The Birth Controversy

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

“Today most OB’s are very responsive to the mother’s plan for delivery,” MYTH

“Women should be permitted to make decisions regarding their care, but should also be informed of all risks, benefits, and alternatives to their selected treatment.” TRUTH

These are a set of quotes from an e-mail I received from a doctor-friend of mine concerned about my choices for childbirth. I had chosen, for my second childbirth, the same as my first, to have a water birth at a local birthing center in the care of a group of midwives.

This friend of mine was concerned for me, as his wife was due on the same day and she had previously had a cesarean section. His concerns were of potential life-threatening situations that may arise and having no “medical” staff nearby.

While his concerns may be valid, as birth is inherently risky, he has been mis-informed about the culture of birth in hospital settings. Hospitals are in place for a good reason and they can respond to serious situations quickly, but what is not a serious situation is often being treated as one. In my case, I had two very low-risk pregnancies (a requirement to be a patient at the birthing center) and felt that the birth center would be the least risky place to deliver my baby. In fact, with my first pregnancy, I did what most newly pregnant moms do and found a local respected OB to see for my routine visits. Once I began learning about the birthing process through my Bradley Method Childbirth classes and speaking to the OB about my wishes, she was not respectful AT ALL of my concerns. I was told in a matter of words that if I wanted a natural childbirth I should seek other care.

Does this sound like someone who is responsive to a mother’s plan? That’s just it though, most mother’s don’t have a plan and trust their doctor to do what’s best for her. I came in with a plan and the doctor did not like what I had to say, so I left and found a caring, loving, embracing birthing center to deliver my babies. I have had many friends and family who have had experiences in a hospital that have led them to look back and try to make a choice that more suited their situation for subsequent births. These mothers, although planning to deliver naturally in a hospital setting were confined to their beds without being allowed to move around to deal with their pain. Who wouldn’t want some medicinal relief if this were the case? Birthing in hospitals has become medicalized and what applies to one woman applies to all. All women will be confined to their beds, all women will receive pitocin at the same time, all women will get an epidural when ready. Frankly, this is sad and women should be appalled.

The good news is we DO have a choice, and we can choose better options for our births. A hospital option may be okay if your provider is understanding and willing to stick to your birthing plan. A birth center is a wonderful middle ground for those concerned with choosing a homebirth. I feel that the birthing center was as close to a homebirth as I could have ever asked for.

I felt that the midwives at the birthing center gave me the best care I could have ever asked to receive. The midwife, nurse and my husband were by my side throughout my entire labor and birth. It was quiet, dimly lit and peaceful for me and ultimately my baby. I was trusting that since the midwife was constantly by my side, she would have a better understanding of what was going on with my body and my baby than any hospital OB would, who rushes in just for the delivery. If something were to have gone wrong in my birth the midwife would recognize it immediately and we would head to the hospital.

Once I collected my thoughts and responded to my doctor-friend with why I made the decision that I did, he was still unwilling to accept the fact that hospitals may not always be the best place to give birth. I told him that my local hospital has a c-section rate of 45% and he suggested that it might be due to advanced maternal age, expectations for pain relief and obesity/diabetes. He never gave in to the fact that many hospitals just aren’t respecting women’s wishes and the time it takes to generally labor and have a baby naturally.

In the end, it makes me realize that we have a long way to go to change the minds of the general public about the birthing options out there and that women’s safety in childbirth isn’t generally better in hospitals. Women do have a choice and a hospital is just one of them.

Rachel McFadden, the Author of Happy Green Babies shares her experience with natural childbirth and the obstacles one can encounter from those who are unfamiliar with the safety of various birthing options.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

7 Comments on The Birth Controversy


The Case for Once a Month Cleaning

by Tiffany in Green Cleaning

The Case for Once a Month CleaningHouse Cleaning has got to be one of the most repetitive and thankless jobs on the planet; it has to be done, but who wants to do it? What’s more, who has the time?

Our schedules are so hectic these days that it seems we hardly have time for the important stuff; let alone daily housecleaning chores. So is there a solution? A few months back I heard someone taking about once a month cleaning and it was a light bulb moment. We HAD to try and see if this helped us in our home. I actually don’t dislike cleaning but with 3 messy kidlets and a husband who works long hours outside the home I was getting burnt out. Plus I work to, I just do it at home. That cutesy saying about rocking your babies instead of sweeping your floors isn’t so cute when your kids are getting older. Also my aversion to having company when the house is untidy was being challenged with the arrival of new neighbors who are always over at our place it seems. Thankfully there is a way that you can reduce your housecleaning to just once a month; mind you it is going to take a little advance planning, but it can be done.

Steps to Once-a-Month House Cleaning

Reducing your housecleaning to just once a month entails a good deal of organization and advance preparation, you are also going to have to enlist the cooperation of the rest of the people in your house, because it really will take everyone working together to make it work. It goes much easier if you come prepared to make it worth their while in the allowance department. I know some don’t like the idea of allowance but we use it primarily to teach money management and they know that helping out is required whether there is payment or not. Everyone who lives in our house has to contribute to its management.

Before you start your once-a-month housecleaning there are a few preparations that you are going to need to make. The first is making a list of the housecleaning chores that you normally do on a daily or weekly basis. Once you have made this list, split it up into chores that HAVE to be done on a daily basis (such as washing dishes, picking up toys, feeding the pets, etc. ) and chores that do not have to be done on a daily basis.

If you look at the list, chances are that you are going to find things like “cleaning the bathroom” and “mopping the kitchen floor” and things of that type. Let’s use cleaning the bathroom as an example: it is quite feasible to clean the bathrooms just once per month PROVIDED that the rest of the individuals in the house are willing to take steps to keep the bathroom from getting messed up before the month is up.

This means that towels will need to be hung up; that everyone who uses the sink will need to wipe it out with a sponge when they are finished (which will be under the sink) and that the last person to use the shower in the mornings needs to wipe it down. Clothing removed before showering needs to be tossed in the hamper (which is in the corner) and anyone who accidentally sprays the mirror needs to clean up their mess (rags are under the sink too).

As you can see, while it will take cooperation, there are also some things (such as having the right equipment in the right places) that will make the job much easier. Go through each of the housecleaning chores on your list like this and find ways that you can keep the chore from NEEDING to be done more than once a month. For things that need to be done daily or weekly we have the back bone of our cleaning system which is our 15 clean-up that every member in the house does daily. We do it together, turning on some music, and then assigning sections of the house. This means that main rooms are picked up and swept daily, dishes are done, plants and garden are watered, laundry is brought down to the basement, etc. Due to the once a month cleaning schedule we don’t assign bathrooms anymore with the exception of once weekly when the trash is collected and the toilet is cleaned in both bathrooms. We also don’t require any mopping unless the floors are really dirty. We actually have gotten lax on these cleanups since we moved into this house last September but part of our once a month cleaning plan was reinstating those sessions and making a chart to keep track of jobs more specifically.

Once you have made the necessary preparations to prevent the need of the chore being required more than once a month (and made sure that everyone is aware of what they need to do) you then need to make a housecleaning list of the chores that you can do once a month and estimate how much time will be required to do each one. Chances are that if you can complete all of your household chores in 1-2 days depending on the size of your house and the number of people in your household. Our once monthly jobs are mopping all hard floors, shampooing our carpeted areas with Dr. Bronner’s soap, cleaning and organizing closets and dressers, cleaning garage and basement, finishing laundry, washing windows, sweeping the porch and deck, cleaning walls and baseboards, scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms, and all the bigger jobs that you don’t need to do weekly or that are much more manageable due to everyone being required to keep things cleaner on a daily basis.

Now, choose one weekend a month that you can devote to cleaning. Start early on Saturday morning and simply clean your way down the list, top to bottom. Now you have three weekends at your disposal – not to mention all your free evenings (minus 15 minutes for us); time you can use for the important things in life!

Now your turn. What cleaning method works best for your family?


The Case for Barefoot Running

by Tiffany in Health & Healing

The Case for Barefoot RunningThis is not a book I would typically review here but It has been so helpful to me I thought I would. A couple months ago I started running again.. after over a decade long hiatus. When I did take it up again I was wearing Skechers Shape-Ups and at first I liked the extra work that the shoes seemed to heap on my calves but then my feet and legs started to hurt badly after each run. After I was forced to take several days off due to this I decided to go to the library and see if they had any running books and low and behold this baby jumped off the shelves at me. If there is a way to make running even more natural, then this is the way… Barefoot Running.

It first goes into how the author was badly injured while roller blading and how he could not run anymore without great pain. Not being able to run, when you are a runner is hard to explain but it is kind of like a druggie not be able to get his drugs. Bad analogy I know but running gives you an all natural high that has no equal. Run in the morning and you can be riding a natural high all day long. Its an amazing mood booster.

Anyway the author found that he was able to run again by running barefoot. The book contains all the research he has done on this subject since and he makes quite a compelling case. Right from the beginning many natural parents opt to buy their babies soft sole shoes because so many pediatricians tell us that it is better for foot health if their feet can feel and grip the surfaces they are walking on. We see first hand how they walk like Frankenstein when we put heavy, clunky shoes on them. Yes, they eventually learn. We all do. But there is certainly some compelling evidence for why barefoot is better.

Now that said I am not running barefoot now. I still prefer some sort of shoes so I jumped on the minimal shoes bandwagon and got some shoes that are as close to barefoot as you can get while still having the outer protection of a shoe. It hadn’t escaped my notice how popular these types of shoes are getting either. The primal/paleo diet crowd have been fans for awhile and their idea is that barefoot shoes bring us closer to the caveman days. One of the primal blogs I read has a header photo of the blogger wearing the shoes I opted to get… Vibram Five Fingers sprint shoes, in bright blue.

Yes, they look a little strange but they are VERY comfortable. You can hike in them, run in them, swim in them… just about anything. You feel close to being barefoot and yet they are sturdy and offer a lot of protection. Many other runner’s have stopped me to ask me if I am having knee pain wearing shoes with no support but I just explain that my feet are meant to be natural shock absorbers. Our feet have lots nerve endings, fewer only then our hands and genitals, and the reason for that is because they sense our environment and automatically make needed adjustments so that we step with care. Shoes can mess that all up and even weaken our feet because we aren’t using them the way we should be.

My husband laughed when I bought these shoes and then purchased a second pair of Shape-ups for himself. He laughed even harder when he saw me wearing them to the gym (yeah they look kind of silly, I admit that) but now he has been dropping hints that the Shape-Ups aren’t so great for his own workouts. If only I were a “told you so” kinda gal. And they do get a lot of attention at the gym and from other runner’s but its good attention.

This book has a lot of good info in it and it supports the general idea that we really do have a super computer (our body) at our disposal that can help us take each step in a healthy and safe way. But we are putting padded shoes on our super computer consoles kind of like putting boxing gloves on before we type. It makes a good case for barefoot running and just going barefoot more often in general… adults, kids, even the elderly who seem to have balance issues as they get older. Also has information on the spiritual and sensual aspects of going barefoot as well as exercises to get you ready and advice on cold weather running (think snow on the ground). There is something for everyone. I highly recommend it.


Okabashi Recyclable Shoes and Flip-Flops

by Tiffany in Eco Fashion

In the past I have been a flip-flop addict of sorts. Years ago it was not uncommon for me to have 10 or more pairs… of JUST flip-flops. In recent years though I curtailed my habit because they are generally so flimsy (lasting only one season) and they are heavy on plastics and foam. They were just a nightmare in the green department. So I tided myself over with sneakers (sniff) that last much longer and eco friendlier shoes when I could swing it.

Anyway when an eco conscious shoe company called Okabashi asked me to take some of their recyclable flip-flops for a test run I agreed to do so. They look just like regular flip-flops but there are several important differences.

For one they are not outsourced to a third world country, thereby paying workers peanuts AND saving resources with local manufacturing. These shoes are made in Buford, Georgia and I have heard you can tour their facility if you want to. The shoes travel only 7% as far as the average imported shoe. Second, they are VERY sturdy shoes, probably the highest quality pair of flip-flops I have ever owned. These babies are going to last years and the company even guarantees them for 2. Buying plastic anything can be a hard sell but when you know that plastic will only last a few months before it becomes completely unusable… that is a deal breaker.

Third, the material used in these shoes is unique in that it is soft, flexible, non-slip, odor-resistant, dishwasher safe, and contains an anti-microbial agent. Who ever heard of shoes you can toss in the dishwasher? Flip-flops especially can get nasty because the foam used so often to make them is porous and holds stains, and odor and cannot be washed effectively. These are going to be perfect for the gym since I can shower in them and wipe them down and make sure nothing nasty from the showers or locker room is going to get a foot hold in my shoes.

Fourth, these shoes are completely recyclable. Most times when you hear that a company is taking back their shoes for “recycling” that usually means they redistribute them. Okabashi believes in closed-loop recycling to reduce the use of virgin material and to keep old shoes from becoming environmental waste. So when you buy a pair of Okabashi shoes you are likely buying shoes that are made with recycled material already and when you are done with them you can send them back to Georgia (their address is on their web site) so they can be made into yet another pair. Their facility is virtually zero waste.. next to no scrap and last year they used 100,000 pounds of scrap material in their shoes. This is pretty amazing to me since I have first hand knowledge of the plastic scrap that get tossed in a local (Ohio) plastic business. It is STAGGERING the amount of plastic scrap that gets tossed out… ahem… like a huge parking lot full.

Fifth, they are vegan! The entire line contains no animal skins or byproducts, and they are not tested on animals. This is important because most sandals and flip flops that contain animal by-products such as leather and adhesives are nearly impossible to recycle and they end up in the landfill.

Sixth, they are affordable. No $50 flip-flops here. The prices are right around $15-$18. Wahoo! They (Okabashi) also have some listed on Amazon. The price on some is a tad higher but they are darn close to qualifying for free shipping.

I ended up getting two pairs of eco friendlier shoes for the summer and happily these Okabashi flip-flops are one of them because I don’t currently own any others (flip-flops, not shoes). We’ve been reunited and it feels so good.


Reusable Swim Diapers for Green Tots and Babies

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

reusable swim diapersIn the summer time many moms might reach for those nifty disposable Swim Diapers so that our little ones can enjoy public pools, waterparks, and water play without worrying about accidents. Most public pools even require that kids who are not potty trained wear swim diapers. But did you know that you do not have to go the disposable route?

There are many swim diapers on the market that can be bought for about the same price or even less than a package of disposable swim diapers. Cloth swim diapers can be reused over and over again and even last for one or more subsequent years or be used for your other kids. They are a prime example of a product that allows us to avoid the wasteful and silly purchase of a product we will use for a few hours and then throw away.

Swim diapers are snug and they hold in solid waste effectively. They only difference between the two is comfort… since cloth swim diapers won’t sag or get waterlogged, AND they can be kept and reused. Both are big benefits in my estimation. Oh and they are way more adorable than paper disposable swim diapers! Just look at my cutie above in his pink swim diaper. ;)

Here are some cute swim diapers you may like:

The Swimmi! – I have used Bummis (diaper covers) and Swimmis for 5 years. They are a tried and true brand and they have several colors and styles.

Imse Vimse Swim Diapers – Another brand I have used and loved for years.

Sun Smarties Adjustable Reusable Swim Diaper – So cute!!! I love the tie!

For pool days I have the found the best bags to carry wet suits, swim  diapers, sandy flip flops, and pool toys are the Envirosax bags… so cute, the moisture doesn’t leak through and they are so easy to wash.