Miss Polly had a Dolly – Conditioning from Childhood

I was chatting to a friend today about how we and previous generations have been conditioned to associate ‘sickness’ with calling the doctor and receiving a script to take medication.

One of my favourite nursery rhymes as a child was “Miss Polly had a Dolly”. If you aren’t already familiar with it, it goes like this…

Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick

Melissa's childhood dolly 'Jane'
Melissa’s childhood dolly ‘Jane’

So she called for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick…

(it ends will the words)

He wrote out a script for some pills, pills, pills,

I’ll be back in the morning with the bill, bill, bill.

It has taken up to this point for me to realise that I was conditioned from the age of 2 years of age to associate sickness with doctors and medication! (Epiphany moment for Melissa today!!! lol)

And it isn’t just me. This goes back generations. Is it any wonder that my grandmother questions me when I say that I am treating my cold with echinecea, lemon/honey and rest? “Have you been to the doctor? Surely you should be taking antibiotics!”

In current times an awareness is building about the overuse of medication and the possible short and long term effects its overuse can have on our health.

Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate living in the times we do, because before the discovery of antibiotics; (an Australian, Howard Florey, was actually instrumental in discovering penicillin by the way – go Aussies!) many, many people died of infections that could have been treated. However, medical experts are now very aware that there has been an overuse of antibiotics in recent years and that this has actually created a range of infections that are antibiotic resistant. So at times when we do really do need antibiotic assistance, they are sometimes no longer effective.

Obviously antibiotics are only one of many types of medications that are regularly used. Have a look at the medicine cabinet in your own household – it can be an eye-opener!

But even the apparently ‘innocent’ paracetamol can have long-term risks. Here is an article from a midwife who is discussing the use of paracetamol during pregnancy and labour and the risks of slowing down labour as well as possible damage to our baby and liver!

When I teach natural childbirth education (the ‘Hypnobirthing Australia™’ program) I talk about how every intervention can have a possible knock on effect during pregnancy, labour and birth. The same applies to our general life.

Before we reach for the ‘pill’ – use the BRAIN technique:

B What are the benefits of taking this medication? (I may feel better today. My headache will go away.)

R What are the risks of taking this medication? (Possible side effects? Short/long term risks to myself/baby?)

A What are the alternatives? (Lemon and honey anyone? Natural alternatives?)

I What does my instinct tell me? (Is my instinct saying that this could possibly be more serious and so should I seek medial advice at this time?)

N What if I were to do just ‘nothing’? (Rest. Recuperate. Sometimes our body gets run down and sickness forces us to just slow down for a bit.)

So all of this is definitely food for thought.

As Hippocrates very wisely said…

Let food by thy medicine

and medicine by thy food

Perhaps we should be re-wording that famous nursery rhyme to say…

Miss Polly had a dolly with a runny nose

So she cuddled her, breastfed and they rested at home


Melissa Spilsted is the director of Hypnobirthing Australia. She is a certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner & Childbirth Educator (HPCE), a registered Teacher (B.Ed, B.Arts), a Clinical Hypnotherapist (CHt Clinical Member of the AHA), a member of CAPEA (Childbirth & Parenting Educators Australia), has appeared on national television, written for Mother and Baby Magazine, appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine & The Australian Woman’s Weekly, lectured midwives and midwifery students in local universities and hospitals and her work has been showcased at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.


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