37 weeks

We made it! 37 Weeks!

After the great Braxton Hicks scare of 29 weeks, I’ve been counting the weeks (days, hours) down to 37 weeks. I’m planning to have my baby at a birthing center and they won’t take me before then. Every day I’ve talked to my baby and reminded him how much longer he needed to wait.

Also, there’s a couple great natural third-trimester recommendations that I’ve been technically in the clear for but I’ve been holding off on both. One is red raspberry leaf tea and the other is eating dates.

Red Raspberry Leaf tea was recommended for me when I was towards the end of my pregnancy last time. I don’t know when I would have been recommended to start because I switched to my birthing center already at 35 weeks. But I remember I started off with a little tea every day and by the end they had me drinking 3 cups with 3 tea bags each. Let me tell you, that was some strong tea! The tea builds up in your system over time and helps during labor, so it’s good to keep drinking it and allow it to accumulate. It is generally said that you should start taking the tea in your third trimester and that you should start with one cup a day.

The tea is believed to strengthen the uterus and help shorten the second stage of labor. It is also believed to assist postpartum by supporting breastmilk supply and toning the uterus back to its original size. I found this great article that explains more and shares an Australian study with measurable information of its benefits.

However, one of the ways you know it’s working, is a possible increase in Braxton Hicks contractions. Since I’ve been having a healthy dose of those as it is, I waited to start the tea until I asked my midwives. They said it was fine and to take it early in the morning so the Braxtons wouldn’t keep me up at night. I took the tea with a little apprehension and did feel an increase in Braxton Hicks throughout the day. Since I was counting down the weeks, days and hours to 37 weeks I opted to wait until after that milestone to try the tea again.

The other natural third-trimester recommendation I learned of was eating dates. A friend of the family who lives in China had recently randomly brought us dates as a gift from home. She said if I get pregnant, they will help the baby come out. Later that weekend we announced to the family that I WAS pregnant. She circled back around and exclaimed excitedly that the dates would help with that! I had never heard of dates for pregnancy before that day. But a few weeks later, I came across this article that talked about dates as a natural labor induction method. It says “randomized trials have found that eating date fruit in late pregnancy, around 60-80 grams a day of fruit, may increase cervical ripening, reduce the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation, and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss”

That all sounded like great news! The article recommends as of 36 weeks pregnant, to eat seven pieces of dates every day. Well, I didn’t think the dates would be quite that magical but if I had waited this long, I would wait one more week to 37 just in case.

Well today is the day! I literally was watching the clock yesterday thinking ‘If I get a contraction right now, would I make it to midnight before needing to call?’ and then ‘Ok, I think I could make it 6 hours’ and then at 10 pm ‘Yes! That’s close enough, made it!’ I’m so thankful to have made it to 37 weeks and now I can breathe easy knowing my little boy can come whenever he wants. I really want him here before Thanksgiving so I’ll be drinking my Red Raspberry Leaf Tea with a side of dates until I get to welcome him home!

Having some Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and dates to celebrate 37 weeks!

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EC- a different way of thinking about pottying

When do you think a child goes in the potty for the first time? Two years old maybe? When do you think they start being able to control when they go? …again, two years old maybe? How about two months old… or two weeks old! Say whaaaat?!

Another wonder of the natural parenting world that I learned of through my Bradley Birth teacher was EC: Elimination Communication. EC is a different approach to pottying, not potty training, by the way. It’s not about training, it’s about communication.

EC has two principles that go against much of conventional pottying thinking. Babies are born with the instinct to not soil themselves and they are born with the ability to hold it. Think about it, traditionally the belief is that babies have no control of their body elimination functions. They just go when they go and that’s that. And they end up sitting and wiggling in their own filth, and they seem pretty dandy with that too.

But here’s the thing: babies don’t like feeling soiled. However, they get put in a diaper where they feel it all the time, and they get used to it. It basically ends up making no difference whether they hold it or not, so they just go. They learn that it’s ok to soil themselves any time, any place. And then, roughly two years later, they have to unlearn it, and learn how to use a potty instead.

According to healthline.com, in the US, average starting potty training age is somewhere between 18 months and 3 years old, most commonly around 27 months. It’s often advised to look for signs of when a child is “ready” to start using the potty. But some kids (who are now toddlers, at this point) have a tough time letting go of the diapers they have gotten so used to.

I was inspired to write this post because I recently came across some blasts from my daughter’s past:

First time peeing in the potty, at five and a half months old!

This came up in my memories today. My daughter was five and a half months old. You can see in the picture how little she was, and you can see that on that same day, she went in her potty for the first time!

I remember that she would “pee on cue” waaaaay before then, but unfortunately I have no “evidence” of it. :/ We used to check her diaper (lying down, on her changing pad) and we’d say “psss, pshh, pss…” and quite often, she’d pee! Just into her actual diaper, and then we’d put a fresh clean diaper on her, and go on with the day. I don’t know how old she was, but she was just a couple weeks old when we started.

I would also bring her into the bathroom with me when I had to go, and I noticed that more often than not, when I would go, she would go too. This started creating an association for her that the bathroom is the room you go potty in. We would also check her diaper often, and change it as soon as we noticed it was wet. We went through a LOT of diapers this way, but it nurtured her instinct to stay clean. This was before she started sitting on her own potty, because she was too little to sit up at all yet.

I remember when she started sitting up on her own, I took her to Babies R Us and sat her (diapered and fully clothed) on a little potty, on the floor, in the middle of the potty aisle. She wiggled and fussed. Not ready yet. I went back a few days later and tried again. Same reaction. Still not ready yet. A few days later, I tried one more time. This time she just sat calmly on the potty. She was ready! I bought it, took it home, sat her on it and nothing happened the first try. But the second time I sat her in it, eureka! There was pee in the potty!

I found this in my memories too:

Proud mommy moment at my daughter using the potty like a pro, at just one year and three months old.

By now she was a year and three months old, and I just couldn’t help myself in sharing. I had one of my (non-mommy) friends comment that she got I was proud, but gross. But the point is, just-over-one year olds aren’t typically using the potty yet, especially not this successfully. But they can be!

The C for Communication in EC is all about having a closer connection to your child when it comes to pottying. It’s another line of communication in getting to know each other. You learn to pay attention to the signs they show when they need to go, especially when they’re tiny. You set up “pottytunities” and learn when they are likely to need the potty. The easiest place to start is to give baby a pottytunity right when she wakes up, either from a nap or from overnight. The next easiest thing to do, is to put baby fully clothed on a potty (or something similar to it, like a Bumbo or a bouncer) when you go potty, and keep them right next to you, and then check/change their diaper right after. As baby gets a little bigger, they’ll be comfortable sitting in a potty. Either their own tiny one, or the actual grown-up one.

This was the other blast from the potty past that I recently found:

News from her first day in her new Early Pre-School class.

This is from her first day in her new Early Pre-School class. At this point, she was 27 months old. Most toddlers are just starting to learn to use the potty. You can see her teachers were impressed that she went on her very first try. But she’d been using the potty for almost two years.

She still wasn’t fully potty independent (as they say in the EC world) until about two and a half years old, but it was a super smooth transition, especially at home. She had some shyness issues to work through at daycare. She also almost never would go overnight (even when she was a baby), and never had night accidents once she was fully out of diapers.

I learned about EC through my Bradley teacher, but I learned all about it from the Diaper Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh. It was super interesting and a really easy read.

Paperback The Diaper Free Baby : The Natural Toilet Training Alternative Book
A wonderful resource to learn all about EC!

You can also visit diaperfreebaby.org for more information and to find a local EC support group.

As with many things, EC is something you can jump into headfirst, or something you can just dip your toe in. In other words, some parents actually go diaper free, and others do EC here and there, when they can. It’s really just another tool for your parenting toolbox. More than anything, to me, it’s a shift in perspective. Babies CAN have a part in keeping themselves clean and using the potty early on. It’s something that made my life easier (less soiled diapers!) and a way I felt more closely connected to my baby. It’s something that I didn’t know existed, and I’m happy to have found. So I pass it on to you! I hope it brings you closer to your baby… and farther from their dirty diapers!

Lilly in a cloth diaper

What’s Stopping You From Cloth Diapering?

Is it the laundry?  Is it the money? Is it the poop?!?!  

When my daughter was a tiny little thing, I knew I wanted to try cloth diapering.  I wanted to do it mostly because I wanted to do something positive for the earth instead of creating waste that will sit around for the next 500 years or so.

Two Years of Disposables vs Two Years of Cloth

But what stopped me was the research.  I had read (briefly) that to cloth diaper, you would invest a few hundred dollars for everything you need.  I felt guilty spending the money on something that I didn’t know if I would be able to do successfully or not.  But mostly, I felt like I was shooting in the dark as far as what brands to buy, how to wash them, what would work and what wouldn’t.  I knew there was lots (loads, endless amounts) of information out there, but I didn’t have the energy to sift through it all. I had no clue what brand to try and I had no good way of seeing and touching different ones to get a feel for what I wanted.

Of my many new mommy friends, I only had two friends who cloth diapered and they both had completely different approaches, which confused me even more.  And one of them lives in another state so it wasn’t easy to get advice from her.

I checked Babies R Us and they carried gDiapers.  They looked so cute but I thought they were kind of pricey.  I felt like I was already spending so much money on diapers that I didn’t feel justified spending even more on something that might not work for me.  They had nothing at Target and the only other baby store near me had one other brand that I was not familiar with.

I decided to try gDiapers.  They were the ones I constantly saw (since I was in Babies R Us multiple times a week at this point) but I bought one single pre-loved diaper on eBay.  This mitigated my guilt over spending the money and it was a way of testing the waters without a huge investment.

My little Birdy in her cute little gDiaper at 3.5 months old

I was so proud of myself for having tried this out!  I’m not much of an eBayer so it was an ordeal for me to find what I wanted, stalk the price, make the lowest bid and win!  Finally when I tried the diaper, I loved how it looked, but it leaked every time I tried to use it. Looking back, even just from looking at the picture above, I can see why!  It was not put on properly, but I hadn’t stopped to see how you put on a cloth diaper. It actually hadn’t even occurred to me at the time that there was such a thing between a “right” and “wrong” way to put one on.

I didn’t stop to do research or join cloth diapering facebook groups (nor did I even think this was a thing at the time).  So I quickly gave up and sold the diaper back to the next eBayer and went back to disposables. I felt somewhat better for having tried at all, but I knew it was a feeble attempt.

Fast forward about six years when I decided to take the plunge and start this business.  One of my biggest motivations is being the resource for someone else that I didn’t have back then.  There IS a lot of information out there, but once you understand it, it’s not complicated at all! Especially if you have someone that can explain it to you in person.  Plus, now I know the different ways to cloth diaper and I can help you choose the one that will fit best with your life and your family!

For a lot of the moms I talk to, what stops them is the laundry.  This is a legitimate concern.  After all, there’s no way around it.  Cloth diapers have to be washed. But the good news is, this can be made simple too!  Step one: throw dirty diapers in the wash for a short cycle using some soap. Step two: start a second long cycle using full recommended amount of soap.  Step three: toss in dryer on low heat. That’s it! I mean, there can be more to it than that (this is a link to a post all about How to Wash Cloth Diapers) but that’s it in a nutshell. The easiest way to fit cloth diaper laundry into your routine is to wash your baby clothes with your cloth diapers.  This solution isn’t for everyone, but it is a way to make it even easier for you.

I know for some moms, they hesitate because it can be a big investment.  I mean, this was also a big part of what stopped me.  I had read that you need to spend hundreds of dollars to cloth diaper and I just couldn’t spend that kind of money on something I was unsure of.  But what I didn’t realize then was that cloth diapering can save you SO much money! Like hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Impactful to see not just the trash but the spending!

When I thought I couldn’t afford to cloth diaper, I should have thought that I couldn’t afford not to!  Yes you can spend hundreds of dollars on a cloth diaper stash. (It’s kind of like shoes.. How many pairs do you REALLY need vs how many do you have) But you can also diaper full time with as little as $200.  You can also try just a couple brands and types for $40 or so to find what you like. To me, when you have someone explain what you’re ACTUALLY buying and the difference between one product and another, it makes me more comfortable and confident in what I’m choosing to invest my money on.  Once again, that’s what I’m here for!

And let’s not forget, the dreaded poop.  I don’t know if many parents would actually come out and say this is what keeps them from cloth diapering, but I think it’s definitely something that crosses everyone’s mind as well as a reality for all parents.  With disposables, you wrap up the stinky mess and toss in it a diaper genie or something similar and hope for the most airtight seal you can have. If you’ve been there, you know it doesn’t always end up being a stink-free situation.  But what you might not know is you’re not supposed to throw poop away in the trash like that! It’s actually a public safety concern (see here per the American Health Association). Human waste is meant to be properly disposed of in the toilet. That’s my PSA on that.  But I digress…

With cloth diapers you have the inevitable task of dealing with your baby’s poop in a more up close and personal way.  But you have several options, some a lot less hands-on than others. The first option, if your baby is exclusively breast fed, is to do nothing!  Breastmilk poop is water soluble and you can toss the dirty diaper right in the wash with no problems. However, if formula or solids are involved, or if you’re just not comfortable throwing a poopy diaper in with your non-poopy laundry, you have to get the poop off before you wash the diaper.

Poop Removal Assistants

The easiest choice is a flushable liner (pictured, top right).  This is a thin sheet that sits on top of your diaper’s absorbent inner pieces.  When baby poops, it keeps the mess away from the diaper pieces that you wash. You just take the sheet and the poop and flush it all away.  Easy peasy. And the ones I carry are bamboo, so they’re still a natural, soft material against baby’s skin.

The next option is a diaper sprayer (pictured, left side).  This attaches to your toilet and you spray the poop off the diaper and into the toilet.  This will also leave your diaper poop free and wash-ready. Along with this option, you can use a washable liner (pictured, bottom right).  This is just a way to keep you from having to rinse the whole inner diaper piece. It’s a thin layer that sits in baby’s diaper (just like the flushable liner) and leaves you with just that small piece of fabric to get the poop off of.

There are other methods if you want to be low-tech or creative.  Some people keep a designated spatula in their bathroom to scrape the poop off with or whatever.  Honestly, once baby gets into solids and out of blowouts, you can just kind of roll it off into the potty and that’s that.

So what’s your reason?  Or more importantly, what’s your reason to WANT to cloth diaper?  Is it the environmental impact?  The savings? The natural materials vs chemicals being on your baby’s skin 24 hours a day for years of their life?  The cuteness of the darn diapers?! The benefits can greatly outweigh the effort, especially if you have help pointing you in the right direction.  Remember that cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition and as with most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And as always, I’m here to help in any way I can to make it simple and worthwhile for you and your family!


My Start as a Hippie Mommy

I want to take a moment and share why I consider myself to be a hippie mommy.  And I think it appropriate to start at my “graduation date” aka the day my daughter was born!  And speaking of appropriate, seven years ago TODAY, was the day it all happened!

When I was pregnant, I wanted to have a natural birth.  I was reading several pregnancy books and I stumbled across the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (http://www.bradleybirth.com/).  I’m going to pause and say that finding Bradley changed my life.  Big statement, I know, but it was really the start of a new perspective on pregnancy, birth, and all things parenting.  The Bradley Method was a 12 week course and it made me realize that natural birth is nothing to take lightly. As my instructor put it, you don’t decide to run a marathon and just buy the shoes, go for a couple runs, and then run the whole race.  You train! You prepare yourself. Bradley was that preparation. It educated me and daddy to really know what to expect during labor and delivery. What was going on, and how to best adapt to the current situation.

Me at 7 months pregnant on the beach in my homeland of Costa Rica.

When we first sat with our instructor, she asked where we were planning for me to give birth.  We told her at a local hospital. She said ok, but just keep your minds open because after you learn what you are going to learn, you may change your choice.  Ok, well you know, you never know what will happen so to play it safe we’d feel more comfortable at a hospital. We continue our classes and learn of all the things we do and don’t want as part of my birth.  We write a birth plan. It includes things like no continuous electronic fetal monitoring, no internal checks every hour, no pitosin, no episiotomy. I also wanted a water birth, and the hospital had a bathtub in the room, but you can’t go in it after your water breaks.  You know, when you need it most, but anyways, risk of infection and all that. We sit with our ObGyn to let him know all the things we do and don’t want and he very kindly explains that for mommy and baby’s safety, they can’t honor those wishes because their top priority is making sure everyone is safe and that’s just what they need to do.  Hmm, well now we knew enough to know that, in a healthy pregnancy, that’s just not necessarily true.

So we decided to go tour a birthing center, just to compare.  Every point that we said “we want to do this” the answer was “sure, no problem”.  I mean, within reason. If it comes down to a true emergency, they will do whatever they need to do to make sure everyone is safe.  But they respected the kind of birth I wanted to have and were able to provide that experience for me. I want to save my whole birthing story for another post (spoiler alert, perfectly healthy baby born in a birthing center, and I am SO glad that we made the switch!)  But suffice to say, choosing a birthing center was totally the first flower in my hippie crown.

Inspiration Family Birth Center where my daughter was born.
(Sorry I couldn’t fix the formatting but I figured a not-cropped picture was better than none!)

During our Bradley classes, our instructor also talked to us about co-sleeping, babywearing, Elimination Communication, amber teething necklaces and Baby-Led Weaning.  See why she changed my life? Again, stay tuned for blog posts on each of those practices, but it was so eye-opening to even know these things were out there! I did each of these things with my daughter and each one brought us closer together and more in touch with each other.

Something I loved about Dr. Bradley is that he grew up on a farm.  He watched animals do their thing when it came time to give birth. Fast forward and he becomes a doctor and watches how “modern” women give birth in a hospital.  There was a huge disconnect in these two birthing ways! Yes science and medicine have come a long way and no I have no desire to crawl into a barn and give birth in a pile of hay.  But there IS a lot of wisdom in nature and I think the closer we can get to the way things are naturally done, the better off we are.

I think trusting our instincts goes a long way too.  When your baby cries, it sucks. When you pick them up and comfort them, it feels awesome.  Their soft little skin on your face as you give them kisses and cuddles feels great. Then a study comes out saying it actually is scientifically proven that there are therapeutic benefits of touch!  But you didn’t need a published article to tell you that. Follow your instincts, in your gut and your heart it feels right.

Me and my little Bird on my 30th birthday. She was 11 days old.

There are lots of mainstream parenting practices that are really easy to just do because it’s what you do.  I mean look at any baby shower decorations and you’ll see cute pictures of baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers… all of these are actually optional.  There is so much room for reducing waste and using natural products. This of course spins out beyond parenting into everyday life. Now that my daughter is older, it’s not about the baby stuff.  It’s about composting, recycling and reducing waste wherever we can. It’s about spending less time indoors and more time outdoors. It’s about eating clean and remembering to stretch. I do still live in an All-American suburb and drive an SUV.  But I do try to turn off the AC and open the windows when I can. It’s all about balance and striving to do just a little bit more every day.

So that’s my origin story, so to speak.  As I go on, I’ll share my experience with each of these practices in more detail and I hope to inspire you to trust your instincts, live a little greener, and celebrate your inner hippie.