There is a word on the interwebs and beyond used to describe moms like me. That word is, “crunchy.”
According to Urban Dictionary, ‘Crunchy Mom’ is defined as,
“A member of an increasingly growing group of moms who are neo-hippies. They generally believe (for varying reasons) that there is something bad or less beneficial about buying mainstream products or doing other common activities in the mainstream way.”
Someone who is generally described as crunchy usually does at least one of the following, but usually more:
-Breastfeeds beyond 6 months and often times beyond one year.
-Wears their baby.
-Attempts a natural birth.
-Favors natural remedies for sickness.
-Uses cloth diapers or practices EC (elimination communication).
-Eats a healthy diet and avoids commercial junk food for herself and her family.
-Is Anti Routine Infant Circumcision.
And the list goes on….
I really like that so many people are questioning common practices and choosing to do better for themselves and their families, so much so that this group of people has been given a special name. While crunchy things can certainly be trendy, such as amber teething necklaces and bulky Ergo carriers (for the record, I love my ergo), there are some things I find odd that we classify as “crunchy” behavior. Why is it that what I see as so normal and biologically necessary we call “crunchy?” I am not doing it to be a certain type of person or to belong to a certain group of people. I am simply doing it because it is what you do when you have a baby. I never liked being called crunchy for these reasons but accepted it at times in order to find people who thought more along the same lines as I did. Here are 5 reasons why I do not consider myself to be a crunchy mom:
1) Because I do not see breastfeeding as a choice or a health trend. I see it as the next physiologically normative step in having a child.
Two people have sex, they conceive a baby, the woman gives birth to baby and the baby feeds from the breast. It is why all women were given breasts, was to nurse babies. I do not breastfeed to be trendy. I breastfeed because according to nature, upon my child being born, my body and my child are expecting me to breastfeed. I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it is. I eat food, I poop it out. That is the biological process. Maybe sometimes I am constipated, maybe I get a hernia and have some road bumps along the way, but pooping should happen, none the less. I see breastfeeding to be just as a given as pooping. Inevitably there will always be someone who argues that not all women can breastfeed, and it is true. Given the way we live, what we eat and our levels of stress it is no wonder that some women’s bodies have a hard time functioning the way they are intended to and one of these ways is having a hard time with breastfeeding. With that said, less than a third of women are still breastfeeding at the six-month mark. That is a devastatingly low number and should be seen as a public health concern. I do not believe that all those women could truly not breastfeed. I believe we greatly lack breastfeeding support and education in this country and with more of that the rates will improve.
2) Because mammals sleeping with their young is a biological imperative, not something you get to ignore in order to have a Thomas the Train nursery.
If you look around at the other mammals such as the primates who are most like us, they are not having babies and then putting them in a cute nursery with a pretty mural in a separate room across the forest. Naturally, they are sleeping with their babies. It is not something they have to think about, consider or ponder over. This happens just as naturally as breastfeeding. When you have a baby, sleeping with your baby is simply part of the process. There are many reasons why nature wants us to sleep with our babies. First, it has them feeling safe. They have just entered a big scary world outside of the womb and the safest place is with their mother. Second, it regulates body temperature. Third, it makes the expected breastfeeding relationship easier and more successful because babies have to eat at night, too.
According to Anthropology Director at The University of Notre Dame, James J. McKenna Ph.D.,
“But it’s not just breastfeeding that promotes bedsharing. Infants usually have something to say about it too! And for some reason they remain unimpressed with declarations as to how dangerous sleeping next to mother can be. Instead, irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation. In short, and as mentioned above, cosleeping (whether on the same surface or not) facilitates positive clinical changes including more infant sleep and seems to make, well, babies happy. In other words, unless practiced dangerously, sleeping next to mother is good for infants. The reason why it occurs is because… it is supposed to.”
Of course, this isn’t always easy because while we are meant to be sleeping with our babies, we were also meant to not raise children alone. Tribal living ensured that the demanding job of raising children wasn’t solely on the shoulders of one person. It is no wonder that parents sometimes find themselves resorting to unfavorable actions in order to get a decent night’s sleep so that they can be a decently functioning parent during the day. I recommend finding what works for your family by still doing your best to meet the very real and legitimate needs of your child. If bed sharing isn’t working then put a foam mat on the floor or a bassinet next to your bed. Have the other parent help out at night if that is an option. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to make up for energy lost at night. Above all, I think we should live simpler lifestyles and reduce our stress during the day in order to have more peaceful nights.
3) Because pacifiers took the place of the nipple, not the other way around.
I’ll be honest, I find it rather amusing when someone proclaims, “That baby is using you as a pacifier!” This person has obviously not considered that the nipple was there first and things such as pacifiers were invented to mimic the job that was originally intended for the breast. So really, we should be proclaiming that babies use pacifiers as nipples because that is more accurate. This is another one of those things where I find myself saying, “I don’t make the rules…” I do not avoid pacifiers and bottles because I am crunchy. I avoid them because my nipples work just fine. They don’t cost any money and my son benefits from the natural medium of nutrients and comfort, just as all other mammals.
4) I don’t birth naturally, outside of a hospital setting because I am a crunchy, hippie free spirit. I do it because my normal healthy body isn’t expecting any interventions in the natural process of birth.
I know it seems like I talk about poop a lot but it is only because it makes for a good, simple analogy. I don’t birth at the hospital for the same reason I don’t go to the hospital to poop. Sure, birth has more posed risks, but it is just as normal and natural for a low-risk woman. The body was made to give birth, the body knows what to do. Most of the things in birth go wrong because the natural process was interrupted. Can you imagine trying to go poop and every time you had to go people were coming in and checking on you, telling you to lay on your back, hooking you up to machines and sticking a tube up your butt? How do you think pooping would go then? Probably not that well. For women who are considered to be having a healthy, normal pregnancy, going to the hospital greatly puts them at risk for things going wrong. From artificially inducing before the body is ready to go into labor to pushing in a position that isn’t conducive for getting a baby out, things are bound to come up. Also, know that many of the reasons a woman is deemed “high risk” is preventable or false. One example of a woman being told she needs intervention when she really doesn’t is when she is told her baby is too big to go through the birth canal and must be C-sectioned out. Always be informed and do your own research. For many people, things like gestational diabetes can be regulated and even avoided completely with proper diet and healthy lifestyle.
5) Because not removing the foreskin of my baby’s penis shouldn’t categorize me any more than not removing his eyelids.
This is probably the most frustrating one of all. I am actually considered “crunchy” because I kept my son’s penis….normal. What is next? Are we going to have words for people who keep their daughter’s ears’ normal? Why is ‘uncircumcised’ even a word? Do we call women who still have their breasts unmasectomized? No. Again, adhering to what is physiologically normal, abiding by natural laws and not intervening with nature should not make someone “crunchy.” The foreskin of the penis is just as relevant and important as any other part. Yes, it is only a part, but it is a part that makes up the whole. It has many vital functions from sexual to self-cleansing to immunological protection and more. Unfortunately, much of our society has been brainwashed into believing that mutilating genitals is somehow beneficial, but it is not in any way, and I shouldn’t be classified for not falling for it.
While I love that we can have labels that better (but not always) helps us find our tribe, I do not like that normal, biological parenting has become a “thing.” I do not like that I am being categorized as a certain type of person for doing what I am meant to do as a human being who gives birth to a baby. I am not trying to be trendy, I am just trying to follow the natural laws the best I can in a highly industrialized society. I was born into this society so I am ill equipped for the truly natural world (alone, at that), therefore I am not perfect. I live in a house and drive a car, all of which are not natural, but when it comes to my baby there are some things even the most industrialized and commercialized worlds cannot take away from me. That is my God given body and all that it was made to do for me and my baby.
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