Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cloth for Mama...and beyond!

Long ago, in the days of my girlish youth before I became a mother (read: about 2 years back), my sister and I got into a real bout of giggles.

What were we giggling about?

Well, she had been perusing online knitting/crocheting patterns and happened across one for tampons. Yes, you read that correctly, a woolly, little, handmade tampon. It seemed weird. It seemed silly. It even seemed... gross. We got a good laugh out of it and boy, the jokes were endless. We always try to make or bake as many Christmas gifts as possible, so we were saying how funny it would be to give out those goofy, little tampons as Christmas gifts to our girlfriends. I mean, who on earth would wash their own tampons???

Even after becoming a mother, it was still funny to me. I'd still think to myself, who makes those? Who USES those? I'd ponder these things to myself whilst standing over the laundry room sink scraping poop off of dear baby's diapers with W's trusty "shit stick" (which is, in fact, an old Home Depot paint can stir-stick- very classy). Eventually the irony sunk in, you'll be glad to know.

The home-made tampons were still a bit of a turn-off, but mainly for comfort reasons. I did, however, look a little more closely at the "For Mom" section of my local cloth diaper retailer, specifically at the washable feminine pads. What's funny is that a few of the brands that make cloth diapers for babies also make washable feminine pads for mommies. I thought it might be cute to be wearing the same brand as dear baby. It made me think of how modern cloth diapers are always advertised as "not your mother's cloth diapers"- well they may not be, but she sure could wear them when the tomato truck comes to town!

But I digress.

At first, I was a little offended by the price of these washable pads, but then I sat down and did the math. I have always felt that I am forever buying tampons and pads. Every month I go out and get that jumbo box and then when the next month rolls around, I have to go and do it again. That's the nature of the beast, I suppose. So I would spend maybe $15 per month on supplies. Obviously it didn't take long for me to realize the long term savings.

The two brands that I looked at were Fuzzibunz and LunaPads. The only reason I went with Fuzzibunz was because they popped up on Eco Baby Buys for half price. A 3-pack of Fuzzibunz washable feminine pads will run you about $12.95, so half price was a real steal (so obviously I bought three). When they arrived in the mail a week later, I was super excited to try them out. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was so excited for my period to hurry up and happen, except for maybe the very first time it happened. I'm happy to report that I am very satisfied with my Fuzzibunz pads. It really makes sense for a cloth diapering mama to use cloth feminine pads if she's inclined to do so because you're already washing diapers every second day anyway. I just give mine a good rinse and toss them in with the cloth diapers. It really couldn't be any easier and it is saving me $15 per month! I passed on my love of having fuzzy bunz to my sister and she has since ordered some as well. Who's giggling now?

So since Fuzzibunz was giving me such a thrill, I decided to take it a step further. I'm sure that many of you have heard of the The Diva Cup. I've seen and heard of it many times over the years but never really understood what the deal was. Evidently, they are small, silicone cups that you fold up and insert like a diaphragm. Every few hours, you pop it out, give it a rinse, and up she goes again. They have recently come in stock at my local diaper retailer and just as I was thinking of heading over there to check it out, BAM, it went up on BabySteals last night for less than half price. As a lover of deals, I couldn't let a lack of education get in the way, so I naturally ordered one. My BabySteals purchases have a bad habit of taking forever to arrive, so I'll probably use that as an excuse to allow my blog to fall into woeful neglect for another 6-8 weeks. But seriously...stay tuned for a review!

Diadima xo

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Culture of One

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this club that I started back in elementary school. During the summer before I started grade two, my family moved to a new town which meant leaving old friends behind and setting about acquiring some new ones in the fall. Naturally, I had some fears about fitting in, but in no time at all I was standing in front of my three new friends suggesting that we start a club. We decided that the club would be about dancing at recess and wearing our hair in a specific way (high pony-tail and curled bangs, if you were wondering). I felt very serious about the club and spent hours one afternoon designing an ornate logo while spinning in an office chair at my mother's work. Each day during recess, my friends and I raced outside to work on our dance routines. We noticed that other girls were starting clubs as well and we felt very cosmopolitan for starting such a cool trend. I loved being in that club with those girls because I felt that we were all so like-minded what with our same hair, same age, same interests in dancing, etc and so on.

Then one day...

We all headed out for recess and I got right into the first position for our latest routine but as I started the count, I noticed that the other three girls were standing together with their hands on their hips.

"How come you're not in position?" I demanded.

"Well...we were talking about the routine-" one of the girls started,

"-Without ME?" I interrupted.

"Like I said, we were talking about the routine and we decided that it would look better if the blonde haired girls were on one side and the brown haired girls were on the other,"

"But-" I stammered, the warm sting of tears already filling my eyes.

"-so since we all have blonde hair, we'll stand over here and you'll have to stand by yourself because you're the only one with brown hair" she said matter-of-factly.

By the next recess, I was out of the club. The girls decided it was going to be a club for blondes only. I was completely devestated. It may have been a bit naive given that we were only seven years old, but I had hoped that we would cherish and support one another and remain close friends for the rest of our lives. It was a tough pill to swallow for such a little girl and it was my first taste of the girl-on-girl crime that I refer to as "the culture of one".

It seems like no matter where a girl turns, she is taught to mistrust her fellow female. In the culture of one, every girl has to be better than every other girl around her. In the culture of one, there is no sisterhood of women, there is only me vs. you. As young girls being schooled in the culture of one, we often look to grown women and imagine that the cliquishness we are experiencing is only temporary, we will be as cool and confident as those women one day when we grow out of this petty foolishness. Seven year old me certainly thought that was the case. As I got older, I began to wonder when I would find a group of like-minded women who rejected the culture of one in favour of supporting one another's differing views, celebrating our individuality and bonding through a connecting experience.

This brings us to twenty seven year old me.

Twenty seven year old me gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last year and twenty seven year old me excitedly headed out into the mothering community with a elated feeling that I had surely found a realm where the culture of one would not rule. I figured that we had all experienced pregnancy and the miracle of birth, we all loved our children enormously and we all had an interest in doing the very best for our children, therefore we would all be united in a supportive, non-critical sisterhood of mothers.

It's that whole fool me once, fool me twice thing all over again...

Yes, unfortunately, it seems that not only is the culture of one alive and well in the mothering community, but it reaches a level of ferocity for which my elementary-school-club fiasco did not adequately prepare me. I had hoped that the unifying experience of giving life would translate into some level of understanding, but instead I see a lot of me vs. you, us vs. them. There are so many labels by which mothers feel compelled to plaster on themselves. There are crunchy moms, trendy moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms, career moms and each group feels the need to explain why they are better than the other groups. Breastfeeding mothers critisize bottle-feeding mothers for not trying hard enough. Bottle-feeding mothers look at extended nursers as selfish. Co-sleepers are called irresponsible by the cribs-only crew. Baby-wearers quote the statistics of positional asphyxiation caused by toting your newborn in his carseat and stroller. Carseat and stroller toters quote the statistics of positional asphyxiation in slings and carriers. It goes on and on.


Why can't we all just get along? Yes, it is true that parenting is an incredibly personal and passionate aspect of life and so it is easy to see how we have fallen into this trap of the culture of one. If we all believe that we are doing what is best for our children, then anyone who does it differently must not be doing what's best, right? What would be amazing is if we could all accept that just as every child is different, every style of mothering is also different. We cannot assume what is best for another child. We cannot assume that another mother is not doing what is best because she isn't doing what we would do. It doesn't have to be blondes on one side and brunettes on the other. It doesn't have to be crunchy on one side and mainstream on the other. It may be true that society has infected us with a mistrust of our fellow female, but that doesn't mean we can't recognize what has occurred here and choose the alternative.

So please. The next time you find yourself tempted to raise an eyebrow at another mother who gives her son milupa instead of organic brown rice or who rubs anbesol on her baby's gums instead of draping her in baltic amber- take a step back and remember that we are all in this club together. We all brought these incredible children into the world and we all love them like nobody's business. We deserve the respect, support and well-wishing of one another, not shame, judgement or criticism fueled by the culture of one.

I look forward to the day that this remarkable sisterhood of mothers sheds the itchy skin that is the culture of one and learns to embrace our fellow woman. We're all on the same side, after all, and we're not seven anymore.

Diadima xo

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Take the Flats and Handwashing Challenge

The most common question I get asked about cloth diapering is, "Isn't it hard to do with the pins?" and I always say, "Oh no one uses pins anymore! Cloth diapering is super modern now with velcro or snaps, the diapers look just like disposables and go on just as easily only you toss them in the washer instead of the garbage". Yes, I admit that the selling point I tend to push is the one where I say how much like a disposable the new cloth is. It worked with my partner, he was very aprehensive at first, until he saw how "like a disposable" they were. The only downside to these super modern, funky, cute and easy to use diapers is the price. My personal fave- BumGenius by Cotton Babies runs a very steep $24 per diaper.

Recently, I was checking out my favourite cloth diapering blog Dirty Diaper Laundry and she was discussing how although using cloth is great for saving money, the up-front expense (about $500-$900) is just not an option for struggling families. Additionally, many struggling families don't have their own washer and dryer and so the multiple layers of fabric in pocket inserts, all-in-ones and even prefolds make for a lot of work in handwashing and even longer to hang-dry. So what is the solution here for families who are having a hard time affording disposable diapers but don't have the up-front cash to get started in cloth diapering? Well, according to Dirty Diaper Laundry- the solution is flats. Yep, just as I mentioned in my last post, people are beginning to realize that going back to the way our great grandmothers did things (breastfeeding, making their own baby food, gardening, cloth diapering and using clothes lines) is really the most sensible. Flat diapers are truly economical. They consist of one single layer of cotton that can be folding in many different ways to create a diaper. You secure them with either pins or Snappis and add a diaper cover to keep baby's clothes dry. As they are but a single layer, you can easily wash them and hang them out to dry- they are excellent candidates for that fabulous sun bleaching that I recently blogged about and even in winter, they will dry indoors in a few short hours. As Dirty Diaper Laundry pointed out, flats are the most intimidating of the cloth diapering options, mostly because when you look at a big square chunk of fabric, it's not immediately obvious how to get it to look like a diaper and so there is some learning and acquiring of skill that is required.

Dirty Diaper Laundry has decided to challenge herself to one week (May 23-30) of using flat diapers ONLY and handwashing/hang-drying them ONLY to prove that it is a viable and economical option for struggling families, a BETTER option for them than expensive disposables. She has also proposed that we cloth mamas take up the challenge with her. Head to her blog post here to sign yourself up for the challenge and read over the rules for participation.

For those of you living in the realm of my favourite cloth diaper retailer Re-Diaper, Anj is offering 15% off of her Osocozy Birdseye Cotton Flats (which regularly retail for $15 per 6pk) especially for the flats challenge. So head on over to the store or website and get yourself a couple packs of flat diapers, roll up your sleeves and get in on the challenge!

Diadima xo

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother nature knows best

Every cloth diapering mama knows that her best accessory is a clothes line. You just can't beat the fresh air smell on crisp, clean clothes that have been hung out to dry on a clothes line. Of course, in our part of the world, the icy, cold, dark days of winter are an inevitability and during those months, the clothes line doesn't have much dangling from it except for a few icicles. Yes, winter can be tough on cloth diapers. So can prunes. Put those two elements together and you can imagine the state of my microfiber inserts right now.

All winter long, I've been soaking my diapers in RLR Washing Soda, Rockin' Green Funk Rock, baking soda, you name it. My once beautiful, bright, white diapers and inserts have become dingy, stained and there is a faint odour that clings to them no matter what. I have found the RLR to be very effective, and yet... my dipes, they be yellow. After a while, nothing seems to work. Lucky for us, spring comes around at least once a year and with it comes sunshine. With sunshine comes the natural bleaching power of Mother Nature. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will get your diapers whiter, cleaner or fresher than hanging them out in the sun. I have heard from cloth mamas who don't have clothes lines that they hang them out on their balconies, out their windows and one savvy chick even takes hers to the beach!

This past weekend has been absolutely gorgeous here in Southern Ontario, and so I decided to take some photos of my dingiest, darkest stained diapers and inserts for a little before and after extravaganza. Seeing is believing, and I am sure that once this week is through, the super powers of the sun will have returned my diapers to their former glory.

Oh, and get yourself a clothes line. Aside from the wonders it will do for your diapers, the money that you save by not running your dryer constantly will amaze you. I grew up in the country, and they say every country girl needs a clothes line- though they are popping up all over cities now. Apparently they're very chic and green. I love how everything that is a part of the Green trend is really just the old-fashioned stuff our grandmothers used to do that people got away from, and now are coming back home to. Live in an apartment or condo? No problem- there are kits available for small lines, too. Really, all you need is a cord and a bag of clothes pins which you can buy at the dollar store.

Stay tuned for pics of my before and after sun bleaching science project.

Happy hanging!

Diadima xo

Friday, May 6, 2011

A mother's love knows no bounds

This year I will be celebrating my first Mother's Day as a mother. My dear baby boy was born in September and has been lighting up the world ever since. This year, perhaps more than any other year of my adult life, I have truly needed my own mother in all ways. During pregnancy, I just assumed that my mothering qualities would burst into full bloom as soon as my baby arrived, that my intuition would appear, fully matured, all on it's own. Motherhood is natural, after all, isn't it?
Well it turns out there are a few tricks to the trade that must be learned and my own mother was by my side for the first four weeks of my son's life, teaching them to me one by one. The birth of my son has changed me in every way I can imagine. I am more emotional than ever- things that make me happy send me over the moon and things that I find sad sometimes turn devastating or move me to tears in a flash. I feel a sense of empathy and protectiveness for every child that I see, which has me making funny faces at crying babies in the grocery store check-out or rolling down my window to scream "Hey! Zip up your damn coat!" to bewildered neighbourhood children who are otherwise trying to look cool in February. I am more careful of what I eat as I know it will turn up in my breastmilk later on making for either sweet sleep or a crying, gassy baby. I am more careful of my lifestyle in general, my full-time smoking, drinking and going out days are long behind me. In fact, going out at all can be a bit of a challenge since my exclusively breastfed son refuses to take a bottle. There are the more obvious changes as well, such as the 60lbs gained during pregnancy and the 35 that are still hanging on. It's funny how, although it does bother me sometimes, I used to get so much more worked up over five or ten pounds gained over the holidays than I have over the four dress sizes I've gained. Motherhood has changed me in many ways and while I owe most of it to dear baby, I owe much to my own mother as well.
My mother. There is no one like her. When I told her I was pregnant, she was thrilled for me. I cried on her shoulder about how I hadn't finished school, we lived in an apartment, we weren't even married, it just wasn't the plan! I knew she was empathetic, having had two "surprises" herself and raising my sister and I as a single mother. I'm sure she was also holding back a giggle or two, especially when I cried out, "I'm too young to have a baby!", given that I was 27 years old on the day of dear baby's birth and by that time in her life, she had a six year old and a three year old that she was raising on her own. Looking back at that afternoon, I can't help laughing at myself. At the time, I had thought my life was ending, but in reality, it was just beginning. Of course my mother knew this, but I'm sure she also knew it was the sort of thing a woman has to find out for herself.
When it comes to my mother, I am often at a loss for words. It's hard to sum her up in the way that I feel she deserves. The word that always comes to mind is sacrifice. The word itself sometimes conjures up a negative sense for people, but for me, it is the word I use to describe the series of loving acts done by my mother that made up my childhood. She was young when my sister was born in 1981, but she kissed her early 20's goodbye without looking back. Many young mothers try to hold onto their night life, leaving their babies with grandma, ignoring the disappointed frowns and heading off to "have it both ways". I'm sure she has her secrets, but as far as I know, my mother didn't date for eight years until she met my stepfather, whom she didn't even tell us about until he had proposed. My mother believed in protecting her children and in setting examples. Our neighbourhood was full of women who lived on welfare cheques and were somehow able to have brand new furniture, nintendo systems for their kids and a revolving door of "uncle joe's". I'm sure there were times when my mother glanced across the street and thought about going the easy route, but instead, she worked two jobs tirelessly to support my sister and myself and teach us the value of a work ethic. Our house may not have been full of new things (or even nice things), but even as a young child, I knew what my mother was made of. I looked at the other mothers and I felt that they didn't measure up. I'm sure those women loved their children, but, even at a tender age, it was clear to me that they were still putting themselves first. They were not the type to sacrifice for their children. While they were out "finding fathers" for their kids, my mother went to work teaching us about confidence, self-respect, self-assurance and the value of good education. She valued reading and artistry. She nurtured our imagination with books of children's poetry, she taught us to cook traditional Italian food and extolled the virtues of good manners. We went to seafood restaurants where we ate plate after plate of marinated squid and crab legs while the servers looked on in amazement at these little girls with tentacles hanging out of their mouths and we felt very sophisticated and privileged. We went to late night ice skating shows and stayed up well past bedtime. We went to the circus and the movies. We went camping and although it rained every single time, we sat in our soggy tent and no one complained because we knew how many extra shifts my mother had to work to get the weekend off. My mother loved us with her whole heart. She never felt sorry for herself that other young women were out experiencing the world, taking university courses abroad or staying out all night having the time of their life. She went to the school of life and it taught her that there was nothing she could find out in the world that would make her feel as whole or as relevant as motherhood had.
There were times, in elementary school, that other children would ask if I felt bad about not having a father. Children will ask you anything, as they lack diplomacy, and I remember being asked if I felt sad that I didn't have a "real family". I often think of that now, and what the idea of a "real family" means. My family, which consisted of my mother, my sister and myself, was always complete. From the day I was born, it was always the three of us. I never suffered the losses that children of divorced homes suffered. I never "lost" a parent, split my time between two homes, had two Christmases or felt myself being pulled in different directions through a custody battle. For me, family was three girls eating fresh pasta at a round dinner table and that is as real as the rain. Having a single mother, I was sometimes put in the "broken home" category. Truly, there was nothing broken about my home. There were three in the beginning, and we are still three. We have each added on a partner and my sister and I now have baby boys, but we are as three as ever.
After the birth of my son, my mother moved in with me for what was supposed to be two weeks but turned into a month. She was at my side all throughout my labour, supporting and encouraging me. She delivered both my sister and myself naturally, without drugs, and I knew that when she held onto my hand and said, "I know it hurts, baby", she really did know. In the first days of his life, it became clear that the battle had not ended with labour and that breastfeeding was proving to be an even more treacherous mountain to climb. Night after night, I handed my newborn son to her as I sank back against the rocking chair, tears streaming down my face and full of shame at my inability to nurse my son. My sister and I had taken to breastfeeding like little ducks to water, and so although she had no way to relate to the pain, the guilt and the terrible feelings of failure, she quietly assured me that motherhood is full of little heartaches and that this too shall pass. It wasn't until much later that she confessed to me that on the nights when she went out to get me some miracle nipple cream, breast shield, cooling compress or whatever new thing we thought might help, she would first sit in her car and cry into the steering wheel , wishing that there was something she could do to fix my problem. As every mother knows, and I now know, it is the most excruciating thing to watch your child suffer. Of course she never let on, she was by my side all the while, cool as a cucumber. She has taught me that motherhood is about making sacrifices for love. The pain of natural labour was the first sacrifice, sticking with breastfeeding was the second and I know there are many more to come, but I have big shoes to fill, so I welcome these challenges because I see them as an opportunity to prove to my mother and myself that she raised me extraordinarily well. She has taught me to nurture, to be stern but also kind, to stop and watch my baby before all these little moments pass and make way for toddlerhood, childhood and eventually adulthood. I will never forget the time that she spent with me when dear baby arrived. Waking up for every night feeding, telling me how some little face my son made reminded her of me as a baby, helping me get the impossible burps out and praising me when my red-faced little bundle finally quieted down to sleep. My mother has a little saying that she heard in a poem and she would often remind me of it whenever I stressed about the state of the house or the fact that I'd been in the same pyjamas for three days...
"Settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep"
and so...
To my mother, who is an angel on earth. If I lived over one hundred lifetimes, I could never thank you enough for what you have done for me in this one. Everything I have, you gave me. Everything I know, you taught me. Everything I am, you made me. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a mother and for truly meaning it when you told me your love knew no bounds.
Diadima xo

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Milk Sharing: When you care enough to send the very best

Hello mamas! It's been a while...again. I do apologize, but I've been very busy goo goo-ing over my brand new nephew that was brought into the world by my dear sister on April 14- so I know you'll excuse my absence :-)

All throughout pregnancy, a woman can't turn her head without hearing about the benefits of breastfeeding her baby. Everywhere you go there are signs up: in the doctor's office, the hospital, the midwife's waiting room, baby shows, pamphlets, registration packages, bottle packaging and even in the advertisements for infant formula. We know that breast milk is the best thing for our babies, of course we know it, it's been indoctrinated from conception. Thanks to the tireless work of doctors, lactation consultants, midwives, doulas and North American marketing, the majority of women breast feed their babies for an average of six months. It's no wonder then that when a woman experiences great difficulty with breastfeeding- whether it's because of low supply, damaged nipples, poor latch, no latch or downright unbearable, excruciating pain- she completely falls to pieces.

I personally knew that I would breast feed long before my dear baby was even a twinkle in my eye, and- as you all know mamas- I had a hell of a time establishing my breastfeeding routine. It took me twelve weeks to even be able to get through a breastfeeding session and four more to coax dear baby back to the laborious task of drinking from the breast after he'd been spoiled with continuous bottle flow for four months. Lucky for me, I was able to pump unbelievable amounts (we're talking up to 14oz) and so my son received my breast milk the entire time.

Now with all this touting of the benefits of breast milk, and with all of these beautiful nursing mothers around, why is it that people still can't help but cringe when they hear the expression "milk sharing"?

I admit, when I first heard on the radio that women in the US are selling their excess breast milk online for $5 an ounce, my reaction was "ewwwwwwww, GROSS!". Of course, at that time I was six months pregnant and swore I'd never bare a breast in public. I always thought back to that episode of Sex and The City when Miranda couldn't get her son to latch. She was wearing a robe and a nursing bra and had both boobs hanging out as she tried, frustrated, to get her son to latch onto one of them. I'll never forget the look on Carrie's face as she sat in front of her, partly embarrassed for her friend, partly looking around for an exit. During pregnancy, I related a lot more to Carrie in that situation, but as soon as my son was born, I was putting Miranda to shame, not even bothering with the robe and bra and just walked around my whole house with no top on for about two months.

At one point, I mentioned what I had heard about selling your milk online to my Midwife and what I thought of it. She chuckled a bit, but then told me that it's illegal to sell milk in Canada, and then very earnestly told me that, here, women have "milk shares", where they are linked up to one another online and one woman can give her breast milk to another if she needs some help. I was still put off by this, and my midwife explained to me the order of what's best for baby:

1. Mother's milk
2. Mother's milk, expressed and bottle fed, cup fed, finger fed or some other variation.
3. Another mother's milk
4. Formula

She kindly reminded me of the long-used practice of wet-nurses and how, in many cultures today, if a new mother becomes ill, has too little milk or- worst of all- her milk never comes in at all, the other nursing mothers in the community all take on the responsibility of nourishing the baby. We've all heard the expression "it takes a village", and in these cases, it's literal.

It was after this conversation that I realized my ignorance and childishness. A mother is a mother is a mother. Of course, one's own mother is best, but what I began to realize was that if I held a baby in my arms who was in need and I was in a position to help them, then I would. I felt that I could relate to those village mothers who take on the task of helping to nurse infants who were not thriving. Thirteen days after my son was born, my very dear friend S gave birth in her home to her own beautiful baby boy. When I went to visit them for the first time, I looked down at him and I thought to myself that if anything ever happened, I would help this child. I would nurse this child. I would keep this child safe. My own child is and always will be the most important, but this child, I thought, is special too. This is the basic empathy that comes with being a mother and a woman, the desire to nurture.

A couple of weeks ago, a mama who is very close to me was struggling with breastfeeding. She had been home with her dear baby for several days and her milk had not come in. There was some milk, and it was the watery white consistency of early milk, but it was scarce. She was nursing her dear baby tirelessly, around the clock, trying to get him up to his birth weight. When the midwife first mentioned that he was not gaining according to percentage and may need a supplement, his mama was worried. She wanted her baby to be exclusively breastfed, but of course, a full-bellied, thriving baby was the most important thing. She was given 24hrs to get his weight up before a supplement would be introduced. I stayed with her for the day as she nursed every hour and a half, all through the day and into the night. The next morning, everyone was certain he would have put on at least three ounces and when they scale revealed that, not only had he not gained, but he had lost another three ounces, his dear mama was devastated. I thought back to the horrible, heartbreaking time that I had with nursing in the beginning. I was the first of my group of mommy friends to deliver and, at times, felt quite alone during the ordeal. Every time I gave my dear baby a bottle of breast milk instead of nursing him, I felt ashamed, defeated and detached from him. My heart went out to this new mama who was torturing herself with the thought of having starved her baby. She hadn't wanted to give formula because she wanted to give her milk a chance to come in fully, which was supported by the midwife, and now she was being told that he was "too light".

I went home that evening feeling very strongly that I should help this mother. I knew that I had milk stored in the freezer. I knew that I had domperidone stashed in the cupboard to boost my milk supply. At seven months post-pardem, my milk is fully-established and mature, with a higher fat content than any formula you could buy in a store. I knew that my milk would help this dear baby gain weight quickly and that it would ease his mother's guilt about giving anything other than breast milk to her newborn son. I wanted to help her, but I wasn't totally sure how to offer my help. I didn't want to seem that I was bragging about having all this extra milk when she was struggling to create supply and I didn't want to assume that she would agree. A new mother is a very sensitive creature and a new mother who is having difficulty nourishing her baby on her own is all the more fragile. I decided to make the offer and she happily agreed. Her dear baby is happy to accept this new milk and his dear mother is supplementing with a lactation aid- probably the most natural way to supplement an infant (a thin tube is placed alongside the breast during nursing, one end is in a bottle of breast milk and the other end delivers extra nourishment to baby as he suckles away). Dear mama requires between 10 and 15oz of extra breast milk per day, which I am unfortunately not able to supply on my own, and so our dear mutual friend S (whom I mentioned earlier in the post) is also contributing milk to the cause. This beautiful, lucky dear baby is being nourished by three mothers, all of whom love him unconditionally.

After ten days of breast milk supplementation, I am happy to report that dear baby is pretty much at his birth weight and growing every day. On top of that, his dear mother is noticing and increase in her own supply and therefore a decrease in the use of supplement every single day. Her Midwife and O.B are beyond thrilled for her as well. They both agree that she has the very best of a bad situation in that she has people close to her who are also nursing and are willing to donate milk, and more importantly, that she has been willing to accept the donations. Both have remarked how exceptional and wonderful it is for women to band together to care for their infants and how great it would be if more women were able to participate in milk sharing and the use of lactation aid when supplementing their newborns.

When I think back to my pre-natal self, I can't help but laugh at my pettiness, my lack of understanding. I see now that there is no child I could hold in my arms that I would not help if I could. Nursing mothers work hard to prevent the stigma of breastfeeding in public. There are many nursing groups and mother's groups (La Leche, for example), that advocate nursing any time, any place. If only there were more groups advocating for milk sharing. As I said at the beginning of this post, we all KNOW that breast milk is what's best for our babies. Knowing this, we should all be more willing to participate in the village community of nursing mothers. It is a mother's instinct to care for, nurture and nourish babies, so let's extend that nurturing instinct to the mothers who wish to keep their babies exclusively breastfed but need a little assistance while their milk strengthens. People often see breast milk as a bodily fluid and therefore something personal, like saliva, that shouldn't be shared. I would say, as politely as possible, that those people are fools.

And I would know, I used to be one of them.

Diadima xo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rockin' Green Hard Rock Review (and some whitening tips!)

As I mentioned in my last post, I was delighted to discover that you can purchase trial size packets of Rockin' Green diaper detergent. I've been eyeing up Rockin' Green for a while, but since it's rather expensive and I still have a tonne of my regular diaper detergent, I had some trepidation about committing to a whole bag. As mentioned previously, Rockin' Green comes in three formulations: classic, hard rock (for those with hard water) and soft rock (for those with soft water). I have determined that my water is hard, which could likely be why I have such an issue with build-up on my diapers and why it's difficult to keep them stain-free. Rockin' Green also comes in seven delicious fragrances: Mighty Mighty Marshmallow, Smashing Watermelons, The Green Tea's, Rage Against the Raspberry, Motley Clean, Lavender Mint Revival and there is also an unscented version for those who prefer fragrance-free and it's called Bare Naked Babies.

For my trial run, I bought Mighty Mighty Marshmallow, Smashing Watermelons and Motley Clean all in the hard rock formula. I was definitely curious about the fragrances, but my real motivation was whether the hard rock formula would help to get my diapers their absolute cleanest. First, I put my diapers through on a cold pre-rinse to get the ickies off- I always use the highest water setting. Second, I filled my washer on the hottest water setting and added the Rockin' Green and the diapers. Once the cycle was finished, I was super excited to sniff my diapers. I even turned the washer alarm on (which I never do because it's super annoying). When I picked up a diaper to sniff it, it smelled like...nothing. Yes, sorry to say, after a heavy duty wash cycle with an extra rinse, the diapers really didn't smell like any marshmallow, let alone a mighty one. It was all a bit anti-climactic, really. I didn't notice any fragrance on the diapers with the other two scents that I chose either. The cleaning power, on the other hand, was very good. My diapers looked very clean and although they didn't smell like a yummy fragrance, they did smell fresh and there was absolutely no trace of ammonia clinging to them. I must admit, even as I love my Claudia's Choices diaper detergent to the end of the earth, I do sometimes have to do a second wash due to faint ammonia smell remaining on the diapers.

My over-all verdict: Even though the fragrance didn't stick (and really, that's the main reason for the additional cost), the cleaning power was very good. I really did like the detergent and thought that the hard water formula cleaned my diapers very thoroughly. At the end of the day, however, I don't think I'll be switching. I find that adding some baking soda or RLR once a month gives the exact same result.

So, as I've said, my main motivation for exploring other detergents was to boost my whitening capability. Dear baby is nearly seven months old and several of my bumGenius microfiber inserts, as well as the fleece lining in the diapers themselves are looking rather dingy. I've used baking soda all along to brighten my diapers, but sometimes I need something a little...more. I can't use bleach because of my hard water situation (bleach + hard water = ugly yellowing), not to mention the fact that it deteriorates microfiber. The two things that I have found that work the best are...

Cadie RLR Laundry Treatment- Ignore the kitschy 70's packaging, this stuff works. It's some kind of magical laundry soda that is not a bleach, blueing or detergent. I add it to my wash cycle along with my regular amount of detergent (just as you would an oxyclean type product), let it soak for about an hour and then run the cycle as usual. A single use packet costs $2 at my diaper retailer and I use it a couple times a month. Before I discovered this little gem, I was using Rockin' Green's Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer for both deodorizing and whitening power, however, at $18 a bag (and I used a bag a month), it was getting a little steep. I find that the RLR brightens and deodorizes beautifully for a fraction of the cost.

but the best whitening results I've achieved so far are from using...

The sun!

Yes. The plain, old, free, shining sun is the best bleaching agent of them all. If you're using cloth, a clothes line is a must-have. Even in an apartment, just string up a line on your balcony- you won't regret it. There is absolutely no product that you can buy in a store that will whiten and deodorize your diapers better than sun and fresh air. Not to mention the fact that hanging your diapers to dry instead of tossing them in the dryer will extend their life considerably. Now that spring is upon us in this beautiful country, I've been taking full advantage of the sunny days that we've had for the past two weeks and my diapers are reaping all the benefit. RLR combined with sunshine has my diapers looking as good as they did when I bought them eight months ago. I've heard mamas saying they take their diapers to the beach and lay them out, put them on the porch, in the back yard, there are a lot of ways to sun your diapers if a clothes line is just completely out of the question (I know some condo town-homes prohibit them because they're considered "eye-sores"). So get those diapers out in the sun and see why mother nature always does it best.

Diadima xo

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GroVia Bonanza and Rockin' Green test drive

Hello cloth mamas!
I know, I's been a while. I've been delinquent. Dear baby is teething and ill with Roseola, which of course, has been cutting into my blog time.
This is just a quick post to let everyone know about the great sale that GroVia has authorized at all of their retailers for the entire month of April. If you buy three GroVia diapers- the shells (diaper covers), shell sets (diaper cover + insert) or all-in-ones, you get one diaper free. I heard from a little bird that GroVia is discontinuing their shell sets, which are an excellent value, so if you are thinking of getting them, now is the time to buy. Check with your local diaper retailer to make sure that they're in on the sale and get shopping, mamas!

In other news- I was at my local diaper retailer this evening and I noticed that they were selling sample sized packs of Rockin' Green. Previously, I didn't know these were available. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I use Claudia's Choices detergent, which is a great brand. I've been eyeing up the Rockin' Green lately because A) It comes in a hard water formula (and I have hard water) and B) It comes in delish fragrances. I've been hesitant to buy a bag because it's $22 for a medium sized bag that wouldn't last me half as long as Claudia's does. My dear baby is 6 1/2 months old and I'm still using the first pail that I bought before he was born. So imagine my pleasure when I saw that I could try it out with a single-use packet that sells for $1.75 at my diaper retailer. Perfect! I picked up three single-use packets in the Hard Rock formula (for hard water) in the fragrances "Motley Clean", "Smashing Watermelons" and "Mighty Mighty Marshmallow". I'll post a review at the end of the week to let everyone know what I thought of this boutique detergent, so stay tuned!
Diadima xo

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Breastfeeding: the first days

In the first days following birth, there is an awful lot for a new mother to contend with. Not only are you exhausted from the marathon that is labour, but you may be recovering from your epidural, stitches, and the general pain that is associated with the initial post-partem period. On top of all of that is a tiny person who needs to be held and nursed every two hours around the clock. It's a lot to handle! Of course, no new mother wants to be seen as a complainer, or worse- incapable, and so we tend to keep the fact that we may be struggling to ourselves.

When I first came home with dear baby, I was in a lot of pain. I neglected to take the advice of my midwife when she had told me to stop pushing. Stop pushing? No way, I thought. As a result, I had some nasty tears that required stitching. Forget going to the bathroom every two hours as the nurses were urging, I could barely walk! It turned out, the difficulty walking also had to do with my pelvis being a bit twisted from labour (thankfully that was sorted out by a quick adjustment at the chiropractor, about ten days post-partem). I was beginning to notice a lot of redness around my nipples and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get through a feeding. The first blow to my nursing confidence came from the night-time nurse at the hospital. She told me that my dear baby had "the jitters" which was a symptom of low-blood sugar caused by ineffective nursing. He was taken to the nursery to have his blood tested. The first of three tests came back low. The nurse told me to continue nursing to see if it helped. "What if it does not go up?", I asked her. "He will be given formula", she answered. I was upset by this. I told her I did not want to give him formula and expressed my wish for him to be exclusively breastfed. She told me that if the test showed low sugar, I most certainly would be giving formula, otherwise he would be taken away from me to the second floor and put on an IV drip. I nursed him for 1hr and a half straight, trying feverishly to get his blood sugar up, crying the whole time out of fear and pain from the poor latch. It didn't do any good, the nurse was back an hour later with a tiny bottle of formula and a very stern expression that told me she wasn't fooling around. I didn't realize it then, but this was the beginning of my breastfeeding trauma. I knew the latch was bad, but I kept going because I was afraid of this nurse taking my son away. I was home only a few short hours before I wound up on the floor of the nursery, crying my heart out because I could not stand the pain. Unfortunately, it was merely the first of dozens of similar nights. Afraid that my baby was starving, I tried to pump the colostrum for him. When a mere 3/4 oz dribbled into the bottle, I felt panic. I did not know at the time that I was producing more than enough colostrum. Even though the books confirmed that a newborn baby has a stomach the size of a tiny marble, I was sure that he would perish by morning if I didn't get more food into him. I kept asking everyone if they thought he looked "jittery" until, finally my mother, bless her heart, phoned up the hospital to find out what what kind of formula they used and then promptly went out at 3am to pick some up for me. I didn't care if he had formula anymore, I just wanted him to be full and safe.

I tell this story, not to scare anyone, but to inform my fellow women that it is not all stars and lullabies and sunday walks when your motherhood adventure begins. I saw almost a dozen different lactation consultants and the conflicting information was very discouraging. Many, including my midwife, advised me against pumping because it would confuse my breasts as to how much milk to make. Almost everyone told me that bottlefeeding would create nipple confusion and negatively impact breastfeeding. Their opinions made sense, of course, breastfeeding is hard work for babies, especially new babies- so spoiling them with a bottle which requires hardly any effort to drink from- would surely sabotage my desire of exclusive breastfeeding. Some said use Lansinoh, others said skip Lansinoh. Some said use side-lying position because it's good for women with larger breasts, others said side-lying almost always guarantees you a poor latch. It was difficult, frustrating and overwhelming to sort through all of the information. I felt like nothing helped and every day led to another failure.

There was, however, one woman who did truly help me. Her name is Shelly and she works at The Early Years Center at my local mall. I told her that I was pumping milk and bottlefeeding mostly, while trying to breastfeed a couple times a day so dear baby didn't forget how to do it. She was the first person to tell me that it was fine. If I remember correctly, she said, "You do whatever you have to do to get to the next day. If you need to pump, then pump. If you need to bottlefeed your breastmilk, then do that too; don't worry about the "rules", just get yourself from one day to the next". She helped me with positioning. She helped me with my nursing confidence. She suggested I get myself some Dr. Jack Newman's All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. I was, and still am, very thankful for her help and advice.

Yes, I pumped milk. Yes, I gave my dear baby formula twice (once in hospital, and once that first night at home). Yes, used the nipple ointment for longer than was recommended. I did a lot of things that nurses, doctors, midwives and lactation consultants alike told me would ruin my chances at exclusive breastfeeding. Yes, it took 16 painful weeks, but I am happy to report that, despite the odds, I have been exclusively breastfeeding for two months now and I plan to continue for at least a year.

The following is a list of things that worked for me and helped me to finally achieve success:

1. Pumping. Yes I know. You're told not to. I also was told not to. The fact is, when you're at the point where you dread feeding your baby so much that the ticking of the clock brings fearful tears to your eyes, you need to give yourself a break. During the period of engorgement after my milk came in (about day 3), I would use a hand-pump to express just enough milk to soften my breasts a bit. I found that this helped dear baby latch better. If I tried to nurse with rock-hard breasts, dear baby would try to latch and slip off, causing me excruciating pain, so I stuck with it. Eventually, the damage to my breasts was so severe that I had to stop breastfeeding completely for about three days to give my breasts a chance to heal. During this time, I pumped and bottlefed the expressed milk exclusively. At first, I wouldn't get much milk and I would be stressed that dear baby would wake up at any minute and I wouldn't have enough milk for him. However, as I got used to it, I found that I was able to pump enough milk for two feedings in one go. So eventually, I was able to start storing milk away in the freezer It's very important to relax as much as you can when you are pumping in order to achieve a let-down and collect enough milk in the bottles to satisfy your babe. It is key to drink a lot of fluids, remember to eat nutritious meals and snacks and take your pre/post-natal vitamins.

2. Fenugreek and Domperidone

Domperidone is a prescription medication typically used to treat gastrointestinal problems, however, in high doses, it can really boost your milk production. I took three doses of dom (as I affectionately call it) three times a day and I really credit it as one of the reasons I was able to pump so successfully. Everyone knows that baby is the best pump and that an electric pump wont express the milk as effectively, but taking the dom makes your milk flow much faster and more freely, allowing you to express much more than you would be able to otherwise. I have talked to many a woman who has said that ultimately it was a lack of supply that ended the breastfeeding game for them and so anything that gets you to the next day is a good thing. Fenugreek is an herb, sold in capsule form that also increases milk supply. Once I stopped pumping every day, I no longer felt that I needed domperidone, and so I switched to fenugreek (two capsules, three times daily). Fenugreek has been very effective for me as well, as long as I have been taking it, I always feel full by feeding time. It's very convenient that it doesn't require a prescription, so you can pick it up any time. An added bonus- after taking fenugreek for a few days, you'll begin to smell like maple syrup, now who doesn't like that?

3. Sleep. Your body needs rest in order to produce milk. For some reason, new mommies always seem to feel as though they need to stay on top of everything. All you should be responsible for, especially in the first days and weeks post-partem, is dear baby's needs. My mother has this little saying, "Settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep!". I do feel that this is excellent advice. Don't worry about laundry and dinner, when your baby is asleep, you need to be asleep too. I would get myself so horribly stressed over how I was failing at breastfeeding that I would lay wide awake in my bed worrying about the next feeding. The thing is, it's much harder to have the patience and persistence required to achieve a good latch when you are tired. An exhausted mommy is much more likely to just nurse through the pain rather than re-latch the baby and who could blame her? It's hard to find the energy when you're running on empty, so sleep, sleep, SLEEP.

4. Visit a lactation consultant. I've said it before and I'll say it again, breastfeeding is a confidence game. Having someone who can look over your latch and positioning, let you know what you are doing right and guide you in the right direction can be just what you need to build your confidence. Yes, it can be a bit of an easter egg hunt finding a lactation consultant that you truly gel with, but it is worth it to have that confirmation. Shelly was the only one who helped me achieve a good latch. Of course, six hours later, I was crying and unable to reproduce it, but it proved to me that it was possible- and so I continued trying and persisting until I got back there. It's true that I was never able to solve my problems with a visit to the lactation consultant. It's true that I ended up pumping every day until my son grew a little and got better at breastfeeding on his own. But it's also true that the positivity, encouragement and confirmation that I was doing the right thing did wonders for my self-esteem as a mother and sole provider of nourishment to my son.

5. Get yourself some Jack Newman's All-purpose Nipple Ointment. If you are experiencing excruciating nipple pain, as I did, or if you are suffering damage to your nipples, as I did, then I recommend that you get yourself a prescription for this nipple cream. By the second week of breastfeeding, the damage to my right nipple was extensive. I had three cracks, one of which was a full-blown, oozing, open gash that would stick to my nursing pads and bleed every time I tried to nurse/pump. It was beyond painful and no matter how much lansinoh I delicately dabbed onto it, it just would not heal. A lactation consultant recommended the APNO and my poor little nipple was healed in three days. I used it sparingly after every feed/pump and it helped a lot with the pain. It is available with or without ibuprofen and I would suggest that you get it WITH the ibuprofen, as it helps to relieve the pain as it heals you.

Those first days are wonderful, hectic, exhausting, satisfying and full of love. You are discovering yourself as a mother. You are experiencing a love like no other. There are many emotions that swirl around a woman in those first days and weeks after delivery. One moment you may feel that you have finally got it figured out, the next you may feel completely lost to the world. With so much going on, the initial struggles of breastfeeding can leave you feeling doomed, but it's important to remember that you can only do as much as you can do. Babies are born loving their mothers. They are born with the instinct to nurse and feel a closeness to their mothers. I feel that there is a lot of fear-mongering that goes on in the nursing community, threatening nipple confusion and nursing derailment to women who want to pump and bottlefeed to give their bodies a break from nursing pain, or offer a pacifier to calm a screaming child. I personally don't believe in nipple confusion. My mother said to me all along that a child who knows the breast will always go back to the breast. My dear baby was fussy at the breast for a few days once I tried full-time nursing again, but it was only a few days and then he took to it like he had never left. Of course, I would never wish my situation on my worst enemy, but listen dear mamas- don't beat yourself up. Take Shelly's advice and do what you need to do to get to the next day. There were many times where I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I persisted, I did only as much as I could and I now nurse my son as often as he likes, pain-free. If even one woman benefits from the advice in this post- I will be happy, as I know how hopeless it can all seem in the beginning.

Diadima xo

The miracle of life- twice in one day!

This past Thursday, two new, little Canadians arrived on the scene.

In the morning, A- friend, funnygirl and Prince Edward Island Princess welcomed her son Hudson in to the world...11lbs 1oz (yes, you read that correctly), Hudson is already sporting chubby cheeks and beautiful eyes, sure to be well-loved by his big sister. Congratulations to A and the new, little man in her life!

Then, in the evening, R- university pal, stage-manager extraordinaire and fellow cloth mama brought little Isaiah into the world...7lbs 7oz (the same size as my dear baby, a very good size ;-), Isaiah is warming the hearts of all who lay eyes upon him. Congratulations to R, a first-time mommy- you did it, girl!

I'm so pleased and proud of both mommies and look forward to meeting both of their little angels.

Diadima xo

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mother's Milk

As I have mentioned before, breastfeeding was an incredibly difficult part of motherhood for me. The road to full-time nursing was rocky, painful and took sixteen long weeks to traverse. However, today's blog post is not about re-hashing my breastfeeding trauma. Today's post is about informing nursing mothers of the three-month milestone and how to push on through.

What is the three-month milestone, you ask?

Before I explain, I want to go over a few little facts about milk production. After giving birth, your body experiences a flux of hormones, in particular, oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone". Your body releases a burst of oxytocin as your uterus contracts and your cervix dilates; it helps to facilitate labour and breastfeeding. Prolactin is another hormone that facilitates breastfeeding. Oxytocin causes lactation to begin and your breasts to fill with milk. Prolactin regulates milk production in the breasts. So for the first several weeks post partem, milk production (which is triggered by your baby's first suckling at the breast) occurs as a result of your hormones.

During this time, your boobs will be full almost all the time (except for right after a feeding) and feel heavy and probably a bit sore. The thing is, your body knows you have given birth, but doesn't know how many babies there are, so you will be storing far too much milk for one babe for the first couple of months. It takes some getting used to, for sure. Like most things, once you get used to it, it changes. After months of waking up in the morning to full, heavy breasts, you will wake up one morning to find that they seem empty and flaccid. And you will feel worried. And you will fear that your milk is drying up. And you will wonder how there could possibly be enough to feed your baby...

This is what I call the three-month milestone.

For me, I have very sensitive milk ducts that get easily backed up. If I didn't pump or nurse every couple of hours, my breasts would get very hard and small, tender lumps would form. So imagine my surprise when I woke up after nine hours of rest (my wonderful dear baby slept the night) and my breasts were not full. I was panicking. I took a double dose of domperidone and drank glass after glass of water and juice. I took bags of milk out of the freezer to thaw on the counter. I was seriously concerned that just as I was finally able to start nursing dear baby full time, it was all going to come crashing down due to lack of production.

It was around this time that I had a little conversation about my situation with my friend, S. S gave birth to a little baby boy just two weeks after me and the two of us have been discussing pregnancy and motherhood since we were twelve weeks along. She confided that she was also concerned about low supply and a lack of fullness, especially in the evening and first thing in the morning. After consulting with her midwife, she told me that as long as dear baby is nursing, seems happy and has lots of wet diapers, then milk supply is fine. The thing is, even when someone tells you this, you will still experience doubt.

It is important to remember that your body is designed for motherhood. With so many books, resources, the internet and advice, it's easy to mistrust your own instincts but the fact is, your body IS designed for motherhood. Have faith that you have everything you need to nourish your baby and your baby knows instinctively how to get it.

So when the three-month milestone rolled into town for me, I took S's advice and continued nursing on through, trusting that my baby was getting enough milk. It turns out that, like your mothering skills, your milk matures over time. As you go along on your nursing adventure, your milk will change more in quality than quantity. It will become richer and more nutritious. You will notice that your baby feeds for less time, not because there is no milk, but because he, too, has honed his breastfeeding skills and become much more efficient. Ever since the three-month mark, my breasts have rarely felt full, even after a full night's rest.

The big physical change that occurs during the three-month milestone is largely hormonal. Up until now, your milk production has been a result of hormones. After the three-month milestone, those hormones start to back off and your milk is produced based on how often your baby nurses and how much he requires. Your body recognizes that there is no longer any need to store lots of extra milk and so production becomes tailored to baby's needs.

And so to all of my nursing mamas who are worried that their milk is in jeopardy, I hope this bit of information helps you to trust in your body and keep on nursing. You may feel worried and wonder if you need to supplement your dear baby with formula to ensure that he is properly nourished. Of course, it is always best to consult your doctor or midwife in these matters, but if your baby is well and happy and has plenty of wet diapers then you don't need to worry. Just keep on keeping on and have a little faith in yourself.

Diadima xo

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blinged Out Baby Bums: Cloth Diapering Accessories

Before I became a mother, I was all about finishing a look. I never left the house (even for a 9am class) without showering, doing my hair (that means washing, blow-drying, flat-ironing and spraying), doing my make-up and co-ordinating clothes, shoes and accessories. I have always loved accessories- earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, scarves, handbags, I have a hundred of everything and I was always on the look-out for something new and eye-catching. Even throughout my pregnancy, even though I gained 60 lbs (!!!) and couldn't wear regular shoes because my feet were so swollen- I was still accessorizing my maternity clothes and looking pretty fly...for a whale.


Then along came my baby and, of course, a shift in priorities. These days, I'm more interested in Bink Links than bangles and although I still love the smell of leather shoes- it's Robeez, not Nine West that I'm sniffing with glee. In my former life, my ultimate accessory indulgence was handbags. Oh, how I loved me some handbags. In my new life...I'm sure all of you have already's cloth diapers, of course!

With all of the patterns, prints, bright colours and funky stitching, cloth diapers are practically accessories unto themselves. I never could have imagined how excited I'd be about containing my dear baby's pee and poo. It's true, cloth diapers are a lot of fun. And what's more fun than fun? Accessorizing your fun! From exquisitely patterned travel wetbags to adorable and practical diaper covers, there is a lot of "extras" out there for a diaper mama looking to get her fix.

Here are a bunch of my faves:

Thirsties Duo Wrap Covers $15.50 ea.

These wraps come in snap or aplix (hook and loop) closure and the patterns/colours are ridiculously cute. You can use them with fitteds, pre-folds or the insert of your choice. The legs are gusseted which helps to keep everything in. One of these little cuties plus a t-shirt and you have a perfect summer outfit for your dear baby. I have a lime green print and an owl print and I love them both!

Bummis Fleece Liners $5 for 5

A common complaint about my newest love, the pre-fold, is that the cotton keeps the moisture against dear baby's skin. Bummis fleece liners are made from 100% recycled polyester and they wick the moisture away from baby's skin and into the pre-fold underneath. I started using pre-folds because they are made from all-natural, organic cotton and I was concerned that my dear baby had a sensitivity to polyester. Now that we know he is fine with polyester, I have added these liners to my stash to help keep his bum dry and my love of pre-folds going strong.

Planetwise Wetbag $24.50

I can't say enough about this wetbag. It comes in a multitude of patterns and every one of them is beautiful. I get so many compliments on mine and people are always surprised to find out what it is.

"What a lovely tote bag!"
"Thanks, it's where I keep dear baby's poopy diapers when I'm out!"
"Oh... cool?"

I consider these bags to be somewhat of a luxury item. At $24.50 a pop, I'm not sure I would have shelled out the dough, but I was lucky enough to win mine at The Baby Expo back in October. In combination with the JuJuBe diaper bag that I also got at the expo, it satisfies my handbag/accessory fetish nicely.

GroVia Magic Stick $16

I thought about doing an entire blog post dedicated to the GroVia Magic Stick, but then decided that stating, "I love it" over and over again might be a bit lean on content. This item was recommended to me by my diaper guru at The Little Bird to help with dear baby's mystery diaper rash. A nice alternative to harsher petroleum-based ointments, The Magic Stick is made with all-natural ingredients like grapseed oil, beeswax, meadowfoam, jojoba, rosehips and shea. It is one of my fave items because it's mess free- it looks like a giant tube of lip balm and you just rub it on dear baby's bum and go. No messy, oily hands to wash off.

Snappi Diaper Fastener $4.50 for 2

If you're planning on going old-school with your diapers and using the flats that our parents were diapered in, but you're nervous about using diaper pins, Snappis make a great alternative. I used these for my dear baby when we were using home-made diapers in his first weeks of life. If you are using a cotton flat or pre-fold diaper, they are perfect. For fleece diapers, pins will still be your best bet because the Snappis tend to yank at the fleece fibers and fall off. They come in lots of different cool colours too- so you can make your old-school diapers look hip and happening.

AppleCheeks Gentle Cleansing Spray $10

For those of you who are using re-usable wipes (commonly known as washcloths :-), you may find that from time to time you need a lil something extra to get dear baby's bottom clean. Also- if you're carrying dry wipes around with you, you may not always have access to a sink to wet them before use. The solution is all-natural and soothing for baby's bum. Word to the wise, it does have a tiny little cap which could be a choking hazard if left in tiny hands, so keep an eye on it or toss it out. This is an excellent cloth diaper accessory as it makes using cloth wipes on the go a breeze. Another good use for this product is to keep dear baby's hands clean. Babies touch EVERYTHING and then stick their nasty little fingers in their mouths. So a quick spritz and a little towelling off with a dry wipe and you're good to go.

So there you go, mamas. A few of my favourite cloth diapering accessories- they're practical and, of course, help to feed the need of this accessorholic-turned-cloth mama.

Diadima xoxo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There's something to be said for Mother's Intuition

January 12 was the day that I found out I was pregnant. On January 13, I hit the books.

I read every book, magazine, blog, article and review that I could get my hands on. I had an insatiable appetite for information relating to pregnancy that continued right up to the day I gave birth. The first book that I sought out was the only one that I'd ever heard of...the legendary bible of pregnancy and birth: What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Hazel. However, after thumbing through a couple chapters, I politely slid the book back onto the shelf. First of all, it is American and so it contains a lot of information regarding hospital bills and American medical statistics that are totally irrelevant to me. Also- I knew immediately that I wanted to have my primary neo-natal care provided by a midwife and since midwifery is still just a shade above witchcraft in much of the American medical arena, there wasn't much information about it in this so-called pregnancy bible. The main thing that turned me off the book was the focus on what could go wrong. It's filled with headings and sidebars that read "Danger", "Warning" and "Watch out for...". While it's absolutely true that an expectant mother ought to be cautious, it's also important to focus on the positive. Although I believe it is also important that pregnant women educate themselves on common problems so that you're not face with a lot of medical jargon at an inopportune time (such as in the L&D room), I also know that the overwhelming majority of pregnancies are healthy, routine aspects of regular life.

Okay, so we all know I skipped the "bible" what was I reading then? A lot. "What to Expect..." is not the only book on the shelf, mamas. I've written some short reviews of books that really stood out to me for pregnancy, post-pardem and dads, too.

For Pregnancy:

1. Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper

This was the first book about pregnancy and birth that I read. Barbara Harper is a major advocate for midwifery, home birth and water birth- so this book was perfect for me because I was interested in all three things. What I especially enjoyed about this book was the history of midwifery and how birth was essentially taken away from women and handed over to the medical profession in the late 19th century. There are also a lot of startling statistics about the rate of cesarean sections in North America: about 1 in 4. My favourite passage in the book is where Harper comments that every woman alive today is a product of thousands of years of successful childbirth and as such, it is absurd to think that 25% of us can't deliver babies. The book also comes with a DVD film which documents the labour and delivery of several women at home, birthing centers and in hospital.

2. Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein.

Okay, so I didn't have high hopes for this book. I mean, come on, Ricki Lake?? Well, colour me surprised because I love love loved this book! I read it in a day and a half from cover to cover. Yes, it's American, but it covers natural and medical labours, home and hospital deliveries as well as vaginal and cesarean deliveries. The book relates to the documentary that Ricki and Abby made together regarding pregnancy and birth called "The Business of Being Born", which is an excellent film that I also recommend you check out.

3. The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman through Childbirth by Penny Simkin

Penny Simkin is the stuff of legend. An author, birth coach and doula for over 40 years- she's right up there with Ina May Gaskin in terms of her wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field of midwifery. This book is not only for the birth partner (be it your doula, your mother, your baby's father) but it is also for the mother, herself. There is a ton of info on how to cope with labour pain, different positions to try, etc. This was my mother's fave book, she whipped through it in no time and was absolutely indispensable to me during my labour.

4. The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon

This was the last book that I read before I delivered and I couldn't have timed it better if I had planned it. I bought it for $5 from the bargain section at Indigo and it ended up being my favourite book on pregnancy and birth. It goes through every stage of labour in detail and includes personal accounts of women in labour. Any scenario you could imagine is included in this book- which I found very enlightening and inspiring. As I was only a few days away from delivering my son, my emotions were running wild and reading the stories of these women where they described the unimaginable love they felt for their babies had me shedding more than a couple tears. This was the book that I felt myself referencing back to when I was in labour. Perhaps it was because it was the last one I read, but more likely it was because it prepares a woman so well for labour, this was my favourite pregnancy book.

For Dads:

5. Don't Just Stand There: How to be Helpful, Clued-in, Supportive, Engaged and Relevant in the Delivery Room by Jon Lichtenstein and Elissa Stein

W read a few father-geared books during my pregnancy- mostly when he was in the bathroom. He wasn't crazy about the majority of them because they generally focus on how to "deal" with your emotional basket-case of a pregnant wife and what he was looking for was a check-list of things to do to make my life easier. He found it with this book. Literally. There is a check-list in the back pages where you fill in the music your wife wants to hear, phrases that will help her, things to never ever say when she is in labour, people she wants called after the birth, etc. He loved the book and we renewed it twice from the library. I enjoyed reading it as well- it was funny and helpful and focused more on the well-being of the pregnant mother than on the finances of the father-to-be, as so many other books do.

For Post-pardem/Parenthood

6. The Baby Book by Dr William Sears M.D and Martha Sears R.N

The Sears' hit another home run with this book. The subheading reads "Everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two" and I have found myself referencing it almost daily. It's a huge book and covers everything from nursing positions to making your own baby food to choosing a diaper style and handling baby's first cold. There is a very handy quick reference guide for typical illnesses your baby may suffer from that lets you know what can be treated at home and what requires a visit to the family doc. The Sears' specialize in attachment parenting, which stresses contact and bonding with your baby as well as babywearing, co-sleep and never letting your baby "cry it out". So if that is what you're into, then this book is a keeper.

7. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding and Behaviour - Beyond the Basics from Infancy Through Toddlerhood by Tracy Hogg

This has to be the #1 most recommended book for me. Everyone I talked to about parenting my dear baby, especially in the early days, told me to read this book. The dearly departed Tracy Hogg knew babies and she knew how to get a routine set in place and make it work. The book teaches parents how to read a baby's cues to set up sleep and feeding schedules. I have found that a lot of her suggestions are very sensible and easy to follow although I personally find that getting overly attached to any schedule tends to set you up for disaster when it doesn't work out.

So there you have it folks- my book recommendations from pregnancy to birth and beyond. I'm going to share some words of wisdom that my midwife passed on to me. In the early days following the birth of my son, I was really, really struggling just to get from one day to the next. During one of my home visits, I was telling her how I never know when he's had enough to eat which was a constant source of anxiety for me and one book says to never time feedings and another one lists minimum feed times per breast and how confusing it all was. She told me that years and years ago, women used their intuition to care for their babies and while it is good to have resources like the Internet and books, relying on them too heavily is what has caused women to mistrust their own instincts. She said to me, "Listen, you may not be an expert on babies, but you are an expert on HIM". That one sentence is the best advice anyone has ever given me regarding parenthood. You can read every word ever published on the subject, but no one knows your baby as well as you do. No one knows your body as well as you do. No one can tell you how to be a mother; it is something you have to discover within yourself.

Happy reading, mamas. A pre-natal education IS a must- but remember that at the end of the day, no one knows dear baby quite like you do.

Diadima xo

Thursday, January 20, 2011

give peace (and pre-folds!) a chance

I'll admit, at first blush, I wasn't exactly knocked over by the pre-fold.

They lack a certain...shall we say...curb appeal. No patterns, no prints, no fancy packaging, no fanciness of any kind in fact. They're easily lost in the crowd, especially compared to the high-tech appearance of all-in-ones and fitteds.

Perhaps you've never noticed them. Perhaps you're even wondering, "What in the hell is a pre-fold?"

Well, a pre-fold is a square cloth diaper insert. It consists of several layers of organic, unbleached cotton with stitching that allows you to easily fold it into thirds along the seams. Once folded into thirds, you simply lay it in a diaper cover and put it on dear baby's bum. It's so simple it makes simple look complicated! I used to think pre-folds were so archaic looking that they just HAD to be a lot of work.

How did I end up a lover of the pre-fold?

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my dear baby's rosy red rump. He had a lobster-esque rash all over his bum and I couldn't figure out why. At the time of the post, I thought I had solved the problem by switching to cloth wipes, however, a few days later the rash was back. It was suggested to me by my fabulous cloth diaper guru at ReDiaper that my dear baby may have a sensitivity to the polyester in my bG's and Flip inserts. She suggested that I try a natural-fiber insert and so she sold me a six-pack of Bummis 100% Certified Organic Cotton Infant-sized Pre-Folds for $16.50.

Yes, you read that correctly. Six all-natural, certified organic, maintenance free, beautifully absorbent diapers for about HALF the price of what I pay for a single organic bumGenius diaper. I am at once delighted and outraged. I mean, honestly, I've seen these pre-folds in diaper shops for ages and I've never thought twice about them because I assumed that the low price meant low quality.

So what's the verdict?

I totally love them. They are remarkably soft and absorbent. There is no pins, no stuffing, no rinsing, no fuss, no muss- just wash, fold and away you go. Dear baby's rash has cleared up (although I have also switched several other things, and therefore am yet to determine what caused the rash exactly). I am head-over-heels for pre-folds now. You can purchase your entire diapering system, from birth to potty training (including covers, wetbags, liners, boosters, 24 infant diapers and 18 toddler diapers) for $300! Now don't get me wrong, I do love my bG's and will continue to use them so long as they are not the cause of dear baby's red caboose, but I am kicking myself for not giving pre-folds a try sooner. I really have no excuse because my good friend and diaper papa, J, recommended them to me months ago but I was in designer-diaper snobland and didn't give pre-folds a second thought.

So there you have it, if you are looking for a truly economical cloth diapering system that gets the job done, give pre-folds a chance. I am still using my bG's (with an organic-cotton washable liner against dear baby's bottom) overnight, but I can't say enough about how great the pre-folds have been for day-time and, in particular, travel. I can easily fit a half-dozen pre-folds in my diaper bag whereas 6 pocket diapers would take up the whole darn thing. These diapers definitely have a permanent place in my stash and will be added to my list of top products that I use.

Diadima xo

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Get the funk out

There comes a time in every cloth mama and papa's adventure when you need to address a little thing known as "the stinkies".

Oh, yes.

The stinkies.

If you're wondering what the stinkies are, then you're still safe. Trust me, when it happens, you'll know. When dear baby wets his diaper, you'll notice it's quite smelly when you take it off. When you crack that diaper lid on wash day and your eyes start to water as if you're dicing an onion, you know you've got the stinkies. For whatever reason, it seems to be more of an issue for microfiber inserts. Not surprisingly, synthetic fibers trap the ammonia smell more intensely than organic cotton, hemp or bamboo fibers.

There are a few things you can do to get the ammonia out of your diapers. Washing them frequently, adding vinegar to the rinse cycle and storing your diaper pail in a relatively cool spot (warmth increases the intensity of the ammonia smell) will all help the problem.

I have used vinegar in the rinse cycle a few times and it works well, especially for prefolds. However, if you have hard water, vinegar may not solve your problem. Also, microfiber can be a tough nut to crack when it comes to ammonia, so if you feel that you need something a little more aggressive, I would recommend that you try a product made by Rockin' Green detergent called Funk Rock Ammonia Blaster. I personally have had excellent results with this product. I've mentioned Rockin' Green in previous posts; their detergents are made with all-natural ingredients and THEY WORK. As I've said, they aren't cheap- but then again, neither are your cloth diapers and you want to keep them in good condition so that they will last from infancy to potty-training. The Rockin' Green website describes their products perfectly, so rather than losing some of the beauty through paraphrase, here is what they have to say about Funk Rock:

"This 100% natural compound is unlike anything you've tried before. It targets funk at the source and leaves no prisoners. Just four tablespoons is enough to de-funk up to 20 diapers in one sitting. Add a little to your pre-wash to keep the stinkies from coming back. That's right, one little bag will keep the diaper funk away for over a month!"

So there you have it, folks. You can attack the funk and stay green while doing it.

Diadima xo

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Started With Cloth

A lot of parents are interested in using cloth to diaper their babies, but aren't exactly sure how to get started. If there's one thing that the world of cloth diapering isn't lacking, it's choice. Even just a tiny peek into cloth diaperland can be intimidating. There are so many different types of diapers and the culture-specific lingo can be a little dizzying. When I first started researching cloth diapers, I didn't know a pul from an ao1 and it seemed like many of the sites were offering information based on the assumption of pre-existing knowledge.

The fact is, whether you are looking to cloth diaper full-time from birth, part-time in combination with disposables, or switch from disposables, your basic set-up and equipment is the same.

What you need- The basics

A diaper pail - you need somewhere to toss your diapers until laundry day. Most stores that sell cloth diapers also sell diaper pails with special locking lids. It's not truly necessary to buy a special pail, a simple garbage can with locking lid from Walmart will do the trick.

2 Large Wetbags - A wetbag is a cloth sack with a waterproof, anti-odour lining and zipper or drawstring closure. You line the diaper pail with one and, on laundry day, turn it inside out and wash it with your diapers. I always recommend that people get two, so you've got one in the wash and one in the pail at all times. If you're cloth diapering part-time, one bag will probably be fine. They range from $18 - $35, depending on how fancy you go. I use a GroVia Pail Liner, which retails for $18.

Small Wetbag- This one is for travel. Whenever you leave the house, you need somewhere to keep your dirty diapers. You could always use a plastic bag in a pinch- but these small zippered bags keep the odour contained very well. They also have a lot of secondary uses- you can use them to store your wet swimwear or gym clothes once the diaper days are behind you. I use a Bummis small wetbag which retails for $12.99 as well as a PlanetWise medium wetbag which has a handy extra pouch for dirty clothes and retails for $25.99. Again, if you are only using cloth diapers at home and disposables when you go out, you can safely skip this item.

Diaper Liners - These are disposable liners that help extend the life of your diapers and make clean-up a breeze. They contain most of the poopy mess and protect your diapers from any creams or ointments you use on dear baby's bottom. There are quite a few brands to choose from. Bummis Biosoft Liners are a favourite of many- a roll of 100 liners costs $6. I personally found the Biosoft to be too flimsy and so I use AppleCheeks biodegradable/flushable liners, which retail for $8 for a roll of 100 liners. There's also the option of using washable liners- Kushies makes good-quality cotton liners- a pack of 10 liners will cost you $12.

Some Extras:

Diaper Detergent - Cloth diapers are a lot of things- but cheap ain't one of them. When you're spending hundreds of dollars on diapers, you want to protect your investment. While it is perfectly acceptable to use a small amount of regular detergent on your diapers, you may find that the chemicals deteriorate the fabric more rapidly and, over time, can cause a build-up that reduces the absorbency of your diapers. To extend the life of your diapers, I recommend that you invest in a detergent which is specially formulated for cloth diapers. The two most widely available brands are Rockin' Green and Claudia's Choices. Both brands are ultra concentrated detergent powders that get the diapers clean without the use of phosphates, bleach, dyes, sodium chloride, sodium sulphate or optical brighteners. Claudia's Choices is also fragrance-free and is hypoallergenic. A 3.5 kg pail will run you $30. CC has a pail recycling program (return the pail, get $2 off your next pail) that many retailers honour. Rockin' Green comes in many cool fragrances and is therefore more expensive- a 45 load bag will run you $20. If you have chosen to use wool diapers, that's a whole other culture that I unfortunately know very little of. I do, however, know that there is specific detergent available for wool diapers. Eucalan Wool Wash can be found at your local diaper retailer for $11 per 500ml bottle.

Dryer Balls - Ideally, cloth diapers should be hung to dry. However, in the real world, a cloth mama may sometimes find herself strapped for time and so her diapers will inevitably take a turn in the dryer. Fabric softeners (whether liquid, dryer sheets or stick-on dryer bars) are totally forbidden. Fabric softeners leave a filmy build-up that clog the pores of cloth fibers rendering your diapers completely useless. If you put your diapers in the dryer, a good alternative for taming static is tossing a few dryer balls in for the cycle. I use Nellie's PVC-free Dryer Balls, which retail for $24.99 for a pack of two.

Boosters/Doublers - If your baby is a heavy wetter, you may be interested in increasing the absorbency of your diapers by adding what is called a "booster" or "doubler". These are thick liners, usually made of hemp, bamboo or cotton and you just lay them across the diaper for added absorbency. I find them to be particularly useful for naps and overnight. Just about every cloth diaper brand out there makes a booster/doubler. I use GroVia Organic Cotton Boosters. A 2pk retails for $10.

I feel like I'm forgetting something...
Something important...

Oh yes, the diapers!

Of course, you will need to choose a brand and style of cloth diaper. Here is VERY brief run-through of the styles.

Sized vs One-size: Sized diapers offer the benefit of a perfect fit as they are designed for specific weights. Sized diapers are remarkably trim and have the best fit under clothes. If you go this route, you will need to purchase 20-25 newborn sizes, 15-20 infant sizes and 10-15 toddler sizes, which can get pretty pricey. With one-size diapers- the rise and waist are adjustable to grow with your baby. The benefit is that you only need to buy one bunch of diapers to last your baby from birth to potty-training (usually 8lbs-35lbs). As many cloth mamas will tell you, those estimates vary greatly and, as a general rule, one-size diapers are far too big for babies until they are about 10lbs. BumGenius, which is the brand that I use, offers BOTH sized and one-size diapers. Go to their website, for a comparison.

Snaps vs. Aplix (velcro): Most cloth diapers fasten with either snap closures or velcro closures. Nowadays, many brands offer both options. It's up to you what you prefer. Velcro has greater adjustability, however, they tend to lose their "stick" after a couple months in the dryer. I personally prefer snaps because when I used velcro on my dear baby, I found that the edges scratched his delicate skin and irritated his cord. Also, in the dryer, those darn velcro tabs stuck to everything but the dryer tabs that were supposed to keep them tamed.

All-in-one: Just as the name indicates, this diaper has it all going on. Layers of absorbent cloth, with a waterproof (PUL - polyurethane laminate) lining contain even the messiest of baby messes. AO1's are by far the most daddy-friendly style on the market, there's nothing to them- you simply put it on baby just as you would a disposable with no muss, no fuss. The downside of AO1's, typically, is that because everything is sewn into the diaper, they usually take quite a long time to dry and can be overly bulky under newborn clothes. BumGenius All-in-one's range from $20 for their sized diaper to $29 for their organic one-size.

Fitteds: This is the same idea as an AO1, minus the waterproof (PUL) lining and therefore much cheaper. As they are generally made of 100% absorbent materials, you need to use a cover over them. Covers are a lot of fun because they come a seemingly unlimited amount of colour and pattern. Fitteds come in both sized and one-size. I used fitteds for my dear baby when he was a newborn and still too small to fit into his BumGenius. He wore Kissaluv's fitted cotton fleece diapers in size 0 with Bummis Super Whisper Wrap diaper covers, Bummis Super Brite diaper covers and Thirsties Duo Wrap diaper covers. Motherease is a local Canadian company that has perfected the one-size fitted diaper and their products are incredibly economical.

Pockets: Pocket style diapers are very convenient for the cloth mama who doesn't have time to wait all day for her diapers to dry. The diapers consist of a waterproof outer layer with a microfleece lining. At the back of the diaper, a pocket is sewn in the lining and you stuff the pocket with an absorbent insert (generally made out of hemp, bamboo or microfiber). BumGenius and AppleCheeks are examples of pocket style diapers. The upside, as mentioned, is quick drying time as the diapers are washed and dried apart from the inserts. The downside is that you have to pull the dirty, stinky insert out of the wet, poopy diaper before you toss it in the wash. AppleCheeks solved this problem with their "envelope-style" pocket diaper. The pocket is strategically placed in the center of the diaper and the inserts magically pop out during agitation in the washer. For my dear baby, I use BumGenius 4.0 Snap Closure diapers so we are definitely a pocket-style household.

Cover + Insert Hybrid: This is the best way I could think of to describe the Flip Hybrid diaper. Made by the same company as BumGenius, Flip diapers look almost identical to BG's, minus the microfleece lining. Instead of having a lining stitched into the diaper, the fleece is stitched onto one side of the insert, which you lay across the cover instead of stuffing into a pocket. The upside here is that you can re-use the covers multiple times before tossing them in the wash. The Flip diaper system is called "hybrid" because it bridges cloth and disposable. Flip diaper covers are sold bundled with either Microfiber or Organic inserts and packages of disposable inserts are sold separately. This system appeals to people who are travelling or simply on the go because you can use cloth inserts at home and disposable inserts when you are out.

Flats and pre-folds: This is the old school. Your nana's flat cotton diaper that is folded to fit baby and fastened with pins. These days, there's something that has knocked pins right out of the park and it's known as a "Snappi". Operating on the same principle as a tensor bandage closure, Snappi's are t-shaped closures with little "claws" that stretch to fit over cotton flats and keep them together. Pre-folds are essentially the same as flats, only they conveniently fold into thirds and can be easily laid across a cover and used like an insert. Pre-folds also come in different sizes according to your baby's weight, but they are so darn affordable that you won't mind purchasing all different sizes. Bummis brand pre-folds are pretty much dominating the market and they use an excellent quality organic cotton fiber. Kushies also makes flat diapers which you can buy for a song at their factory outlet store in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Keep in mind that pre-folds and flats are made from 100% absorbant fibers and therefore require diaper covers as well.

Once you have your diapers picked out and purchased, you will want to wash them several times before use. Cotton and other natural fibers become softer and more absorbent over time. Depending on the brand that you purchase, you will want to wash your cloth diapers 4-7 times to really boost their absorbency before you put them on dear baby's tush.

And there you have it! I know it's a lot of information, but the bulk of it is really in picking out the diaper style that best suits you and your baby's needs. Once you have that figured out, it's just a matter of acquiring a few accessories to make life easier and that's it!

Next time on Natural Mama...tackling the dreaded microfiber stink...Stay tuned!

Diadima xo