Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

Why Home Birth? More like Why NOT Home Birth! February 28, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 5:22 pm

We had our first-ever class all about the benefits of home birth at the store on Saturday and it was AWESOME.  I’ll start off by saying I was a huge home-birth-nay-sayer not too long ago.  I thought it was a novel idea, but the perceived degree of danger I had associated with giving birth made it seem like an irresponsible, life-threatening choice that only the craziest of parents would make.

Then I educated myself.

Turns out if you are healthy woman, giving birth without surgery or pain killers is pretty risk-free.  Our bodies were designed to do it.  It’s nature.  There is a reason our species survived for so long before we started giving birth in hospitals.  Now it is a fact that home birth is not for every one, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Some women will truly have high-risk pregnancies if they encounter such health problems as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, hemophilia, or preeclampsia to name a few, and in these cases any good midwife will test you for such problems and disqualify you as a candidate for a home birth.  In cases such as these, I thank God every day for advances in modern medicine and skilled surgeons who can perform cesarian-sections on women who in earlier times would have either lost their life, their baby’s life, or both.  There’s also the simple fact that you might be too nervous or anxiety-ridden about the idea of having a birth at home, in which case the calming effects of home-birth would be completely negated it just wouldn’t be worth it.

That being said, the truth of the matter is that most women don’t need these modern medical interventions.  Our media has taught us to believe that labor is an unbearable pain that no sane woman would want to endure, and that giving birth is one life-threatening disaster after another just waiting to happen.  If you watch “Deliver Me” or “A Baby Story” you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Crazy thing is, more often than not it are these very “advances” in medicine that cause problems during labor that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.  Here’s how it goes down: you come in to the hospital at the beginning of your labor.  The nursing staff offers you an epidural right away.  This epidural causes your contractions to stop so they give you pitocin to increase them again.  The more intense contractions caused by the pitocin makes you want to beg for another epidural and they give it to.  Guess what?  Your contractions lessen again they give you more pitocin.  This continues and the up-and-down internal environment is causing your baby’s heart-rate to drop.  Because you are on a constant fetal heart monitor, your doctor says this drop in heart rate means your baby is distressed; the cord could be wrapped around his neck and we’ve got to get him out as soon as possible!  An emergency c-section is performed, and everyone says “Thank God the doctor was here to save your baby’s life.” (As a little side note, the cord being wrapped around your baby’s neck doesn’t mean anything.  Babies don’t breathe through their mouth/lungs in utero, so as long as the umbilical cord isn’t compressed in a way that cuts blood flow to the baby, it could  be wrapped around your baby’s entire body and it wouldn’t cause any danger…but I digress.)

This is not to paint doctors and nurses as evil-doers lurking at your bedside, trying to get you to have the scariest experience of your life.  I’d say just about all of them are wonderful people who want what’s best for you and your baby.  Only problem is, they are trained to believe that what’s best for you and your baby is as much intervention as possible.  They are taught how to handle emergencies and disastrous mishaps that can occur during birth (thank goodness, right?) but with that are taught that every pregnancy should be treated as high-risk.  And if you want to have a totally natural birth, good luck.  Nature takes a while…sometimes with her first child a woman’s labor can last over 72 hours…and hospital staffs do not want that.  Again, it’s not that they’re heartless, but hospitals have a business to run and you taking up a bed for 3+ days cuts in to their profits.  They’ll “kindly suggest” (and that’s putting it nicely) pitocin or even a c-section to get things moving, citing that if your labor is taking that long it means something is wrong and your baby’s health is in danger.

Now that’s not to say that a long labor never indicates something that’s wrong: you could have a calcified cervical band that keeps your cervix from dilating past 7-8 inches in which case, yeah, you’re going to need a c-section because there’s no other way that kid’s getting out.  But for the times where there is nothing wrong and you want a totally natural birth, long labor and all, you are going to have a hard time achieving this at a hospital.

So I suppose the question is, what happens should something like the aforementioned “band” occur, or, God-forbid, a prolapsed cord while at home?  You have a good midwife who also has a good, efficient transfer plan in place.  You prepare ahead of time and make a relationship with a doctor who will act as your back up in the hospital should you need them.  Occurences like these are VERY rare, but it is wise to plan for them.  At the end of the day, research shows that having a home birth, if you are in good health and attended by a certified professional, is just as safe as a hospital birth.

Why have my husband and I decided that a home birth is the  best choice for us?  Because we want my husband to be involved in and needed during the labor and birth, not relegated to a chair in the corner of the room.  Because I want to get to hold and breast feed my baby right after it’s born instead of an hour later.  Because we trust that my body is capable of doing what nature intended.  Because I want to be in the comfort of my own home and feel like I am in control of what is going on with my body.  Like I said earlier, home birth is not the best choice for everyone, and no one should ever be made to feel guilty for making the choice that is best for their family (be it hospital or home).  But know that it is a choice…a perfectly legal choice even here in Nebraska where people will tell you otherwise…that is a beautiful, empowering option.


Loving You Comes Naturally… February 21, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy and Birth — My Natural Family @ 5:19 pm

Let’s face it:  the Rhythm Method created in the 1930s has given natural family planning a bad rap.  When used without error, this calendar-based method (which most consider obsolete) has a 98% success rate for women with perfectly regular cycles (but only a 65% user success rate) and only a 55% success rate for women with irregular cycles.  Last time I checked, 55% was a solid F, and not many women have perfectly regular cycles.  Further more, if you’re trying to achieve pregnancy and aren’t having success, this method tells you nothing about what’s going on in your body or uncovers what the problem is! 

Enter the Natural Family Planning choices of today: just as effective as artificial contraceptives, but without the hormonal component (the pill) or the annoyance component (condoms).  We had a great class about the benefits and of NFP taught at the store on Saturday!   A certified NaPro Technology Practitioner, Rosemary Clements, came in and gave a presentation and answered questions all about the Creighton Model of NFP, a clinically proven, successful method for either achieving or avoiding pregnancy (99% success rate, even!).  The best part of this particular method is that there’s no daily temperature-taking, which can be a huge hassle for some (belive me: I tried the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility Method” and COULD NOT get up at the exact same time every morning to take my basal temperature).  With the Creighton Model, you simply chart your cervical mucus and are able to tell what days of the month you are either fertile or infertile.  This works for women who have irregular cycles, are breastfeeding, or are just coming off artificial contraceptives because it allows for each cycle to vary in length and tells you accurately what days to either go-to-town (if you want a baby) or avoid the bedroom (if a baby is no-go for now).  This is great too because if you’re having a hard-time conceiving, a medical professional can look at your chart history and tell you what’s up with your body.  Certain charts are indicative of having low progesterone, poly-cysctic-ovarian-syndrome (PCOS), and other various reproductive health problems.  A lot of doctors out there will just put you on the pill if your cycles are irregular, which takes care of the symptoms but not the problems.  Same thing with fertility treatments such as IVF: they’re only addressing the symptoms, don’t always work, lead to multiple births and premature babies, and are RIDICULOUSLY expensive!  No thanks.

I think my favorite part of learning more about the Creighton Model (and just NFP in general) is how much closer it brings a couple.  The fact that the divorce rate among users of natural family planning is a mere 3% (compared to the depressing 60% among the country in general) is a good indicator of how much it needs communication, commitment and trust between partners to work.  It turns your relationship into a partnership.  Both man and woman are actively responsible for avoiding or achieving pregnancy together, not just the woman.  And when you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, a couple learns to appreciate each other in ways other than sexual intercourse during the woman’s fertile times through what is called SPICE instruction.  SPICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative/Communicative, and Emotional and represents all aspects of a person’s sexuality.  The couple learns new ways to express these aspects of their relationship to one another through communication, openness and trust and therefore build true intimacy that strengthens their bond and makes their sexual union all the more enjoyable and powerful.   The couple begins to embrace the way they were created by working with their fertility instead of trying to suppress it.

Rosemary had such a great analogy for using artificial vs. natural contraception:  “Knowing your body and when you can and can’t get pregnant is like having a wedding.  You’ll invite someone who you know for sure can come; that’s like having sex when you’re fertile.  Then you’ll invite someone who you know for sure can’t come, but you still want them to know you’d welcome them to your celebration; that’s like having sex when you’re not fertile.  Having sex with artificial contraceptives when you could be fertile is like telling someone, “I wanted to let you know I’m having a wedding, but you’re not invited.” ‘ Perhaps this analogy strikes more of cord with believers of a higher power…they want to make sure God knows He’s always invited…but the beauty of natural family planning is it’s a great tool for a couple regardless of their religious beliefs.  It educates the woman on her reproductive cycle and gives her control over her body.  It encourages trust and commitment.  It doesn’t mess with a woman’s hormone levels.  It is inexpensive.  It basically rocks.


Moms Can Go Cloth Too! February 14, 2011

Filed under: Earth Friendly Products — My Natural Family @ 1:18 pm

*Just a fair warning: to any dads reading this blog, now might be the time to hit the back button on your browser…just sayin’.

I did it.  I made the switch from disposable pads to cloth pads.   Honestly I’ve been staring at these Fuzzi Bunz Comfort Pads hanging on the wall for the past two months and my inner dialogue morphed from “Flippin’ gross!” to “Eh, maaybe,” to “Alright what the hey!”  The idea of having to wash micro-fleece that looked like it had been involved in a murder scene was at first horrifying to me…I mean, don’t you want to deal with that stuff as little as possible?!  Pad comes off, gets rolled up, goes in trash; you’re done and you never have to deal with it again, amen.  I had gotten used to the fact that they are uncomfortable as all get out (let’s be honest: it’s like walking around with a baseball diamond in your underwear), bulky, and leaked a little more than I would like.

But as my husband and I have been taking control of our budget and trying to figure out ways to cut our monthly expenses, I realized I was spending about $15/month on menstrual products (liners/pads/tampons) which doesn’t seem like such a huge deal initially, but that’s $180 per year!  Surely there are other things I’d rather be spending my money on.  I figured to buy a set (three each) of the Fuzzi Bunz cloth liners, regular size, and super absorbency size pads it would cost $43, and after doing some more research learned that, if taken care of properly, these things last for seven years!  So in a seven-year period, I could spend $43 on cloth pads or $1,260 on disposable pads.  The cloth was calling my name louder than ever.

Still, I was hesitant.  Would they work?  Would throwing blood-soaked pads into the laundry be the straw that broke my husband’s back?  The first day of my cycle, the day I had been waiting for (I never thought I’d say THAT) had arrived, and I eagerly snapped my cloth pad in.  I am so stoked to report that not only do they work fabulously (no leaks!), they are the most comfortable thing ever!  It was like sitting on a fluffy little cloud 🙂 Also, they’re not nearly as bulky as my disposables, and there’s none of that adhesive that would somehow end up sticking to me instead of my underwear almost every time.  They wash fantastically (I’ll admit it, I’ve even started hand-washing them and they come out looking like they’ve never been used)!  And I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that without all those irritants and non-breathable materials that make up disposable pads, I feel much “fresher.”

So now, not only do I feel good about saving money, I also can take a little pride in the fact that I’m contributing to less non-biodegradable waste (yay me).  I also don’t feel like a major hypocrite telling moms how wonderful cloth diapers are while buying disposable pads for myself (for shame).

Now all I have to do is conquer my fear of using a Diva Cup…


Girls Are Made With Sugar and Spice and Everything Gender-Stereotypically Ingrained in Them at Birth February 2, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 8:37 pm

I got to take part in some really interesting discussions the other day in my Interpersonal Relations class.  A mother of a young boy exclaimed, and adamantly so, that her boy wasn’t allowed to sit on his cousin’s swing because it was pink, and if he was caught playing dolls or having a tea party with her, he got punished.  I thought it was a bit extreme, but was genuinely curious about what prompted her to be so convinced that a little pink in her boy’s life was such a bad thing, so I asked.

“Because I don’t want to raise my boy to be gay.”

Our teacher chimed in, “I hate to break it to you, but you could dress your boy in a sparkly tutu or soldier camo and it wouldn’t affect his sexuality.”

“Well, maybe,” she retorted.  “But if he plays with stuff like that it might make him a sissy, and he’ll have a hard time succeeding in life because people think men like that are weak.”

“Men like what?” I asked. “Who enjoy the color pink?”

“Not just that, but men who act like girls.  Who talk about their feelings and cry and other ‘girly’ things.”

“What if your girl wanted to wear all blue and play sports with neighborhood boys?  Would that be as upsetting to you?”

“I don’t have any girls, thank God, but if I did that wouldn’t matter to me.  It’s ‘whatever’ if your girl is a tomboy…I’d actually prefer that because she’d probably get a lot further in the career world…but if your boy goes around playing with girls and liking dolls you get worried.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that what this girl was saying sounded ridiculous initially, but after some pondering I realized she was sadly accurate.  Despite all our advances and triumphs as a society, we still equate success with labels attributed being “male”–ie “tough,” “competitive,” “aggressive” –and labels attributed to being “female” as qualities that simply hold one back (“sensitive,” “emotional,” caring,”).   To avoid gender-labeling altogether, let’s get crazy and call those “male” qualities “instrumental” qualities instead and the “female” ones “emotive” qualities.  Doesn’t it seem like both sexes could benefit from possessing both instrumental and emotive characteristics?  I know one of the reasons I love my husband so much is because he’s in touch with his emotions; he’ll fix the leaky faucet and repair a whole in the wall, and then tear up at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (don’t get me started on how many boxes of tissues we go through watching that show).  His ability to recognize his emotional states and comfort in expressing them makes him a great communicator, and someone who is easy to love and grow with.

I think back to the first day at school in one of my Sociology classes: we were going around saying what career path we’d like to follow after graduation.  When we came to one particularly good-looking guy, he said he was studying child psychology and early childhood education because he’d like to be a stay-at-home dad someday, and maybe a kindergarten teacher later.  He was immediately ridiculed by most people in the class…even the women…and I remember thinking how sad that was.  No one bats an eye when a woman expresses a strong desire to be a stay-at-home mom.  Perhaps he’ll find a woman who likes the idea of being able to continue working full-time after the birth of their children.  She’ll bring home the bacon from a rewarding career that she loves and he’ll be living his dream of getting to spend more time nurturing and caring for his children.  Why should there be anything wrong with this picture?  He is by no means a “sissy” (anyone who works as a full-time parent knows exactly what I’m talking about) and his wife wouldn’t necessarily be some cold, emotionless ball-buster.

I suppose the most frustrating thing for me, as a woman, is that on some level this attitude seems to make being a woman less valuable.  “I don’t have any girls, thank God…” Really?  Why are you so thankful you weren’t burdened with any girls?  And this mom is not alone in this thought process:  I’d say most parents are genuinely happy with the idea of simply giving birth to a human baby.  Boy, girl, whatever.  But some parents display a strong interest in having a boy because they want something that will eventually take care of itself, be tough and less vulnerable, and fun to wrestle with.  People who want girls list totally different reasons: they want something soft, quiet, and fun to dress.  And when that boy comes, he better act like one or else.   It’s okay if their little girl likes to play sports or wear blue, but “don’t get too outspoken or assertive, because then men will be intimidated by you and you won’t be able to find a husband” (this sounds absurd, but I’ve actually heard a mother give this advice to her daughter). 

The craziest thing is this mentality is presented to us from the minute we exit the womb.  Girls are wrapped in pink blankets at the hospital; dad passes out blue cigars at the birth of his son.  Moms and dads throw their little boys high in the air while they cuddle their girls gently.  Girls advance verbally faster than boys and every one attributes it to biology, but it’s been proven that parents talk to their girls more than boys from day one.  For their girl parents call her blanket a “blanky,” a cat a “kitty,” a dog a “doggy.”  When boys are learning the names for things, a blanket is “blanket,” a cat is “cat” and a dog is “dog.”  Girls are usually taught to be less direct with their requests: “Maybe we could go see a movie?” where as boys are taught to state their desires directly: “Let’s go to a movie.”  This is not to negate the fact that, yes, there are of course biological differences, both physically and mentally, in the way males and females are structured.  But sometimes I wonder just how much of what we attribute to being “male” or “female” is truly biological or predominately socially ingrained.

At the other end of the spectrum there are parents who make their boys wear dresses and go by names like “Julie” or “Margaret” because they want their boys to be in touch with their “feminine side.”  They believe this will help their sons know what it’s like to be a woman and will therefore teach them to respect women.  I feel like this is just opening the floodgates for massive amounts of future psychotherapy.  Just as it’s not a good idea to pigeonhole your child into the stereotypical gender ideals of their own sex, it’s probably not any more beneficial to force them to adhere to the stereotypical gender roles of the opposite sex.  There is a lack of freedom in both options that keeps the child from growing, learning and reaching their full potential of being their true self…not some ideal that their parents buried into them.  What if we taught both boys and girls from day one to practice both instrumental and emotive qualities that are beneficial for any one to possess: assertiveness, emotional awareness, strength, and sensitivity?  Let’s be a little more rough-and-tumble with our girls and tell our boys it’s okay to cry when they get hurt.  And at the end of the day, if your boy likes to play tea-party with his sister, despite being surrounded by army men and Tonka trucks, well, then that’s your wonderful boy feeling comfortable and free enough to do the things he really likes.  Sit down and join in the party!