Natural Parenting


“Natural” has never meant the same as “healthy.”  As a Type One diabetic I find this obvious.  ‘Naturally’ I would have died slowly in my mid twenties.

What if you – or your child – broke a leg? Would you let it heal naturally or would you want pain releif and re-setting?

And yet it is a fact universally acknowledged that a single woman in posession of a baby-bump must be in want of a ‘natural’ birth. They will mostly opt to experience it in fully staffed hospitals, having arrived there by car with camera-phone in pocket, yet they are presumed to have a preference for refusing intervention on the grounds that ‘natural is better.’

I like to dismiss this as ‘middle-class pressure.’  I like to say that I am fully accepting of the fact that a natural birth, despite being a wonderful experience for some mothers, is just not sensible for others.  And yet I still said to be consultant when she explained her plans for Toddler,

‘What about women in India?  I’ve been to the Himalayas and women there won’t even get ultrasounded; nobody would have known that my placenta was completely covering my cervix until it came out.’

The consultant had heard it all before.  Gently but firmly: ‘In rural India you would bleed profusely at childbirth. Women like you, I’m afraid, do die.’

So I meekly signed my C-section consent form.  I also took every type of pain relief they offered.

Second time, the consultant announced that if I wanted a natural birth (interestingly what he recommended), he would be taking over my blood sugar control, inducing me at 38 weeks and that I had a 2/3 chance of delivery being unsuccessful in which event I would need an emergency section anyway.

I sometimes feel pangs. Should I have asked more questions?  Should I have asked to see the studies supporting induction at 38 weeks in well-controlled diabetic ladies?  Should I have listened to my very biased midwife and risked the induction?  Complained?

In truth, it simply didn’t bother me enough.  My kids are healthy; I am healthy. A few pangs aside, I don’t think it impacts on our relationship.

Anyway: enough.  Who knew that natural childrearing was also a thing?

I don’t think we’re supposed to take it literally.  None of the natural parenting peeps I know would actually refuse their child insulin in the face of diabetes.  Nor do they show an obvious preference for humans’ natural, pre-technological ways: they all settle in houses rather than wandering between caves; they cook their food and use the Internet just like the rest of us.

So perhaps we should avoid the word ‘natural’ or rather, take it as branding (much as it is used to advertise nature-inspired purple shampoo in plastic containers).

But what is it?  There are websites dedicated to it but even they struggle for a definition.  ‘Natural parenting means something different to every family‘ says one.  ‘There are many different ways to be a good parent,’ says another, suggesting that natrual parenting is whatever comes naturally to you – provided that what comes naturally to you is a desire to think about baby-slings, co-sleeping, cloth-nappying (as a verb) and breastfeeding – otherwise you are unlikely to enjoy the website.

So do I get to join the ‘natural parenting’ club, I wonder?  It’s open to debate.

I used a babysling, but it was a ‘commercial’ one that the local slings group disapproved of.  Their Facebook page said words to the effect that:  Just because we know that our slings are better, it has never been scientifically shown that commercial slings are anything worse than just uncomfortable, so please do not criticise the sling that new members arrive with.  It was almost a relief to know that even ‘natural parents’ can be judgemental when they’re trying not to be.

We co-sleep too.  It feels natural.  Until the point when I am not getting any sleep, where upon it feels natrual to insist that the child returns to its own bed.

Cloth nappying.  Yup – I did this!  For about a week, until the washing pile threatened to take over the house. Ecological guilt.

Breastfeeding through Toddlerdom.  I would have done this with my first, too. I sat alone and pumped for the whole of my first lunch-break at work, then spilt the milk all over the floor.  The next day I got home to find that my 5 month-old seemed very happy on formula.

I prefer natural diets for my children.  But I also prefer my food to be affordable, not one of the most sugary (fruit-juice) or fatty (coconut oil) options available and not to have flown half-way around the world.  Shopping for me is just one bad-tempered stream of compromises.

I do not refuse my child’s vaccinations.  Nor do I want to adhere to the principles of attachment parenting. I rather assumed that I would until I actually looked them up.

My children do spend a heck of a lot of time out of the house – Toddler is pretty good on birds for a two-year-old – but no.  I am possibly not a ‘natural parenting’ peep after all.  I always feel a bit of a half-baked natural parent: the outsider.  As I was ranting to my friend:

‘I’m all in favour of this attachment (by which I meant natural) parenting stuff, but only when it’s conventient to me….!’

My friend, who is one of the most natural natural-parents who ever walked the Earth (indeed, she is its mother), just said a very wise thing.

‘Labels,’ she said, ‘aren’t very useful.’  You make your decisions based on what feels right to you at the time, not on what tribe you belong to.

She, for instance, had home births but vaccinates.  As long as she and the children are healthy and happy with her choices – as long as me, hubby, Tiddle and Toddler are happy with ours – why am I agonising over labelling it?


As usual, this woman says it better than me.  Thankyou to my wise climbing friend for reading my blog and sending the link


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s