it like that? Do you feel that there are an increasing number of ties or is it more that we're more aware of them? What's happening?

Kristie-Lee Anning: I think there's a change in the education about ties. Historically, ties were treated back in the 1800s as well through conventional methods of using scissors or a scalpel. As the education has changed, we're seeing kids coming through... like everyone can compensate to a point so it's just trying to enable everyone to function to their best ability.

And now with the development of laser technology as well, those procedures can be performed a lot safer than what they historically have been able to be performed. So they're more prevalent in terms of treatment not necessarily in incidence.

Dorte Bladt: Right. So tell me what the difference is in... obviously, I know that what the difference is between the scalpel and a pair of scissors and a laser. That's easy. But what sort of difference is there in outcome from the different way of approaching a tie?

Kristie-Lee Anning: With the release of a laser, I'm speaking from experience, I am finding that patients’ recovery time is a lot better because the tissue that we're actually releasing there, it’s a very superficial layer. We're only releasing the tissue that we need to get adequate movement. But the laser works really effectively at creating a nice little fibre layer over the top, almost like a body self-made bandaid. It's really protective and nourishing of the tissue so you get a good clot forming over there and a good healing area as well.

And the laser in the treatment of it, you're finding we're not needing to use local anaesthetics to treat it, so you don’t have that downtime immediately after. There's that reduced pain stimulation after as well. So I'm finding lasers to be a very effective tool.

Dorte Bladt: So what is it in the laser that makes that protective bandaid, for lack of a better word?

Kristie-Lee Anning: There are a couple of different types of lasers and the laser that I use is an erbium YAG laser. It's actually a cold laser. It's not producing a heat response, which means that you're not getting that pain response that you would get with other lasers such as a diode. That's why we prefer to use that one.

And in the creation of that cutting and sealing the tissue as well to a point that your body is producing that smear layer over the top as it's called.

Dorte Bladt: I thought that was because of the heat, but it's not.

Kristie-Lee Anning: No. This one is an ablation laser but it's a cold laser.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. And what is the healing, recovery time after having had a procedure done? Let’s just say, in an average, six-week old.

Kristie-Lee Anning: As you said, it does vary depending on the age and the severity of the tie previous. But generally you’ll find you’ll get good closure of that wound within five days or so. You’ll see good changes in the tissue health and changes in closure within five days or so. Within two weeks we're developing good muscle tone to the area with exercises that we prescribe as well. And then after about four weeks we're seeing a big change to feeding patterns by movement of the tongue.

Dorte Bladt: So when you have just had it done, would you expect... let’s just stick to the six-week-old baby and let’s say they're breastfed. Would they be able to feed straightaway?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. Immediately after the procedure, I get all mothers to feed their babies whether it be breastfed, bottle-fed. Some parents will report an immediate improvement and I see that quite often. Generally, you’ll notice less clicking when they're feeding, a better, deeper latch, less milk dribbling out, less regurgitation, reduction in reflux symptoms and a longer feed as well.

So often parents will say they're feeding for very short periods, arching their back, uncomfortable, reattaching frequently, and then they'll have to take them off and then try again. This is a pattern that they form. Over that time, they're very unsettled but, often, I will witness immediately after, extended feeding and no challenges.

Dorte Bladt: So the baby is comfortable on the breast, comfortable feeding and probably not fatiguing as much.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Exactly.

Dorte Bladt: Because it's hard work, feeding.

Kristie-Lee Anning: It's exhausting.

Dorte Bladt: They may not think so. And what about that whole risk of reattachment that seems to be the biggest fear for parents?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. With the laser, the other fantastic thing is, because we're really cutting and sealing that tissue to a point, the reattachment rates are a lot lower than what it would be from a conventional scissor release or a scalpel release. We're not needing to place any stitches or sutures there, so that's fantastic as well.

But it is really important that these parents are doing exercises with their babies, and we prescribe those to get the tissue moving and to reduce the likelihood of reattachment. So it doesn’t matter what procedure you do. There is going to be some risk there, and we're minimizing that through exercises.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. You can't really show us what are the exercises, but what do parents have to do to make sure that the reattachment doesn’t happen?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Usually, I'll get the parents, which I show them at the time, but we get parents to basically have their child on their lap with their head closest to them so they can get a good look at the tissues. And when lifting the tongue up towards the roof of the mouth and pushing it towards the back of the mouth as well, just getting it out...

Dorte Bladt: So stretching the whole basically.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes, getting the full range of movement. And running fingers along the ridge as well, getting the tongue to chase that.

Dorte Bladt: As in the bridge of the mouth or the gums?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes, the gums. And with the top, we're getting that lifting all the way up again toward the nose so we can see that lip flanging all the way up. And it's really just moving the tissue within its normal range of movement now that it's been released.

Dorte Bladt: Yes. That one they can actually do it. So you mentioned that although you said toddlers and other children could have issues as well, what would be a symptom, maybe, that you would expect or suspect that there's a lip tie or tongue tie within an older child?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Often I'll see kids coming in with challenges with feeding. They might have had some choking episodes over time or trouble with clearing food from the roof of their mouth. They tend to pack food in the pockets and they have challenges with their brushing and cleaning of their teeth.

Dorte Bladt: Pockets of their mouth rather than the pockets of their clothes.

Kristie-Lee Anning: That's exactly right.

Dorte Bladt: My son used to put food in his pockets as in on his pants.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. Often you’ll find food in their cheeks and around the gums as well.

And not wanting to brush their teeth, so parents often are chasing their kids around the house. Because if they've got a tie there, sometimes that toothbrush can be a little bit uncomfortable to try and get in around those more difficult to reach places so kids just don’t want to do it at all.

Dorte Bladt: What about speech? What would be a speech pattern of someone with a tongue tie? If there is one, I don’t know.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yeah. I do tend to find that kids have challenges with saying ‘L’ sounds, ‘S’ sounds if they've got a tether there. They do compensate extremely well. So if I think that there's a speech challenge there, I'll send them off to a speech pathologist and get them to have a good look and do an assessment for me. And I'll do the examination within the mouth and just see whether there is some other restrictive movement of the tongue.

But we're also looking at the shape of the palate as well. Often, in a kid that's got a tongue tie, you’ll find that their palate has got a really high vault. They don’t have that flattened, broad palate that you would see in someone whose tongue rests in a normal position.

Dorte Bladt: And why is that?

Kristie-Lee Anning: When the tongue is restricted, it tends to lie on the floor of the mouth and so as we grow, we're reliant on the tongue being such an important muscle and quite a strong muscle to actually help the movement and growth of the bones and associated structures as well.

Dorte Bladt: So basically, what you're saying is if the tongue is not putting pressure at the roof of the mouth, you're not getting the expansion of the top jaw to the extent, it just narrows up and gets quite…

Kristie-Lee Anning: That's right.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. Does that affect sinus issues potentially?

Kristie-Lee Anning: It can affect sinus issues as well. The maxillary sinus sits right above that structure so that can change the pattern in which that forms. And also we can find, if the tongue is not moving and sitting in the appropriate areas when you're feeding or drinking, you can get some of that fluid running up or regurgitation up into the sinus area, especially in babies. That can certainly give them some sinusitis or chronic infection of that area as well.

Dorte Bladt: That doesn’t sound very good. So with regards to the adult, is this something that may have gone unnoticed until they get a little bit older?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes, absolutely. Often, some parents will come in with a newborn they're having trouble feeding and then they'll say, “Oh, my parents said that I had the same problems when I was a kid.” And you might look in their mouth and see that they also have a tongue tie.

And they've compensated extremely well over the course of their life but they might report that they've got constant headaches or they tend to posture forward and they get backaches, shoulder aches. These things can all be related to a tongue tie as well.

So sometimes we're diagnosing later in life but still getting a very good treatment outcome from working with releasing that as well as doing some body work with them.

Dorte Bladt: I guess I'm wondering if your tongue is tied, you were saying that toddlers end up with food in the pockets of their cheeks and whatever. I imagine that an adult would often have...

Kristie-Lee Anning: The same.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah, or tooth health issues because they can't clean even if it's just without necessarily brushing their teeth but you're cleaning your teeth with your tongue.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Absolutely. So you can find that there's increased rate of carries, or decays as it might be known. And the positioning of the bite patterns as well, that can also have structural implications to the joint in the jaw.

Dorte Bladt: Can you just repeat that for me? The position of the what?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Of the jaws themselves. So the teeth position can be altered by having some tethered tissues. As a result, that can impact on just the overall structures or relationship to the jaw in the mouth.

Dorte Bladt: So if you have like a lip tie, it might keep the front teeth further apart? Is that what you're saying?

Kristie-Lee Anning: You can have a lip tie where your teeth at the top, the two front teeth, the centrals can have a gap between them and that can be associated with a lip tie. But also in terms of growth of the mandible or the lower jaw or in the maxilla, the top jaw, you can have discrepancies there. And so the relationship between the top jaw and the bottom jaw can be altered too.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. That doesn’t sound like that would be very good. So how long have you been doing this sort of work?

Kristie-Lee Anning: I've been a dentist for five years, but prior to that, as I was saying, I was doing my nursing.

In terms of the laser releases, I've been doing this since I've basically started working as a dentist. The last three years I've really done a lot more training in that area.

But prior to that when I was a nurse as well, I was fortunately getting to go around doing home visits and working with babies and things, doing lactations consultations so that's certainly helped with this field as well.

Dorte Bladt: So you know a little bit about everything from all angles. That's very useful. And do you have a favourite type of work that you think, oh, I have a day full of this? What's your bliss day at work?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Oh, gosh, it varies so much. I really love to see new patients and making treatment plans with them and deciding how we're going to go about it. But restorative work with the laser, I love doing that. So reconstructing patients’ smiles but also working with kids. I love working with the kids. They're always good fun. They prove to be a challenge sometimes but they're good fun.

Dorte Bladt: I could imagine that some of them might not want to sit in your chair for a long time.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Absolutely.

Dorte Bladt: So what do you do actually if you have... so probably be a one-year-old. Let’s talk about someone with teeth. How the heck do you get in there?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Sometimes we have to go back to the basics and just sitting in mom’s lap or dad’s lap, toothbrush in hand and just look at counting teeth and brushing teeth and just get a good look that way draws interest.

Sometimes on the first visit, we might not be able to have a look at anything at all. It's just getting to know that child and that child understanding who we are and what we do, and make a bit of a game of it. And then as we continue to see them over the course of their life, they become more and more familiar with us.

Dorte Bladt: So what if they have a tie though? Can you assess it?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Often, we'll be able to assess it and we'll be able to get a bit of a look there. We may need a number of appointments to do a really comprehensive assessment. In terms of releasing it, if it needs to be released, then we evaluate that tie once we've built up some rapport.

I've got a little boy at the moment who I've been seeing since he was around about eight months or so. Didn’t want me anywhere near him at eight months. He’s now 13 months, we'll say, and loves coming in. He gets excited, jumps in the chair. And we've had a chat to him about what we're going to do. You wouldn’t think at 13 months that they would understand, really, but he’s nodding, you know.

And we've been able to do quite a bit of other treatment with him and he’s been fantastic. So the next step when we get to it should be interesting again, but it should be good.

Dorte Bladt: Well, I suppose one step at a time.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes, that's right. And sort of throwing this at you and you may or may not be able to do this but can you think of an episode or a work person that you've cared for that has been particularly funny or weird?

Kristie-Lee Anning: I've had all sorts of wonderful people in my chair. There's one patient in particular that I can think of that when she first came in was absolutely refusing to have any treatment. She’d go, “Are we done yet?”

“No, I haven’t even looked in your mouth yet.”

But, over time, we've got into a bit of a game of everything and so we might have 10 minutes where she’d go, “Okay, there’s your 10 minutes. You’re done now.”

And now she’ll come in just to have a chat.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. She’s a little one or an adult?

Kristie-Lee Anning: She’s an adult, an out-patient.

Dorte Bladt: Right. Just come in for a little chat.

Kristie-Lee Anning: So she’ll come in for a little chat. She’d go like, “Okay, I guess you can look at my teeth.” She’s always a bit of fun.

Dorte Bladt: Well, it's better that way than the other way because usually you've got 16 instruments in your mouth and the dentist says, “So, how’s your holiday?”

Kristie-Lee Anning: Oh, yeah. I do that too, sometimes. I have to think.

Dorte Bladt: So do you have any advice? This is for the people that we care for at this practice, I suppose. Do you any advice for moms of young babies what to maybe look out for and be aware of?

Kristie-Lee Anning: Sure. Often, moms will come to me and they'll say, “I've seen lactation consultants, I've seen lots of other midwives and paediatric specialists and they've all said to me, ‘Oh, no, no. It's fine’.”

But they have an overwhelming sense that something is not quite right with their feeding. They're noticing that they've got clicking when they're trying to get a good latch. It's painful for them to feed if they're still breastfeeding, or sometimes they haven’t been able to successfully breastfeed and they've had to transfer to bottle feeds. And they're spilling milk, the baby’s unsettled.

If you really feel like something is going on, don’t be afraid to go and get another opinion. There's never any harm in getting another opinion. So go ahead and do that.

When you do see the clinician that you're seeing, just ask them how do they do a release if one is indicated. Do they use a laser? What type of laser are they using? Is it a cold laser, like the erbium YAG laser that we use, or is it conventional scissors? And then looking at different outcomes for that patient based on what they need.

So ask lots of questions, basically.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. That's excellent advice. I think it's one of those things with mothers often know best.

Kristie-Lee Anning: That's right.

Dorte Bladt: Even though we might look in there or might care for them a certain way, and say, “No, no, no. You're fine.” But if you're not fine, you're not fine.

Kristie-Lee Anning: Yes. If you have an overwhelming sense of something is not right, you're probably right.

Dorte Bladt: Yes. How can people contact you? Where can they find you?

Kristie-Lee Anning: I'm based at Honeysuckle Dental in Newcastle. So you can ring our surgery and we're more than happy to make an appointment there and do a consult for you.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. And your name?

Kristie-Lee Anning: I'm Kristie-Lee Anning, a general dentist.

Dorte Bladt: At Honeysuckle.

Kristie-Lee Anning: At Honeysuckle Dental, yes.

Dorte Bladt: Thank you so much for your time.


FF 17: Baby wearing

Carrying your baby in a carrier or a sling on your body has many benefits to both of you.  For the carrier it allows you to have both hands free to do other things especially important with siblings.  Having baby's weight, light as she is, close to your body decreases the  stress and strain on your muscles and joints minimising fatigue.  Having her close also increases your opportunity to be tune with baby's needs and moods.  For your baby, when she is in a supportive and well designed carrier, she is protected, safe and warm.  She is snuggled close enough to hear your heart, your breath and your voice as she could in the womb. She follows your daily rhythm and routine and gets gentle sensory stimulation through your movement and experiences.

Peta Wilson, a Newcastle physiotherapist, designs, consults and sells wraps, slings and carriers.  She talks us through the benefits of the different options and what to look for to get the perfect fit for you and your baby.

 

Dorte Bladt: I'd like to welcome to Peta Wilson today. She’s from Moondani. Hello, Peta.

Peta Wilson: Hello

Dorte Bladt: Thanks for coming along.

Peta Wilson: Thanks for having me.

Dorte Bladt: So tell us a little bit about the exciting things you do.

Peta Wilson: Well, I'm a physiotherapist locally and I'm also a mom of three beautiful babies. From there, I started to wear my babies in various types of carriers and decided to start a business called Moondani.

I design fabrics and I make them into ergonomic, physio, myself-approved carriers so that they're comfortable and they're fitting well and also look very attractive.

Dorte Bladt: Very good. So you obviously have a bit of a creative side.

Peta Wilson: I do. I enjoy that side of it a lot.

Dorte Bladt: There seems to be a lot about baby carriers and lots of different options on the market. Can you explain to us why would you wear a carrier and what should you look for?

Peta Wilson: It's very confusing especially for a new parent. They often want to get a carrier before their baby is even born so it can be a really tricky concept to get your head around.

But the reasons you might want to wear a carrier is, one, to be hands-free so that you can do other things. Babies like to sleep a lot. They like to cuddle a lot. They like to feed a lot. And it really helps if you can have a comfortable way to keep them close while you're still interacting with the world. So that's good for both mom and bub and dad and whoever is caring for the child.

There's a thing at the moment. It's called the fourth trimester, so it's obviously something that's been around since the beginning of babies and parents. But they’ve coined the phrase, the fourth trimester. That's basically giving your baby a womb-like experience. They're very used to being warm and cuddled in close and hearing the lulled sounds of their mother. Wearing your baby in a well-fitting carrier can give them that easier, gentler transition into the world after birth, which is really beneficial for all sorts of things. So their hormonal regulation, their temperature regulation, not to get into too much science about it but it just gives them that gentle transition into the world.

Dorte Bladt: I think the science bit is very interesting, though. There are so many physiological benefits from continuing being close to mum but we sometimes, in our little busy industrial world, we sort of forget... just stick them in the capsule in the car and stick them in the pram that looks like it's a tank but it's quite removed from the experience that they had before.

Peta Wilson: Yeah. I find from my own personal experience that having the baby close most of the time, it just puts them in sync with your own rhythms of your day.

Dorte Bladt: So it's really interesting when you're actually looking at that whole science behind the physiological changes that happens when you are carrying a baby close by.

Peta Wilson: Yeah, that's right. I think we were talking earlier about the various containers that we put our babies in sometimes, the prams and the capsules. It does give us that bit of disconnect. Whereas when you're wearing your baby in a carrier, it's more... what's the word?

Dorte Bladt: Intuitive.

Peta Wilson: Yeah, intuitive and attachment, I guess.

Dorte Bladt: And we have a little one sitting in a carrier right here who is very intuitive, or maybe he is more inquisitive.

Peta Wilson: Yes. He’s four months old and he’s just reached the sticky beak stage, though. We might touch on that a little bit later when we talk about carrier styles.

Dorte Bladt: I wanted to ask you, so there's obviously different types of carriers. But maybe before we go to that, if you look at just the basic anatomy of a good carrier, what is it that you should look for to make sure that you get the one that suits any age?

Peta Wilson: There are so many different types of carriers. The main ones that are on the market at the moment would fall into the category of a structured carrier, which is more of a buckle-style carrier or carrier with a waistband and a body panel.

Then from there you could go to a woven wrap, which is just one long piece of fabric that's tied various ways. There's also a stretch version of that. And then there's also a ring-sling style which is a one-shouldered sling style of carrier.

So regardless of which type of carrier you go for, the main principles we're looking for is to have a supportive base, if we start there, so that the carrier supporting the child from the knee crease to the knee crease under their bottom and that puts them in a more optimal hip position.

So we talk about the ‘M’ position of the hips and that's actually the closed back position of the hips. So where the joint surfaces have the most contact with one another is an optimal position to have those little baby joints developing in. That's the main thing for the baby’s hips.

From there, we wanted to support up the natural curves of the baby’s spine which tend to form a C-shape when the baby is facing you. And that's very important because the curve of the spine is to support the head and the neck development.

So we need a carrier that supports the back. If the carrier is too loose, then the baby can fall into a very deep C-shape, which is not what we want. We're looking more to just support the natural curvatures.

So those are the main things for the baby.

Dorte Bladt: Can I just keep you on the baby then. I'm sorry. This is not going to be very structured because I'm interested. So you were talking about the ring-sling or that's where I have noticed lots of little babies, tiny little babies are being carried almost like you would carry them in your arms.

Peta Wilson: The cradle style.

Dorte Bladt: Exactly. That does not support the M-shape of the hips. What is the thought on that?

Peta Wilson: I just realized we're talking about lots of letters here now, just to give you the idea of the shapes that we are trying to support with the baby. But we try to keep that support through the spine, to support the head, to support the airways. So we avoid chin-to-chest postures.

And in that cradle hold, it's very difficult for a baby to push their head back, especially very young babies, and they can tend to end up in that chin-to-chest position where their airway is not supported and they can actually find themselves in respiratory distress, which we avoid at all costs.

Dorte Bladt: Absolutely.

Peta Wilson: It's also harder to, if the carrier fabric is coming around and covering the baby’s face, it's much harder to monitor. So we always recommend an upright posture as the safest way to carry a baby of any age because we can monitor them more easily.

There are a lot of acronyms and things out there to just give you a bit of a checklist to go off. T.I.C.K.S. is one of them, that you might see on the internet. Or Close Enough to Kiss is a simplified version of that. So having your baby close to you with their head close enough for you to kiss without straining your neck. That's putting them at their right height so that they're visible and kissable.

Dorte Bladt: Visible and Kissable. So you can make sure that they are breathing, they're comfortable, they have their right temperature, they're not getting too hot and they're not...

Peta Wilson: That's right. It does make it quite easy to do that if they're in the right position.

Dorte Bladt: So what I have seen people, I'm going back to this cradle one and what mums have told me, the ease of the cradle is because they can breastfeed on the go, but I imagine that that would be with an older child.

Peta Wilson: Not necessarily. You can, for short periods of time, put them in the cradle position. But when a baby is breastfeeding, they're in quite a different posture to sleeping in a cradle hold. Their chin is extended up off their chest. Otherwise they can't drink, so they can't use their jaw and they can't feed properly, which prompts the mother to then change their position.

Plus, I don’t know for other people but for myself, when I'm feeding my baby, I'm very aware of what they're doing because they're physically connected to my body. You're looking at them and you're listening for them swallowing. Are they drinking?

Dorte Bladt: And are they comfortable and …

Peta Wilson: That's right. Generally, if your baby is drinking then they are breathing and they are swallowing and they're doing all the right things. But then if your baby does tend to nod off after a feed then you just readjust them and bring them up. Generally, at that period of time, they're ready to go to sleep and they snuggle in and go to sleep.

Dorte Bladt: That's good. So with the different types of wraps that you're talking about, you said a stretchy wrap or... what did you call the other one?

Peta Wilson: A woven wrap.

Dorte Bladt: Yes. So what's the difference and what would be... I don’t suppose you can necessarily explain how you would wrap them because it probably depends on lots of things: baby, age and muscle strength and mom’s shape and all that sort of stuff. But what would be the benefit of one over the other?

Peta Wilson: I'll start with a stretchy wrap. They're probably one of the more popular carriers for a newborn. The stretchy wrap is made of generally stretchy jersey fabric. They're great for newborns because they're very womb-like. It's like swaddling and they can wriggle and move but they're held in quite close.

But after generally about eight kilos, they tend to feel a little bit heavy on the wearer. From there, if you like, the wrapping process... I say if you like using your stretchy wrap then you’ll probably like a woven wrap, because it's a similar style of wrapping and wearing but it's a more supportive way to do that. And using a woven wrap, there's not that stretch factor.

So it's not recommended to use a stretchy wrap, actually, you just don’t use a stretchy wrap on your back because bub can actually fall out. So no back carriers in a stretchy wrap. Whereas a woven wrap gives you a lot of different carries that you can do. So you can do a front-carry, a back-carry and do those things quite safely and supported.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. And with all those front, side, back, you can still use the woven wraps with supporting the M-shape in the hips.

Peta Wilson: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: Provided you know what to do, of course.

Peta Wilson: Yes, that's right.

Dorte Bladt: Is there an age that you would recommend changing the position of the baby? When they're little and brand new, you would expect them to be faced to your body.

Peta Wilson: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: What about turning them out? What about having them on your back?

Peta Wilson: Yes. A lot of people do like the idea of their baby facing out into the world so being able to see everything and see what's going on and interact with the world. There's nothing wrong with that. But forward-facing in the carrier, I don’t necessarily recommend for various reasons. And if they do want to do that, short periods of time.

For the baby, the reasons I don’t recommend it is it doesn’t necessarily support that C-shape of the spine. It tends to put them in more of an extended posture. That affects how well they can hold their head. So certainly not for babies younger than four or five months.

Dorte Bladt: So once they get really good control of their head themselves.

Peta Wilson: That's right. So being able to see out in the world, my son has just reached that four-month stage where he’s wanting to sticky beak at everything. He wants to look and see what I'm doing. He’s craning his neck around, pushing out from my chest. So to me, that signals it's time to look at some hip carriers so he can be moved around to my hip.

That gives him the ability to see what I'm doing and interact with the world and smile at everybody and be very cute. But when he’s had enough, he can then learn to snuggle in. That tells me, okay, he’s had enough stimulation. Before he gets overworked and over-tired, I can address that. So those are the main reasons for the child.

For the wearer, when you're forward-facing in a carrier, your load, which is the baby, is pulled further away from your body. So a biomechanics kind of…looking at the physics of it, you want the load that you're carrying to be as close to your body as possible, as close to your centre of gravity.

Dorte Bladt: Yes. They get heavy very quickly.

Peta Wilson: They do. So if you hold something very light in your hands in front of you versus holding your arms extended out in front of you, that load, which is the same, is going to feel very, very different. It's going to feel much heaving holding it out in front. That's just the way to remember that you need to keep your baby in nice and close. And the bigger they get, the more important this is for you.

Dorte Bladt: You're talking about the hip placement. I find that really interesting. I would imagine that it would be very tempting to have the baby strapped to the same side, preferably. It would probably the mum’s non-dominant side. But from a baby stimulation point of view, it sounds a little bit like it would be quite important to remember to swap sides. What's your opinion on that?

Peta Wilson: Yes, for both really. For the wearer and for the baby. So most ring-slings are designed that you can wear them on either shoulder. So if you just change it up a little bit, it's generally not a problem. It's a fairly balanced carrier if you have it tightened correctly because you have the weight distributed across your shoulder and then across your body to the other side where the baby is sitting. But, as you say, you want to give them different views of the world and have them moving their neck different ways.

Dorte Bladt: Depending on how sticky beaky they are, they’ll have their head turned the same way all the time.

Peta Wilson: That's right. You want things to be balanced. Although in that position they can look both ways.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah. With the stretchy bands compared to a much more expensive, fancy, imported carrier with lumbar support and bells and whistles, what's your opinion on... well, probably usability for the parent carrying the baby and for the support and structure of the baby? What are you thinking on?

Peta Wilson: What I tend to recommend when I'm doing a consult is whatever works for you works. Everybody is different. Everybody’s body is different. And there are so many different carriers available. But what I find disappointing is when someone is given a carrier that's not suited for their body. Or it’s not suited for the way they want to wear their child and they're stuck with it. And then we have to do all this sort of problem solving things to try to get it to fit well.

So getting a consult before you buy a carrier is probably the best way to go.

Dorte Bladt: And can you get a consult before you actually have the baby?

Peta Wilson: Yes. So we have local groups all over Australia, local baby-wearing groups. I can give you the link for an Australia-wide baby-wearing support group and they can direct you to a local meet. They usually volunteer run meets where you can try various carriers and find something that suits you.

Dorte Bladt: That would be really useful.

Peta Wilson: Yes. In Newcastle, we have the Newcastle and Hunter Baby-Wearer Group. I volunteer to be a peer educator in that group and we run meets. I also do personal and private consults or small group consults for that, just to allow people to try a range of things and see what's going to work for them.

Dorte Bladt: Which would be really useful, because often it is someone, somewhere that is really kind in saying you will find this usually but, you're right. We've all got different shapes and different preferences. So it’s important that it fits.

Peta Wilson: That's right.

Dorte Bladt: What about the, from a chiropractic point of view, we often talk about the carriers for a stimulation point of view for the baby. What can you tell us about the stimulation benefit that the baby would get?

Peta Wilson: Well, there's lots, really, and on lots of different levels. But if you talk about it from a fourth trimester, I don’t know if I've mentioned that already, we've talked about that already, but the fourth trimester is basically mimicking those womb-like conditions beyond the womb. So we're trying to keep on stimulating those vestibular systems that are developing while the baby is in the womb.

So they're floating around in space there and they're learning what happens when we tilit this way and we tilt that way, and the brain is developing and the muscles are developing in response to that. So using a carrier, you can imagine your child is having those gradual changes, gentle changes in movement when you're moving around and that continues to stimulate that vestibular system, which has an offshoot for lots of different body systems so it's really important for their developments.

I think it's as important to carry your baby no matter how you do it as it is to do tummy time or to have them in those other lying down and learning to roll and doing all those other milestone practices.

Dorte Bladt: It basically comes back to that whole thing of, like you said, the stimulation but it's about where am I, what am I doing. Whereas if you're on the floor, you tend to only contract certain muscles. At least when you're up with mom, you're not necessarily contracting but you are being moved and your little brain is active the whole time.

Peta Wilson: Responding to that.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah, which is exciting. What about backpacks? We've spoken more about the little babies. What about the bigger ones whilst they get to be a little bit heavier?

Peta Wilson: So when they start to be able to sit for short periods of time and they've developed their core stability and their neck support, then you can start to look at back carries. And you can do that in various types of carriers. You can do back carries in all of those styles of carriers.

Dorte Bladt: Basically you're saying once the baby is comfortable sitting by themselves, they can be in a seated position more so they're not... well, many of the carriers these days, they're not necessarily supported so much. They're just sort of sitting in them. But that's okay once they're comfortably sitting on their own?

Peta Wilson: Well, I still like to see them well supported, so the same principles apply, really, from the front to the back. The hips should still be supported and the wearer should still have the weight distributed evenly.

So when I'm designing carriers, that's what I'm really looking for. Does it support the baby well, or the child well? And I design carriers all the way up to pre-schoolers.

Dorte Bladt: Really?

Peta Wilson: Very large children in this game.

Dorte Bladt: I don’t want to carry a pre-schooler.

Peta Wilson: But if you had a well-fitting carrier, you could.

Dorte Bladt: That's true.

Peta Wilson: So people do ask me a lot at what age can I use this carrier to? So I say basically, for a woven wrap, as heavy as you would like to carry them. The carrier will support them.

Dorte Bladt: The carrier is strong enough to support them.

Peta Wilson: They're strong enough to support them. But it really just depends person to person and you have to make that decision depending on what suits you.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah. You've spoken a lot about hip support and leg support. I often find when mums come in and they have been given this carrier, I'm horrified because there's no neck support. What's your thought on that?

Peta Wilson: So neck support. So I like to look at neck support from the base up. It's not really good enough to put some sort of neck support if the rest of the carrier is not functioning well. So when the baby is sitting in a wide-based carrier, their spine is supported adequately, their neck is going to be better supported from the start.

With a woven carrier such as a wrap or a ring-sling, you can actually use a little washcloth or perhaps use the tail of the sling and just roll it up and have it just giving that little bit of extra neck support if you feel like you need it. But I do find that as long as the rest of the carry, the way that you've wrapped the wrap is done securely, the neck is well supported.

Dorte Bladt: I think I might not have clarified that. The point that I have been trying to tell parents is that when the baby falls asleep, it is important that the head is supported. I think that was probably what I was trying to say. So making sure that the wrap comes up... of course, if you have a wrap just stretch it up.

But some of the carriers only go to the shoulders and I personally see that as a challenge. One is that it's not good for the baby’s head. And then mum often feels that and then she holds the baby’s head in place. That sort of defeats the purpose of having a carrier because she doesn’t have her hands free to deal with the other two-year-old that's running around.

Peta Wilson: Yeah. That really depends on the carrier. If you're unsure about your carrier, it's a good idea to go to a meet or to see someone like myself who can give you some advice on whether that carrier is still fitting your child. I do that because my business is... well, I sell worldwide, but the Australia-wide people can do that via messenger and send me photos and I can say this carrier is getting a little bit too small.

So a general rule for that is younger babies, they need to have the carrier coming up to the base of their neck at the back. As they get older, they can manage with the carrier sitting lower towards the shoulder blade, the top of the shoulder blades, but really no shorter than their armpits. They need to have the support.

Dorte Bladt: I definitely agree with that.

Peta Wilson: A lot of carries have hoods as well, which you can use to... when the head lolls back a little bit, that can actually happen when they're relaxed, especially an older child or a toddler. The hood can sometimes be helpful too.

Dorte Bladt: It can be the support. So my understanding is that you have an area or a place where people can actually come and have a chat to you.

Peta Wilson: Yeah.

Dorte Bladt: So how do they find you?

Peta Wilson: I'm very easy to contact. You can contact me via my website, my email, Facebook page, Instagram page, YouTube channel.

Dorte Bladt: You are that generation, aren’t you?

Peta Wilson: Sort of. I'm on the cusp. I'm just clinging in there. But I'm happy to be contacted by any of those means. And I do consults over at Bennetts Green, so I have rooms over there where I have various carriers there to try and I have people coming every week to speak to me and to see.

Dorte Bladt: So if people do look you up in Instagram or Facebook or wherever, how do they find you?

Peta Wilson: Okay. So my business is Moondani. Probably the easiest way to find me is on Facebook because there's not a lot of Moondanis on Facebook. And message me from there. But my website is www.moondani.com.au and my Instagram is @moondani_australia. I'm just starting the YouTube channel so it has a few videos on there at the moment and it will be growing over the next few months with lots of education as well as different ways to use various carriers safely. So I plan to do a lot more education because I think it's so important.

Dorte Bladt: It is.

Peta Wilson: To not only make it safe but enjoyable. And I encourage people just to not give up after trying one carrier because there are so many options that can suit you.

Dorte Bladt: And just really finishing up, do you have a particular burning advice that you would tell parents that are looking... let’s just say they are looking to purchase something for a baby that is not born yet. What would your main advice be to look for or to consider, I suppose?

Peta Wilson: I'd just say consider things that are outside of the box, if you like, or outside of the mainstream because there's so many options and there's so many different styles of carriers that you can use. They're not always going to be what you'll find in a store, in a supermarket, in a chain store.

So my advice would be to join the baby-wearing community on Facebook. From there, your eyes will be opened to so many more options. I never knew such a think existed when I started looking at this purely from the fact of the point of view of a mother looking for a tool to use to soothe the baby while doing other things.

Dorte Bladt: Taking care of a two-year-old and a four-year-old.

Peta Wilson: Yes. So my advice would be just to broaden your search a little bit. Get someone to advise you and maybe try some different ones before you buy.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. Thank you so much for your time, Peta. That was really interesting.

Peta Wilson: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.


flourishing families podcast cover

FF 16: Develop the best breathing habits for a healthy life

Dean O'Rourke lets us in on the secret of breathing properly to promote health and well-being for the whole family.

 

Dorte Bladt: I'm so excited to have this next speaker with us today. I saw a young person come into my practice the other day and they had just found this guy in... well, actually, they’d been recommended to see this guy and I was like, whoa, I found someone in Newcastle. So I'm so pleased.

Thank you for joining us this morning. This is Dean O’Rourke. I'm really pleased to have you here.

Dean O’Rourke: Thank you.

Dorte Bladt: Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dean O’Rourke: Well, my health journey has been an interesting one. I started out as a Health Phys Ed teacher many years ago after doing it at Newcastle Uni. I found I was getting more and more interested in the health side of things and less and less interested in the sports side of things.

But what happened to me is I developed a very severe and chronic case of hay fever. I was suffering it all year round, not just in spring but all year round, taking all of the drugs that the doctor was giving me and getting sicker and sicker and it just seemed like there was no end to it. So in utter desperation, I went looking for answers.

When I started doing that, it changed the course of my life, essentially cured myself of the condition. I've been medication-free and symptom-free for many years now. And it changed my career, what I do.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. So what do you actually do?

Dean O’Rourke: I specialize in breathing and orofacial function. So I help people with any breathing-related problem, any chronic respiratory problem, or any problem that they might have related to that. It's a very specialized area. There's not many people that do what I do.

Dorte Bladt: No. It's so exciting you're here.

Dean O’Rourke: So I've been doing it for over a decade now in Newcastle and on the Central Coast.

Dorte Bladt: When you say that you're specializing in breathing, it's one of those things we do many times a day and we could sort of lift our eyebrows and say, “You know what? I've done it for many years now.”

So tell us a bit about what you're looking for.

Dean O’Rourke: That's often the way people think about breathing and the reality is there's a lot of misconception about breathing and a lot of misinformation as well. A lot of people do think it's just something you do and you just stop doing it one day.

Dorte Bladt: Hopefully not too soon.

Dean O’Rourke: That's right. But the reality is there is a right and wrong way to breathe and, when I discovered that, a whole new world opened to me. The reality is that dysfunction can range from mild through severe. It can happen at any age. And if you are on the dysfunction spectrum, it can lead to a whole heap of health problems, well, problems people suffer.

Genetics plays a role in that, or maybe the severity of it, but, very often, the trigger or the path they go down is because of their breathing function. The reality is you're breathing 24/7. So if it's not right, it's affecting you 24/7. It's the foundation of your health.

Most people you ask them what the two most important things to their health are, they would say diet and exercise. As important as those two things are, I'm not in any way saying they're not important, but the reality is breathing is well in front than those two things. The only thing that comes close to breathing in terms of critical function, in terms of what you need to do to promote it would be hydration. And hydration is a distant second to breathing, still.

But most of us just take breathing for granted and we're unaware of how much it may be affecting our health. But lots of people who come to me they're very aware of how it affects their health.

Dorte Bladt: So what type of people would consult you?

Dean O’Rourke: I've worked successfully from 4 to 88 years, people from all walks of life, but the ones that come to me get referrals from the medical system or a small group of doctors who refer to me. So I might get an asthmatic, people with hay fever, people with snoring, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, chronic pain.

I've worked for a pain specialist because he’s discovered that it works really well to help people there.

Dorte Bladt: So it sounds like a lot.

Dean O’Rourke: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: It's a long list and it doesn’t seem like there's much connection between those.

Dean O’Rourke: No.

Dorte Bladt: So what do you find, apart from the fact that everyone’s breathing but…

Dean O’Rourke: Well, what I find is that regardless of the medical tags they're wearing, and it can even be orthodontics as well, they can have orthodontic problems as a result of breathing dysfunction. Regardless of what medical tags they're wearing, whether it's a child or an adult or teenager, whatever, I find the same functional problems over and over again. The breathing dysfunction that I come across is pretty much the same thing every time and that's what I seek to fix every time.

Essentially, what that is, is that so many people, through no fault of their own, it's just the way it is, develop breathing dysfunction normally where they're using mouth breathing too much. So they might be breathing overnight, mouth breathing, or they might do a lot during the day, or both. Then that develops an upper thoracic pattern, so they end up...

Dorte Bladt: Upper thoracic meaning upper chest.

Dean O’Rourke: Upper chest. So their breathing then is shortened up between mouth and upper chest. The diaphragm is not working very much and the nose is not being utilized enough. Once you develop that pattern, once that becomes a habit, then it's pretty much just spin the genetic wheel and see what trouble you get regardless of what age you are.

Dorte Bladt: And what is the link between the different types of conditions that people may have and their abnormal breathing? What's the process?

Dean O’Rourke: It varies from condition to condition. In some cases, breathing dysfunction might be the causative or the root cause problem, resulting in their symptoms or their condition, or it may just be an amplifying factor. But what I found is it doesn’t really matter which it is. The bottom line is they need to breathe functionally.

I found that it's been very beneficial regardless of whether it's the root cause or whether it's just an amplifier. It can make that much of a difference.

Dorte Bladt: And what is the defect? What system does it interfere with?

Dean O’Rourke: If your breathing is dysfunctional, anything from mild to severe, what you're starting to do is switch on the adrenals harder. So you're getting the fight-or-flight or the sympathetic nervous system kicking into gear on a 24/7 basis even whilst you're trying to sleep. If that's starting to happen then you're switching on the inflammatory response in your body on that basis as well 24/7. Then once that's happening then it really just becomes an issue of what it is you're going to suffer and how badly.

Dorte Bladt: So the fact that the body is in that state of inflammation is just the beginning. That is fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

I went to a conference a couple of years ago and there was a very interesting dentist that basically was talking about re-educating a baby to breathe after having tongue-tie cut. He suggested using these taping things.

Dean O’Rourke: Techniques, yeah.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah. Do you do that? I have to admit I found it a little bit hard to work with babies in taping their mouth.

Dean O’Rourke: Yeah. With taping, I use it as a part of my gambit of strategies. It's certainly not a one-size-fits-all thing. So each person I'll design a program to fit their needs, which may or may not involved taping, and how you go about taping can vary a lot. Some people only need it very temporarily. Other people need it longer term.

But, with taping, what people need to understand is that it’s not actually taping someone’s mouth shut, it’s actually just a message sender. You got to use a particular type of tape. It's a part of an overall 24/7 therapy so it's not the big deal that some people sometimes think it is. As I said, not everyone who comes to me even uses it.

I have had few people, though, that have used it and fallen in love with it and they never stop. My wife has been taping for years. My son has been taping for years. I've had people come in and buy a box of tape and walk out. I assume they're lifetime users too. And that's okay. If they want to, that's fine. But, normally, it's a very temporary thing.

Dorte Bladt: So how do you know that the work you're doing is making a difference? So when people come in and talk to you...

Dean O’Rourke: When people come to me for an initial consult, I go through an assessment process that I've developed based on clinical observation, filling out a fairly extensive symptomology form.

Then I have biofeedback testing as well. So they are linked to my computer by a cannula that just sits just inside the nose. They go through this step-by-step assessment process so I know A. are they breathing disordered, or is their dysfunction, how severe it is. Then that will determine what I came up with in terms of what they need for therapy.

If they go ahead and get my help then they're retested on a few occasions. To be able to get post-measurement so they can clearly see how much their breathing has changed.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. So just help me here, so this biofeedback mechanism, so you have some sort of sensor sitting in your nose so you can sense how much air goes through your nose compared to what you would expect?

Dean O’Rourke: The system I use is known as capnometry. What it measures is a couple of critical things. The breathing speed, so what their respiratory rate is, their end-tidal CO2 or carbon dioxide levels it measures as well, and it shows me whether there's any disruptions in their breathing pattern.

It's measuring them breath by breath. It's completely not an invasive thing at all. It's in no way painful or anything. It's quite an easy test to sit through. Most people just sit there and chill out and sort of some have even nearly dropped off to sleep. So it's just measuring their breathing pattern normally for about 6 to 7 minutes.

I get them to do a couple of different things as well just to see what happens to their breathing under different conditions. So it's a snapshot of their breathing pattern and it allows pre- and post-measurement, which is handy.

But I know whether they've got a breathing problem pretty much as soon as they walk through the door.

Dorte Bladt: You can?

Dean O’Rourke: I have 10 years of doing it. And it's kind of funny socially because I just assess people’s breathing automatically. My wife is often nudging me… or something like, “Don’t you say anything…”, sort of thing.

It gets very hard to switch off once you dial in the breathing because everyone does it and they take it with them everywhere they go.

Dorte Bladt: Absolutely. Goodness. My understanding is that our breathing rate, which we just talked about.

Dean O’Rourke: Respiratory rate.

Dorte Bladt: Yeah. Has changed a lot over the last 20 years or so.

Dean O’Rourke: Yes. It's a very good point you raise. The reality is, at the moment, as far as I'm aware, the medical system they come across a respiratory rate in the mid-teens. They would think that's completely normal. It certainly is average. There's a lot of people breathing at that speed.

So for many doctors I suspect they would think that that's okay but, in my years of clinical practice and through the research that I've been involved with and seen, there is more and more evidence to show that that is too fast and that people, even children, should be breathing slower. But certainly, for an adult, between 4 and 10 breaths a minute at rest is the optimal zone. There are not many people in that zone. Not many people.

What I found is that once I get a person from that sort of higher speed down into the 4 to 10 zone as a habit, so it just becomes automatic, that's when the symptoms change. That's when they go from having symptoms to not having symptoms, or having a lot less.

Dorte Bladt: So they go from that living in that fight-and-flight response down to the parasympathetic.

Dean O’Rourke: Parasympathetic. Exactly.

Dorte Bladt: Which is the rest and digest.

Dean O’Rourke: That's right. Exactly.

Dorte Bladt: Then just from memory, and I could be wrong, but I seem to remember they were saying that 20 years ago, 12 breaths per minute was normal and now it's like 20?

Dean O’Rourke: Yeah. The speed has gone up. I think there is some evidence out there that there has been an increase over time, and I think modern life is contributing to that. So many people are running on adrenalin and so I think there probably would be some overall increase, average increase. And, certainly, once you're hitting 20 breaths a minute or more, you're in trouble.

The fastest I've measured on my biofeedback system was 36 breaths. That person was very, very sick.

Dorte Bladt: It sounds like someone that's been running too rough, is it?

Dean O’Rourke: That's right. And when your speed is getting up into those, as I said about 20 in particular, you're going to be in trouble. But plenty of people are in trouble with speeds well below that.

Dorte Bladt: So is the breathing then the chicken and the egg? Like how would you address...

Dean O’Rourke: Yeah, good question. I think in the end it doesn’t really matter whether it's the chicken or the egg. The reality is you've got to address it. So if someone comes to me, let’s say, with anxiety, and they’ll be saying to me, “Oh, is it my head doing it or is my body doing it to my head?” In the end, it doesn’t really matter. What you want to do is address one side of the equation or the other.

I found that the simplest thing to do is change the way you breathe. By changing that, it will have an impact regardless of whether it's the chicken or the egg.

Dorte Bladt: I have to admit I'm feeling incredibly self conscious here. I'm thinking crap, I'm sure I'm not breathing 4 breaths a minute right now.

So how do you deal with a child? Let’s say a child is maybe hyperactive. And not necessarily with the diagnosis but they're hard to manage. How would you address it…?

Dean O’Rourke: Well, it's going to depend a lot on exactly how old they are. If they're middle childhood, sort of primary school age, I find that I can work with them not that dissimilar to older people. I can keep it fairly standard. But as they're getting younger then the strategies I have to use change and the process may become slower.

But the earlier people find out about it, the better. If it's a really young child, someone that is not ready to be able to work with me, what I often do is I fix the parents. By getting the parents breathing well, they start the education process with their child. And that has worked brilliantly. I fixed mom and dad, or mom or dad, and then the child gets involved when the adult is going through the process and their breathing starts to change as a result.

Dorte Bladt: It just goes to show how close we are. But I don’t think we actually recognize that we, in the family, we just feed off each other.

Dean O’Rourke: That's right. Look, I find breathing dysfunction runs in families. It's just, as you mentioned earlier, the speed of respiratory rates going up across the community. Breathing dysfunction is a silent epidemic. The reason it's silent is it's because it's generally not on the medical radar. So lots of people don’t discover that they have a breathing functional problem.

Dorte Bladt: It's such a subconscious thing.

Dean O’Rourke: That's it. So they just have these symptoms treated normally with medication. And lots of people are being diagnosed with sleep disorder breathing now so that they are strapped to CPAP machines and things like that, and they never discover that they actually had a 24/7 breathing habit that's not right and needs to be fixed. So, sadly, most people are just having their problem managed at best while trying to reduce symptoms rather than fixing the problem.

Dorte Bladt: So what do you do? You obviously, from what you're saying, do not really like to give them medication. You would have another…

Dean O’Rourke: Yes. I'm not giving anyone medication. I'm not selling them a CPAP machine. What I'm doing is going through a simple step-by-step process of breathing habit change that I've developed over many years now and I tailor it to meet the needs of that particular person, depending on their age and whatever. Sometimes their pathology and medical condition can change how I have to go about it.

So I basically come up with a process normally, where they see me, most people see me once a week for four weeks, actually, and they walk out the door with their instruction sheet. They've learned exactly what they need to do and they go through that process. I support them and encourage them along the way, make change if I need to.

And most people’s breathing has been altered significantly in that first month. Then it just becomes so much easier and simpler after that as well.

Dorte Bladt: So basically it's a question of diagnosing from your point of view where you're not breathing well. Try to do this type of breathing and then go home and practice.

Dean O’Rourke: Well, they actually don’t have to think about breathing, funnily enough. They just have to follow my instructions and their breathing will change. It is quite simply just habit change. I just give them a set of instructions to help them change their breathing habit. They learn step by step what they're going to be doing when they walk back out the door and we just touch bases each week for a few weeks. I'll know when the job is done because it's a very measurable process.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. And can you share a funny story from your practice?

Dean O’Rourke: I've had quite a few. Probably one of the most interesting things when you do change someone’s breathing pattern, there's a small percentage of people who can have some strange responses, physical responses.

There was one fellow I had who had been mouth breathing for many, many years, very chronically. And when he started to change his breathing pattern and started to nasal breathe, his gums started to bleed. They bled for about three days before they settled down. So that's one of the more unusual that I've seen in the 10 years I've been doing this.

Dorte Bladt: Oh, my goodness.

Dean O’Rourke: So he thought that was pretty weird. But there's one other quick story I'll give you is three women came and saw me about a year apart. The strange thing was they're all the same age. All three were 52. They had been, unbeknownst to me, menopausal for about four years. They came to me for three different problems: asthma, snoring, and anxiety. We fixed all three but, in each case, they started their cycle again. Two of them were not impressed.

Dorte Bladt: That is so much.

Dean O’Rourke: The first time it happened, it happened within a week of starting therapy. The second time it was a week again. And then the third woman who had asthma it took a month for her cycle to show again. She was chilled out about it. She was okay, but the other two were not happy, let me tell you.

Dorte Bladt: I'm interested to hear. I know you talked about inflammation here, but what would be the process of being …?

Dean O’Rourke: That's a good question. The first time it happened I thought maybe it's a coincidence. Then it happened again, then it happened again. And these women changed nothing else. All they changed was their breathing pattern. They didn’t change their diet. They didn’t do anything else.

So my theory is that they’d gone, once again, from that sympathetic dominance into a parasympathetic state. And I think the body then goes well, we're now in a state of rest. We can reintroduce functions or systems that have been shut down. So just once they got into that position then the system kicked back in.

It never ceases to amaze me what breathing can affect. It really does.

Dorte Bladt: Now, I'm obviously going off in a complete sidetrack here, which would be interesting then with the growing number of young couples that have trouble falling pregnant. You wonder.

Dean O’Rourke: Yeah, good question. I do wonder. I would say that there would be a percentage of, but no idea what, but there would be a percentage of people out there who are struggling in that area. Maybe all they need to do is change the way they breathe. Isn’t that amazing?

Dorte Bladt: Interesting. Do you have a piece of advice or a couple of pieces of advice for people that are listening into that?

Dean O’Rourke: Absolutely. The first thing I would say is check it. Have a look. Do I get around with my mouth open a lot or do I comfortably lip seal? How much nasal breathing am I really doing? And that's awake and asleep. A lot of people have mouth breathing when they're asleep and that's a particular worry.

So checking yourself a bit. Get someone to look outside onto you and see whether your chest is moving when you're breathing it should be sitting still at rest. There should be no chest movement, where everyone that comes to me they're breathing from the upper chest.

So a bit of a check. Then if you see that things are not right, well then you're going to have to think about whether or not you might get some help. But the first thing you should do is start to work towards lip seal. A lip seal habit is what develops a nasal breathing habit. That's the number one thing that everyone should establish. That, to me, is more important than diet and exercise because breathing is 24/7.

Dorte Bladt: Breathing sure is 24/7. Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing your time this morning.

Dean O’Rourke: No worries.

Dorte Bladt: Tell us again where can people find you if they want to know more.

Dean O’Rourke: I work a few different clinics but the one locally I work at ATUNE Health Centres in Warners Bay. We've got a website. They can just Google ATUNE or ‘breathing therapy’ and you'll find me there. That's where I can be located.

I also work in the city at the Hunter Pain Clinic. So there's a few places where people can catch up with me.

What I say to people is if you're not sure or you know you've got an issue, just come for an assessment. Come for that assessment and you can ask as many questions as you like. You'll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not you go ahead with therapy. If you don’t have the assessment then you're not able to make an informed decision.

Dorte Bladt: That's right. And your name again?

Dean O’Rourke: Dean O’Rourke.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. Thank you so much for your time.

Dean O’Rourke: No worries. Thank you.


flourishing families podcast cover

FF 15: Balanced with Meg Linton

Meg Linton from MegHQ talks about how to meet life's challenges with a present and balanced mind and body.

Typically, in our feverish goal to get fit and healthy, we rush around madly working hard to tick off exercise on our 'to do list'.  However, in our rush, we often forget the importance of connecting to what we holistically need in this moment.  Being mindful of what our bodies need, and slowing our movements down so we can control  them and create balance will greatly enhance the results our efforts. Meg mixes primal movements with yoga and breathing practice, and shares with us some pearls we can bring to our own efforts of creating better health.

 

Dorte Bladt: So Welcome to Meg Linton. I’m really excited to be with Meg today. She's from Redhead Wellness Sanctuary and she's come here to share some amazing information about the body. Welcome. Thank you.

Meg Linton: Amazing. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really pumped to be here. I’m super excited. When you mentioned it, I just had this like little buzzy feeling, so I’m super, super grateful.

Dorte Bladt: Excellent. Well, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?

Meg Linton: Goodness. I teach yoga. I teach mindfulness. And I teach kids and adults how to speak differently and speak better to themselves.

Dorte Bladt: That sounds interesting.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It’s just something I’m so passionate about. When we change the way we speak to ourselves, when we become aware of that, we can then change the direction and therefore we can actually be in a happier state. We can have more energy and vitality. So I'm so passionate about that.

Dorte Bladt: Sounds really, really interesting. So you say you're doing yoga, you teach yoga?

Meg Linton: I do. I teach yoga at Redhead Wellness and a few other places around Newcastle. I speak in schools on body language and bullying and self-sabotage. I am writing a book at the moment as well.

Dorte Bladt: You are busy.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It's good. It's my passion and I love it.

Dorte Bladt: So I want to just hit you on the yoga for a little while because yoga seems to be, that's what we have to do in 2019.

Meg Linton: Yeah. It's become like a bit of a trend, isn’t it?

Dorte Bladt: Totally. You have your yoga mat wherever you go. What type of yoga, if I say, do you do but also do you find is useful for families?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. Great question. I do many types of yoga, I suppose. I think it all comes in handy. I think it's a mixture of balance, kind of getting that equilibrium between that yin and yang.

For families, I think just getting on the mat, having a play and not being so serious. It's about just moving the body and breathing. It's not yoga without the breath and the breath is what brings us back into that beautiful parasympathetic state. It's a way to find this delicious kind of flow within the body.

I know that every time I get to my mat I feel so much calmer after that. I feel really relaxed and I can actually function a lot more. I'm a lot more kind when I get to my mat. I try to get to my mat every day.

For kids, even if it's just finding 20 minutes, some animal movements, even some animal sounds, we do that at Redhead, that's super cute, it's having fun and allowing ourselves to get lost in our practice and be mindful and be present because, in the present, we have peace.

If we are stuck in our past or if we are looking too far ahead in our future, we are going to be in states that are going to alter us. We're not going to feel calm. We're not going to feel that beautiful, nice state that we should be operating in.

Dorte Bladt: Or are definitely better when we are.

Meg Linton: Totally.

Dorte Bladt: You mentioned, and I just grabbed on that, the parasympathetic state. But can you explain to people what that's like?

Meg Linton: Absolutely. It's a state where I really never knew it for quite a while. I went through many eating disorders and body image issues, self-sabotage, orthorexia for so many years, over 20 years. I was constantly in fight-or-flight, so I was constantly in my stressed state, which you’d be well aware of as well.

I never knew how to slow down. Everything was go, go, go. I was constantly trying to fill my cup with things. I mentioned it before. I call them space fillers, so shopping. You know, coffee, going out, whatever it might have been, alcohol, anything else and things like that to find and to fix this feeling of just too much fast. So I didn’t know how to be slow.

I like to say yoga found me when I went to Bali. Firstly, I learned how to stop. I learned how to pause. And I discovered this beautiful state of mind where I found peace, and then I'd shift out of it 100%.

So with practice, I then started to find a way to bring myself into the present moment by shifting myself into this parasympathetic nerve system, which is our rest and digest. When I found I was in that system, I found that I could concentrate better. I could take in information, because I was so full in my mind that I couldn’t even read a page of a book at the age of 34. Nothing was going in and I was so down on myself and my language was so terrible to myself. So finding this state gave me peace. I wanted more of that.

Dorte Bladt: So you achieved that through yoga, you say?

Meg Linton: Yeah, and breath.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. That's what I wanted to ask you. What in yoga specifically? You're talking breath. What is it about the breath?

Meg Linton: The breath, when we breathe deep, most of us breathe so much through our chest. We are limiting ourselves of prana, of energy through our mind and our bodies. And it's been scientifically proven too that when we breathe longer and deeper, we actually live longer. I think all of us, probably, want that at the end of the day.

Dorte Bladt: When you're young you might not.

Meg Linton: No, but it was just discovering techniques on how to breathe. It just felt different. I started to breathe through my diaphragm and I felt this calm sensation through not only my body but also my mind. I felt my stress just completely disappear within even three minutes of breath.

And a simple technique of just doing a box breath, four counts in, four-count pause, four counts out.

Dorte Bladt: So do you mean one-two-three-four [inhales], one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four?

Meg Linton: Yes. We start with that. However it is, it doesn’t matter how it is. You feel like you’re drawing a box, and then you can elaborate. I think I actually started on two. To be honest, I was like in-in, pause for two, exhale for two and then pause for two.

Dorte Bladt: So is that something that our listeners, for example, could use as a tool when they're in a situation where things are getting a little bit much?

Meg Linton: One hundred percent. It's the first thing I teach to kids if ever I go in a school.

I actually walk in and I sit everyone down and I say, “Lie down on the floor. We're going to breathe.” They look at me like I'm sort of alien. Like they all know how to breathe.

I'm like, “Just let’s take five minutes.”

And they sort of wake up and it's like whoa. Some of them are like, “I've never felt that before,” this space and time to pause.

So whenever we feel stress or anxiety or things are just going too fast, and that's what's happening in our world these days, there's a lot of air and movement going on. Sit down, take three minutes and just breathe ten deep breaths and I guarantee you'll feel amazing.

Dorte Bladt: That's something I actually talk about in my Switched-on Kids book. We use a little helper with putting a toy, or a rock or something on your tummy.

Meg Linton: That's so good. So they can feel it.

Dorte Bladt: Yes, because sometimes you get a little bit like, “Where am I breathing? I'm breathing through my tummy.” Well, I'm not actually because I'm just so busy breathing through my chest.

Meg Linton: I love that idea.

Dorte Bladt: Now, having done a class or two with you, I know that you often talk about the grounding. What do you mean by grounding?

Meg Linton: As you know, I'm in bare feet at the moment. Connecting ourselves to the earth. To put it very simply, when I learned about yoga, I also learned about Ayurveda which is eastern medicine. In that sense, as I said, we're governed by the five elements, so earth, air, fire, water and ether space. In the world we're in, there's a lot of movement going on. There's a lot of vast energy which means everything is going really, really fast.

So to feel better, to bring ourselves back to a state of calm, we have to do the opposite of what's going on. You mentioned about grounding, so it's about finding some space to possibly be outside and just be still, pop our feet in the sand or the water and just pause, stop and not do anything at all. It's about eating really nice, warm, nourishing vegetables, root vegetables. It's like a big, warm hug and that will bring a sense of calm back to us.

But, obviously, it's winter here at the moment where we are. If we eat cold and dry foods or icy, it's actually going to make us feel more un-grounded as well, does it make sense?

Dorte Bladt: Totally.

Meg Linton: So it's about listening in to what's going on with the weather, listening into our mind. Is it moving really fast?

And in Ayurveda like increases like, so if we have a coffee and we're feeling anxious or stressed, then what's going to happen there? We're going to be more wired. We're not going to be able to sleep and, therefore, we're not going to be able to recover. We wake up in a state of stress the next day.

Dorte Bladt: In your yoga practice, you often say about concentrating on the sensation of your feet and you want us to place our feet in a particular way.

Meg Linton: Yeah.

Dorte Bladt: What's the reasoning? Can you explain what that position is and what the reasoning is for that?

Meg Linton: Sure. I'll do my best to explain it.

Dorte Bladt: It's easier to show it.

Meg Linton: Yeah. So when we stand, so many of us are in shoes these days and it actually restricts our movement through our metatarsals, our toes, our feet, through the connective tissue on the fascia, on the underside of our feet. What's happening, as you know, is that our hips and glutes and our back are all paying the consequence for that.

So we have a space on the bottom of our foot. We have the two balls of our feet and our heel. And if you were to visualize a little bit, drawing like a triangle from the two balls of feet down to the heel, you make... I'm drawing like a little triangle with my feet and I realize it's completely irrelevant.

But that space there, if we... even if you take off your shoes now for a moment and just feel the earth underneath your feet and you sort of lift your toes a little bit, you can really find that the underside of the foot, the muscles fire and turn on. In turn, you're actually going to feel your VMO in your inner thighs really engage as well.

Dorte Bladt: VMO being?

Meg Linton: The inside of your knee, so the inner quad. Sorry, guys. So VMO, inside of your quadriceps, basically, and that helps protect the knee joint as well. You'll also feel your glute medius, on the side of your glute, turn on.

A lot of us these days in the world we're in, we are either on our phone or, when we're standing, we're not being still, we're not being present. We're finding a distraction, aren’t we? We're generally tipping our hips somehow or we're leaning forward so we're not being connected as to how we're standing.

The more that you practice being aware of this sensation through the feet, standing on the tripod of both feet, of course, but it's really important to also practice standing on one foot as much. I know I do that a lot with you guys in class. That will also help improve your balance. You're stabilizing around the knee joint and become stronger through the hips and the glutes as well.

Dorte Bladt: Great. So to translate what you're talking about, the position of your feet, the breathing, what you're doing is creating a focus for your mind that will then create that grounding and calming effect that is increasing the parasympathetic response.

Meg Linton: Absolutely, yeah.

Dorte Bladt: So, really, what you're doing is getting more balance in the way your brain and your body communicates.

Meg Linton: Absolutely bang on. And that's the thing. Say that coffee shop example, let’s sort of expand onto that. So if you're on your phone in the coffee shop, you're in somebody else’s world, generally. Say we're scrolling on our phones, or whatever it might be, we are in a state where we're not being present. We're not being here.

So many of us are just human doing without human being. We forget to just stop. And when we do, when we come to that sense of grounding, we just feel here. And when we stand up nice and tall, we have three, what's called Bandhas, in our bodies. We actually have four into our wrists as well, but we have our Mula Bandha, which is our pelvic floor area, Uddiyana Bandha, which is our belly lock, and then we have our Jalandhara, which is our throat lock. When these three are on, we actually sit and stand really nice and tall.

When you put the awareness into your feet, guess what's going to happen with your spine? You start to notice how you are standing and you get energy from the earth as well. You come into a state of prana which is just feeling in flow. And when we are in flow, as what you say, we feel balanced, we feel calm, we make decisions better, we concentrate better, things are not so hard.

Dorte Bladt: You get the two sides of the brain to actually connect.

Meg Linton: We get the stuff done, yeah. Because in a state of stress, in fight-or-flight, we actually can't learn. We're not in that state where we can learn new information. We have to be in a bit more calmer state to take on board new information and to feel our best self.

At the end of the day, that's what the universe wants for all of us, to be vibrant and energetic and feeling good and not tired and exhausted and stressed.

Dorte Bladt: It’s a long life, isn’t it? If that’s the state you’re in.

Meg Linton: Yes. I heard somewhere, and I think it was Dr. Bruce Lipton on one of his YouTube videos or podcasts that 150 times a day we are now getting ourselves into a state of stress.

Dorte Bladt: 150?

Meg Linton: That's a lot. And our concentration is less than efficient. It's seven seconds where a goldfish is eight. What the?

Dorte Bladt: Shocking.

Meg Linton: It is. And it can all be changed, 100%.

Dorte Bladt: You mentioned earlier about sabotaging. Obviously, standing well and being aware of your posture and breathing through your diaphragm, physical to-do lists, so what happens with the mind and the effect that our thinking has on that calmness?

Meg Linton: Goodness. You're opening a Pandora’s Box for me here, but I'm going to keep... this is my passion. I love to talk about this because it's shifted me out of where I was. I used to talk to my body and my mind and my state in a pretty poor way for over 20 years, as I was talking before. That created a very strong neural pathway in my brain that that was how I spoke to my mind and my body.

Dorte Bladt: How did you speak? What would you say?

Meg Linton: I would wake up first thing in the morning and possibly look straight at my phone. I would then judge and I would criticise.

Dorte Bladt: Sorry, I'm interrupting. You listeners out there, how many of you... is that the first thing you do and the last thing that you do?

Meg Linton: Yes.

Dorte Bladt: I'm sorry I interrupted but it's just like, “Wake up. Go!”

Meg Linton: 100%, and I'm going to share some steps to help change that because that's what started to change me. I started my day with comparison and judgement and fear and anxiety and I didn’t have the tools to know any different. I would look in the mirror and I would literally, I just wrote about it the other day in my book, I would grab bits of like fat which wasn’t evened out on my body, I would just literally want it away.

That was how I started my day, sometimes half an hour. And then my whole day was spent judging myself, ‘I'm not enough’. ‘I'm not smart enough’, ‘How can I do this?’, ‘My life will never get better’.

So I was constantly dragging in negative energy and negative vibrations, but I didn’t know it at the time. I had no idea. I thought this was the way it was going to be. I blamed everything around me.

Yoga taught me to pause and when we pause we interrupt the pattern. That's all it is. So I had to practice, and it's a practice, every single day for nearly 100 times a day, if I had to, to interrupt the pattern and go, “You know what? Thank you but I choose not to take that on board.”

Those words were massive for me and I still come back to them. If I feel anxious or stressed, I'm like, “Okay, I understand that you're here. I recognize that,” and I'm coming from a place of kindness and compassion rather than a place of judgement and criticism.

For me, I think that is key in my experience, of coming at these feelings with kindness. Because, to be honest, and, as we know, being unkind to ourselves, doesn’t lift anyone up. And people around us see it, so our kids see it, right?

I saw, back when I was growing up, many patterns of language that was not confident or, ‘I can't have this’, ‘I don’t deserve this kind of thing’. And it's so important. “The words we speak become the house we live in.” That's from Rumi [Correction: quote is by Hafiz].

Dorte Bladt: The interesting thing I find is how often we neglect to even hear it. As in, we think, “Oh, I don’t speak, I don’t talk badly to myself”.

But I was given an exercise, this was probably 10 years ago, by a mentor of mine and he said, “What I want you to do is just pick a time of day, 10 minutes, and in that 10 minutes you sit down and you don’t do anything but just pay attention to the voice. The voice that will say, “I'm sitting here. I'm doing nothing. I really should...”with ‘should’ being the word.

And, “Oh, I never get it done,” “I will never finish it,” “The others will do...” So you're talking about comparison. You're talking about not being good enough. That's the one side of it.

Of course there's the other side of it. “I don’t look as good as,” or “I'm not as smart as,” but those little thoughts they sit in the back of... I think they are in everyone’s heads.

Meg Linton: Absolutely.

Dorte Bladt: But being aware of them is the first step. Then, like you were saying, be really kind. Don’t just say, “Go away”.

Meg Linton: No.

Dorte Bladt: Just say, “Okay, well, thank you. I heard you.”

Meg Linton: Yeah, totally. Allow yourself to sit with it and be in a place of just allowing. Exactly what you said, be aware that the thought pattern is there. Like take that on board and go, “Okay, I recognize that this is here.” Call it out for what it is. Call out the BS. Because if we don’t say it out loud, if we don’t be vulnerable about it, we can't move through it and past it.

Investigate why it's come up. Spend the time with it, but spend the time with it in a place of love and kindness because that is the only way.

Dorte Bladt: So that might be easier for, I shouldn’t call us older, but adults to do. It may be a little bit difficult in children. What do you suggest children do?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. I find with kids, actually, they tend to... because their minds aren’t as developed as ours, or the neural pathways. So whether or not... and what I find even with young kids, it's their own bullying to themselves. It's very much on these expectations and comparison.

I say, to the kids, I'm like, “You're never going to be like anybody else. You are the best version of yourself. You're going to own that. You just have to believe it.”

And again I say that phrase to kids, it's, “Thank you, but I choose not to take that on board,” when any of this comes up.

And I teach kids to breathe. In that moment, stop a moment, can you make a better choice. So breathe through the moment, pause the pattern and then ask yourself the question, “How can I say something that lifts me up here instead of something that puts me down?” That's what I say to kids.

So I'm like find something that is a brighter light than that darker gray kind of colour that doesn’t make us feel good.

Dorte Bladt: What example would you give them? What would be a good way to think?

Meg Linton: For kids, like younger kids or teens or any...?

Dorte Bladt: Let’s do a 12-year-old.

Meg Linton: Beautiful. I actually had some 13-year-olds at Redhead the other day and what is coming up for those guys is anxiety. So a lot of social expectations and pressures just from the world around them of how we should be as a female, which is a tough world. It's tough for females and males. These girls were just, “I feel anxiety,” “I feel pressure all the time”.

I was like, “Okay, pressure to do what?”

And it's like, “To perform, to be better, to fit in, to get people’s likes and validation”.

So I asked them a question. I said, “So do you feel like you're people-pleasing?”

They said, “Yeah, all the time,” and I find that very common so we share that.

So I said to these girls, like, okay, we wrote down a few exercises. What is the common language that's coming out? It was very much the ‘I'm not enough’, ‘I don’t feel smart enough’ or ‘I'll never achieve that’.

And I said, “Okay, so how can you word that better?”

We started to write down some mantras in that kind of sense. They were like, okay, this is what I'll be doing one day. Listen to your heart, and we started to just write down the way that it would fit in with them and the way that it would settle.

So with the girls I just said, “Look, how can we say it better?”

And it was like, “I am kind to myself, I do believe in myself, I know that the universe will show me the way so long as I surrender the control.”

So it's writing down mantras and whatever floats the boat in the kids as well. But I definitely recommend journaling it down, writing things out like you're writing a letter, forgiving ourselves and then finding a way to move forward.Dorte Bladt: Take the pressure off.

Meg Linton: Totally.

Dorte Bladt: Okay. So we're getting close to the end of our podcast.

Meg Linton: Goes quick, doesn’t it?

Dorte Bladt: Yes, it does. But I'm just thinking if you were to be standing in front of the people that are listening to you now, do you have a particular advice or maybe three bits of advice? I'm just saying one or three, whatever you prefer, but something that made the biggest difference for you and that something that people can do straightaway.

Meg Linton: 100% number one, have a morning and a night routine. Not negotiable, and that's not being on the phone. So the first thing when you get up in the morning, try to throw your hands up in the air and say thank you. Have gratitude because you've just got given another breath.

At the end of the day, it is a massive, massive gift and I forgot that for many years. It was all about me. But I wake up and I'd literally put my hands in the air and I'm like, “Thank you.” The moment your head leaves the pillow you have all you need.

Secondly, I sit down and I set my intention. I take a moment and I breathe deep. So have your morning routine of just waking up, say thank you, do some box breath, which is four counts in, four-count pause, four-count exhale and then a four-count pause again, which we discussed.

And then really be mindful of how you fill your day, how much time you spend on Facebook or Instagram and things like that as well, and finish your day again with gratitude. Be off your phone. First 30 minutes in the morning, off the phone, the last 30 minutes in the night, off the phone.

Set yourself for feminine energy at night so that you can chill out and feel relaxed and allow yourself to be kind in that sense. Don’t go over your day on the shoulds, coulds and would’ves. That is the one thing that will keep you in a stressed state and you will not sleep.

So be kind, journal if you’ve got to, that's what I do, take some space in every single day to be completely still.

I don’t know if that was three sets or a recap. So have a morning and a night routine, off your phone first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes, say thank you. Secondly, be mindful of how you fill your space in your day. We cannot pour from an empty cup.

Dorte Bladt: So Meg, this was fantastic. I really appreciate your time.

Meg Linton: Thank you.

Dorte Bladt: You've got some really good advice. How can people learn more?

Meg Linton: Beautiful. All my details are on Instagram and Facebook, both under Meg Linton. I share a lot of content there as to the how-tos, when we feel this way, what to do.

But also Redhead Wellness Sanctuary, so generally found at Redhead Wellness Sanctuary which is redheadwellness.com.

Dorte Bladt: Perfect.

Meg Linton: Amazing.

Dorte Bladt: Thank you so much.

Meg Linton: Thank you very much for having me here.