Alyssa wants to know: “What’s a natural Mom?”

November 6, 2007

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alyssa.jpgAlyssa of LifeFromMyLaptop (which, by the way Alyssa is one of my favorite domain picks, ever) invited me to do a little cross blog conversing with her. She asked me this question on her blog to kick things off:

My first question for you is about natural parenting. Carrie is the host of Natural Moms Talk Radio so I know she practices this, but frankly I have never really understood all the ins and outs so I know that Carrie can clear this up.

What is it like to be a “natural mom”?

When I first read this, I thought you were asking what a natural mom IS… which is also a great question! So I’ll answer that first. There probably isn’t any real definition of that term, and it means different things to different people, but for me, being a natural mom means tuning in to your (and I believe they are God-given) instincts first and when you’re in doubt.

It doesn’t mean I’m the expert of everything or that I don’t look for expert opinions. It does mean that I’m the one who loves my children the most and it’s also my responsibility to care for them, and since I also spend the most time with them, I’m the expert of them.

One thing that I used to tell moms all the time when I was a breastfeeding counselor is to trust your instincts – you are the expert of your baby. Anthropologists will tell you that “breastfeeding difficulties” are a purely Western, modern phenomenon. We think breastfeeding will be hard and so it is, but it’s not true for native women who do what comes naturally and don’t have anyone telling them they don’t know what they’re doing!

Women doubt themselves so much, and it’s true we’re not animals that are guided solely by instinct… but I believe women have a special sixth sense that alerts them to danger, and we should use that to protect our little ones. Have you ever read The Gift of Fear? It has nothing to do with parenting, but it illustrates this instinct that mothers have beautifully. I think that gift should be used. I believe that mothers go against that inner voice and they and their children sometimes suffer as a result.

So there are some behaviors that come out of that philosophy. As an example, cosleeping. While the experts debate whether it’s “safe” to do so, my strong feelings, and the behavior of my child, tell me it’s a good choice for us. I don’t need someone else’s opinion to make that decision.

You know at one time in this country and all over the world, women were told that formula feeding was “better”, “cleaner”, more “scientific”, more “advanced”, the thing that wealthy women did (and in some countries, the way WHITE woman did things which was obviously insulting to mothers) and the way of the future. :) Obviously those experts were wrong! One of the reasons I don’t go with the status quo automatically but question the way things are done is because I have seen how that “sheeple” mentality so often turns out.

Being a natural parent also means doing things in a natural way as much as you can. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my Mom talked to me about how much she enjoyed using cloth diapers with me. I thought it would be a great way to save money, so I started looking around at diaper services and cloth diaper systems. People laughed at me, but 4 kids later I still love cloth diapers.

A lot of natural parents reject circumcision because it’s a painful, unnecessary (for health anyway) surgery and vaccination because they’re unconvinced that the shots are effective or safe, and they prefer to build their child’s immune system naturally. Most natural parents reject spanking. They often prefer a gentler discipline style. Many of them are homeschooling. Most of them are interested in nutrition.

But we’re not all the same. I know moms who are far more crunchy than me who vaccinated their kids – I didn’t. I know other moms who had their babies at home but who wouldn’t use a cloth diaper if they were paid to. And I know moms who are NOT natural in any way but who I admire for some of their mothering skills.

You know as I type this I realize that natural parents do what they do for slightly different reasons. Some are motivated by environmental concerns, some by politics, some by findings in the field of psychology and some by philosophy.

For me, it’s largely from my belief that when God made moms and babies, he didn’t make a mistake. :-) I trust that a woman’s body is capable of birth and of feeding her baby. I trust that a baby’s cry is supposed to be uncomfortable so it will motivate the adults listening to do something instead of it being ignored. I believe that people are more important than things and that things can’t replace human contact. So that belief is reflected in my parenting choices.

I’m sure that after I write this I’ll think of a hundred more things to say. I hope that makes sense for now :)

Ack! Sorry Alyssa, I forgot to post your question. I was trying to get this published while getting the kids ready to walk out the door. So here goes:

You’ve recently launched a ghostwriting business. Have you always enjoyed writing and what sparked that interest?

More Posts By Carrie:


7 Responses to “Alyssa wants to know: “What’s a natural Mom?””

  1. Alyssa on November 7th, 2007 12:55 am

    Great answer… now… what’s your question for me??
    You didn’t post one???

  2. Christina on November 7th, 2007 5:18 pm

    Thanks for that great post, Carrie. I’ve often wondered the same thing…

  3. Cara on November 8th, 2007 3:58 am

    Thank you for the post Carrie. I consider myself a natural mom.
    I dont do cloth diapers, but I get the SeventhGeneration brand, I buy organic foods but have my son vaccinated (only one per visit though). Sometimes I’ve been classified as an attachment parent. Mostly for letting my son sleep with us. He doesn’t do it every night – but most nights he gets up between 1am and 2am and comes into our bed.
    I personally don’t have a problem with it. He never sucked his thumb or got attached to a blanket or doll. So I know he just hasn’t learned to self-soothe yet. Which means he needs the comfort of mommy and daddy. Isn’t that what I’m here for? To nurture and provide?
    Often times I follow my heart and do what my gut tells me to. I trust my instincts. That to me is natural parenting. I’m glad you feel the same way.

  4. Carrie asks, "You’ve recently launched a ghostwriting business. Have you always enjoyed writing and what sparked that interest?" | Life From My Laptop on November 8th, 2007 3:33 pm

    [...] Well, Carrie and I continue our conversation this week. She has answered my question “What is it like to be a natural mom?” over at her blog. I learned a lot from her post. [...]

  5. Sharon@New Urban Mom on November 9th, 2007 1:03 am

    All this baby talk has me wanting a baby again. I remember when my eldest was born back in 1990, a company came out with these cloth diapers called “indisposables.” They actually looked like disposable diapers but they were cloth. Maybe that’s what they look like now. Back then most of my friends thought I was crazy to want to go through washing diapers! I loved the whole process of doing my laundry, and being at home with my daughter.

    The only problem I had (with first born only) was breastfeeding. I read what you wrote Carrie and it brings some sadness. I was told my daughter wasn’t getting enough milk from some relatives and that formula would be better for HER. Even though I knew better, my newness at being a mom and fear that Hannah wasn’t eating enough caused me to give up breast feeding. That wasn’t the best thing for either of us. Years later I breastfed my son for almost one year, and he is a healthier child with a healthier appetite than my daughter.

    Sigh, I said this before, but I wish I had this kind of online network when I was pregnant.

  6. What is being a Natural Mom all about? | Mom2Mom Lounge on October 17th, 2008 9:29 am

    [...] I wrote a pretty lengthy explanation of my philosophy in a cross blog conversation with another work at home mom here: [...]

  7. Unschooling Expert Dayna Martin of Sparkling Martins on Natural Parenting Advocacy | Natural Moms Talk Radio on December 16th, 2008 10:35 am

    [...] mean doing what others are doing. I mentioned how uncomfortable I am with the question “What is a natural mom?” because I don’t want to set up some ideal. It’s about listening to your [...]

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