Natural. It is a buzzword these days. Our food is plastered with ‘All Natural’ labels, our cleaning products, cosmetics, and even our clothing. It is no wonder as moms we can feel pulled in a million directions. Our worth as women when it comes to “natural” childbearing seems to be measured even before conception:
How long did it take us to become pregnant?
Did we need the help of modern medicine?
Were we eating the “right” foods?
Once we get pregnant (if that is the route we take) we are expected to have a natural glow and go on to have a perfectly natural birth; because that is what our bodies are “designed” to do. We then need to breastfeed with no issues; because that’s what our bodies are “supposed” to do. We do all of this without sleep and somehow magically lose the baby weight within weeks. There have been hundreds of articles written on this very topic and brilliant movies made (think ‘Bad Moms’) yet we are still putting an insane amount of pressure on ourselves as women.
We all have our own personal choices to make when it comes to having and raising children; however, some of those choices come from the pressure that society is putting on us every day. Take the idea that our kids will be harmed in some way if they don’t eat organic homemade baby food. I am all for making baby food if that is what you really want to do. However, if your style is to pick up a Gerber jar off the shelf, the end result is still the same: a fed child.
Or take my friend who is struggling with the decision to either try for a VBAC or schedule her C-Section. She even went as far to label her reasons for wanting to schedule a C-section to be “selfish.” When did it become considered selfish to make a decision that benefits us? When did we start believing that choosing formula over breastfeeding for no reason other than convenience was the worst thing ever? When did we start judging each other for our choices rather than lifting each other up?
Listen, I am not here to argue about scientific benefits of breastfeeding vs. formula, organic vs nonorganic, VBAC vs C-Section. That research is out there and for each person to decide. What I am here to shout from the rooftops is that I hope we can take some pressure off of ourselves. I hope we can realize that decisions that benefit us or make our lives easier are ultimately going to better the lives of our children. The right decisions for us are not the right decisions for everyone. I stopped breastfeeding after 3 months simply because I did not like it. I 100% believe in the benefits of breastmilk but I was miserable. When I stopped it felt like a 100-pound weight was lifted off my shoulders. There is no question this benefited my child and my family. Olivia went on to drink formula for the next 9 months and she is healthy and thriving today. My very dear friend breastfed her daughter until she was 2. It was beautiful and amazing and I am so proud of her for making that decision.
There is no guidebook. Outside of the obvious there really is no “right” way to fumble through this parenting gig. It is a daily game of craps where I am just hoping the dice roll in my favor most of the time.
My body delivered a beautiful baby 8 weeks early. I am not broken.
I struggle with secondary infertility. I am still whole.
I feed Olivia chicken nuggets 50% of the week. It’s called balance.
I work to believe this every day because society wants to tell me something different.
Mamas, we have to be in this together. We can change the world if we join hands and embrace our differences and celebrate when the dice roll in our favor. Whether you delivered by c-section, with or without an epidural, or maybe you adopted, that child still calls you mama. Whether you lost the baby weight or are still holding on to those last 5 pounds, you are beautiful. Whether or not you love every moment of parenting or you lock yourself in the bathroom for some peace, you are doing a good job.
We can reclaim with word natural and redefine it to mean what comes naturally to us, not to someone else.