Saturday, June 9, 2007

Going Natural

For the past couple of years, I have been on a slow journey toward more natural living. It was kick-started with my introduction to home-birthing. Suddenly, a door was opened to me to a world of people who thought outside the typical box of consumerism and modernism. We started trying to eat more organic and less-processed foods.

Soon after, I became pregnant, and eating healthy was even more important as it affected my unborn child as well as myself! I realized that the way I treated myself had a direct impact on the lifelong health of my child. What a gift to be able to give! I stopped drinking caffeinated coffee and have never returned. I get just as much pleasure out of a good cup of decaf and no side-effects! With pregnancy also came the research into childbirth. I studied home-birthing and unmedicated birth. I learned about what your body does during labor, what causes pain, and what causes most complications. Mark and I took Bradley classes during the last trimester also, which was a great benefit. I found a great midwife who believes in the body's ability to birth naturally and who is also a grounded believer in the Lord.

Eliza's birth was amazing! It was difficult - more than I expected to be honest - but totally worth it. I can't imagine being drugged up for such a life-changing event! Now with a newborn in the home, I had yet another reason to research natural living. We exclusively breastfed for Eliza's first 9 months of life. She never touched a bottle and didn't even eat solids until about 9 months (except for little nibbles here and there). She has never had a vaccination - not even vitamin k or eye drops at birth and has a very strong immune system. When she started eating table foods, we started her with fruits and vegetables - not rice cereal. After some study, we found that fruits and vegetables are much better sources for nutrients that babies need than cereal which was stripped, broken down, and supplemented with artificial "nutrients".

Other than nutrition, we also have sought out more natural solutions to other parts of health. In the beginning, we only used Seventh Generation diapers - disposable, but not bleached and processed with the harsh chemicals that regular disposables are made of. When Eliza was about 6 months old, I decided to switch to cloth diapers. I decided this because I found it to be healthier for their skin, more cost effective, and not really that much work! After lots of reading, I decided to get the Fuzzi Bunz diapers and loved them! They were so soft and it was a great feeling that we were reusing them instead of filling up a dump somewhere.

Also with natural health came natural parenting, which is very closely intertwined. From the beginning, we followed the mindset of attachment-style parenting. We carried/held Eliza as much as possible and used a sling frequently. We attended to her with every cry, nursed her when she wanted, and kept her in bed with us. It may seem like a huge investment to some, but it is worth every minute. She is a very sweet, sensitive, thoughtful child and is very close to us. And with her personality, she needed that kind of parenting. She would become rebellious and upset if we didn't keep her so close. She has such a huge need for quality time! That's okay with me though; it has taught me to be a more sensitive person also! Anyways...

Now I'm working on making myself more natural! For the past 10 years (at least) I have had my daily shower, complete with shampoo and conditioner. Lately I've been reading a lot about training your hair to go without shampoo. Shampoo essentially strips your hair of all its natural oils and moisture, and then conditioner replaces it with more artificial chemicals. Your hair becomes dependent on shampoo because it has to work so fast to replace those oils that it lost. Therefore, you hair gets over-oily in a day or two when it wouldn't otherwise. Anyway, back to me... I have always had to shampoo every day of my life. Recently, I decided that I don't want to be so dependent on so many chemicals and started trying to stretch the time between shampoos. I went to every day and a half, and then to two days. I just went 3 full days without shampoo and it was so cool! I was amazed to see how long it took my hair to become oily! Pretty soon, I'm going to quit shampooing for good and use only a little baking soda. Baking soda is much more gentle on the scalp and provides a gentle transition from shampoo to no-poo. Anyway, I'll have to keep you posted as I make that part of the change - it will be interesting!

I also decided that I'm going to make cloth menstrual pads for myself for use postpartum. I have the supplies already, and the thought of cloth instead of paper is very appealing, especially when that area is so sensitive!! I might even switch to the Diva Cup, we'll see!

I'm also trying red raspberry leaf tea for this pregnancy. I read an article about its use during pregnancy and labor and how much it can help the birthing process. So I ordered it in bulk and I'm going to drink it every day between now and then. There's also a formula for a very strong tea (one ounce of tea leaves in a pint of water, seeped for 30 min.) to drink when you start to go into labor that I'm going to try too. If this works well, I'll definitely blog about it!

Okay, that's enough for now - I'm going to pick up the house and drink some tea!!

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