I thought I was a hippy until I moved to California.
These are the most leading edge natural birth and childcare trends I have come across since moving here (though admittedly some I have heard about through my British friends!!):
– Lotus Birth: where the umbilical cord is not cut, but instead the placenta and cord are nurtured (kept in water) until they naturally fall off the baby. Needless to say I did NOT try this one, thankfully, because my baby’s cord stump didn’t fall off for quite some days. Can’t imagine carrying around a placenta as well as a baby for all those days. Can you imagine what visitors would think?! (not to manage the nice doctors at UCSF where I gave birth!!). See for yourself, here: http://www.lotusfertility.com/Lotus_Birth_Q/Lotus_Birth_QA.html
– Placenta Encapsulation: yep, I know many cultures eat the placenta after birth. In fact I heard humans are the only mammal species where the mom does not eat the afterbirth. Still, in California, we have combined nature with technology and many mommies I know swear that it was their placenta capsules or tincture (made from their own placenta, of course) which proved miraculous in helping them recuperate from giving birth and prevent postpartum depression. Some people even keep it for years as it is said to be fabulous at treating the symptoms of menopause. Again… I didn’t try this (maybe next time?!). See what is said about it here: http://placentabenefits.info/about.asp
– Elimination Communication: this was another one I literally thought was a joke the first time I heard of it. It is not. Again I know several parents who are doing this with their babies, now. In a nutshell it is about ‘catching’ your baby peeing and pooping and over time teaching them an association so that they learn to go in a potty or toilet pretty much from birth. Saves a fortune on diapers and spares parents from the nightmare of potty training later on (as the baby was just taught ‘good’ habits from the start). As with placenta-eating this is purported to be a modern adaptation of an approach practiced historically and still today in many traditional cultures. I am actually quite intrigued by this, now, having heard more about it and, though, I didn’t start right from birth, I may give it a little bit of a whirl. They say babies often prefer this (than sitting in their own poo and pee). Fair enough. More here: http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/
– Baby Lead Weaning: this is a bit of a misnomer really, from the little I know of it. It should be called Baby Lead Solid Food Introduction… I see why they went with the former! Basically, instead of starting a baby off with purees at six months, this is about really being responsive to a babies cues and introducing solid foods (alongside breastfeeding) when the baby is ready and then only the foods the baby can and wants to eat by themselves. It is another baby-centered practice (which is probably why it appeals to me). So instead of soft, spoon-fed purees, the baby sits at the table with us and is given chunks of food that she can handle and put in her mouth herself. You can expect a good few weeks of pure exploration, just tasting and feeling, enjoying the textures and the play but eventually they learn to feed themselves, following their own appetite and satiety. They learn to manage and control their own food intake at an early age, which is supposed to be great at laying down the foundations for healthy eating for life… so they say. Read more here: http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/babyledweaning.htm
These are just a few of the trends I am learning about which are completely new to me (and I thought I knew all the way-out, natural nut beliefs going). These practices seem to fit comfortably alongside water births, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breastfeeding-on-demand , non-violent communication and a whole load of other sensible ideas with fancy modern names which I am already completely sold on. Hmm… what next, I wonder?!