crunchy granola stuff

You all know how I love research, right? I've been researching the crap out of cloth diapering (separate post to follow) and therefore have entered the world of all things green, or otherwise known as being 'crunchy granola'. I mean, there are all sorts of people in this giant world of ours and I have always tried to keep an open mind, not to be judgmental, or disrespectful about folks who are different than myself. I just find it fascinating to see how other people live their lives and how extreme some choose to go.

For instance, I discovered this quiz which rates how crunchy you are. I got a 39 which means I'm 'sprinkled with granola' and basically a wannabe green person (I'll wait here while you take it yourself). And I'm totally okay with that. On the spectrum of crunchiness I think you have two extremes: one side that will birth their child at home in a tub, then breastfeed until the child 'wants to stop', and apparently breastfeed other people's children as well, homeschooling until college, following a strict vegan diet, refusing all vaccines, wearing Birkenstock sandals and dreadlocks without makeup but with hairy legs, living in a self-sustained green home with only a bicycle as a mode of transportation, all while using re-usable feminine products, cloth diapers, and homemade cleaning products. The other extreme would be someone who schedules a c-section for convenience, doesn't even consider breastfeeding, returns to work immediately after baby and hires a full time nanny to rear the child who wears disposable diapers, expensive name brand clothes, running around in a huge energy sucking house and takes rides in a giant gas-guzzling SUV, who is then shipped off to a competitive top-notch boarding school after being fully vaccinated on schedule. Can you see these two stereotypes in your head? I'm sure I've seen both characters on TV but in real life (or at least in my Midwestern life) I see far more people who fall somewhere in between the two extremes on the continuum of being crunchy.

For me, I have some solid opinions on some choices we will make as new parents but some 'eh--I don't know yet' feelings as well. I know I want to cloth diaper, which makes me fairly 'green', I'd love to breastfeed for six months as I'm able, I'd be ecstatic to have a natural vaginal birth, and I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to makeup/hair/clothes. But I am definitely having a hospital birth and refuse to feel like a failure if I need interventions during the process, will return to work full time driving my gas-guzzling SUV, will vaccinate my child on schedule, and will have nothing to do with re-usable feminine products. No way, Jose. But that's just me. To each her own and everyone has to make choices that are right for their situation.

Which brings me to my next point: I rented the DVD The Business of Being Born just because I was curious about Ricki Lake's documentary, knowing that as a health care provider who works in the same hospital in which I will deliver my baby, I'd probably have some strong opinions about the movie. I'm still trying to absorb all of the very interesting facts the documentary presented and I absolutely disagree with some of it, just as I expected. But some of the points made definitely got me thinking and some of the footage of women giving birth (albeit with their nipples and vags hanging out for public display) made me get a little bit teary. Probably because I believe that weather you are squatting in your house or laying on your back numbed from the waist down, giving birth is an absolutely amazing miracle not to be taken lightly. Oh, and I cannot WAIT to meet my little baby boy so just thinking about that day gets me all hot and bothered with excitement.

I was not a fan of how one-sided and biased this documentary was towards home births. It definitely seemed a little 'holier than thou' at times, as if anyone who has a hospital and/or medicated birth is a misinformed, unfortunate soul. They talked a lot about how midwives and home births used to be the only way of doing things but then all of a sudden the big bad doctors and hospitals took over and now the c-section rates have sky-rocketed. But they didn't mention childbirth-related death statistics in the 1900s when home births were the norm compared to now. I'm pretty sure more babies and mothers died back in the 1900s compared to now and a lot of that has to do with the medical advances made in the last 100 years.

And apparently America ranks with some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, compared to other large industrial countries. But how many of those cases involve 'normal', low-risk pregnancies? What about our very unhealthy, underprivileged, or incredibly young population of pregnant women in this country? Don't you think those cases have more to do with poor outcomes in childbirth in this country?

In order to even qualify for a home birth you have to have a low-risk, complication-free pregnancy which, thankfully, most women have. But of course most of those 'normal' women will go on to have good outcomes in childbirth. The ones who are high-risk HAVE to give birth in hospitals and therefore, the hospital statistics will look have more negative statistics averaged into the overall picture.

I definitely agree that c-section rates are pretty freaking scary right now, with one in three women having to go that route. But I also believe that in this country where 'Just Sue 'Em' still reigns as a motto, doctors have to protect their own rear-ends. If there are any signs of fetal distress or another aspect that strays from the normal delivery protocol, you better believe that doctor is going to choose a more controlled setting in which to bring the baby into the world. If they allowed everyone to try for a vaginal delivery 'at all costs' and something happened to either the baby or the mother, they'd face litigation and insurance companies asking, 'Did you do everything you could to deliver the baby safely into the world?' I don't know about you, but I want my doctor to say 'yes' to that question.

Now don't get me wrong, I do NOT want a c-section if I can avoid it. I want to experience labor and delivery to it's fullest and hope to postpone medication as long as I can. I am sure there are doctors out there who are the 'slice and dice' type, ready to do a c-section just to save time (although I don't think that always saves time, but whatever). I definitely think that back in the 1920s through the 1960s there were some MAJORLY screwed up OB-GYN practices out there. I mean, Memaw told me she was knocked out for all three of her births but when I saw some of the pictures of how they actually did it back then it angered me for all of womankind.

I just think it was totally ironic that the documentary spent the entire time bashing hospitals and doctors because it's so 'unnecessary' for most people but then at the end, the actual film-maker had an emergency c-section for her premature baby. She was all ready to have a home birth but the baby was breech, 4-5 weeks early, and had the cord wrapped tightly around his neck. She got her butt to the hospital as soon as possible, only after her water broke in a taxi cab (gotta love New York!), and luckily her baby boy ended up safely in her arms. But the show didn't exactly commend the doctors and hospital after this experience, which ultimately saved her baby. That is exactly why I feel most comfortable in a hospital setting, in case the unexpected happens, where my MD has endured numerous years of medical schooling, grueling board exams, and training in emergency situations. I'm not saying that midwives are under qualified, but I personally feel safer in the hands of an OB-GYN in case I have that very rare circumstance that something goes wrong during labor and delivery.

Now, I do plan on talking to my doctor at length about her views on c-sections, how long she will let me be in labor before she pushes for interventions, and this Saturday we have our childbirth and newborn parenting class at the hospital--so I can ask as many tough questions as I want about their practices, too (they will just love me, I'm sure!).

Ultimately, I still think that delivering your child into the world involves deeply personal decisions and everyone is going to have a different experience. You cannot generalize that all home births are 'better' than hospital births. But I guess the point of the documentary is to get you thinking about options and it attempts to put women back in charge of their birth experience---which can only be a good thing, right? I just think it helps to be realistic and level-headed before you enter into the intense birthing situation because not everything will go according to plan, but it does not mean you've failed as a woman if your 'birth plan' goes awry. I really dislike the idea of women feeling depressed and negative about their birth experience because I am one of those people that thinks if you come out of it with a healthy baby, you've succeeded.

I have no idea why this post got so long on me. I guess there is a lot of food for thought when it comes to 'crunchy granola' decisions out there. Where do you fall on the continuum of being green?


  1. I'm not pregnant yet but I've given it a lot of thought and I 100% agree with you Julia.

  2. I 100% love this post. It upsets me when I tell some people I want an epidural and they go all "That's not natural, why are you doing that, it's bad for the baby" on me. Why should I endure pain if I don't have to? All of my friends have had epidurals and their babehs and deliveries were all fine. I haven't seen that movie yet and don't know if I want to. I trust and love my doc, he has assured me he doesn't do c sections unless absolutely necessary, and that's good enough for me. I haven't taken that test but I feel I'm in the middle between the 2 extremes.
    I love your post because it seems like everyone else is on the all natural route and no one else is voicing the opinions that you (and I) just expressed. Not that there's anything wrong at all with the all natural route, I just feel like I'm in the minority is all cause I'm not cloth diapering and I'm opting for meds. I too feel that as long as I come out of this with a healthy babeh I'll be happy! I pray every night that nothing horrible goes wrong during delivery, cause you just never know.

  3. I'm pretty much on the same page as you Julia. I haven't watched that documentary just because I worry it will make me angry that hospital births are given such a bad wrap. I have had all 4 of my kids in a hospital, and despite having medical interventions with each one, I have been very happy with my experiences and my children were all born perfectly healthy. I've been lucky and have not had to have a c-section, but if my dr. said I needed one for my safety or that of my baby, I wouldn't think twice about it. As for being green, I'm all over the place. I won't bore you with the details of my life, but like you I have never met anyone that was all or nothing on either end of things. I think most of us reside somewhere in the middle. :)

  4. Too many thoughts, but will try and be concise: I agree with you that most people fall somewhere in the middle on the crunch-non crunch spectrum. I have also seen the movie and while I agree it is one-sided, it presents a side most women might never hear otherwise.
    Where else would you be presented with the information that since 2002 when c-section on the demand came into vogue and VBAC's (vaginal birth after c-section) rates took a nose dive, the maternal mortality rate has risen from 9 to 16 per 100,000.
    As shown in the film surgical birth is absolutely a wonderful life saving procedure, but is still major abdominal surgery with the expected risks associated.
    As someone in the health care field you have the knowledge and vocabulary to be an informed participent in your care, not everyone has the information to ask the tough questions.

    Long reply mostly boiling down to wishing both sides were presented and explained to pregnant couples a little better.

  5. I'm a 42 on the crunchy scale. :) I have not seen the movie, but I know it's biased. I did read Pushed, and I recognize that that is biased, too. I think they probably both present good information, though, and are useful in prodding women to research and make their own decisions. I would rather know the risks of what could happen, then just go in expecting a natural delivery and suddenly be faced with an emergency C-section, you know? Not knowing anything about it? I just think everyone should be as informed as possible, and think for themselves, and decide for themselves what is best for THEM. :)

  6. I am really glad you wrote this post. I live in Eugene, Oregon one of the "greenest" cities in the country. I do a lot to be responsible toward the environment. But sometimes, especially here, it starts to feel like a religion to people. I feel judged by the checker's at my grocery store when I forget my cloth grocery bags. I feel guilty when I can't afford organic produce. I don't think these divisions are good.

    My husband and I are still a ways off from having kids but I think it's helpful to read people's different experiences with these issues. I'm glad to hear other people voice discomfort with home births. I would like to have the most natural delivery I can but I certainly don't want to feel bad about my birth experience because something out of my control went wrong and I had to have a c-section. Anyway, great post. thanks

  7. That’s frustrating when documentaries are so clearly biased. Case in point- the U.S. having one of the most “terrible” infant mortality rates in the civilized world is actually a skewed concept. The U.S. counts all live births, while many other countries only count full-term births or infants who live at least 28 days. Therefore, preemies and even infants who survive only a couple weeks would be counted in the mortality rate of the U.S. but forgotten about in other countries. While I haven’t seen the actual documentary, my guess is they didn’t mention that!

  8. I saw that documentary too and while I really enjoyed it, I thought it was very one-sided.

    Right now I'm gathering ALL the information in order to make a well-educated decision [currently reading a book written by a doula]. I know without a doubt I'm giving birth in a hospital and going to try to avoid meds for as long as possible but if intervention is needed to keep me and my baby safe, then so be it. No shame here!

    Plus, I've heard raves from both sides of the spectrum. People love natural births while others can't say enough good things about the epidural. It all comes down to personal perference if the baby is kept safe [IMO]

  9. I'm not pregnant yet, but I have watched the documentary and, while I did find it VERY biased, I enjoyed it. I didn't appreciate the "bashing" tone it had on hospitals. However, I do feel that many women are misled in ideas for childbirth. Granted, I've never birthed a baby, but I feel as though the media has given women an unrealistic visual of birth. It doesn't have to be a screaming, traumatic experience. I truly believe that we have been doing this for MANY years and our bodies know what to do. I can only hope that when I do get pregnant, I am able to experience a problem-free pregnancy and birth. And, while I do hope to put off medication at all costs, I would never go for a home birth and I would never put my baby's life at risk. I think it is really a matter of trusting your body to do what it is supposed to do. I think some doctors overlook this too easily.

  10. It's like you were in my head, lol. I love the way your wrote this post and I appreciate that you understand other options and are very un-biased and realistic.

    I wonder if the increase in c-sections could also possibly be attributed to increase in multiples?

  11. As usual, I totally agree with you. When the time comes I am not totally sure how I'll handle all the variables, but as with most things in life I don't think there is a black & white answer. The majority of us are usually shades of gray! Great post

  12. I'm curious about some of the comments referencing that "everyone else" is going the natural route, as labor and delivery statistics certainly paint the opposite picture. I definitely agree that each woman/family needs (and deserves) the freedom and support to choose whichever birthing option is right for them. That is why there are options. But, as someone else mentioned, it seems that not every woman knows all the facts about those options--and that's where education comes in. People have a right to be informed. It's not fair (or accurate) to say that women who have home births are putting their baby's life at risk. It's simply a different choice.

    Just one more far as the pain goes, your body produces natural pain "medication" to help you through the contractions. But this natural remedy is interrupted by labor-inducing drugs, such as Pitocin, which also makes your contractions stronger and last longer so you and the baby don't get much of a rest or break between contractions. I'm sure you're well aware of this, but I just thought I'd over-share. It's my life's talent!

  13. Great post! I was only scored a 29 on the cruchy scale, thought I'd be a bit higher, but as I also don't have kids I "guessed" on a lot of them.

  14. I've seen the documentary and I agree that it is biased, but what documentary isn't? I went into it knowing that it was going to push it's agenda, just like nearly every documentary does. But I don't think that disregards the fact that c-section rates are ridiculous and being induced at 38 weeks is not OK unless you have a medical reason behind it. In my experience, the blog and Internet world is fairly knowledgeable when it comes to this kind of stuff and has made an informed decision? But the real world? Totally different story. And I think documentaries like these are necessary to educate women.

    Overall, I hate this topic, though. I feel like no one can express their opinion without someone getting defensive, so I just try to avoid it. The rude comments I've received about wanting a natural birth blow my mind. And on the flip side, I know that the comments women receive about their induction/c-section/epidural are just as awful. I just wish everyone could get it through their heads that it's a personal choice and there's no need to be so dang defensive.

  15. Oh, and I scored a 102 on that quiz, LOL.

  16. I think that with this perspective we are very much alike. I too wanted to avoid disappointment as much as possible by keeping an open mind. Birth is miraculous, which ever way it occurs. While I haven't seen the documentary I think you took away the best message, that women do have choices now and should educate themselves. There ARE choices which are not the best for baby or mama, which can be avoided. Our bodies are amazingly created and I wanted nothing more than to experience my true physical potential . . . that being said, I asked for the epidural. I'm thankful at least weekly that it didn't happen though. Yes, there was pain. Yes, I was screaming incomprehensibly. Yes, I was able to walk and shower less than an hour later. I wanted to feel the pain that I asked for lol. It's so messed up and yet it's beautiful as well.

    Anywho, I got lost in my own thoughts above, I just think you're on the right track. Healthy Carlos for Julia and Nate!

  17. I'm using a midwife because I think the apts are great and I am truly happy with my care (among other reasons- I'm a PNP and the list is long!). That being said, I appreciate the fact that my midwife is open about the fact that if something goes wrong at any point in time, an ob who works in the same practice with the midwife will take over. Birth is a natural process, however, there are numerous things that can go wrong, and I'm not willing to take any chances with my little ones life by doing a homebirth. I was born with the cord wrapped around my neck and would have died at home. I've seen more than one patient end up in a terrible state due to home births gone wrong, and I know parents blame themselves for this forever. It's just not worth it in a civilized nation like ours. I am against the high csection rate and some of the reasons it has skyrocketed over the past few years, but delivering in a hospital does NOT mean that you are automatically going to have a section. I haven't seen the movie (and probably won't), but I can tell you that your idea of birth is just that - YOURS. It's no one else's decision because it is your body that has to make it through the process.

    I just adore reading your posts as you are just a few weeks ahead of me. I love how open, honest, and candid you are about all this!!! thanks!

  18. I obviously have a lot of self-educating to do and feel lucky to read blogs about real women going through this...some black, some white, and some gray. I know which direction I lean but things may change when I am pregnant and start learning more. I agree with Kristal, it is everyone's personal choice. I may not understand the choice or agree with it...but I'm not going to bash it either. I'm probably just going to ask a lot of questions about it! I am sure I would rate the lowest possible number on this granola test. I'll check it out later! Great post, Julia!

  19. I love this post...very non judgmental, yet expressing the desire to make your own decision based research and your own desires. Very smart, IMO.

    My doesn't make you a good mom if you go ALL natural and not vaccinate. NOR does it make you a bad mom if you DON'T go ALL natural and vaccinate on a STRICT schedule.

    To each their own...which hopefully ends with a happy, healthy baby!

    As a young mother (27) of 4 young children, I wouldn't change anything about my births - they were awesome. I'm blessed with easy pregnancies and ridiculously fast/easy births. All in a hospital and with an epidural. I just didn't have that deep rooted desire to do it "au natural" - and I totally researched my options with the last 2 pregnancies. (met with doulas and all)

    BUT....i LOVE me some natural birth stories!! And I have TONS of friends who don't vaccinate and prefer more homeopathic remedies for things.

    What brings us together is that we are MOTHERS, with babies close in age. And knowledge is power. Take what you like, and leave what you don't. But HEAR it ALL!!!

    And again...TO EACH THEIR OWN!!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed "getting to know you" on your blog. I have no idea how I came across your blog, but am excited to see how mother hood treats you (GREAT i'm sure).


  20. i'm crunchy enough to want to do cloth diapers (cant wait to see what brand you are looking at to compare notes), but not crunchy enough to hate on drs./ hospitals for birthing, or do natural childbirth (you go girl), i think papercuts hurt- bad. but DO NOT want to do C-Section either. great post

  21. I'm "sprinkled with granola" too. I wish I could be more granola but my love for convenience takes over from time to time.

    As far as the movie, I've never seen it. I'm not sure it's for me as I think I will always be in the "give me the SHOT NOW!" camp. The way I see it, I know my body. I know that I could get through a natural birth but I want pain meds. I always did. So I never thought it was a big deal.

    I had a few people on my husband's side of the family who claimed that my son was born not breathing because I was induced or because I chose to get an epidural. Not true. The cord was wrapped around his neck. Twice. Not sure what my choices had to do with that but I've been told by my doctor it was not preventable.

    I remain convinced that had I chosen a home birth, my son would not be alive today. He had to be resuscitated right in front of me. Good times.

    Frankly, I am scared sh*tless to give birth again. I want that special moment where my son is put on my chest and I'm allowed to BF with no immediate interventions. I don't know if I'll get that.

    But I give total props to mamas that go for the natural birth and get through it. Seriously, they are rock stars! But I still pushed for 2.5 hours with a worn-out epidural. I'd like some credit too, lol. And I'm sure this documentary would provide me with none.

  22. I got a 47, so around the same as you- sprinkled with granola.
    I think we have mostly the same thoughts. Although I am not thinking a natural birth, I am hoping I can get to about 5cm before needing the epidural because I've heard that getting it before that can slow down labour. But as soon as I'm 5cm I'll be wanting that epidural. I think I'll be able to judge more for myself when I'm actually in labour and can feel the actual pain though.

  23. I find this interesting because so many girls on the bump talk about this documentary and how great it is [most of which I am under the impression are NOT planning for home births]. I haven't watched it yet but I was thinking about it. I still might but at least now know going into it what the agenda will be.

    While I do not plan to go natural, I think it's really smart of you to recognize that if intervention is needed for your health and the health of your child, that you're not completely against it. And from the sounds of it, your doctor seems to understand what you're wanting and I hope she respects your wishes as much as possible.

    I think my biggest fear at this point is needing an emergency C-section, which is something you can't really control.

    Overall though, it doesn't matter what I think! You put your opinions out there and they are yours and your husband's and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or feels about them! I hope you are able to have a natural birth as planned and that it is complication-free!! :)

  24. First time commenter here. Wanted to say that I really enjoyed the post, although I found the movie less biased than I expected it to be. A lot of the experts speaking about the over-medicalization of birth in the US were OBs! I certainly think that everyone needs to do what's right for them and we all need to stop judging each other's choices. I am 22 weeks pregnant with my first and I am using certified nurse midwives but delivering in the hospital (hopefully naturally!) Best of luck with your upcoming delivery and new baby :)

  25. i scored 169 on the quiz - & i didn't even think i was very crunchy... It's funny how your perspectives change over time too - i used to think natural femenin products were gross too - till i used them & found out that if i used store bought, my cycles were longer & heavier... & how much more comfortable it was with cloth..
    i know in birthing & parenting there are topics about which i am glad that i have the ability to make choices that are counter culture, or just plain important to me - i would hate if i were forced to vaccinate, or to have a medicated birth... - & so keeping those options for other women for whom they are important has value for me too, y'know?

  26. As the above reader, Paige, said, I didn't think I'd like "natural" menstrual products but I LOVE my DivaCup so much. I have less cramps, my cycles are shorter (I'm not sure how or why.... but they are) and I just feel so much cleaner. And I save about $100 a year using it! It's a tiny bit gross at first but you get used to it after the first few times you use it.

    Just sayin'!

  27. I haven't seen the documentary yet, but will if/when we decide to have a baby. I think you have to take every documentary with a grain of salt because it will be biased to push a certain agenda, as you noted. That's why I don't see Michael Moore's documentaries;) One thing that stood out in your post is how it's very easy to twist statistics to fit your agenda (I don't mean you by that, just in general). Having been immersed in science for so long, I am skeptical about any "statistics" I read unless I see the original study. The pro-home birth people and pro-hospital birth people could probably take the same study and find a way to support their cause by potentially taking things out of context. Or, someone could cite a study that had faulty methods, small sample size, erroneous statistics, etc. and use it as evidence as to why their side is 'right.' And that goes for any debate that has two sides. I applaud you and other women who take the time to do the research and find out what each and every side says to find out where you fit in.


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