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Green Parenting

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Baby wipe solution recipe

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Friday, 16 November 2012
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Here is the solution I use to moisten reusable cloth baby wipes.

Note, I did some web research into different recipes and many seemed very complicated for such a simple matter.  So I made up my own blend. It's very easy.

Ingredients

Melrose Organic Castille Liquid Soap
Organic Camomile Tea Bags
Distilled Water

Method 

I boil about 2 cups of distilled water and put in a bowl with the organic camomile tea bag and let cool.  Then I apply a small squirt of castille liquid soap. I pour into the spray bottle dedicated to Juan's wipes. If necessarily, I fill the spray bottle with more distilled water. Easy.

That solution lasts about a week or so. 

However, I would like to point out that lately I've just been wetting the wipes with water. Nothing else just pure simple water. While Juan is on breastmilk, I think that is all that's necessary. Probably when he starts eating solids and those pooey nappies take on a whole new meaning I will go back to this solution.

Note: The castile soap is actually a bit harsh when I used it to wash my hands on a regular basis, so that's why I only use a very small amount diluted in the tea and water. The castille soap contains: purified water, organic olive oil, organic flaxseed oil, organic palm olein (Columbia), organic sunflower oil and glycerine. 

 

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Benefits of reusable baby wipes

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 15 November 2012
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This is the first of many entries about green parenting. It’s been 9 weeks since Juan was born, which gives me enough experience to comment on the effectiveness of some green parenting initiatives we’ve been trying out.

Probably my favourite green product so far is reusable cloth baby wipes. These are such an obvious and easy green choice, yet I didn’t consider them until late in the pregnancy when I found them on Etsy.

I bought a pack of 10 cloth baby wipes made from organic hemp from LilStuff on Etsy.  When they arrived, I decided they were too cute and lovely to be used to wipe Juan’s bottom.  So they became his bath washers instead – and they still make me smile every time we use them.

Curiously enough, I hadn’t really seen reusable wipes on the Australian market. However a few days after I bought from Etsy, I happened to come across some flannel baby wipes in a country craft market.  I purchased five of them and was offered that if I provided my own material, the crafter, Nicole, would make them at a discounted price.  So I purchased a metre of flannel from Lincraft and posted to Nicole, who made up around 25 wipes.

So, how do they rate?

Usability (Two Thumbs Up)

The reusable wipes are just great. I keep them in a basket on our change table and give them a few squirts of either solution or water (see the recipe I use for the solution) and use. I only need to use one wipe per nappy change, as the fabric has two layers, so I can use both front and back of the wipe if necessary.  It is only for really messy nappy changes that I need to use two wipes.  So, in a day, I guess we only go through a maximum of 10 wipes.  Once done, we just drop in a bucket of water in the laundry for soaking.

They will be easy to use for ‘on the go’ too.  To be honest, we haven’t needed to use them in our nappy bag yet, as we were gifted a few packets of disposable wipes which we’ve been using them for travel and on the go.  Once we finish the disposable wipes, we will use the reusable wipes. I bought a fair trade cosmetic bag from Nepal – in support of the Womens Skills Development Organisation Pokhara – and a little tiny spray bottle, to respectively house and wet the wipes.

In terms of washing the wipes, they don’t really require any additional effort. Anyone who has a baby knows that you wash every day or every other day. So we just throw the wipes in the wash with everything else and if anything, it helps fill the load.

Cost effectiveness (Two Thumbs Up)

The bottom line is that by using wipes, you can save up to $1,350 over the nappy changing period for two children!

All in all, the wipes only cost around $40. If we use water to wet the wipes (which I actually prefer over the solution, especially now Juan is still on breastmilk) – it doesn’t cost anything extra.  If we make solution, my calculations show that it would cost an additional $20 a year for the ingredients. Let’s throw in four packets of eco-laundry detergent to cover the proportion used for the wipes at a cost of $6.50 each. Say Juan uses nappies for 2.5 years - that makes a total cost of $176 (if using solution, otherwise, would only cost $126).

Let’s compare that to disposable wipes. The cheapest disposables I could see on the market was $10 for 480 wipes. Assuming there are 6 nappy changes per day and you use 2 wipes each change, you will use 4,380 wipes per year. This will cost $91.25 per year and $228 for 2.5 years.

Now, if we were to use disposable eco-wipes, it would be much more expensive. The cheapest eco-disposables I could find on the market was $5.50 for a pack of 80.  Using the same assumptions as above this will have an annual cost of $301 and $753 for 2.5 years.  Ouch!

That is just for one child.  Assuming that we have two children (ie 5 years in nappies), the total cost for:

Reusables: $100 initial outlay for the wipes  + $100 for the solution ingredients + $52 for the proportion of laundry detergent = Total Cost of $252.  If we don’t use the solution and simply use water, it would only cost $152

Non-eco disposables:  $91 x 5 years = $456

Eco-disposables: $301 x 5 years = $1,505

Wow.  Until doing that math, I knew that reusable wipes were cost-effective, but I didn’t realise by how much!  That’s a significant saving to any family’s household budget.

Environmental benefits

Reduces landfill

4,380 disposable wipes per year makes for a lot of waste going in landfill.  Not to mention the packaging of the wipes.  If you aren’t using biodegradable wipes, that’s quite a footprint.

Water usage

Admittedly, using reusable wipes does require water usage, both in wetting the wipes for use and washing them. As mentioned earlier, if you can throw the wipes into loads of washing that you would already be doing anyway, there is limited water usage.

However, disposable wipes also have a water footprint in terms of the water used in production of the wipes and packaging, however I wasn’t able to ascertain figures for a comparison.

Health benefits

Disposable wipes have been known to contain harsh cleaning agents, preservatives, and fragrances.  These may cause diaper rash. Eco-disposable wipes typically use more natural products and are better for the baby’s skin.

If you use reusable wipes, especially those made from organic materials, you are in control of what you use to wet the wipes with – so you can be in control of what you put on your baby’s delicate skin.  See the solution that I have been using with baby Juan.

So, there you have it folks. Doing this analysis has even surprised me – especially with the cost effectiveness of using reusable wipes. $1,350 worth of savings over 2 children! That is the equivalent of a flight back to the Philippines to visit family. Who said green isn’t good for the back pocket!

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Our HypnoBirthing Experience

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 11 October 2012
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On the 12th of September, our lives changed forever. Leland and I finally met the baby boy that we’d grown to love so much during our pregnancy. Our little Juan Govinda was born into the world, after a beautiful and relaxed birth using HypnoBirthing techniques.

Prior to the birth, the blog entry I had visualised and fully expected to write was this:

We were in labour for four hours and almost had the baby on the side of the road, because the birth was so quick.  When we got to the birth centre, we only had time to say hello to the midwife and fill the water-birthing tub before I started birth breathing.  Three breaths later and Juan arrived, naturally and with no drugs. 

That wasn’t meant to be. However, the birth we did have, was beautiful, peaceful and relaxed. It just also happened to be long and required an intervention. Yet, despite this, it has proved to me that I am incredibly strong and determined, as powerful as any woman can be.

It also proved to me that HypnoBirthing, beyond a shadow of doubt really does work. I mean REALLY DOES WORK! If I could make those words bold and red, underlined and italicized, I would. But that would be rude blogging.

Our son’s beautiful birth was long, with regular surges (aka contractions for the uninitiated to HypnoBirthing) every 3 minutes or less for days. Yes, you read right – days!But, don’t be mistaken. That wasn’t days of hysterical yelling, it was days of relaxed deep breathing, listening to gentle earth music, massage and meditation. It was days of affirmations, positive thinking and pure loving energy.

Rewinding a little, when we had first become pregnant with Juan, we were confused about our options and blindly thought that because we had private health insurance that we needed to go down the private path. We booked into an obstetrician, but something didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my pregnancy – that I was just relying on doctors to tell me what to do.So, I took charge and did some research, and found out about Birth Centres – which are attached to hospitals but are setup to contain home comforts and are run under midwife care.In Brisbane birth centres are lottery-based, and we were fortunate to be selected.

We also looked into alternative types of birthing that would empower us as a couple and allow birth to be the spiritual event we wanted it to be.At around the 5 month mark, we signed up for HypnoBirthing courses with Melissa Spilsted from HypnoBirthing Australia. Melissa radiates such a beautiful and positive energy – you know, the type of person you want to always be around because they make you feel that anything is possible (which it is, of course.) For the duration of the course, the HypnoBirthing classes were the highlight of our week. During the first week we were ‘de-hypnotised’ – ie we were untaught everything we previously thought about birth – and it was iterated that birth is a natural process that is age old. In the subsequent lessons, we learnt various techniques, followed scripts, learnt affirmations and watched positive videos.

It was great that we started the course early, as we had 18 weeks of daily practice before Juan’s birth. This entailed listening to affirmations, posting visualisations around the house and listening to relaxation scripts. We learnt to block any negative stories from our consciousness and only seek positive birthing affirmations and stories.

This worked. During the days of Juan’s birth, we drew on everything we’d been taught. We had all the resources at hand to be fully empowered. We spent most of the time at home, as home is really the best place to be – as it’s where we felt most comfortable and at ease. Then, as labour progressed, we went to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Birth Centre where we were overjoyed to find that midwife Deb MacGillivray (from Family Midwives) was on duty. I had only met Deb the previous week, but in the short session we had formed somewhat of a bond and had exchanged emails during the week. Like Melissa, Deb has a wonderful energy and is an inspiring and passionate woman.We were so blessed to have had such strong women to be part of our birthing journey.

Unfortunately, we experienced some special circumstances that meant that we had to be transferred to the birth suite in the hospital – which meant doctor-led care as opposed to midwife care – although Deb was there to support us throughout the process. This is where we had to draw on the HypnoBirthing affirmation – “I will calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take”.

In the birth suite we were able to use the decision-making processes we had learnt in class, and were able to make clear-headed decisions.In the one time where I felt that I wasn’t in control, I did lose it. I succumbed to negative self-talk and I stopped HypnoBirthing. The ten minutes that followed were spent in crippling pain – as the adrenalin pulsed through my veins and fear cramped up my uterus. I resorted to gas, and felt hopeless and helpless as a fog entered my consciousness. After about 10 minutes of this, some strength came from somewhere deep within, and I pushed myself off the bed (prior to that I’d been actively moving around, allowing my body to guide me through the surges), threw away the gas and started HypnoBirthing again. The pain that I had felt simply vanished as I allowed calm and relaxation to overflow my being. I was back in control.

During the doctor-led care, there were a few experiences that I think also proves the effectiveness of HypnoBirthing. When I first arrived in the birth suite, the doctor was concerned that I hadn’t had any contractions. I replied that I’d had at least 3 in the last 10 minutes and hadn’t he noticed that I’d had one whilst we were talking? He arched his eyebrows in surprise before uttering: “I’m sorry, I am just used to women birthing very differently.”HypnoBirthing women labour with gentleness, calmness and quiet – unlike the movie-style hysteria that one normally associates with labour!

Towards the end of the labour – which apparently for some unknown reason was failing to progress, even though my surges were coming strong and regular, I was put on Syntocinon which is an inducing drug that takes over the body’s natural rhythm with an artificial rhythm. I had done my research, so I was very much aware that this was make or break time. For the next two hours, I HypnoBirthed through increasing dosages of Synto. Each half-hour the dosage was increased, and it was only sheer determination that got me through it. In the last half hour, the room was full – there were two doctors, around four midwives and a student (we joke that we’re surprised there was no news team!) – all watching in awe as I rode through each intense artificial surge after another, with the support of Leland. I later found out that this was highly unusual – one of the midwives explained that she’d never seen anyone manage such a high dosage of Synto without pain relief. HypnoBirthing really does allow one to manage and calmly meet all circumstances that come our way.

In the end, we did require an intervention, as was baby Juan’s choosing. I remembered the words that Melissa, our HypnoBirthing teacher, had told us during class on a number of occasions – that she truly believes that the baby knows the safest route into the world. I was really impressed with the hospital staff and their compassion and ability to keep my husband and I in good spirits. I don’t remember this time as one of disappointment or panic, but a happy time, as I knew my baby was finally coming to us. I remember laughing and cracking jokes, and practicing deep breathing so that baby Juan would remain calm.

Then, the moment came when baby Juan was born – under bright lights – but there was no cry of distress. At last he was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact and bonding. He was so beautiful, and clearly shared his Daddy’s features. Calm and alert, within minutes he was rooting around looking for my breast, and not long afterwards had self-attached and was breastfeeding with innate natural instinct.

Juan is now 4 weeks old, and our friends and family comment on how alert, peaceful and calm he is, and also how relaxed and calm my husband and I are. I firmly believe this is a result of all the HypnoBirthing practices we’ve done – and the knowledge that if during the labour we were able to calmly meet whatever came our way, so too can we with parenting.

Juan’s birth wasn’t textbook HypnoBirthing – but in my mind, there is absolutely no doubt as to the effectiveness of the techniques. The whole process was an amazing experience and one that we can only look back upon with a sense of pride and strength. In parting, I just want to say that no matter what turn your birthing takes – it’s all a matter of attitude – you have the ability and strength for your birthing experience to be gentle, calm and rewarding.

Note:  Our midwife, Deb, also wrote up an entry about Juan’s birth.  Not only is Deb a compassionate (and passionate) midwife, she also has a beautiful way with words.


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Shopping for babies - how to cut down on the 'fluff'

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Saturday, 12 May 2012
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I went into a baby store for the second time today.  For the second time, I was overcome with feelings of how overwhelming shopping for a baby can be.   

I thought I would be really excited, but instead, I was awestruck at just how much 'stuff' is out there aimed at unsuspecting soon-to-be mum's like me.  

Furthermore, it was amazing how few of the products are geared towards sustainability.  It made me realise, that if I wanted to use sustainable products, I'd have to be a bit more creative in my research.

So, instead of getting caught up with what is the on the market and being lured into unnecessary purchases, I have compiled a list of what I need - which I then sent over to my sisters for their thoughts and advice.

Because I have a project planning background, this list is now a little Excel spreadsheet tasklist (see above) - split out into categories, and who is responsible for the purchase (my husband has his own list of things to buy - music, car seats, funky little beanies etc).  From now on, we'll do our own research on what's out there, and what the sustainable options are. 

Which begs the question, what do I mean by sustainable options?

  • Pre-loved in good condition, meeting current safety standards
  • Made from non-toxic materials, and chemical free
  • Reusable

I think from now on I might give baby stores a miss (unless they have the sustainable options I need).  There are great internet sites out there, such as GumTree and Etsy, that allow us to pick up pre-loved or reusable options.  Also, a number of online baby stores are out there - you just need to do a google search.  

We've also taken used items from some family members who are happy to get some shed-space back.  Of course I don't necessarily want everything to be pre-loved, so I'm also finding that local markets are a great place to do some shopping, with 'eco-baby' stalls popping up in all sorts of local markets - offering natural and organic products.

Which reminds me, Mathilda’s Market is coming up in Brisbane on May 26.  I have walked through one before, and it is delightful – full of one-of-a-kind, handmade baby and children's items.  Check out Mathilda's Market website to learn more and find out when they will be at a location closer to you.

PS. Here is a thought from Choosing Our Future to leave you with.  I think there is definitely a time and place for prams and strollers and will definitely be buying one, but most of the time I would like to be a babywearer. 

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