Begin at the Beginning

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in Childbirth Options, Featured, Parenting | 9 comments

Forgive me for being a bit obvious here: Natural Parenting came pretty naturally to us. When I look at the list of principles that make up the natural parenting philosophy, I identify with so many of them that it’s hard for me to think of just one that might resonate more than another. I can’t even really pinpoint how or when I came to incorporate them into my life. Sometimes I end up in a situation (like the sign-in sheet at La Leche League meetings) when I am asked where I first heard of La Leche League or co-sleeping, or when did I first become interested in homeschooling or midwifery, or when did I decide to breastfeed and to leave my son intact, and I just can’t say. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about those things, yet the truth is that somewhere in my twenties I must have started absorbing the Natural Parenting principles from somewhere, little by little. I have a feeling that the process was very organic, each of these ideas meshing with some part of who I was already. There were no epiphanies; just a feeling that “hey, this makes sense—how could I do it any other way?”

If I had to say what opened the door for natural parenting in my life, I’d have to start at the beginning, and for me, that is homebirth.

I was born at home and thus, all my life I’ve understood homebirth as a legitimate option. In grade school, I was more interested in the fact that I could wow my classmates as the only one not born in a hospital. I didn’t give much thought to the significance in terms of birth options or maternity care reform, but subconsciously I must have realised that I was proof that hospitals were NOT a vital part of the process of birthing a baby.

In University I took a class on the Psychology of Health where one section looked at maternity care around the world. I was instantly enraptured by the system in the Netherlands. In the Dutch system, prenatal care is delivered by midwives and general practitioners, unless the patient is deemed high risk and transferred to the care of an obstetrician. Thirty percent of Dutch births take place at home and every new mother receives free daily in-home post-natal care visits by a nurse who helps with chores and gives assistance establishing breastfeeding. Sitting in this class in my early 20’s I knew that I would be seeking midwifery care for my own pregnancies.

Midwifery care was attractive to me in the beginning primarily because the midwifery model of care is so strikingly different than the medical model. For a really in depth explanation, I highly recommend Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, but in a nutshell, the midwifery model of care views pregnancy and childbirth as normal, natural parts of life.  The midwifery model believes that birth unfolds best when left alone and that the fewer the interventions the better. Even though I’d never been pregnant before that rang true for me; I didn’t believe that pregnancy was a disability or that birth was an emergency waiting to happen. I guess what it came down to is that midwifery validated what I’d known deep down my whole life—that birth is a safe and normal part of life.

Nevertheless, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude toward homebirth was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience.

Over and above the fact that many studies have been done recently that verify the safety of homebirth, a few things helped convince me to have my first baby at home. The first was that in my family it was treated like a normal and acceptable choice. I had support for my decision and it was something I’d known about my whole life. Aaron was also on board as soon as we started talking about it, partly because he generally believes that the natural world knows what it’s doing and that when humans get involved we often mess things up. The second factor was the trust I had in my midwives. When I told them that I thought maybe a homebirth the second time around, they were able to put whatever nebulous fears I had to rest. I remember quite clearly when I asked when I would need to make a decision about homebirth and one of them answered with a cheeky smile, “around 8 cm.”

And so we had a homebirth. And then we had another. And we are now planning our third and final homebirth. We are doing this because it makes sense to us. It feels natural and instinctual and rings true to who we are as people. Homebirth is an important aspect of our life as parents but I couldn’t say it was the most important of the Natural Parenting principles. It is only the first of the Natural Parenting principles that we were exposed to. Next came keeping our son intact, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, responding to our babies’ cries, eating home cooked local food as much as possible and now, homeschooling and making valiant efforts at gentle discipline. Each of these things is as important to us as the next and we discovered each in much the same way as we did our love of birthing at home. We picked up a little here and a little there and each one spoke to who we were and how we want to live our lives as people, not just as parents, so that in the end, we just did what came naturally.


This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism


  1. I LOVE this post! We had our first at the hospital (at 31 weeks gestation) and our second was an HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean). It was an incredible experience which we will be repeating this spring. We didn’t really advertise that we would be having a home birth last time, and avoided a lot of questions, but this time everyone pretty well knows that is what we are planning and I’m already starting to field questions here and there about our choice. It is wonderful to know what it is we want and to be able to tell people about our choices.

  2. I’ve always loved to read about your own story – it does seem like NP is such a natural fit for you! And what a great response by your midwife re: 8 cm. Too cute 🙂 We want a homebirth the next time we get pregnant too. In fact, I’ve already talked about it to Kieran several times, it’s normal to my almost 3 yr old (even though he was born in a birth center)!
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..Attachment Parenting Chose Us- November Carnival of Natural Parenting =-.
    Twitter: CodeNameMama

  3. I know a couple of people who weren’t planning homebirths, but ended up having them when their midwives came to check them in ‘early labour’ and they were ‘around 8cm’.

    I often wonder, in fact, why people in that situation rush to the hospital. And then don’t make it. I had both of my kids in hospitals, but if time had been of the essence, I would opt for home over the side of the road EVERY TIME.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..I Love my Socialized Medicine =-.
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

  4. “Around 8 cm” cracked me up. 🙂 That’s so cool that you were born at home so had that background of making it seem natural and possible. We had to go through our own fears examining to end up deciding on homebirth, but it wasn’t made easier by our family’s (still unresolved) fears about homebirth’s safety. Ah, well! Your experience also made me think what my own child might brag about to friends or classmates someday — how fun that you got to brag about being born at home!
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..November Carnival of Natural Parenting- Nurturing through touch =-.
    Twitter: Hobo_Mama

  5. I came into Natural Parenting in much the same way, all the little pieces coming together gradually. I too had my first at home, and surprisingly, it was my father-in-law who first suggested Tom and I have a home birth. Several of his kids were born at home and my husband was really supportive too. My family were not at all comfortable with it, but I knew that I wanted to at least give it a try. I’m so glad I did.
    Twitter: TheParentVortex

  6. I love how you came to decide home was a natural option – and that your mother’s experience & how she talked about it as being normal really “sank in” for you. I try to be conscious of that when discussing my births with my children (both of whom were born via unplanned cesareans) – I want them to understand that while both of their births were wonderful & special, birth in a hospital via surgery isn’t the “normal” way to birth. That a doctor was there to help Mommy, but most times, Mommies don’t need help to birth babies… its a delicate discussion, but one that needs to be discussed. Just like breastfeeding – I mention as often as I can naturally in conversation with my children that breastfeeding is normal, natural, and the best thing for babies.
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    .-= kelly @kellynaturally´s last blog ..Natural Parenting- Following Our Instincts- and Keeping Our Son Intact =-.
    Twitter: kellynaturally

  7. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing your journey – and indeed, for many of us, natural parenting does start with a more gentle birth! I love the 8 cm comment too.

    You make a good point about experience. I, too, chose to give birth to my first baby at home with a midwife. I would have opted to go unassisted (and did with my second) but wanted the midwife because I had no experience. Perhaps we have no experience with birth when we have our first babies, but nature normally makes up for that and does all the work by itself.


  8. I love hearing about homebirths! I hope to have one if/when we have a 3rd…with my high risk history however it may not happen, but I can still hope!

    I like how you write about your journey into NP being an organic process, almost like it was always meant to be that way. I’m sure your parents had a huge role in that. That’s one of the reasons why I parent this way, so that my children always see it as an option of viewing the world and not as something to be “afraid” of.

    Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

  9. I love post that I can relate to. I feel the same way, natural childbirth just came natural. I had my first at 21 and it just followed the vegetarian, gypsy life I had been living. My mother once ask why I would want to be awake for a birth, so I know it did not come from her. I was just always drawn to it.
    Happy to find your blog. : )
    Twitter: gypsychant


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