Alcohol and pregnancy …the effect of ‘ordinary drinkers’ on the unborn child

This article tells us what we need to hear and not what we want to hear: i.e. drinking AT ALL when pregnant affects the unborn child’s IQ.

We are not talking about alcoholic drinking or binge drinking either. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a well-documented, permanent severe mental and physical consequence for the child of heavy drinking by mother during pregnancy. But this is not where this research is aimed.  No, this research relates to a couple of glasses of wine a week!

When pregnant, women often report feeling different and separate from the group, as well as stressed, uncertain, out of sorts and under pressure.  It may feel hard enough without also not being able to drink a glass of wine ‘to relax’.  But this research suggests that the price you may pay ‘to relax or feel part of’ may actually be too high. IQ is not just intelligence, it represents the ability to interact and understand; a powerful influence in self-esteem. Your child may pay with his or her quality of life for your need to use alcohol for 9 months. Not a balanced equation no matter what your mathematic ability!

So we need to support women – and maybe even more ambitiously our society – to find other ways to relax so that alcohol steps down from top slot of how to clock off.  It is a depressant, it causes accidents, is fundamental in many severe health problems, causes long term and debilitating mental health issues, and now we can see that it impacts on our future generation’s IQ before it is even born.

With such compelling evidence around negative impact of alcohol on the unborn child we must invest in other strategies. We need to learn how to stop, pause, take a breath so that all that we strive for and invite into our lives doesn’t drown us in its administration and relentless rhythm. In pregnancy we lay the foundations for the child’s profile as well as for our relationship with him or her, and those 9 months should not be overlooked nor taken for granted. In fact they are an opportunity for investment!  Mindfulness Meditation is a powerful method that focuses on the breath and helps to alleviate anxiety, pressure and even craving by letting go of thoughts and feelings without banishing them or trying to control them. It can help make mental and emotional space to forge a connection between the unborn baby and its mother as well as to gain essential perspective. Similarly pregnancy yoga provides a proactive engagement with the changing body and mind, and has proven positive health benefits, pregnant or not. Laughing, singing, dancing, exercise have also all been widely researched and promoted in their positive effect on well-being.

Be in the solution…

Read more here:

Children held in police cells under Mental Health Act

Reading this report just highlights the lack of services, or access to services, we have in this country for children in crisis. It is shameful and needs rectifying.  Children are our future and we need to wake up to this FACT and invest in them! Its not enough to think that wonderful charities such as Children in Need, or Childline sufficiently tick the box, this needs to be a cultural shift in attitude. We need to provide education and funding to encourage growth, support and safety for those in need, intervention and treatment for those in crisis and an attitude of compassion rather than judgement for the situation this population finds itself in – ask yourselves: who set their society up like this?

So similar to the situation I often find myself in, talking to a parent who is struggling with a difficult child who is under 12.  I almost always work with the parent/s first, look at the environment they have deliberately or unwittingly set up, and consider the ‘difficult behaviour’ as a clue that points to the culture of the family, or unresolved parental issues. Of course when that child begins to act out in ways that are not acceptable the problem becomes theirs AS WELL, and there needs to be containment, consequences and constructive criticism. But we must not forget the source.

I see unresolved issues like litter lying around, and a child will pick it up. They cannot help it.  They are primed from birth to soak up the environment and they have barely any filter.  Then they carry this litter as if it is their own and are judged accordingly. This is called scapegoating, and it thrives in a culture of denial.  I believe this is happening on a micro and macro scale. The problems are simple and we complicate the answers with self centredness, greed, and red tape.

I mean, tell me WHY there is no teen rehab in this country?

National Treatment Agency warns club drug users

I read this article with great interest. I have worked with many club drug users and it does demand a different approach insomauch as it is crucial to attend to the person in relation to their peer group as a fundamental part of treatment. Like with any other drug dependence, we have to help the person get abstinent, but for this to be sustainable, they must learn how to allow themselves to have fun, socialise, dance and meet people clean.  So many people relapse (or live miserably) because they just cannot function socially without the drug – it becomes a choice between sober isolation of drug affected interaction. It’s not easy to overcome social anxiety at the best of times, but when your ability has been propped up by years of drug use, it can feel impossible.  Working to develop a strong sense of who you are, your own sense of humour, a comfort in your skin so you can stand without feeling self conscious, dance without reservation, chat with less fear is fundamental to a successful and wholehearted recovery.

Read the full article:

Happy Birthday

Four years ago today Charter completed its first week as a daycare.  We had 10 clients in the room and the atmosphere was potent with possibility. Four years on and I find myself again looking at a room still full of brave people, struggling like Marlin on a line to gain purchase on recovery, and clinical and admin teams I am proud to be working with.  And I think to myself, isn’t it amazing what can be achieved in 4 short years? Since 2008 I have co-founded Charter working a 70 hour week got home most nights and kissed my children as they slept, launched a residential site, spent weekends on windy sidelines cheering my children on, completed 2 years of an MSc, wrote essays alongside my eldest as he revised, moved house, painted my youngest son’s bedroom red, mourned my father’s death, cleared our small woodland of laurel, gained stability around my Rheumatoid Arthritis went riding with my daughter and then last year I bought the company off Tony and watched TV in front of the fire with my husband. It has been busy…and something has had to give. While I do have a close and personal relationship with each of my children, I miss the minutiae of their days, which sometimes makes me sad. And my husband and I have almost no social life.  But it feels worth it. I feel a sense of connectedness and security that perhaps can only be achieved through loving what I do and doing what I love, ethically and in fellowship, so I accept the bill.

Then as I listen to Thought For The Day I find myself reminded that these last four years achievements are the fruit of the hard graft I have put in over the preceding 20 when the seed was first planted (be careful what you wish for!). I remember so well those early years in my 20s when I was so old yet so naïve, and everything felt so difficult, each step so precarious. I am truly grateful to all those who supported me, then and now.

And as I look around the room today and see these ‘Marlin’, biting at the hand that tries to feed them, I celebrate the human spirit whilst encouraging and challenging these ‘mighty fish’ to have the courage to accept help. For ‘you cant chew meat with one tooth’ (Desmond Tutu).