This post was updated and adapted from my old blog. It was fun to see how my views on cloth diapers have evolved over four years of use on two (differently shaped) children. Some of our reasons remained the same, and others have changed a little. Regardless, I am still very happy that we decided to go primarily with cloth!
When in my third trimester with J, my childbirth ed teacher asked our class if any of us were considering cloth diapers. I laughed and spat out a “No way!” for my response. I worked in a daycare at the time, and all I could think about was changing pooped-up underwear when one of my potty-training toddlers had an accident.
My teacher smiled, and instead of chastising me, went on to show the crunchier, more interested mamas some of her cloth stash. As she went over options, explanations, and reasons for cloth diapering, I realized I was becoming more interested as she continued to speak. Maybe cloth diapering isn’t as gross as I thought it would be?
By the end of the class, I was at least open to trying cloth. And by the time my son was about a month old, I was ordering a cloth diaper trial kit. And by the end of my two week trial, I was a total convert, ready to evangelize my disposable-using friends left and right. Now I’ve mellowed out a bit- and I even use disposable part time too (gasp!)- but I still love my fluff. Here’s why.
(This post contains affiliate links.)
1) It’s WAY cheaper.
We paid around $200 for all of our diapers. That bought us 8 Flip covers and 24 liners- enough for full-time cloth diapering one baby. Some cloth diapering systems cost less, some cost more. While the initial investment may seem daunting, we figured out that we would have spent that much on disposables in about 3 months at the newborn poop rate (obviously that depends on your kid’s digestive tract). Since that initial purchase, we have also accepted hand-me-down used cloth to add to our collection.
The best part about a cloth diaper investment? We’ve reused most of those diapers for our second child. Some of our waterproof diaper covers have doubled as protection against the mess of bed-wetting for our preschooler. Also, when cloth diapers wear out, you can mend them yourself (or pay someone to do it) to extend their life for years to come.
2) Less leaks (usually).
We’ve noticed a remarkable advantage to cloth diapers in the blowout phase of diapering. Every time we had disposables on our newborns, they were soon wearing poop up their backs. Every time we had on a well-fitted cloth diaper, the poop was efficiently stopped in its tracks by the elastic bands. This has generally held to be true for us for both babies.
As a caveat, if you find your cloth diapers are leaking frequently, try a little troubleshooting. Is your baby wearing the right size diaper? Is the elastic or waterproof fabric worn out? Are you changing them frequently enough? Are they heavy night wetters? Certain culprits will create cloth diaper woes, but these causes can usually be sleuthed and solved without too much trouble.
3) Less diaper sensitivities.
My son had a constant diaper rash when he wore conventional disposable diapers. Once we switched to cloth, the rash went away. We think he was sensitive to some of the ingredients in disposables. Instead of paying for the expensive, organic, chemical-free diapers, we relied on cloth to be kind to his bottom.
4) Better for the environment.
I’m not the greenest person you ever will meet on the planet. But hey- if I can make a simple change to help keep more waste out of landfills and reuse what I have instead, why wouldn’t I? I’ve found that my wash load has not increased greatly since switching to cloth, so I feel that my water usage is not a contraindication to cloth diapering.
5) It’s cute.
C’mon, you have to admit it’s cute to have diapers that match your baby’s outfit! (Okay, so this didn’t play a big role in the decision making process either, but again, it’s an added bonus!)
6) It’s not nearly as gross or labor intensive as I thought it might be.
I mentioned my horror at the thought of endless mushy poopy underwear and pants and shoes and shirts that have suffered the onslaught of potty training accidents. Thankfully, cloth diapering is nothing like potty training, and is, in fact, very similar to disposable diapering! It’s easy, no grosser than disposables, and only adds occasionally spraying off poo into the toilet and doing an extra load of wash every couple days.
7) You can try before you buy.
I highly recommend trying a cloth diaper trial kit to see if it works for you and your family. Make sure it’s a kit with good variety so that you can test several types of diapers- there are just so many options! I used Diaper Daisy’s Trial Kit for J to determine which types of diapers fit him best and worked well for our lifestyle. I was extremely satisfied with Diaper Daisy’s customer service!
Another company that I have ordered from and trusted is Kelly’s Closet. They are a larger company, but they quite the variety of quality diapering options along with some online diapering education for cloth newbies. Last but not least, a doula friend of mine has opened her own growing business, MotherBaby Naturals, that you can visit and order from online. (I couldn’t decide on just one diaper source to recommend when I have used several!)
Overall, cloth diapering has been a rewarding adventure, and has saved us a ton of money. Do I still use disposable sometimes? Yes! Do I beat myself up over it? No! 🙂 Disposables work better for us at night and on the road, but when we are home, cloth is still the way to go for us.
What about you? Have you tried cloth? Would you ever consider it? I’d love to hear your experiences!
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Childbirth. What place does birth have on a pseudo-homesteading blog? Lots. When you’re talking homegrown life, DIY, natural living and health… birth has a place in all of these discussions.
You may remember that I have written about birth issues in the past, like the advantages of a home birth and what a doula does, for example. In fact, I used to have an entire blog dedicated to the topic of birth simply because I needed an outlet for all of my birthy nerdiness. Rest assured, even though I have expanded my blogging topics to cover our efforts to live a more “homegrown” lifestyle, I have no intention of abandoning the topics of birth and babies.
Before we go on, you should know that I am not a medical professional and none of the content of this blog should be taken as medical advice. The content found here should only be used as a starting point for your own research and conversation with your health care professional. Always discuss any health care decisions with your care provider- not on what you read on the internet. 🙂
As it’s approaching holiday time, I am once again hearing talk of induction requests for the purpose of having babies home by Christmas to celebrate with family- or to have a baby before the new year in order to have a tax break! Let’s not forget that voluntarily picking your baby’s birth date can be appealing at any time of year for a variety of reasons. And so we face a controversial topic- is it okay to induce labor merely for schedule’s or convenience’s sake?
Let’s be entirely clear. We’re not discussing induction for medical issues, like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. We’re not talking about induction for a postdates pregnancy (42 weeks and later). We’re talking about an induction simply because the mother or care provider has desire to have the baby at a particular time without any medical indications for the need to do so- something known as an elective induction.
Some say it’s no big deal to induce a full term woman if she’s at no apparent medical risk for doing so. Others say you should never induce unless it’s medically necessary. The thing about induction is that there are several different methods and each has it’s pros and cons. What are these methods?
1) Ripening the cervix. Commonly, doctors will administer a prostaglandin gel or a tampon-like insert to the cervix to help it soften, thin, and get ready to dilate. Sometimes doctors will use a drug called Misoprostol, which is a more controversial ripening method, though cheaper to use and generally more effective. These ripening methods help to make the cervix more favorable for labor and/or other induction methods. A less common artificial ripening method is use of the foley catheter (basically a mini-balloon that inflates inside your cervix). If your cervix isn’t ready, more invasive induction methods aren’t likely to be successful.
2) Pitocin (or oxytocin) usage. If your cervix is favorable (nice and soft and thin), your care provider may start you on a pitocin drip through an IV. While pitocin is rather effective in increasing the frequency, strength, and duration of contractions, it is also generally agreed upon as more painful than a natural labor. Along with pitocin comes the increased risk of the need for pain medication, fetal distress, cesarean section, and/or adverse effects on newborns. You will need a continuous IV and continuous monitoring if you receive pitocin.
3) Amniotomy, or artificially breaking the waters. While some swear that breaking the amniotic sac will successfully bring on contractions, others argue that it is a gamble and may or may not actually start or strengthen labor. According to this study, amniotomy does not significantly reduce the length of first stage labor- it only shortens it by about 20 minutes! What’s more, it carries with it increased risk of infection, the possibility of encouraging poor fetal positioning, and a slightly (though not statistically significant) increased risk of cesarean section.
4) Natural Induction Methods. There are many folk methods for inducing labor- everything from a bumpy car ride to eating pineapple. Slightly more valid options include acupressure, castor oil, evening primrose oil, and herbal and homeopathic remedies. But hands down, the best methods for cervical ripening and (perhaps) beginning labor are sexual intercourse and nipple stimulation. These last two promote the same hormones (prostaglandins in semen, oxytocin release in both activities, etc.) that stimulate labor naturally or through artificial induction.
Now, the point here is not SO much whether or not these methods will work for you- because labor progress is a complicated thing!- but whether or not you should consider one of these methods for an elective induction.
Here’s what you need to know about induction: it can carry with it a variety of risks to both mother and baby. An early elective induction (before 39 weeks) can increase the risk of lung, brain, and liver problems, and low birth weight in your infant. ACOG says that restricting the use of elective inductions can reduce the number of c-sections. ACOG also states that suspecting a big baby is not an acceptable reason for early induction.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am generally not in favor of elective inductions without a medical indication. But- here’s the thing- if you are full term and/or post dates, have a favorable cervix, and a really strong reason why you want this baby now, and you have access to a less-invasive method of induction, it’s possible that an elective induction may be a relatively safe choice for you.
For example, I chose to try to get my labor for V moving by having my midwife strip my membranes and taking an herbal concoction. Why? I was already 5 cm dilated, not in active labor, and I live 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and 1 hour from my midwife. For me, this was about avoiding an accidentally unassisted home birth due to a precipitous (really fast) labor. While I still would have preferred going into full-blown labor on my own, I felt safe about my choice to self-induce. (While not a medical indication per say, it was not a choice made for convenience either.)
However, you must be aware that more intense methods of self inductions (like an amniotomy or a strong increase in pitocin drip, for example) introduce a higher level of risk that would not be present by waiting for labor to begin on its own. This does not necessarily make the choice wrong, but it is one that you must consider carefully.
The bottom line? Generally, the evidence suggests that its best to avoid an induction unless you have a medical indication for one.
Think twice before inducing your labor to have your baby home by Christmas. Talk with your doctor or midwife about the pros and cons. Is there a very important reason that you need your baby born on a certain date? Is your cervix favorable? Are you at least 39 weeks pregnant, and preferably more? What are the possible risks and benefits for you and for your baby? Would it hurt you to wait a little longer?
These are questions that only you and your care provider can answer. Hopefully, if you are armed with good information, clear options, and an open discussion, you can make a well-informed, healthy decision for you and your new baby.
A do-WHAT? If you know what a doula is, you may think that they are angels-in-disguise, or you may think they are obnoxious know-it-alls. If you don’t know what a doula is, you may wonder if she delivers babies or performs voodoo.
In actuality, none of these are true! But if you don’t know yet, don’t worry- at first I knew nothing of doulas either. My first pregnancy got me hooked on all things birth and babies and it was after having a fantastic first birth experience with a well-equipped, knowledgeable, and compassionate birth team that I decided to pursue becoming a doula. But more on why I became a doula later. (That’s for another post!) Let’s address some of the most common FAQs about doula-ship.
My midwife acting as a doula during the birth of our second baby. Many thanks to Emily of Sweet Moments Photography for this shot!
What is a doula?
“Doula” is the Greek word for “servant,” and the term has recently come to be associated with a trained assistant who serves a mother before, during, and after birth.
- Before birth, the doula discusses various birth options and procedures with expectant families, and helps them obtain the necessary information to make informed decisions. She helps parents work through fears, concerns, hopes, and desires for their births. She can also help to create a birth plan and provides childbirth preparation for the big day. Note that this preparation is not meant to be a substitution for a full childbirth education course.
- During labor and birth, the doula provides continuous emotional support and physical comfort means to the mother. She helps the mother’s other support persons to be involved as much as they are comfortable. She can, when needed, act as a liaison between parents and staff in order to help protect the parents’ birth plan. She provides guidance and information during labor if any new options or twists and turns arise. She is always available to complete whatever tasks are needed to be done- no job is too demanding or too insignificant.
- After birth, the doula helps to promote early bonding with the newborn. She helps the mother to establish breastfeeding. She ensures that the couple is comfortable and that their needs are met before leaving the birth.
- In the early postpartum period, the doula follows up with the parents to review the birth, help with breastfeeding and newborn care questions, and to refer the mom to any other resources that she might need.
What kind of support does a doula offer during labor?
During labor, a doula may use or show the mother and partner how to use: hydrotherapy, massage, counter-pressure, light touch, a birth ball, hot or cold compresses, movement and positioning, breathing techniques, vocalization, visualization, deep relaxation techniques, music, aromatherapy, and constant encouragement. She will help to encourage optimal fetal positioning, good progress, and maximum comfort for the mother. She provides guidance for working with a textbook labor as well as for dealing with the challenges of variations of “normal.” Ultimately, the mother writes the job description for the doula, and the doula remains alert and sensitive to what the family needs at any given time during labor.
What doesn’t a doula do?
A doula does not offer clinical advice, perform medical tasks, diagnose or prescribe treatment for any medical condition, speak for you or make decisions for you, project her own birthing values onto your situation, or take the place of the partner.
Are there any proven benefits of having a doula?
Yes! Several studies have been done to show the benefits of a doula. According to The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth (A Merloyd Lawrence Book), doula support in labor:
- Reduces the cesarean rate by 45%
- Reduces length of labor by 25%
- Reduces use of oxytocin [pitocin] by 50%
- Reduces use of pain medication by 31%
- Reduces the need for forceps by 34%
- Reduces the request for epidurals by 10-60%.
Less intervention means, in turn, less undesirable side effects and negative consequences for mother and baby, leaving both healthier and happier after labor.
The benefits of doula support don’t stop there, however. Studies have also shown that mothers who had doulas during their labors seem to have an overall smoother transition into motherhood, demonstrated by less anxiety, more affection towards their newborns, higher rates of breastfeeding, and other benefits. See this post on Long Term Benefits of Doula Support During Labor for more information.
What will my partner’s role be when we hire a doula?
Your partner can be involved as much or as little as he would like to be. The doula never replaces your partner; rather, she complements his role and encourages him to take part as he is comfortable. The doula can show the partner how to help the mother with various comfort means, she can act as a team with the partner in supporting the mother, she can back off and let the partner and mother do their thing on their own, or she can step in completely for the partner when he needs a break or if he is not at ease taking part in the birth. Your partner’s level of involvement is completely up to the two of you.
What birth settings does a doula attend?
Most doulas will happily attend whatever birth setting you are most comfortable in, be that home, hospital, birth center, or other setting.
Do doulas support women who want pain medication?
Yes. While many doulas are passionate about natural birth, we also feel privileged to serve a mother who chooses pain medication during labor. A doula’s goal should be to help you become informed about the pros and cons of each option available to you and then allow you to make your own decisions for your birth. If you choose pain medication, she will support your decision and provide guidance so you can maximize the benefits of the medication and work to minimize its negative side effects.
Do doulas attend cesarean births?
Doulas can support you through your cesarean as long as your birth place allows her presence during the surgery.
Do doulas take insurance?
Most insurance companies currently do not cover doulas. However, I frequently urge parents to contact their insurance companies and ask them to cover doula services. Show them the research that proves how a doula can minimize the chances of complications and procedures that carry much higher costs (such as a cesarean or extended hospital stays from complications, etc.). Insurance companies will only start listening after enough consumers start demanding changes in their services. If parents take their money elsewhere to an insurance company that will cover a doula, that speaks even louder.
My family can’t afford a doula, but we would really love to have one. Do doulas offer flexible payment options?
Many doulas are willing to offer a sliding-scale payment fee, reduced fees, barter arrangements, or even freebies if parents truly want a doula assisted birth but are unable to pay for one. Many times doulas-in-training offer reduced fees as well but can still offer invaluable services. This flexibility comes from our believe that women deserve the best birth possible, regardless of financial status.
These are some of the most common questions about a doula’s role, but if I didn’t address all of your questions, please feel free to ask and I will try to answer. Did you have a doula assisted birth? What did your doula do for you?
This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!