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My work in Preconception care chose me

Aisling FitzGibbon

When I finished school I really had no idea what to do. I had filled out a university application in my final year and ticked a few courses I felt might suit me.  I ended up doing a BA degree in Early Childhood studies in University College Cork. I learned about the psychology of early childhood, the physiology of early childhood and early years education. I had work experience in multiple settings- an ABA school and a special needs primary unit. When I saw the role that Occupational Therapy played in helping children with special needs I decided this was a career I wanted to pursue.

I found myself in Salford University in Manchester studying for a BsC degree in Occupational Therapy that required a return to the UK. I found this to be a stressful time but I persevered as I felt that this was going to be my future career. I enjoyed the course and learned a considerable amount but experienced the limitations of Occupational Therapy when working in a mental health setting with teenagers.  The setting was not conducive to health as it was hospital policy at the time to reduce budgets by cutting fruit out of the menu! The teenagers were heavily drugged with antipsychotic medication that was destroying their physical body. Their symptoms were being controlled but as the song says “the drugs don’t work, they just make it worse.” I felt that my work there was in a palliative capacity with little scope to bring about any real change. One day I was attacked by a young girl who tried to rip my hair out and who had to be restrained and knocked to the ground by a staff member. I felt despair for these young people who seemed to have nothing to look forward to as they were being kept in a zombie state by medication. The root cause of their illnesses were not addressed and it was a work environment that didn’t suit me. I felt unwell being there. 

The summer after my second year of Occupational Therapy training, I met a shaman who was visiting our home. Although I only said hello to her, she looked at me and said that whatever I was training in, I would not end up working in. She asked me to look into quantum physics. I just thought of Stephen Hawking and placed no further heed on what she said. At that time I had envisaged myself as an Occupational Therapy manager in a hospital setting of my choice.

My own problems with low energy and anxiety/depression prompted me to take matters into my own hands after I qualified as an Occupation Therapist and to finally look into the root cause of why I was feeling the way I did. I sought the help of Nutritionist Barbara Wren whose education and information changed my life. Using diet, supplements and detoxification techniques my energy was restored and I decided that as I had experienced such powerful transformation, that I wanted to study Nutritional Therapy. I trained as a Nutritional Therapist in the College of Natural Nutrition.

It seemed as though one path lead onto another and I was led to study the Gut and Psychology Syndrome with Dr Natasha Campbell Mcbride, a pioneer in the treatment of conditions such as autism, ADHD and neurodevelopmental issues. My mind was opened to the healing power of gut health for conditions there were untreatable in the conventional medicine field. I went to an Autism seminar in Edinburgh where I listened to Dr Martha Herbert, who along with other doctors were beginning to realise that autism was a reversible condition and that the younger the child is treated the greater the chances for full recovery.

Although I had wanted to train with Dr Bill Walsh, author of Nutrient Power and expert on the causes of depression, it seemed that his training in 2015 was only limited to medical doctors. This year I felt inspired to look up training with Dr Bill Walsh for Nutritional Therapists and there was a course in Dublin for nutritionists to train with him. When I contacted Niamh Burke, the nutritionist who was organising the event she told me there was one place left! My wish to train with Dr Bill Walsh was granted showing me the miraculous power of the universe when we are on our life’s path.

Dr Bill Walsh is a colossuses of a man, whose knowledge and experience of mental health conditions further elucidated my understanding. He explained the importance of identifying the methylation status of each client as this is what would determine the treatment of mental health problems. In his extensive research and evaluation of methylation status, Dr Bill Walsh became convinced that most parents of children with autism exhibited symptoms of undermethylation, including high accomplishment, obsessive compulsive traits, attention to detail and seasonal allergies. He felt that if both parents possessed the same methylation imbalance, epigenetic abnormalities were far more likely.

By 1999 Dr Bill Walsh had collected blood and urine samples from over 50,000 children with autism. He discovered the presence of zinc and selenium deficiencies, copper overload, B6 deficiency and elevated toxic metals. Subsequent research by Dr Jill James, Dr Richard Deth and others showed that undermethylation is a distinctive feature of autism. It would seem that the low methyl levels in utero and in the foetus itself increases the likelihood of genetic errors which in turn increases the vulnerability to toxic metals and to oxidative stress.

We inherit from our parents our chromosomes which are 50% composed of DNA while the other 50% is made up of protein molecules that carry epigenetic markers that determine which genes get turned on and turned off. The environment in the mother’s womb alters the development of the foetus. Epigenetic changes can be caused by one’s diet and supplements and can echo far into our future generations. What a mother eats and drinks, along with the supplements she takes prenatally can affect the future health of her children.

Statistics from the CDC show that in 1982 one child in 2,200 had autism and yet by 2013 one in 50 have autism. Other childhood illnesses such as allergies, asthma and ADHD are also on the rise. Yet many of these conditions are preventable if we work on parents before children are born.  The preconception time is the best time to make dietary changes, to improve digestive health, to eliminate allergies and to detox from chemicals. It is also the best time to rectify any methylation issues that can have a negative effect on the health of the baby. Could it be that the most important protective measures against autism may be those taken prior to conception. I think so.

I work in preventative health care because this is an area I feel has the most positive effects – to promote the health of the next generation by working on the health of the mother to be beforehand. By providing a healthy environment for the incoming baby, a woman is giving her child the best possible chance to be healthy and strong. She also is making sure that she will be healthy and well postnatally. It is an honour and a privilege for me to be able to do this work.

How I work

I work in a 12 week programme. This time is needed to bring about the necessary changes and to get my client started on the road to wellness prior to conception. During the programme we ascertain your methylation status and based on results I create a tailor- made nutrition plan. I work on introducing dietary changes that fit in with your lifestyle and also suggest specified supplements to rectify any deficiencies. I introduce detox techniques to reduce minerals in excess and toxic metals. I look at improving adrenal, gut and thyroid health, all crucial prior to conception. I address blood sugar imbalances to help prevent reactive hypoglycaemia and gestational diabetes. I show how to reduce chemical exposure in the home and in make-up and hair care products. Lifestyle issues such as exercise and stress reduction are included to help  reduce stress hormones in the body.

The reason I work in 12 week programmes is to provide the necessary structure, support and framework for the changes to take place. Each week builds on the previous week so that we can get to the root cause of the symptoms that are showing up in your body. There also needs to be time to integrate the information so that it becomes your default setting. The weekly session provides accountability and the opportunity to move through any self – sabotage that comes up as you move from the known to the unknown.  

If you are interested in working closely with me prior to pregnancy then please fill in my clarity call application and we can get started on your preconceptual care programme. 

Babies are a gift from God 

Babies are a gift from God