Here’s my big confession: I didn’t use cloth diapers on my daughter.
I really do feel bad about it, especially considering how environmentally conscious I strive to be. Compost? Check! Organic garden? Check! Breastfeeding? Check! Rain Barrel? Check! Cloth diapers…uhh, no.
In my defense and in my pep talks with myself to assuage the guilt, I am reminded that there was no cloth diaper store in Knoxville fourteen years ago. None of my friends cloth diapered — I mean NONE at the time. I do remember a mom about a decade older than mine who always had amazing earth friendly and healthy advice who said she had partially cloth diapered. My mother cloth diapered both my brother and myself, but it was due to our allergies to Pampers brand of disposables and was not portrayed in a flattering or easy light. I never really investigated it because it didn’t seem necessary or worth it, or I simply subscribed to myths I had heard (safety pins on a baby? No, I didn’t know about all the amazing styles and types available).
In the same way, many women will feel guilt or concern over the fact they didn’t take a childbirth class, or were talked into an induction that was in no way medically necessary, or never attempted breastfeeding their child, had a cesarean, had pain medication during pregnancy or labor, etc. There is a whole list of topics that child-bearing women feel very passionately about and will debate in any forum available.
The fact is, many women do not know their options. The information is available to make an informed decision, but sometimes it’s not in your immediate knowledge base, culture, or society. First time mothers and their partners may have a hard time navigating the massive amounts of information offered to them. What is fact and what is fiction?What have they learned from their parents, family, friends, health care providers?
We can’t go back and change what happened before. We can educate ourselves for the future and give ourselves more options. Sometimes, it really is okay to say, “I didn’t know.” You know now. Judging other new parents is not providing constructive support.
In the past few years, cloth diapering has become more mainstream, available, and supported by families, friends, and local businesses. If I could go back and cloth diaper my child, I would. Since that option is not possible, I choose to support those who do cloth diaper and provide information and resources for those who are investigating it or may be unaware of its benefits.
We can all do this. We can share how wonderful breastfeeding is for mom and baby. We can offer to come over and be supportive of a new mom learning to nurse her baby. We can tell others of the power of natural childbirth, or hanging in there those last few weeks of pregnancy when everything is uncomfortable but worth waiting for the baby to arrive when it’s ready. We can loan pregnancy and birth books to someone seeking information. We can find local support groups for attachment parenting, baby-wearing, etc. The possibilities are endless — and you just might help someone avoid saying, “I didn’t know.”
All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula, Kimberly Sebeck, 2010