Tag Archives: natural

Add some “Crunch” to your Life

I came across this quiz to determine your “crunch” factor the other day. Turns out, I fall under the “Mmm! Love that whole-grain crunch!” category. I’ve never considered myself particularly crunchy, but love that I am. I must admit that since my first pregnancy, I have become more and more careful about what I put in and on my body, my children’s bodies, and our living space.

In honor of upcoming Earth Day, here are 5 simple ways to make your life a little greener & crunchier.

Clothcloth diapers and wipes for the kiddos. Mama cloth (reusable menstrual pads) for the mamas. I love them both. There are so many online and brick and mortar stores offering cloth, the choices are endless. There are also cloth diaper services available in most larger cities. Once you make the commitment, you’ll never go back. It takes a little trial and error, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and even fun. Plus, cloth diapers require eco friendly laundry detergents that you just might start using for all your clothes, a nice bonus.

Nontoxic Cleaners – there are so many nontoxic brands of cleaners you can buy, you’re bound to find one you like. Real Simple magazine highlighted the best cleaning products in an article this month, many of which are non-toxic. You can make your own green cleaning products – pinterest and other places are a great way to find recipes. Oftentimes, going green can save you money and the products are just as good if not better than their toxic counterparts. And, you can feel better about surrounding your family with less chemicals and leaving less chemicals in our landfills.

CSA or Farmer’s Market – community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmer’s markets are great alternatives to grocery stores. I’ve noticed that the produce seems to be going downhill while the prices are going uphill at the grocery stores lately. CSAs and farmers markets give you fresh produce for less cost. It’s usually organically grown and doesn’t have to travel so far, so it’s fresher by the time it hits your kitchen. This is great if you have a baby too, the less chemicals in those first bites, the better. One more fun way to eat fresh – grow your own! My daughter and I planted spinach, baby carrots and strawberries in container gardens on our deck last summer. It was fun, easy & delicious!

Green Beauty – from shampoos and soaps to lotions and make-up, women put a lot on their skin. I’ve been moving steadily greener and greener with my beauty product choices for the past 10 years. Aveda and Origins are big companies that offer make-up and skin care products with a natural slant. Burt’s Bees, Neutrogena Naturals, Apivita and Reviva are also on my beauty shelf. Next time you run out of a product, try a more natural version. Your skin will thank you.

Recycle – recycling all your plastics, cans, glass and paper is a no brainer. But you can think of creative ways to reuse/recycle things as well. I’ve recently decided to use brown paper bags for gift wrap – my daughter has a blast painting, coloring or adding stickers to decorate the gifts. It saves money, looks cool and provides a fun activity for little hands. Cardboard boxes can provide endless fun for an imaginative child. And you could use old magazines, tissue-type packaging and cards for fun crafts as well. There are so many ideas on the web for fun, eco-friendly crafts you can do with your kids with old stuff you have lying around.

If you’d love to live a greener, crunchier life, but are overwhelmed with all the options, don’t fret. Simply try one thing at a time and see how it goes. And don’t feel guilty if you decide to cloth diaper, but still use a disposable from time to time. Or if you find a great all purpose green cleaner, but don’t want to give up a bathroom cleaner that you love. The point is to take little steps at a time because even little choices can make a big difference for you, your family and the planet. And, guilt is overrated – so, focus on the positive and you might end up getting crunchier as the years go by.

I got extra crunchy points for co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding over a year, and making some homemade baby foods. If I can do it, you can too! In honor of Earth Day, make a pledge to yourself to get a little more crunchy! Good luck and have fun!

Some local resources (not all inclusive, but some of my faves): Peapods, Do Good Diapers, Creative Kidstuff, Garden of Eden, Party in my Pants, Golden Fig, The Bistro Farm

Active Birth

Active BIrthDancing, standing, squatting or doing yoga poses while laboring? As a first time pregnant woman, these thoughts would’ve never crossed my mind. I consider myself to be a pretty educated woman, I read lots of books on pregnancy, and their sections on birth. I’d seen plenty of women laboring in TV shows or on movies. One of my college roommates loved TLC The Birth Story, so I caught various episodes of that. My mother birthed five children naturally. And, I took a birthing class, which included a few graphic birth videos. Most of those births were the same. A woman watching TV at home or walking the halls of the maternity ward, pausing occasionally to grimace through a contraction. A woman possibly using a birthing ball either at home or in the hospital. When the final time came, with or without drugs, the women were reclining in a hospital bed, birthing their children. I think this is fairly typical of what women expect birth to be like in our country.

This was more or less my experience with my first child. And it was fine.

Before the birth of my second child, I decided to read and research much more about the actual labor and birth process than about the pregnancy. Both are important, I just felt that I’d really gone in blind the first time. So, I did. This is where I learned all about the idea of being active while birthing.

Active Birth was a book listed in the resource section of my OB’s booklet on pregnancy and birth. It became one of my favorites. The book provides valuable information on preparing physically and mentally for natural child-birth, even in a hospital setting. It is empowering to view birth as something you are an active participant in rather than just something that happens to you. I enjoyed learning the benefits of an “upright” labor and birthing positions and the overarching message to listen to the rhythms of your body. The recommended exercises for pregnancy and postpartum are very similar to the prenatal yoga classes taught at Blooma , which I love. The Blooma prenatal yoga DVD also includes birth stories, in which women do dance, sway, use yoga poses, squat and birth in “alternative” ways. These poses and exercises make total sense for preparing a woman’s body for birth and beyond.

Thanks to the ideas in Active Birth and all of the other research I did, I went into my second birth much more prepared. I danced, swayed, squatted, stood, and used a birthing ball through most of my labor. And it was wonderful.

The Other Little Black Dress

I didn’t want to wear a hospital gown for my second birth. I didn’t want to feel like a patient, like birth was an illness or an injury. I wanted to celebrate it and treat it as a natural event. So, I searched for the perfect gown. It had to be modest, not too pricey and hospital-friendly. I was not having any luck, and then I found a blog entry about Pretty Pushers. I was curious. A few clicks later, I was sold.

Pretty Pushers are hospital-friendly gowns designed specifically to be worn while giving birth. They are comfortable, ultra soft and beautiful. However, for me, they have nothing to do with vanity. Birth is one of the most unpredictable events in life. You just never know how it will turn out. I bought my Pretty Pusher (the pale purple, I Dream of Coffee version) and was excited about it, but didn’t know if I’d really want to wear it when the big day arrived.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had visions of spending early labor in the comfort of my home, supported by my husband and doula. I had a relaxing playlists all picked out to help me zen out through the tougher contractions and ideas about spending special time with my 3 year-old, possibly baking the new baby a birthday cake, before labor got intense. I had aromatherapy scents, special heating pads, a birthing ball and yoga poses at the ready.

When the time came, nothing went as planned. At my 39 week appointment, I found out I had low water and was admitted and induced that day. I didn’t get to go home and get my things. I didn’t get to bake with my daughter or feel the onset of labor. I didn’t get to prepare emotionally while my body slowly geared up physically for the big event. Instead, I found myself alone in a hospital room, waiting for my husband to return and for my Pitocin induced unnatural labor to begin. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty disappointed, worried about the baby and very patient-like.

The first thing I did when my husband got there was put on the Pretty Pusher. And it immediately lifted by mood. It reminded me that regardless of the situation, I could still make the best of it. I could still access my inner empowered, birthing goddess. And I did make the best of it. All my preparations weren’t for naught. And, I really tested the hospital-friendly part of that Pretty Pusher. I didn’t have to take mine off for fetal monitoring, the epidural or the birth. My nurses had never seen one before and they loved it.

Pretty Pushers’ slogan is: “It’s Your Labor – Own It!” I agree 100% and highly recommend them to all birthing women.

Fluffy Butts

My journey with cloth diapering has been one of trial and error. Before my oldest was born in 2008, I looked into cloth diapering. I liked the idea of putting something natural against my baby’s skin, not leaving human waste wrapped in plastic to sit in landfills for the next 500 years, and not literally throwing money out with the trash. I’m lucky enough to have access to Peapods, a local natural baby specialty store. I went in several times to learn about diapering options and to purchase supplies. I went with prefolds and even scheduled a diaper service for the first few weeks. I was excited about all of this and then the baby came, and even with my great intentions, it didn’t happen. I was just too overwhelmed with taking care of a newborn and couldn’t quite figure out how to fold and get those prefolds on my wiggly little girl.

About 6 months in, I tried again. This time, I tried a pocket diaper and an all-in-one in addition to the prefolds. I used them for a while, at home only, before giving up again.

A few months after my daughter’s first birthday, I did some more research, got my husband on board, and purchased a bunch of one-size pocket diapers that were new to the market at the time. They were Smartipants, cheaper than some of their competition, with good reviews and an insert that comes out in the wash, even in HE washers. I also added a few size-appropriate Thirsties wraps for my prefolds. I set one of the settings on my washer for cloth diapers – a prewash, heavy wash and an extra rinse. It worked great, even my baby sitters thought the diapers were easy to use. My daughter’s sensitive skin was no longer permanently red rashed and I felt so much better. Much less guilt about both the planet and my bank account. I tried lots of different brands and cloth diapering really became fun to me and my daughter. She gave them the nickname, “fluffy butts,” which has stuck in our household.

And, now my second child is in cloth at only a few months old. I’m excited to see how it goes this time and to try new brands along the way. I have used disposables with her, but try to always get more natural types. My favorite is a compostable disposable called Broody Chick out of Canada, but they are a bit pricey. So far, I’m loving the fit of Kissaluvs contours with Thirsties duo wrap covers and Charlie Banana one size. She’s just gotten big enough to fit in the Smartipants one size.

Cloth diapering also introduced me to the existence of reusable cloth menstrual pads, which I love. I know it might sound kind of gross, but it really isn’t. And it makes so much sense. They are softer, more comfortable and more breathable than disposables. And, if you’re already cloth diapering, just throw them in with the diapers. There are tampon alternatives, but if I feel like I need something for a heavier flow, I use Natracare brand tampons. They are all natural with none of the chemicals that regular brands use. I see it as a feminist issue – as women, we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies (and our children’s bodies). It seems that products marketed to women geared towards our reproductive organs (and our children), are not necessarily always long-term tested or safe. We deserve better.

Everyone should at least give reusable cloth a try. I think they’re so great, I even wrote an article about them for Savvy Women’s Magazine. And as they grow in popularity, more and more brands are becoming available. My current faves are GladRags and Party in my Pants. I know Party in my Pants offers the “cloth curious” woman a free pad to try. But be forewarned, once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

If you’ve ever considered cloth, for your kids or you, remember to keep trying. There are so many different types of diapers (and pads) these days, you are bound to find a “fluffy butt” that will work for you and your child’s bottom. Your child’s skin, the earth, and your bank account will thank you.

Natural Hospital Birth

Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel is a fantastic resource for women wanting a natural experience, but also the peace of mind of birthing in a hospital with all the technology available in the small chance that anything would go wrong. It is empowering, accessible and smart. Gabriel’s passion for birth is evident and she knows her stuff – it is a great resource for first time birthing mothers because she references so many of the natural birth schools of thought. It is also one of the first birthing books I’ve read that gives an extremely detailed account of not only the physical stages of each part of labor, but also the emotional stages women might go through as well.

Gabriel has an extensive section on birth plans and why they are important. She guides the reader through questions to write a dream birth, a detailed birth plan for themselves and their support (partner/doula), and a medical team birth plan (much shorter and focused). She even recommends how to phrase certain things to ensure a higher level of respect and cooperation in a hospital birth setting. It encourages a partnership between parents and medical staff to bring about the best birth experience for families.

It is a great contribution to the natural birth literature out there and a must read for birthing women!


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