Dear Soon-To-Be Natural Mama,
I heard you were looking into water birth and checking the labels on baby lotion, and thought I'd head over to say, "Hi," and teach you a thing or two about natural parenting.
When I was pregnant with my son, I ate mostly organic food and took Bradley birth classes. I was proud of the natural environment I was creating for my boy, and couldn’t wait for him to get here so I could keep on being the natural, organic, crunchy mom I fancied myself to be.
Then he was born, and I started spending time with other moms in online natural parenting groups and – wow – I did not know what I was in for.
The way eyebrows were raised at the mention of letting my boy eat cake on his first birthday, or moving him to his own room at 16 months, you'd have thought I was letting him chow-down on lead paint before he could crawl.
I’ve come to realize that I fail more than I succeed in the natural parenting game. Despite my failings, I've learned quite a bit about what it means to be crunchy. Though most of the mamas out there are normal and nice and just looking out for their little ones health and safety, there is a good chunk of the crunchy mama community that can be, well, a little bit competitive.
If you’re ready for a challenge, though, and have a burning desire to out-natural all the other mothers in your circle, I’ve got some tips I think might help:
Some women use ovulation predictor kits to get pregnant. Or they time their cycle and chart using their temperature.
Don’t do this. Use natural family planning, and learn to feel your eggs drop. If you miss that magical, fertile feeling, know when you’re going to ovulate by syncing your cycles with the lunar calendar, and with the cycles of your ancestors.
During your fertile time of the month fill your bathtub with essential oils and ask your acupuncturist to send positive energy your way. Wonder out loud, and with great frequency, why some women resort to technology when they could just spend time getting to know their bodies.
When you get pregnant, don’t take a pregnancy test. Wait until you feel kicks to confirm your baby is there. Eat purely. Avoid unnecessary testing. Trust that your baby is growing as it should.
Find a doctor who can tell everything they need to know by placing both hands lightly on your belly and closing their eyes. Ask for ways to lengthen your pregnancy, don’t give birth before 42 weeks.
Sunbathe every afternoon and visualize your child forming. When you see a misbehaving child in the grocery store, whisper to your partner about how it’s probably because the mother was stressed during pregnancy.
Some parents ask the doctor not to share their child’s sex during the 20 week anatomy scan. Be better than that. Don’t find out your baby's sex, ever. Close your eyes until they’re swaddled after birth and learn to bathe them blindfolded to ensure you don’t raise them with gendered expectation.
When they’re old enough, ask them whether they’d like to share their thoughts on sex and gender with you. If they say no, accept it, it’s their choice. Shake your head in silence anytime you see a bow on a baby girl's head.
Most women have a hospital birth. Some ladies give birth at a birth center. The best mothers give birth at home. But you can be better. Find a stream in a forest near your house. Ask your birth shaman to meet you there, and to purify the water upstream. Light candles. Burn sage. Ask that everyone be silent as your child emerges.
Carry them home still attached to their placenta. Darken your home to liken it to your womb, and spend the first six weeks of your baby’s life shushing to the beat of your heart, so they feel safe and attached. Make sure your birth photographer only posts the most goddess-like images of your labor.
Some “natural” parents use cloth diapers. Don’t. Don’t use any diapers at all. Develop the kind of attachment that gives you the power to know what your child needs before they grimace and grunt.
Spend their first two months of their life looking into their eyes and holding them over an antique chamber pot. Make sure the chamber pot is locally sourced. Make sure it’s handmade. Make sure your child is pooping into something rustic and free of unnatural dyes.
Make sure you share that “training” is a cruel word to apply to children (they’re not animals after all) anytime someone mentions potty-training their own kid.
Some parents breastfeed for a year or two. You should breastfeed longer and make sure your milk is more pure. While you’re breastfeeding, eat a vegan, soy-free, gluten-free diet. Most days you should eat only nuts. Go meet the man who grows your cashews. Make sure he doesn’t snack on processed foods as he harvests your lunch.
When it’s time to add solids to your baby’s diet at two or three years old, make sure you’ve grown a wide variety of vegetables that they can choose from. Make sure your garden has been fertilized by nothing but breast milk. Let your child harvest their first food. Felt a gardening hat and whittle them a trowel for the experience.
Bring your own food to birthday parties and holidays, make sure to slap the fork out of anyone’s hand who dares offer your child cake from a box. Educate them on the dangers of red dye.
Some mothers take their children to mommy-and-me music. Others put their kids in sports. If you’ve raised them naturally enough, your child will be much wiser and more independent than other babies, so they’ll have different learning needs.
Enroll them in weaving classes and a monthly foraging seminar. If you don’t know where they get the yarn in weaving class, buy a sheep. Learn animal husbandry. Feed your sheep organic food so her wool will be soft and thick.
Help your child weave her own foraging pouch. Make sure she collects acorns, berries and mushrooms during her monthly seminar. If you can’t eat the bounty of berries she collects, help her mash them into a paint paste. Use the paint paste to write thank you cards to her teachers. Post pictures of her artwork (with a description of how the paint was made) on Facebook.
If all this seems hard, well then, maybe natural parenting just isn’t for you. If that’s the case, please feel free to meet me at the park. I’ll be the one with the kid in the popsicle-stained, non-organic cotton tee-shirt.