Interview with Jan Roberts
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney as the surfing culture was taking hold and the swinging sixties were gearing up. Despite a lot of distractions I graduated from Sydney University with an Honours Degree in Pharmacy in 1967. I spent 15 years in community pharmacy (Sydney and London) until frustration with band-aid health care led me down the path of complementary medicine and to preconception healthcare in particular.
Someone told me last week that I was ‘scary.’ I told him I’d been scaring people all of my life. In my youth, I did it for the hell of it, more recently it’s given me great satisfaction (and furthered my life’s work)
· preconception health care – when they said it wasn’t important
· two children born at home – when they said it was too risky
· a decade of breast feeding – when they said I’d be nursing at the University gates
· the family bed – when everybody said the kids would never leave it
· 10 years at home with them – when they said ‘but when are you going back to WORK?’
· no vaccinations – a more emotive issue than an “elderly primagravida” giving birth at home
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
My change of profession from pharmacy to complementary medicine happened in 1982 – the interest in nutritional and environmental medicine was in its infancy, so I’ve been part of its spectacular growth and expansion. I’ve seen the doubts from orthodox medicine fall away, its critics for the most part silenced and now see widespread embrace of integrative medicine. We’ve still got a long way to go, but eyes no longer glaze over when I talk about preconception healthcare.
What was your vision for choosing to support preconception healthcare for prospective parents?
To make sure the next generation of children reaches their full genetic potential, which means cleaning up the diet, lifestyle and environment of prospective parents well before they conceive a child … just a small ambition.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports?
I support organizations (and companies) that provide key services (or best-of-breed products) to couples who are committed to giving their baby the very best possible start in life
– Foresight – Association for Preconceptual Care (UK)
– Homebirth Australia
– Vaccine Information Service
– CAPERS – Childbirth and Parenting Education Resources and Services
– Natural Fertility Management
– Natural Health International
– Wellness Filter
What life event or incident made you choose to support them?
Foresight is top of the list and the organization that really set me on this path. I was introduced to their work as I was beginning my postgraduate diploma in clinical nutrition. The whole preconception concept was a real epiphany – I knew instantly that was how I would prepare when I eventually had a baby. My own experience was so positive and the results of preconception preparation were so obvious that in 1987 I took on the role of promoting Foresight’s work in Australia. I created a small newsletter on an early Apple Mac, work that eventually led to the publication of my first book “The Natural Way to Better Babies – Preconception Healthcare for Prospective Parents” and then its sequels. There have been equally seminal events that have made me a supporter of others on my list – but the story gets very long…
From where do you draw inspiration?
My personal experience of the whole reproductive cycle from easy conception to prolonged breastfeeding has been a huge inspiration because I’ve seen the profound benefits in every aspect of my sons’ and our whole family’s lives. I see women, couples and families having a very different experience and that inspires me to do something to change it. Of course this journey I’m on has put me in touch with an extraordinary number of amazing individuals working in their own field to bring change to the world and they’re an inspiration. Last week I heard Michel Odent presenting to a packed auditorium – he was one of the pioneers of peaceful birth, promoting the idea that human health is shaped during the ‘primal period’, which includes fetal life, the peri-natal period and the year following birth. At 78, he’s still touring the world … spreading his message!
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
How to ski a double black diamond with confidence and élan!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Speaking to audiences worldwide (and skiing those double black diamonds).
What do you do for fun, relaxation?
– Push some weights – need strong legs for double black
– Walk “The Bay” – it starts at the bottom of my garden
– Get some Vitamin D – my excuse for an hour or two by the pool
– Get some more Vitamin D – with a good book on my balcony overlooking Sydney Harbour
Do you have a secret indulgence? If so, what is it?
Two (and two only) TV shows – Friends and Sex and the City with a gin and tonic in hand.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Focus on your vision, not on how you expect to achieve it.
Don’t be afraid of all those baby steps – they’re absolutely vital before you can take bigger ones.
Don’t judge – act on everything as if it is the best thing that ever happened and let the Gods look after the rest. When you’re only in charge of the ingredients, not the end result … nothing ever looks like a failure.
Be conscious of your part in a less than an ideal outcome – don’t blame someone else.
Q. How do you make God laugh?
A. Tell him your plans!
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