Motherhood will change you. One day you are deciding which brunch spot to hit up for bottomless mimosas, the next you are hyperventilating over what size flanges you need for your breastpump. Everyone comes into motherhood expecting things to go one way or another. If those plans aren’t diverted during pregnancy, than childbirth and keeping a 7 pound human happy certainly will do it!
Motherhood movements are growing at a fast pace. With the ability to connect right at our fingertips, we have a desire to find our “tribe.” We gravitate toward others that think like us in the parenting choices we make. I want to share with you what unexpected paths (otherwise known as “crunchy mom” choices) I have taken after my decade-long journey into motherhood.
Full disclaimer: Always be open and do your research. Each child is different and you need to find what works best for you and your family.
5 Surprising “Crunchy Mom” Choices I’ve Made
Hiring a Birth Choice Advocate
My first birth was filled with a lot of trauma, guilt and unpleasant memories. I met my first son in a recovery room, groggy after an emergency C-section under general anesthesia. This was shortly after I was denied a second opinion by the on-call OB, who demanded a student use forceps (which I wasn’t comfortable with). I endured Postpartum Depression and PTSD from this experience. I decided that taking back control of my choices would empower me during my next birth experiences.
My terrible first birth experience made me an advocate for birth choice. With that empowerment I hired a doula and practiced self-advocacy skills. I went on to give birth to my second child via VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) in a birth-tub without drugs. My third, fourth, and fifth babies were also delivered with the help of doulas, natural labor coping techniques, and water.
Ever since my first birth I became an advocate of choice and partnership. In order for women to feel successful regardless of what their birth method is, they should feel heard, validated, and made to feel like an equal decision maker in their birth experience. My doulas certainly helped me find that voice. Check out fargodoula.com to understand more about our local FM doula options.
Once you start giving birth without drugs and in tubs, you start uncovering other things you never thought you would consider. I hit the “crunchy mom” goldmine when I heard about placenta encapsulation.
In short, placenta encapsulation is where a trained professional comes and takes your placenta post-birth, dehydrates it, grinds into a fine powder, puts the powder into pills, and delivers them back to you within about 48-72 hours. There is wide spectrum of beliefs on what consuming your placenta can do for you. My personal experience with it for babies #4 and #5 was that it:
- gave me shorter post-birth bleeding (4 vs. 6 weeks)
- a more even mood and less dips of lows and highs (something that worried me a lot after having PPD with my first)
- a very, very rich milk supply
I swore by it then, and now as a woman who has completed her family I would never go without doing this again. Would I have ever thought of this after my first go around? Heck no. Was I willing to try something that could potentially help me heal and stay more sane while running on serious sleep deprivation? Yep!
For some local encapsulation resources, check here.
Just like everything we do for the first time in our lives, there are a lot of takeaways and sometimes even more “coulda, shoulda, wouldas.” My first breastfeeding experience lacked support, advocacy, and resources. I had no idea it was normal my baby would want to chow down every 15 mins for hours in the first few weeks and I didn’t have anyone to ask. I was sent home healing horribly, both physically and mentally, from my birth and was totally lost in this apparent “natural” thing.
Like any person that understands supply and demand, I figured that I lacked supply, which led to supplementing, which led to nipple confusion, which led to exclusively pumping, which led to isolation and embarrassment, which led eventually to “F-it, I can’t handle this anymore” and a formula fed baby by 4 months. Now, before I throw all this *magic* about breastfeeding in your face, let me remind you that I do not believe formula is bad, I do not believe breastfeeding and the desire to do so is for every mother, and finally, I was a formula-feeding mom who felt shame (unreasonably so) that I had failed at such a supposed “natural thing.”
On the flip side, I do believe breastfeeding became a time-saver, a bonding experience, and was something I wanted a second shot at with when I had my second child. It was night and day difference! I figured out who the lactation consultants were, I bought a scale to visits (I was a tad bit extreme and determined), and figured out what a good and bad latch meant. I trusted my body, and leaned on my birth friends and doula for support. The good experience with my second led to successful breastfeeding journeys with my fourth and fifth children. We even went to 16 months with my fifth!
Bottom line: support your formula-feeding friends, support your breastfeeding friends, and don’t ask them why they are nursing beyond a year–it’s between her and her baby. If you are a momma in need of breastfeeding support, check out some great local resources here.
Probably one of the most “crunchy mom” trend that is gaining popularity is baby-wearing. Baby-wearing was a last ditch effort to calm a very colicky and upset baby and bring back some normalcy into my life. I could get my second baby to sleep in pretty much the only way he would (attached to me) while actually doing other things and function like a semi-normal human being. You can strap your baby on and LIVE YOUR LIFE.
You can get some dishes done, do your make-up, anything that you need to do hands-free. An unknown bonus is that when these tiny humans get bigger you can strap them to your back, forget they are there, and not worry where they are! Finding the right fit and carrier is key. Just like each child is different, so is each mom’s experience baby wearing. Check out Baby Wearing Fargo Moorhead for local baby wearing resources and support.
Before you come at me with pitch forks and torches, the reality is most people co-sleep at some point whether it is intentional or not (i.e. falling asleep in a chair rocking your baby at 2:00 a.m., attaching a bassinet to your bed, or even snuggling with a toddler). I am sharing that co-sleeping worked really well for my family and myself at 2:00 a.m. when I had a fussy, nursing infant. It can be done safely and happily, whether just for one night or every night.
If you are considering this for yourself and baby, check out some safe sleep resources here and use your best judgement. Co-sleeping came out of desperation, exhaustion, and knowing I couldn’t be up with a screaming infant and care for my family the next day. Cry-it-out (CIO) method was not for us and caused more stress than cuddling my baby. I respect everyone for their co-sleeping choices because I believe at the core, we are making the choices that work best for us.
At the end of the day, be open, be kind and be understanding to one another. Remember to come from a place of support and not judgement. Labels are silly and useless, and even though I made more “crunchy mom” choices after becoming a mom five times over, I also became an advocate for other people’s choices. I encourage you to do the same! What I love about my journey through motherhood so far is watching the transformation I have gone through and the success I felt embracing the choices and ideas I now understand and love!