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Moms-to-Be Can Keep It Natural: Home Births, Cloth Diapers, Breast Feeding

by Ann Pietrangelo

Moms-to-be have a lot of decisions to make about health, childbirth, and those early days of life. If you’re an expectant mom, you’re probably concerned about health care, smooth delivery, and making good decisions for your baby. That’s as it should be. You’re bringing a new life into the world, and it’s a big deal.

While You’re Expecting: Making Safe Health Care Choices

It’s never too soon to start thinking about how you’ll handle your pregnancy and childbirth. You’ll want to consume nutritious foods, get appropriate exercise, and find a health care provider you can feel comfortable with.

A naturopathic doctor can help keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. They can also offer advice about therapies you already enjoy. If you like massages, acupuncture, or other natural therapies, you don’t necessarily have to avoid them while you’re expecting. “It’s important that your practitioner is knowledgeable of issues having to do with pregnancy,” said Dr. Felice Barnow, Naturopathic Doctor and Midwife at Seattle Naturopathy Acupuncture and Birth Center.

Dr. Barnow tells Natural Choice Network that some techniques may have to be adjusted. “There are qualified practitioners in every modality of natural therapy and they will know what’s safe. Naturopathic doctors are good resources, as are midwives. Make sure you have a safe plan for using natural techniques during pregnancy. When in doubt, it’s better not to take a chance.”

Labor and Delivery: Natural and Smart

All expectant moms have choices to make when it comes to labor and delivery. “There are a lot of ways to go,” said Barnow. “Some people would not really consider having a planned out-of-hospital birth, but they might be amenable to seeing a midwife for pregnancy care and delivering in a hospital. Some may prefer an OB/GYN or a general practitioner. The key is to know yourself, and to some extent, what seems comfortable.”

Ask other moms for recommendations and do some research. Barnow points out that some women may start out with an OB/GYN, but if they’re not getting the answers they want, they may seek out a midwife or naturopath who does in-hospital or at-home delivery. “It’s easy to see if they’re licensed. Regulation for providers who do out-of-hospital birth typically has extremely strict criteria.”

For high-risk pregnancies involving multiple babies, breech presentation, high blood pressure, or other health issues, Barnow advises finding a midwife who will transfer care to an OB/GYN for a safe hospital birth.

Breastfeeding: Help for Mom and Baby

📷According to Barnow, milk production happens in a pretty routine manner during pregnancy, and there’s nothing special you need to do. “As long as you have good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, you should produce healthy milk for your baby.”

With just a little practice, most new mothers breastfeed without too much trouble. Most prenatal educations classes offer the basics.

When things don’t go so smoothly, you’ll need specialized help. “Some women need more support, and it becomes evident quickly. Talk with your naturopath, your OB/GYN, or your primary care doctor,” said Barnow. “Generally, your provider will recommend a lactation consultant for a one-on-one evaluation to find out what’s going on, and to intervene quickly and effectively.”

Lactation specialists and naturopathic doctors can recommend salves, creams, or herbs that can soothe sore or cracked nipples, but are safe for baby, too. “While you’re working that out, make sure a good primary care practitioner is checking to make sure your baby is getting what he or she needs,” said Barnow.

Formula can be expensive, and breastfeeding is healthier for baby. There are many types of breast pumps on the market to help when you have to be away from your baby.

Diapers: Think Health, Environment, Time, and Money

Mark Stief, owner of Baby Diaper Service, is passionate about health and the environment and encourages moms-to-be to investigate their diaper choices. “Babies who wear disposable diapers tend to get more diaper rash. A baby’s skin is one-fifth the thickness of an adult’s. Disposable diapers have about 60 chemicals in them and when you introduce acid, in the form of urine, there’s no telling what the health consequences will be.”

Disposable diapers use a lot of resources and have a lasting effect on our planet. “A single child will require about 715 pounds of plastic, five barrels of oil, and four-and-a-half trees just for disposable diapers. Bundles of contaminated time bombs sit in our landfills, where they’ll last for 250 to 500 years,” said Mr. Stief. “Every disposable diaper ever created is still on the earth somewhere.”

Stief says he can wash three days worth of a child’s diapers with the amount of water it takes to flush the toilet once. He uses natural soaps and environmentally safe products. Unfortunately, because bag recyclers don’t want them, the plastic bags used for delivery are discarded. “Our garbage per customer is measured in grams, versus the pounds of garbage generated by disposable diapers.”

If you’re a mom-to-be, you’re probably thinking about convenience and cost, too.

Most diaper services provide the diaper pail and provide pickup and delivery services. After changing a diaper, you don’t have to do anything more than put it in the pail. “Today’s diapers don’t require pins. They have diaper covers that close with Velcro and set up a nice moisture barrier. I really don’t find them less convenient,” said Stief. “I never minded spending a few extra seconds with my children in a personal and loving fashion.”

Typically, a child wearing disposable diapers will take six months to a year longer to potty train than child who wears cloth diapers, according to Stief. Those babies also tend to need more creams and ointments to treat rashes, too. That adds up to a lot of money.

Keeping it all Together

Sometimes, the addition of a new baby can be stressful for the rest of the family. Even under the best of circumstances, there’s a period of adjustment for parents and siblings. A little research before your baby is born can save you the burden of having to figure it all out during those early and sometimes exhausting weeks.

Doulas help out while you’re expecting, but they can also be of great comfort after your baby is born. You can arrange for your doula to visit and lend support postpartum. Make it easy on yourself and get the information you need before your baby is born.

Remember the saying, “It takes a village?” Take it to heart. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Lean on family and friends and network with other parents. This is the stuff of life. Take time to enjoy it.

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of "No More Secs!" and “Catch That Look,” a freelance writer, and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.


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