Birth, breastfeeding and class: indigenous poor women are exotic, but poor women in this country are ignorant and lazy

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I just finished reading ‘The New Reproductive Regimes of Truth,’ a chapter in Alison Phipps outstanding book The Politics of the Body: Gender in a Neoliberal and Neoconservative Age.

Phipps explains her project:

In this chapter, I have introduced what I see as the new reproductive ‘regimes of truth’: the consensus around ‘normal birth’ and ‘breast is best’ which dominates policy, academia and the activist field… [A]gendas which began in feminist efforts to empower women have now been transformed into messages which can put pressure on mothers in a number of different ways while excluding other caregivers. In my analysis, I have attempted to apply the principle of intersectionality: seeing the new reproductive activism as largely a politics of white, middle-class women with abundant cultural, social and economic capitals, I have explored how such agendas might intersect with the politics of class and ‘race’ and access to economic, social and cultural resources.

Where would natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates be without poor women to exploit?

There is a great deal of intellectual meat to chew on, but what struck me most forcefully was the central importance of class and race in natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocacy. Specifically, natural childbirth advocates and lactivists identify with an exoticized view the poor indigenous Other (generally black or brown), and simultaneously distinguish themselves from the poor industrialized Other (both black and white) whom they conceptualize as ignorant and lazy.

Complementing this focus on the ‘natural’, there is a tendency to search for authenticity and origins in the discussion of alternative birth practices. This … often involves the Orientalizing of ‘traditional’ cultures, whether prehistoric or from developing countries. American childbirth educator Judith Lothian describes her Lamaze class as modelling ‘traditional ways of passing information about birth from generation to generation’, and advice to mothers to pursue on-demand or extended breastfeeding often makes reference to the fact that these practices are common outside the West, but without highlighting pertinent differences in culture and lifestyle.

Natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates are channeling Grantly Dick-Read’s notions of “primitive” women, but:

… Like the claims of many contemporary activists, however, Dick-Read’s points were made despite the fact that he had not spent extensive time in non-western countries. The lack of an evidence base to corroborate such assertions is particularly problematic when non-western birthing practices are appropriated in the service of authenticity rather than effectiveness.

Contrast that with the view of poor women in their own countries:

… [W]omen who choose childbirth interventions or formula feed (who are largely from working-class and minority ethnic groups) [are] presented as ignorant and lazy or at best in need of education (which feeds racist and classist stereotypes). A generous formulation is that women lack the confidence to give birth without technology and need to be educated to trust themselves … Less judiciously, British activist the Alpha Parent blogs that formula companies ‘exploit the lazy’ –women who ‘can’t be bothered’ –by claiming their products are convenient.

The surprising paradox is that natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates claim to emulate poor indigenous women, whom they view as authentic and close to nature, while simultaneously demonizing poor women in their own countries whom they stigmatize as too ignorant to recognize the birth and breastfeeding “regimes of truth,” and too lazy to employ them when they learn of them.

The notion that women who have different preferences in childbirth and infant feeding are both ignorant and slothful justifies the beloved preoccupation of natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates with the coercion of “informed choice.”

Within this framework of compulsory empowerment through ‘informed choice’, deviant behaviours are positioned as being a product of ignorance or weak-mindedness, rather than affirmative choices in favour of an alternative. This is clear in Lothian’s question: ‘why are women seemingly uninterested in choosing normal birth, in spite of our best efforts?’

Phipps concludes:

… [A]lthough birth and breastfeeding activists have a tendency to present themselves as counter-cultural, and identify themselves with global Others in their appropriation of ‘traditional’ practices, there is little attention paid to the stigmatizing effect this might have upon our own social Others, the working-class and minority ethnic women who may choose birth interventions or infant formula for a variety of structural reasons.

Natural childbirth and lactivism aren’t about babies, but rather are about privileged women and how they wish to see themselves, especially in contrast to the poor Other. It makes you wonder: where would natural childbirth and breastfeeding advocates be without poor women and their misfortunes to exploit?

  • Anna

    This is so true! Some women can’t afford private hospitals or live in areas where there are no private hospitals and therefore can not impose their birth plans on doctors. Some women have zero helpers and can’t spend 24/7 bonding. Too unfair when such women are labelled as lazy and ignorant, not wishing the best for their babies. It’s this new age thinking that if you just try hard enough you can do anything. The truth is sometimes you just can’t.

  • ladyloki

    These idiot women don’t seem to realize is that it is easy to breastfeed when you are some trophy wife who gets to stay home all day, with maids to do your cleaning and people who deliver your groceries and your dry cleaning to your house. In other countries. they have no choice but to breastfeed and do home births.

    A little OT, but this reminds me of many of the experiences I have had with my daughters. They are black, we are white. People find the white woman with two black daughters interesting, until they find out that these little girls are not “exotic,” that they were born here and adopted from foster care. So black kids adopted from other countries = interesting. Black kids adopted from foster care = “ugh, why would you do that?!” Yes, that was said to me IN FRONT OF THEM. Luckily my kids are very aware that there are many morons in this world who open their mouths without thinking and were not fazed. I, however, almost decked the b****.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      And in only “almost” doing so, showed your kids an excellent example of self-control, one that I, in similar circumstances, would have been hard-put to provide…

      • ladyloki

        I think the only thing keeping me from it was that my daughters had been witnesses to domestic violence, and had been beaten themselves. Did not want to trigger them, even after years of therapy they still have flashbacks.

        • MaineJen

          So glad they have a safe and loving home now. 🙂

    • Who?

      Oh my word. What a rude horrible person.

      Slapping her would have felt good but she’d still be at best stupid and at worst mean afterwards.

    • BeatriceC

      Oh dear FSM. What a horrible person. I’m glad your daughters found a loving family. So many foster kids aren’t so lucky.

      • ladyloki

        That’s actually not true. There are many foster kids who have found a loving family.The foster kids that end up adopted by bad families is an anomaly, not the norm.

        • BeatriceC

          I never said anything about being adopted by bad families. I said that many foster kids don’t find loving homes. And that is true. In 2014 alone (the latest year I could find statistics, 22,392 kids aged out or were otherwise emancipated from the US system without ever finding a home. I’d call that number “many”. And that’s just the kids that aged out without addressing the kids who are still bouncing between homes, never finding a permanent one (through adoption or long-term foster care).

          Edited to add the link: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport22.pdf

          • ladyloki

            But over 50,000 were adopted last year. So more than 2/3 of foster kids that are no longer in the system ended up with forever families.

          • BeatriceC

            Which is a fantastic thing. And I’m very glad your daughters are among those kids. But those kids don’t negate the 22,000 kids every year that don’t find homes, and those were the kids I was talking about.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          Part of the problem is that (at least when my little brother was in foster care) children are not allowed to be adopted by their foster parents for a number of years, even if there is no possibility that their Biological parents will be able to care for them. My parents had to wait 7 years before they could adopt my brother, who had been their foster child from the age of 3. he was also required to see his father multiple times during the period before the adoption was finalized.. the father who beat and starved him. My brother was so upset after those visits it was like he was 3 again for a while. I’m not very neutral about the subject as I have seen up close how much the Keep the bio family together at all costs can hurt the kids involved. I know CPS can be radical the other way when it comes to removing kids from parents who just need a little help…

    • demodocus

      those idiots. I’ve heard this kind of thing about adoption or foster care. “you never know what you’re going to get” implying that you’ll get some horrible kid like the one in Omen. Well, you never know what you’re going to get with a bio child, either, and besides, the fool was also maligning my father.

      • ladyloki

        The work-up we got on our girls before they were placed was actually quite through. We had no surprises, except that they had been called very distrusting and they really didn’t take more than a few months to start opening up. We knew a lot more than people who have bio kids.

        • demodocus

          Distinct advantages in knowing their personalities, too.

      • sdsures

        Ditto for disabled parents: “Are they yours?”

        • demodocus

          For a second, i was thinking *you* were wondering that about *them*. ROFL.

          • sdsures

            If someone asks me this, and they have their kids with them as well, I should ask if their kids are theirs, too. 🙂

    • Nick Sanders

      Yes, that was said to me IN FRONT OF THEM.

      What is wrong with people?

      • Who?

        No one knows.

      • ladyloki

        Do you want that alphabetically, chronologically, or the highlight reel?

        • Charybdis

          Does the highlight reel come with play-by-play and color commentary?

          ‘Cause if it does, I’m voting for that one.

        • MaineJen

          Is there a blooper reel available? Where you give them a good tongue-lashing and they splutter and fumble around? Cause I would enjoy that one.

    • StephanieA

      I have an adopted sister from China. An elderly lady once asked my mom if they were planning on sending her to school…basically wondering if she was our adopted servant. People can be such idiots.

    • Jules B

      The privileged women you speak of with their nannies and maids are abundant in my city. I find it infuriating to listen to them talk about this stuff, completely and totally missing the obvious privileges they have that make their childbirth/child-rearing choices possible. They are utterly blind, most of them.

      Since I have to interact with them and not loss my cool entirely, I often make a game of “politely” puncturing their little bubbles whenever I can. It is quite a lot of fun!

    • Allie P

      It’s not always easy to breastfeed just because you have maids, etc. Sometimes people have breasts that work sometimes not. Like every other facet of fertility, wealth and privilege have no bearing on organ operation.

    • Anna

      I am thinking of the old times when women – even poor women – were surrounded by other women ready to help and nowadays when the new mother hardly gets time to rest even right after birth in the hospital. Society seems to think that we are some superhumans. No, we aren’t. We need to eat, shower, go to the bathroom. At least. Not even mentioning cleaning the house and doing the laundry. The question most new mothers get asked all the time: WHY are you tired? Aren’t you enjoying the baby? Yes, we are, but we want a bit of private space too.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Yep. As a white woman I can exploit the poor black and brown women in my own country to raise my status as a mother. I prove my superiority by breastfeeding and baby wearing while they prove their laziness with their formula and strollers.

    And then I can exploit the poor black and brown women from developing countries too. I can imitate their practices around feeding and child raising to prove that I am a Worthy Natural Woman (of course I spend lots of $$$ on fancy slings, lactation consultants, and fashionable cloth diaper sets, but never mind that).

    This exploitation double dipping has the added bonus of reducing my cognitive dissonance. See, I’m not racist. I love My Little Brown Brothers. I use a sling! I breastfed little Amelia until she was 4, just like they do in the Congo! It’s not my fault that black children in neighborhoods only 10 miles from mine don’t graduate from high school and die of asthma attacks. It’s not MY problem their mothers were too lazy to breastfeed.

    • sdsures

      Baby-wearing is a form of cultural appropriation, isn’t it?

      • AnnaPDE

        Including the “upgrades” typical of appropriation, with fancy carriers and crazy expensive woven wraps tied in complex patterns. (Full disclosure: I just got one of those for my birthday, in Frozen-Elsa colours, and I love it, but I realise that it’s massive privilege to be able to afford it.)
        Admittedly, a simple towel to tie the baby on would be much less pretty.

      • Inmara

        I don’t see it as appropriation per se – if a sling is used because baby is calm there, mom (or dad) finds it convenient and they don’t consider themselves superior to other families just because of babywearing. Why can’t we borrow good and practical things from other cultures? Appropriation starts if it’s justified by “noble savage” and “ancient tradition” BS.

      • Allie P

        From which culture? All types of cultures– European, Latino, African, Asian — wear their babies in slings. I freaking love my (admittedly expensive) slings. But you know, other people love their pricy jogging strollers. Who cares how we cart our babies around?

        • sdsures

          The attachment parenting pushers, that’s who.

          • TownTart

            Are you deranged?

    • J.B.

      I still get facebook updates from our local babywearing group. Once there was a post about how the mom of a kid in whole foods talked about babywearing and her kids were so calm, unlike all the other screaming kids in strollers in the store! With another post soon after about “I’m sure you’ll criticize me but” stroller questions with answers “no, why would I criticize you”?! Bless their hearts!

      • Megan

        Apparently that lady didn’t see me leave target empty handed (possibly a first time event) last week because my 12 week old wouldn’t tolerate the ring sling and was screaming loudly enough the entire store could hear. I was by myself and trying to buy large plastic bins and she’s too small for the cart, so we had to leave the store. My first daughter loved being worn in the ring sling. This baby, not so much.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Little lady has opinions!
          I knew baby carriers were over when my son started screaming the minute I put him in the Ergo. Once he could crawl well, he never wanted to be in a carrier again. He was perfectly happy in his stroller.

          • Megan

            Yes little lady made her opinion known as soon as she was more than a few weeks old! She loves the stroller. She really likes to look around. I just wish I could manage to push it and the cart by myself. If I don’t need big items I can put her car seat in the cart but I haven’t yet figured out a solution if I need big items and I’m alone. I ended up going back to target another day with hubby and we get two carts, one for kids, one for stuff. 🙂

        • Shawna Mathieu

          My son loved his sling, until about 9 months old, then he was totally uninterested. I was surprised, as all the online babywearing forums seemed to be filled with moms who wore their kids for years. And when my daughter was born, she made it clear from the outset that she HATED babywearing, no matter the type of carrier.

          • Jules B

            I honestly had a few moments where I thought maybe something was “wrong” with my daughter because she hates being worn and hated co-sleeping etc, because the standard line in AP circles (which is the standard parenting approach where I live) is that **ALL** babies want to be as physically close to their primary caregiver as they can, 24/7. I didn’t realize at the time that that POV is just part and parcel of a whole set of assumptions about “all babies” (all babies can and want to breastfeed/all babies can fit through their mother’s pelvis etc).

        • Jules B

          Man, I tried every kind of carrier I knew about (luckily one of the stores near me will “rent out” carriers to try out before you buy). My daughter HATED every single one. Like, could not stand being confined in that way. She was the same with co-sleeping, too – wanted her space while sleeping and that was that. Babies like what they like!

          • Megan

            Yes, this daughter also doesn’t like cosleeping either (and my first daughter, who liked the sling, did). Interesting. I agree with you about the not liking condonement thing. She will let me swaddle her for sleep but as soon as morning hits, she wants out!! I can’t wait until her startle reflex calms down a little.

          • Megan

            *confinement

          • demodocus

            My first let us know in no uncertain terms that he was NOT to be swaddled. Fortunately, he’s always been a good sleeper.

        • baileylamb

          Neither of my kids liked being worn.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    At the health center I used to go to awhile ago, for years they had two staff OB/GYNs providing services for pregnant women.
    When I was pregnant with my son, the center decided their new “standard of care” was three nurse-midwives and an OB/GYN resident. Everyone was assigned to the midwives – the OB/GYN was strictly for complicated and high-risk pregnancies.
    The health center was the main source of medical care for people on Medicaid or no insurance at all. It was located in a very poor neighborhood, and probably 90% of the patients were people of color.
    While I’m sure the main reason they switched to midwife care was monetary, there was a bit of a condescending aura, like we didn’t know enough that midwives were better, so they made sure that was all we got.

    • moto_librarian

      Given that we know that women of color are at higher risk of pregnancy complications regardless of socioeconomic status, it boggles my mind that anyone would think that it made sense to have only a resident OBGYN available. This just pisses me off so much.

      • Shawna Mathieu

        I was kind of surprised I got a midwife in the first place. I’d had multiple miscarriages, was 35, had a chronic illness, and was at high risk for complications. I had to be switched to the resident when I tested positive for GD halfway through my pregnancy. It was like starting over from nothing. Real disruptive.

      • baileylamb

        Well according to the forum OSU had (on the local pbs)a lot of the health disparity among groups of pregnant women (at least in central Ohio) falls to provider bias.

  • Amy M

    Maybe Ms. Lothian should ask her intended audience (the lazy, ignorant, and possibly poor women) her “why are women seemingly uninterested in choosing normal birth, in spite of our best efforts?” question. If she’s asking people in her Lamaze class, she’s going to remain baffled.

    • Sarah

      These trashy slags stubbornly refuse to do what I’ve decided is best for them!

  • One word. Rebozo.

    • sdsures

      Oh lord…

      I sell my knitting for a living. I started out on Etsy, but most of my customers these days are word-of-mouth.

      I recently completed a shawl for a client, which, in theory, could have been marketed as a rebozo. It’s big enough, and is roughly the same size and shape. New potential client base could be exponential! Etsyers love stuff like that. (They also love things related to eating and preserving placentas, placenta art, and all kinds of bizarre NCB-related products.)

      But on the grounds of ethics, I refuse to do it because I cannot guarantee the safety of the baby placed in such a garment. Knitting, no matter what material you use, doesn’t have the required tensile strength to hold however many kilos or pounds a wearable kid is. It just doesn’t.

      I could never live with myself if a baby fell out of something like that that I had knitted.

  • Heidi

    What’s really infuriating is there’s nothing natural about them. They drive SUVs, have mass-produced ergonomic baby carriers that cost them a few hundred dollars, all their tinctures, oils, herbs and supplements are to be found nicely packaged at a corporate health food store, to cook they have to have an almost $1000 blender, and so on. None of them seem to be suggesting building your own hut, growing your own cotton, weaving it and then knitting or sewing your own baby carrier, and while they might say they support local food or having your own garden, they seem to have no problem having coconut oil or fermented cod liver oil shipped to their door. Those are all fine luxuries to partake in but not formula or epidurals!

    • AirPlant

      My favorite internet moment? A woman running her mouth on how “All you need for a baby is your breasts and a length of cloth”. I click her profile? She uses a Tula, and had a pageful of juice and smoothie recipies.
      .
      Yep! Breasts and cloth lady.

      • AirPlant

        Side note I do actually make ring slings for the new mothers in my life. As far as I can tell they are used almost never. even the crunchiest of friends seem to favor the fancy ergonomic carriers that you don’t need a phd and the ability to defy death to use.

        • MI Dawn

          I (and my kids) loved my ring sling once they were big enough to sit in it. They hated it before that and I didn’t find it comfortable. It was great for carrying a toddler on your hip when pregnant with their sibling.

        • Zornorph

          There may be a man out there who can pull off a ring sling, but it’s not me. I went with the Bjorn.

          • AirPlant

            Good choice! At this point I would almost go with the Bjorn just to piss off the sanctimommies.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            My partner used a ring sling when the small one was very small. Once she passed 8 kilos or so, she got bjorned and sometimes (shock! horror!) put in a stroller. She really seemed to like sitting in the jogging stroller while I jogged with her.

          • Megan

            Current baby’s favorite thing is our trail walks in the jogging stroller. Now that she’s not a newborn she has not liked being worn facing me though I think she’d like facing out or being on my back (which she’s too young to do yet). Do you know if there’s any merit to the claims that front facing carriers are bad for baby’s hips? I do like to be hands free so I can run errands with both kids.

          • demodocus

            I’m pretty sure being squashed against my BMI too high to mention body in the middle of the summer is also bad.
            But I think the hip thing is like the breastmilk thing, more applicable to a small sub-set of babies, in this case babies with pre-existing hip issues. Can’t remember where I read that. In my anecdata, my son was just fine facing forward, and generally happier

          • swbarnes2

            It probably also depends how often you are doing it. Twice a week walking to the park might be okay, attachment-parenting style 24/7 forward-facing wearing might not be okay.

          • demodocus

            ap is not my cup of tea. For one thing, it interfers with my cup of tea!

          • tariqata

            I’m in no way an expert on this, but that’s the prevailing wisdom in my local babywearing group regarding carriers like the baby born and front-facing carriers generally – not good for a baby who actually has hip dysplasia but not going to cause it in a baby who doesn’t.

            I on the other hand decided early on that regardless of whether my son liked to face forward, it’s super uncomfortable for *me* to carry him that way, so he’s either on my hip in a ring sling or facing me in our structured carrier.

          • Kelly

            Only if they already have hip issues would it be a problem. Otherwise no. Personally, the Bjorn hurts my shoulders and back while the Ergo doesn’t but my daughter sometimes will fight me when I wear the Ergo because she also wants to face out. I might have to start using the Bjorn for short spurts to give her her wish.

          • Zornorph

            Kiddo certainly spent some time in the stroller (which he loved) but when I needed both my hands, he got bjorned.

          • Chant de la Mer

            You mean a crotch dangler! How could you do that to your baby, putting them in a non ergonomic crotchdangler! (for the record,my oldest son is named bjorn and I got such a giggle carrying a bjorn in a bjorn, but I switched to ergo because it fit me better)

          • Heidi

            Oh lord. I didn’t even realize they were called “crotch-danglers” or were controversial among the sanctimonious masses. I have one to take the baby on a short walk or a visit to the grocery store. Now I know to expect someone to come up to me and inform me of how wrong I am momming.

          • guest

            Please have another child and name it Ergo! Or Argo, even.

          • CSN0116

            I only use the Bjorn – WHICH, by the way, was the original and most dominant baby carrier for a long time until the crunchies jumped on the trend. They forget that they’re just posers.

            It serves its purpose WHILE pissing off a bunch of people and letting them know I’m NOT one of them. I love it!

          • Zornorph

            Well, for me, it was handy to have when walking the dog and shopping for groceries. But I knew that at a certain point, he’d want to turn around and look forward. I real all the tut-tutting about Bjorns and the legs, but I was like, he’s not going to be in it all damn day! It fit me perfectly and was really convenient when I needed my hands. I did have one person tell me I should get an ergo, but I just ignored her.

          • CSN0116

            Bjorn should sue the shit out of all the crunchies crying hip dysplasia. I read it too and wasn’t convinced. The propaganda always spouted whilst promoting a crunchy product. Grrrr.

            Wearing my Bjorn in Trader Joe’s is my weekly act of civil disobedience 😛

          • demodocus

            Tempted to wear one and go wandering through WholeFoods (without buying anything) for similar reasons 😉 Then take the kids to the ice cream parlor across the street mmmmm

          • Angie Young-Le

            Although I made my own carrier (for cost efficiency) you are making me laugh so much at the idea of pissing off crunchies that I kind of want a Bjorn now. 😀

          • demodocus

            My kid(s)’ Dad is flat out terrified of using slings or wraps. He’d always be worrying about whether the little one was in right. Its also one of the rare areas where his blindness is part of the problem for him.

        • Megan

          Rings slings are hands down my favorite for my small frame and my babies who tend to be small too. Wish we were friends IRL!

          • AirPlant

            I just love making them! It gives me an excuse to get the good linen 🙂

        • Chant de la Mer

          I love ring slings for small babies that need lots of carrying and for toddlers needing up and down carrying. The ring sling is so easy to pop a toddler in and out and so snuggly for little infants!

        • Erin

          A German friend of mine lent me her ring sling and the DvD plus 100 odd page instruction book (only in German) to see if I liked it. Despite living in Germany for six years and speaking the language to an okay degree…I was a homicidal sweaty mess after about an hour. The little one loved it but then his favourite action song involves little ducks going upside down.

          • Heidi

            I had a Babies R Us giftcard someone got us and decided to get a Peanut Shell sling with it. Worst decision ever. I thought I could carry the baby and get housework done since he wanted to be held as a newborn. I re-read the instruction book in English dozens of times and re-watched the Youtube videos and it never felt right. Somehow an 8 lb baby managed to kill my shoulder and back and I was pretty terrified he would suffocate. I yanked that thing off in a postpartum haze (sans baby of course), slung it across the room, and had a good cry for half an hour.

      • I have seen a cloth diaper fanatic insisting that poor women who have trouble affording diapers should use old T-shirts instead of being able to get donated disposables at a food bank. Oh really? Old T-shirts? I would LOVE to see people who advocate this sort of thing try to survive using the “tips and tricks” they seem to think are good enough for poor people.

        Also, who the hell has that many old T-shirts? When my first was a newborn we once went through 20 diapers in one day.

        • AirPlant

          See, it would be one thing if they were offering to donate a set of diapers. Pretentious, but well intentioned and I can run with that. Claiming that poor women should do some half baked bullshit in the name of ideological purity? And that solution will most likely leak like a sieve, be horribly labor intensive and probably sprinkle in the humiliation of showcasing their poverty to the world? Yeah. That’s six types of bullshit right there.

        • Heidi

          Try taking those poopy t-shirt rags to the laundromat! Yeah, it ain’t happening because it’s banned and for good reason.

        • Kim

          I can see people calling CPS on a parent who diapers their kid in old t-shirts. Furthermore, the very poor DON’T HAVE WASHING MACHINES. Trying to take a load of dirty diapers to the laundromat, paying to use the machines–not cost effective. Plus many daycares require disposable diapers.

          • Zornorph

            They can go down to the river and beat the cloth diapers on the shore rocks, though.

          • Heidi

            I’ve never been very poor and not had a washing machine. NYC apartments don’t come with washing machines usually.

          • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

            I have a feeling a lot of laundromats would not be too keen on people doing loads of laundry with literal shit on them too.

        • corblimeybot

          I saw a discussion thread once, in which multiple idiots asserted that poor women should handwash cloth diapers in their bathtub. To avoid the cost of paper diapers.

          They were saying that women who take the bus to work long shifts at minimum wage jobs, should come home and inadequately wash cloth diapers in their tub with their precious moments at home. They also think these same women should breastfeed and feed their children hand-cooked nutritious foods, so basically they’re saying these women should never sleep.

          It’s really telling, these people would never do that kind of thing themselves. They’re never going to wash poop diapers in their bathtubs, with a stick and cheap soap, every single day. It would never, ever happen. They hold poor women to standards they don’t apply to themselves or their friends.They have money and luxury time, and they don’t understand or care about what happens to people who have neither.

          • Heidi

            I can’t even imagine! One day our water pipes to the washer froze and I really wanted to do a load of laundry so I did a bathtub load of very unsoiled laundry. Then I put the laundry in the washer to spin the water out. Still had the luxury of a drier too! I did one load and called it quits.

          • Gene

            We use cloth diapers. They work great for us. But I would actively DISCOURAGE someone from using them if they had no regular access to a good washing machine.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            I want these people who make these suggestions to live a month in a walk up apartment, with a scary laundry room , usually broken washing machine , down several flights. and a newborn who projectile vomits all the time.
            or try taking the baby and laundry to the laundromat.

          • BeatriceC

            I don’t know a single person who cloth diapers that actually washes them themselves. They all, without exception, use a diaper service.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Well, now you know one, albeit online. 😉 It works for us for the various privileged reasons I outlined above, plus diaper folding time=KOTB’s time to catch up on her shows. Needless to say, I couldn’t possibly care less how someone else diapers their kid except for logistical purposes if I’m babysitting.

          • BeatriceC

            *looks at the pile of laundry waiting to be folded on the couch*

            Yeah, folding laundry isn’t something I like to do. Though maybe I should find a TV show or two to watch and I might get motivated to get it done.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            It’s on my “not a favorite thing to do, but I don’t mind it too much” list. I’m also not very good at sitting still while watching even an interesting show; I need to be sewing/knitting/crafting/cleaning/whatever-ing, so I might as well combine laundry with a show I enjoy.

          • MaineJen

            I don’t think I’d ever fold laundry if it wasn’t for Netflix and podcasts. 🙂

          • BeatriceC

            Generally I blast 70’s disco music and dance in the living room while folding laundry. MrC is amused by this. My kids roll their eyes and tell me not to do it in front of their friends or they’d die of embarrassment. Either that or they threaten to record it and put it on youtube in an effort to embarrass me. I just shrug and say “go for it.”

          • Charybdis

            I don’t mind folding laundry, it’s kind of a meditative/zen kind of thing for me.

            What I *hate* is the fact that the two penis owners in the house will pull the stuff out of the dryer and put it in the clean laundry basket for *me* to fold. They don’t mind digging through the clean pile to find what they want to wear, but, even though they both KNOW how to fold laundry, they don’t/won’t.

          • BeatriceC

            If you ever want to visit San Diego I can offer you the guest room in exchange for laundry folding.

            And three of the four penis owners never fold laundry. The adult penis owner is a little bit obsessive about getting his folded right away and hung/folded “just so”. He’s so picky about it that I won’t even touch his laundry, and he’s A-ok with that.

          • Who?

            It’s nice when compromise feels good for everyone!!

          • Kelly

            When we first got married, I did my husband’s laundry once. He asked me why I did it and I realized that I was stupid to think I needed to add that to my responsibilities. He hates it when I try to add any of my clothes to his laundry as well. I just give him the weekend to do his laundry and I do the rest of it during the week.

          • Rachele Willoughby

            Holy crap. I just spent a week in San Diego. We should have gotten coffee,

          • BeatriceC

            Aw, man! That would have been fun. Though last week was pure chaos for me between MK’s medical appointments and step-daughter’s wedding.

          • sdsures

            Yeah, the penis owner in my family doesn’t like to have his socks balled because they stretch the fabric. So they get left loose.

          • TownTart

            Who cares about that pathetic loser?

          • Who?

            I just love putting away the empty basket. And the smell of the clean washing.

          • sdsures

            Grrr!

          • Rachele Willoughby

            I bought a subscription to The Great Courses recently. It’s the best $15 a month I’ve ever spent. Almost makes folding laundry bearable.

          • sdsures

            I folded one towel that I could manage today. Guess what? The cat lies down on top of it immediately.

          • TownTart

            Your life astounds us.

          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            I suggest the show Hoarders. Motivates me every time.

          • Alexicographer

            Make that two — I cloth diapered (except overnights, used a disposable for those once he was sleeping through the nights) and washed ’em in our handy washing machine and — gasp — hung ’em to dry (usually, occasionally used the dryer), and it was — simple. But I’m an middle-class woman with a flexible job and a hubby with ditto and we had just one kid.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Yep, switched to disposables overnight at about 9 months here–she was sleeping about 12 hours at that point (good baby!) and would soak through any non-disposable much sooner than that. I also hang to dry if the weather cooperates; if the humidity is clocking in at 90%, though, it seems an exercise in futility. 😉
            My FIL, in general a great guy, noticed that we used CD when he came out to meet his granddaughter and commented to me while I was hanging them up that “see, it saves so much money and isn’t that hard to do, but all these poor people claim they can’t.” I bit my tongue because it would have done no good to point out that most people at or below the poverty line don’t exactly have the resources that DH and I have–as said, I’m a SAHM, we own our own house with an awesome washer, etc.

          • CSN0116

            I have 5 kids, 7 people in the house including my husband and I, and I already do 2 full loads of laundry a day. I couldn’t fathom cloth diapers on top of it :-O

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Right there with ya. We’re pretty much doing the CD thing on a kid-by-kid basis. I found that for me it was quite doable with one, and suspect I’ll end up doing it when baby comes, too. We’ll reevaluate as more kids come along.

          • Kelly

            I kept up with my second until I was pregnant with my third and now I am trying to get back into it. I was really good with my first even though I worked full time but for some reason I just can’t get back into the swing of things.

          • Amy M

            What part of the country do you live in? I live in MA, and I know some people who cloth diaper. They must launder the diapers themselves, because there are no diaper services around here. I think most of them use the disposable inserts, so they just wash the covers.

          • demodocus

            we have 1, and only 1, in the greater Cleveland area.

          • BeatriceC

            Southern California. But I have friends in places all over the county except, notably, New England. Hell, even my friend I rural Nebraska used a service. I do have a good friend in Maine but she uses disposables. Admittedly, the cohort “people Beatrice knows who have babies” is far from a representative cross sample of the population of people with babies.

          • Amy M

            Yeah, I was just curious. Based on my area, I assumed (obvs incorrectly) that diaper services were a thing of the past.

          • momofone

            We started using cloth when my son was about three months old, and my husband became quite knowledgeable about how to (and how not to) wash and care for them. We also used disposables when it was easier. My reason for using cloth was that they were cute. There are no diaper services where we live, so we washed our own.The people I know (around the country, since no one else that I know here used cloth) washed their own too, though some lived in places with access to diaper services. One person in a metropolitan area used a service briefly but decided she liked the work of washing them herself.

          • Gene

            We wash our own. The same set are currently on baby butt #3. I have a good friend who also washed her own. I’ve never actually known someone irl who used a service.

          • corblimeybot

            We used cloth diapers for a while, because we had hand-me-downs. We were fortunate enough to live in an apartment with a washer and dryer, so we did wash them. But I did know several people who used diaper services.

          • QuantumMechanic

            We washed them ourselves :). Most of the cloth diaperers we know (Boston, MA area) bought Bum Genius/Snap-EZ/Fuzzy Bunz/etc. and washed them themselves, though some did do the prefolds + diaper service route.

          • Allie P

            I stopped cloth diapering because the only diaper service available in my major metropolitan area was the prefold kind, which gave my baby a rash (it was also $100/week), so I spent hundreds of dollars on the fancy kind with the wicking fleece/microfiber. Worked fine for a few months, til the baby started solids and I couldn’t spend hours a day trying to coax the stains out of them with my horrible HE washer. Switched to disposables, never looked back.

          • Heidi

            I didn’t know diaper services could be so expensive! In our city, it looks like it’s a bit cheaper at $25 a week but requires an upfront $75 fee, but that’s way more money than we spend on name brand disposables. An under $40 box lasts us a bit longer than a month. Not that it matters to me if a person wants to cloth diaper and use a service, but the services around here sell it as a huge savings financially when it’s the the exact opposite.

          • Juana

            Although you might not exactly KNOW me (as I’m a long-time lurker), I do wash cloth diapers at home. Granted, I use them only part time, when I feel like it, but it’s some kind of easy gratification about it: no matter how dirty and smelly they are, I just have to stuff them into the machine, push the button, et voila!

          • Cartman36

            I’ve seen some say things like “well they shouldn’t have kids if they aren’t going to invest the time in” INSERT PERSONAL PREFERENCE HERE

          • guest

            i have this really crazy idea that all human being deserve to have families no matter what their income level, and that includes having children. Children are expensive because we’ve chosen to put the expense on families, but they are not a luxury product. They are not something that people should have to “do without” because they are poor (even though, yes, we should all have access to birth control that allows us to limit the children we want to have, and might base those decisions on economics – I might have a third if I was more financially stable).

          • Old Lady

            The main reason that children are expensive is that we’ve enacted laws to protect children that keep adding to the cost of raising a child. In the past people might have used drawers for the infant to sleep in, left the child alone at very young ages, had young children in charge of babies, let a toddler run around without diapers (of course in the past it wasn’t uncommon for grown ups to eliminate wherever either), swaddle babies to a board and hang them off the wall and you’d put the kids to work as soon as they were able. Now these things would get your kids taken away. You can’t even leave the hospital now without an expensive car seat.

          • Guest

            Right, but we’ve put the cost of these safety requirements (and that includes healthcare and education) more and more on the backs of parents. We don’t actually have to. We have just chosen to.

          • demodocus

            I’ve hand washed regular clothes in a bathtub with an old washboard mom found for 3 dollars somewhere after our washer broke and we couldn’t replace it. Did it for a year until Grandma go wind. Even if you’re a college student (on scholarship) during a vacation, that’s a hell of a lot of time and effort. Mom did it all the time for herself and my younger sibs, neither of whom were in diapers. The laundromat was just too expensive. Mind you, this was small town southern New England in 1996. I can barely imagine how much harder it’d be for the even poorer parent of infants.

          • corblimeybot

            You’re making me nostalgic for my grandma using her washboard when I was a kid.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *snarls viciously*
          We cloth diaper because yes, it *can* (in the right circumstances) save a good bit of money. It’s possible because I’m a SAHM, DH earns a good salary, and we own our own home with–drumroll, please–a functional washing machine in an area where water is ridiculously cheap. That is ENTIRELY different from a single mom who’s working God-knows-how-many jobs to try to make ends meet, is living in an urban apartment with no washer hookup, much less a washer, and has to walk across a dangerous area to get to a washing machine with her kids in the hour and a half she has off between her second and third job.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Not to mention that the ecological balance of cloth versus disposable depends on where you are. In a wet area, cloth wins. If you live in a desert, you’re better off, environmentally, using disposables. Especially if you would otherwise use a diaper service, which adds additional carbon costs to the mix.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Precisely. I live in what I not-so-lovingly refer to as a swamp. If I lived in, say, Arizona? I really doubt we’d be using cloth.

          • CSN0116

            A lot of laundromats will not allow cloth diapers in their machines.

            I head up the “Booty Movement” on my campus, where my students hold creative fundraisers to help sustain our local diaper pantry. Last year we hosted a party event and held a booty song dance-off (nothing but songs about butts). I got down to Sir Mix a Lot to raise money. Oh, yes. AND I was like 7 months pregnant at the time hehe.

            Diaper insecurity is a cause close to my heart 🙂 The burns and other injuries we see at the local Children’s Hospital from insufficient disposable diaper supply is devastating 🙁

          • tariqata

            We cloth diaper full time (practical for us for many of the reasons articulated by KeeperOfTheBooks), and my parents did for me and my sister too. They were hippie types and used a lot of attachment parenting practices before AP was a Thing, and they’re pretty passionate about the environment so I always assumed that was the reason, until my mom told me a few months ago about handwashing and boiling diapers on the stove to avoid using the apartment laundry room, and my dad described how their neighbour would try not to use more than two disposable diapers per kid per day. I can’t imagine having to choose between those two options.

            I work in social services and my unit provides clients with diapers on a kind of informal basis, but I know that I’ll suggest we do something like this when my mat leave ends.

          • CSN0116

            People where I live end up getting exploited at the local convenient stores where the shop owners illegally sell the diapers one at a time as “loosies”. When you’re broke 50 cents per diaper is more affordable than buying in bulk and technically cheaper …but it’s like $30 up front. They end up inadvertently paying an astronomical amount for diapers, piecemeal, and can only swing 2-3 loosies per day :/

          • Heidi

            I think a lot of these privileged people don’t even understand that saving money is a luxury. It’s no big deal to jump in our car and drive a few miles to our closest Aldi where the bus doesn’t go. My in-laws belong to Sam’s Club and get us a huge box of Pampers diapers every month or two, which in my experience absorb a lot more than the store brands. If there’s a good deal, we have the money to buy extra at the moment to save money in the future. When I’ve read up on cloth diapering, you are looking into a pretty big investment upfront.

          • CSN0116

            Yep.

          • demodocus

            Oh, lord, yes. Our nearest Sam’s Club is technically on a bus line, but it’s way out in suburbia and even my better off inner ring suburb, it takes at least 2 buses and as many hours to get to. It’ll be worse for those in the poorer areas. Fortunately, we are priviledged enough to get diapers in bulk from target most of the time.

          • Heidi

            I see so many people around here having to walk and cross dangerous highways with their infants to get to a bus stop, gas station or dollar store to buy staples. Even though we live in a dense part of our city and we have real grocery stores and an okay public transportation system, it’s very far from ideal.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Not to mention that the bigger sizes of things at Costco and Sam’s club are really hard to haul on public transit.

          • demodocus

            plus kid and stroller. Strollers must be folded up on the bus too

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            My experience–and mind, I bought all new, fairly high-end (Bum Genius) cloth diapers and wipes, so you can certainly cloth diaper for far cheaper than this–was that the initial investment in the diapers was a tad under $375. It was an investment that has paid for itself several times over. Since I’ve taken good care of them, I’d say the diapers will last us at least one and possibly two more kids. Again, though, we had the $375 to drop on those diapers, and many, many do not.

          • Heidi

            Same here with baby food. Frozen bags of conventional veggies are way cheaper than the pre-made stuff, but I already had a food processor, silicone mold and a decent-sized freezer. I currently use breast milk freezer bags to store it in since my dang boobs haven’t caught on that it’s all about supply and demand.

          • Kelly

            We really did not have that money but we do have family that can help us. One of the big things I learned from teaching is that while my husband and I did not have a lot of money, we had a lot of help through both sides of our families. Which is something a lot of those living in poverty don’t have. We got $400 dollars from my FIL to use for diapers and we used that towards cloth. Without the help of our parents, we would not be in the place that we are now.

          • Petticoat Philosopher

            That is unfortunately very common in poor, underserved neighborhoods without supermarkets. Happened a lot in parts of the city I grew up in too. Diaper deserts as well as food deserts…

          • Steph858

            I never knew that it was illegal to sell nappies as singles, but then I’ve never had any customers ask for nappies in any form other than as a pack – and my shop is in a poor area. The only product I knew there were laws against selling as singles was cigarettes, and that law’s more there to stop teens getting hooked on nicotine than it is to prevent smokers from being ‘exploited’. I also disagree with your use of the word ‘exploited’ – if someone DID want to buy a single nappy from me I would charge a little more than the ‘per piece’ rate of the packet. 50c isn’t extortionate; that’s about 35p. A pack of 15 nappies costs about £4, working out at about 25p each. So yes, you pay a little more to buy them as singles, but that’s the same with just about every product in existence; buying in bulk gets you discounts, buying singles costs a premium.

          • CSN0116

            The brand loosies sold here would factor out to about 15 cents a piece if bought as a whole package as intended – 50 cents is quite the markup, and when you’re already in violation for selling them as loosies in the first place …yeah that’s both consumer and corporation exploitation to me.

          • Steph858

            Fair enough – I was giving the price of the brand below Pampers/Huggies. Having done some googling, I’ve found out that Tesco’s own bog-standard nappies work out to 10p each (so about 15c). But I’d assumed that convenience stores wouldn’t have own brands like the big supermarkets do and would therefore be selling branded or, at cheapest, ‘Off-Branded’ (e.g. Easy washing powder vs. Bold/Surf/Persil etc). In my shop, for example, the cheapest nappies are Lifestyle which is my wholesaler’s own brand. The newborn size is £3 for 16, so 19p/27c each; bigger sizes are the same price per pack but the packs get smaller as the sizes get bigger. If the convenience stores where you are sell nappies working out at 15c each then I stand corrected.

            I still don’t understand why there are laws against selling single nappies (a least where you are – like I said, I’d never heard of any such laws). There’s clearly a market for them and all that those laws will do is make that market black, thus raising prices and making the poor parents even worse off. Without such laws, the going rate for a single nappy which works out at 15c when bought as part of a pack would be about 25c rather than 50c.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Understandably so, given the potential for passing along all sorts of interesting germs. Also, I suspect that someone in the sort of situation I described (ie, impoverished/bad neighborhood/multiple jobs/et all) wouldn’t want to drop the money or time for the number of times I wash a load of cloth diapers. Since DD started solids, my routine is two prewashes in straight cold water followed by an extra-heavy wash in hot water with detergent and two rinse cycles. For me? Not really an issue–I step into the laundry room, add soap (if needed), hit “start,” and go about my day. Yes, it technically takes almost 4 hours with my HE machine, but I’m only interacting with the washer for a minute or two. If I had to sit at a laundromat that whole time? Ha!
            I LOVE your description of the diaper pantry fundraiser! Made me giggle!
            And yeah, we hear a lot around here about parents reusing previously-wet disposables due to a lack of diaper supply. Diaper rashes can get out of control fast even with excellent resources. Without them…ugh. Poor babies.

          • CSN0116

            And babies with bad diaper rashes are more likely to cry inconsoably, increasing parental stress and making abuse more likely. It’s such a “hidden” humanitarian issue…

          • CharlotteB

            OMG. I’m privileged enough that I had NO clue it was even possible to re-use disposible diapers!!! You let them dry then re-wear?? Omg. OMG!!!!!

            Clearly the solution is cloth. Not ending poverty.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            “Possible” in the sense of “epically bad idea, but sometimes that’s all that’s available,” yes.

          • Dr Kitty

            If you want to wash Cloth diapers at home, it only make sense with a US style washing machine with short cycles. European style front loading machines typically have wash cycles which last 2hours.
            You’d also either need a dryer or a climate conducive to outdoor drying, otherwise your house would end up with clothes horses covered in drying nappies.

            I have a combo washer/dryer which is very good in terms of water and energy efficiency, but not quick if you want to use any cycle other than the 30minute “quick refresh” which is really for a single garment that you need in a hurry.

            We do six or seven loads of laundry a week as is (whites, lights, darks, sportswear, linens and towels, heavy soil, knits and delicates)) and I stick the kids’ cotton stuff in the dryer (3hrs per cycle) where possible, but I still have laundry drying in my spare room most days.

            Cloth nappies… Eff that noise.

          • Daleth

            My Miele (an actual European washer made in Germany) is a front loader that defaults to long cycles, but you can press a button to make any type of wash short. Depending on the type of wash and the water temperature you’ve selected, the short cycles are between about 32 and 46 minutes. Of course, considering all the poop in diapers, you would definitely need the hottest of hot cycles to not only kill the e-coli on the diapers but also keep it from colonizing your washing machine, so it would likely be a 46-ish minute long cycle.

          • Dr Kitty

            My mother cloth diapered, but my parents lived in a 19th century house with an honest-to-God linen room. This is a small room with your hot water tank, built in cupboards to hold your bed linen and towels and overhead drying lines to dry all your clothing, it is always warms. Most people convert them to showers or bathrooms nowadays.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Yep, that time factor certainly adds another dimension. I have a HE washer which, therefore, takes a bit longer than non-HE washers for a standard load (55 minutes/load vs 35ish), but that’s still a far shorter timeframe than what you describe.

          • CharlotteB

            That is amazing!

            Non-related side note, but Sir Mix-A-Lot lives near me, and I see him out and about on occasion. My one celebrity sighting…

          • CSN0116

            O.M.G. color me jealous!

          • Bombshellrisa

            When I was a teenager, his house (one of them at least) was five minutes away from my best friend’s house. At the time, nobody lived out there and we would drive by a million times (or beg her mom to drive us by) and hope to catch a glimpse. We never saw him. This was about the time that he did the song for the Seattle Supersonics, and my basketball loving self really wanted to meet him.

          • Chant de la Mer

            The diaper things wasn’t something I was even aware of until a few years ago when a blogger i follow did a series of posts about the issue and held a big fundraiser to donate diapers to a local charity. She was sponsored by huggies for the series and they matched her donations. Since then I’ve saved all my huggies points and used them to donate diapers through their program.

          • Roadstergal

            I admit I was only aware of it due to the Sam Bee segment, which was amazing.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNZwZA06oNs

          • MaineJen

            Samantha Bee is fantastic 🙂

        • Amy

          Like their food tips, when they’re angrily complaining about people using EBT cards to buy either junk food OR high-end items: “Beans and rice!!”

          I love beans and rice, but everyone deserves a little variety in their diets. Just because you use SNAP benefits doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to eat a few things you enjoy.

          • Heidi

            Besides that beans and rice, while not costly upfront, take hours to prepare. I hated beans as a kid and I still am not fond of them as the main meal. I also HATE baked beans.

          • Ariana Ramos

            unless you have a pressure cooker. But that costs money…

          • Roadstergal

            I love beans and rice, but yeah, the time required to make a meal from them is substantial. It’s a luxury for me to take the time to do it!

          • BeatriceC

            I’m a housewife. I have the time to make them, and we love them (mostly black beans…I’m from Miami…some Cuban culture got into my blood). But there’s that privilege we’re talking about.

          • Heidi

            The TN version of that is soup beans and I just absolutely hate it. It’s pinto beans and a big hunk of fatback. Besides de-rocking the beans and soaking them, it wasn’t too labor intensive, but it suffered greatly in the taste department. And of course, you’d still need be home since your stove would have to be on for a few hours.

          • sdsures

            Me too. We do not get along well. What we would save on beans, we’d spend more on toilet paper, to be blunt about it. :-/

          • BeatriceC

            I had temporary custody of one of my kids’ friends for a few mints last year. CPS gave me an EBT card because that’s what they do. When the kids had their moving up ceremony after finishing middle school, I used it to partially pay for the junk food I was buying for a party after the ceremony. Granted I could more than afford to pay for it with my own funds, but I had that and didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t, since it was for the party in that kid’s honor. I got some decidedly dirty looks and one very nasty comment.

          • Gatita

            I’m Puerto Rican. Rice and beans every day? Yep. It’s not actually that hard to do on a budget. But if you didn’t grow up eating that or know how to speed up the process (rice cooker and pressure cooker or slow cooker for the beans), is not something a mom will necessarily jump into easily.

          • Amy

            AND that means they have to go out and buy a rice cooker and pressure or slow cooker. And these are people who, after all, don’t have enough disposable income to cover their food needs.

            I, too, adore rice and beans. But as with breastfeeding, which I did past age three for each of my kids, my preferences shouldn’t dictate policy.

          • CharlotteB

            My favorite: use dry, not canned beans, you lazy poor person!

            The last few times I’ve tried to cook dry beans, they never softened because they were old. I got tired of wasting my money.

          • BeatriceC

            Soak them in warm (but not hot) salt water, changing the water every few hours, for about a day. I’ve rescued old beans a few time that way. I love beans but don’t like canned beans, and an elderly Cuban woman taught me all kinds of tricks with beans and rice that I can’t even express how thankful I am for.

          • BeatriceC

            Edit: If they’re really, really old, leave out the salt for the first 12 hours or so.

          • sdsures

            Soak them first for a bit?

          • guest

            If all the poor people started eating just beans and rice – and if they’re like me in their digestive habits – the next thing that would happen is people complaining about how poor people always smell like farts and use up all the toilet paper in the bathroom. I’d eat rice and beans every day if I had to, but, um…it has consequences.

          • sdsures

            Exactly.

        • CharlotteB

          And where are those women going to wash the old t-shirts? Many, if not most, apartments don’t have washers and dryers. So cloth diapering has to take the costs (time and money) of laundering them into consideration.

          • guest

            That’s why cloth diapering was out for me. I’m not poor, but my apartment building did not have washer/dryers in the units (or permit you to get them) and it didn’t have any anywhere else in the building. I did laundry by putting it in a cart and wheeling it to the laundromat .25 miles away. When there was a blizzard or something, laundry had to wait. When I had infant twins, I had to have a babysitter to do laundry (no partner). Even when I had help, when there was so much snow and ice on the ground and my son was spitting up 20+ times a day, I had to call a laundry service that picked up and delivered. That’s not cheap. And we washed baby things in the sink, but there was so much even without cloth diapers that you just couldn’t keep up.

        • Sarah

          Yeah, when I’ve been low income I’ve been wearing my old t-shirts. BECAUSE POOR.

          • sdsures

            I’ve appropriated a lot of my husband’s old t-shirts because 1) he has fibromyalgia and they pull painfully at his neck, and 2) They fit my J40s comfortably. I hate, HATE clothes shopping. Unless it’s in the sales section.

          • BeatriceC

            I’m not poor anymore (last months crisis not withstanding, but that has been resolved back to my normal tight budget), but you should see the sweatshirt I’m wearing now. It’s older than my 17 year old, the collar is mostly ripped off, the edges of the cuffs are frayed and the seam between the cuffs and the sleeves have several large holes. And I wear the damned thing nearly everyday.

          • Sarah

            Yes, well, it should be wrapped around a small child’s arse instead.

        • guest

          I had twins. I have never in my life had enough t-shirts to make that many diapers. And you’d also want some t-shirts to wear as, you know, adult torso coverings!

        • Phoenix Fourleaf

          Or what about the idea that we should stop using diapers and do “elimination communication”? I can’t even get my head around that one. But it is more simple and natural I guess.

          • Inmara

            For a while, I could have done it effectively (for solid matters only) because my baby had a very distinct facial expression when anticipating to poo. Now, at 10 months – not happening, at best I can hear a grunt when he’s already doing it, usually somewhere under the chair or in other unreachable place.

        • Angharad

          I have a friend on a Facebook campaign to “normalize cloth diapering”. She recently did a one-week T-shirt diapering challenge. The stated logic was that in an emergency situation where she couldn’t wash her regular cloth diapers, now she knows how to use t-shirts. I would rather just keep a pack of disposable diapers on hand for any times when washing is not an option, but who knows.
          Cloth diapers are adorable and if they work for you that’s great, but I would hesitate to say they’re working for you if you’ve replaced diapers with adult clothing.

          • Bombshellrisa

            So she keeps a stack of tshirts around for just in case? We do emergency prep and I just add disposables. If there is no water to wash things, you are going to be throwing away whatever you use anyway. Makes more sense to use a disposable.

          • Heidi

            Seems like t-shirts also wouldn’t make the best material. I’d think a stack of old towels or microfiber rags would work better than something that wasn’t meant to be absorbent. But then again, in an emergency, I can’t imagine I’d want soiled cloths in my house that couldn’t be washed. And if you went to an emergency shelter, no way would cloth diapering work.

          • BeatriceC

            I can think of a few extreme situations where knowing how to make do with clothing items might come in handy, and they are the same reasons why I think the fact that I know how to cook anything, including baked goods, on a bbq grill is a good thing. The situations I’m referring to are large scale disasers. My cousin had an infant in diapers at the time of hurricane Andrew. She did have diapers stockpiled, but the few that weren’t blown away were trashed by water and debris from the storm. It took over a week before emergency relief supplies to reach us. That was an awful week for her trying to care for her baby without supplies. I would imagine mothers in other disaster areas have had similar experiences. But those are extreme cases, and not an everyday situation.

          • FormerPhysicist

            To loop back, a babywearing friend posted a link about using a sling or mei tai for injured in emergency situations. I still had one in my backpack (because little like it and it rolled up real small, unlike a bjorn) when a kid sprained her ankle on a girl scout hike. I have to admit, it was handy to have the extra support and security compared to just a piggy-back. Less slipping!

          • Bombshellrisa

            OMG I do that too, the only things I buy for emergency prep are things I know can be made on a BBQ or with a Sterno heated something. We have lots of windstorms and power outs here, so I have learned through trial and error.

          • Wait…what happened to the T-shirts when the week was up? Please tell me they didn’t go back in the dresser drawer to be worn.

        • Heidi

          I wear my old t-shirts. Between breast milk dripping on them, spilling coffee on myself, baby drooling on me, I don’t really want to wear my nice shirts around the house!

      • Heidi

        That’s all? Wow! OT but kind of relevant, I was watching a doc on PBS the other day about a Vietnamese refugee in the 70s. Her cousin had a baby on the boat and they were all starving. The baby died because her breasts quit making milk because STARVING. Made me think of a certain LC who said 7 women (out of probably 100s or 1000s) managed to lactate in horrid conditions and no extra food was needed to make milk. Surely this lady could have drank her own breast milk to make breast milk, right?

      • Mel

        That reminded me of an (inadvertently) hilarious article in my college’s newspaper. A sponsored group of student nurses who were nearly done training for RN had gone to Nigeria for a month of supervised clinical work in a developing nation. (Sounded OK to me…) While there, they learned how to use back slings made out of lengths and wanted to bring that technology back to the US to drive home the idea of mutual helping rather than white saviors visiting Nigeria (Seemed a tad trite to me, but at least cultures were being respected….). They were going to use this information by teaching baby carrying techniques to recent immigrants from Central America really close to the school I was teaching at! Isn’t that awesome! (That was the point I laughed so hard that I sprayed Diet Squirt through my nose….) Based on my experience of watching moms pick up their children at a nearby elementary school, recent immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala were very, very good at making infant slings out of cloth already.

        Hell, my plan for learning how to carry a baby in a sling in the future was going to be to show up at that school at dismissal time with the baby and a few yards of woven cloth -looking confused – and asking “Ayudame, por favor” while holding out both until someone took pity on me and showed me how to make a baby sling….

        • AirPlant

          I would pay real money to watch some white lady try to teach a recent immigrant about babywearing. Like I would even bring snacks.

          • Charybdis

            Ooh, can we make a day of it? Maybe go get pedicures afterwards?

          • sdsures

            Massages, too?

          • AirPlant

            Yaas Gaga

          • Mel

            Oh my God, yes. I would also bring a discreet audio recorder and get someone to translate the comments made by the recent immigrants during the lesson because I suspect that would also be comedic gold.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Oh, if you spend any time on a baby wearing forum/group, you’ll periodically see someone post a picture of an African woman wearing her baby in a strip of cloth tied in a totally uncomplicated manner on her back. The poster will accompany the photo with gasping noises about how this mom is Doing It Wrong.
          The point, I think they miss it…

        • Dr Kitty

          Oh dear.
          “We don’t want to be condescending white people… So we’re going to show Central American immigrants who already baby wear, how they can better do it by copying African women”. Did no one think it through?

          In my experience, recent African immigrants are only too happy to swap carrying their babies on their backs for a stroller when given the opportunity. Their baby wearing is done out of necessity, not because they think it is inherently a better way of transporting an infant from A to B, and if they think a stroller will be more convenient and easier, and they can buy and use a stroller, then that is what they’ll do and they won’t think twice about it.

          I know one white “mama” who has so many ring slings she can co-ordinate them with her outfits. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her with the same one twice.

        • Allie P

          I live in a community with a high immigrant population, and I am into my sling (stairs in my neighborhood make strollers a total PITA), and I totally sneak peeks at the immigrants and their cloth carrying techniques to figure it out.

    • BeatriceC

      I do have one hippie friend whom I have a lot of respect for. She bought a small (about 900 square feet) house with a decent sized yard within a short walk (about one block) of a transit station for our city’s public transportation system. She doesn’t own a car and takes the trolley/bus everywhere. Her “decent sized yard” has no grass, and is full of edible plants. She tries to buy as little as possible, making use of free offers on craigslist and freecycle, and repairs absolutely everything she can (she’s the only person I know who still darns socks when they wear out). She captures water from the tap as she’s waiting for it to get hot in all her skinks and shower and uses that to water her garden. In short, she does everything possible to reduce her impact on the world around her. She truly lives out her beliefs. Her kids are grown, so I have no idea what she was like when her kids were babies, but these days anyway, she the one hippie I know who’s not a complete hypocrite.

      • Charybdis

        OT: THERE you are! I was getting concerned. Have things settled down a bit for you? Wedding go okay? OK and MK hanging in there?

        Slightly OT: hearing about your hippy friend puts me in mind of the Extreme Cheapskates show. People who buy two-ply toilet paper, then separate it into 2 rolls of 1 ply toilet paper. Those who do not use toilet paper at all, they use rags (old t-shirts, washcloths, etc) and wash and reuse them. The people who pee in jars and only flush the toilet something like once per day. Who does that type of stuff?

        • BeatriceC

          I’m around, just busy. And my friend is a hippie, but she’s not *that* bad. She does use 2-ply TP as intended (she tried 1-ply when it was still made and found she used more than twice as much, so it was more economically and environmentally friendly to use the 2-ply) and doesn’t go to any extremes like those extreme cheapskates do. She tries to make reasonable decisions (hence her decision to buy a house right on a trolley line a block a way from a station) that also had a good sized yard good for growing things. In her view there’s a balance. You can get so “cheap” that you wind up spending more money and be so “eco-friendly” that you wind up doing more harm than good. Her goal is to find that balance.

          • Charybdis

            I didn’t mean to imply that she was like the cheapskates; there just is an overlap (for different reasons) in some of the practices.

            Kind of like the differences between those who cloth diaper and babywear because it works for them and their families; they would probably do it even if it wasn’t trendy as opposed to those who do it loudly and conspicuously to show how *whatever* (hip, trendy ecologically concerned, crunchy, etc) they are to the public in general.

        • sdsures

          At the South Pole, because of how much energy it takes to make water, people only flush the toilets when necessary. People are permitted two two-minute showers a week. Nobody can smell you under all the cold-weather gear, and nobody cares anyway.

      • demodocus

        I darn socks, but since it takes me hours and hours to make them, this is only sensible.

      • baileylamb

        Yea you just described my family, except we don’t do woo.

        • BeatriceC

          My friend isn’t too prone to woo, just being a good steward of her environment. She does have a little woo in her, but harmless stuff, and she fully supports medical science. She’s a pretty awesome person.

    • sdsures

      Sweetie, they’re not called blenders anymore – they’re JUICERS! *sarcasm* *grin*

      • Heidi

        Heh, I was specifically thinking about a Vitamix. I’m sure you need a juicer, too, for your detoxes.

    • sdsures

      I remember seeing a stroller with a cup-holder built into it. If it is for the parent to have coffee or tea, WTF happens if the kid grabs it and gets burned?? (It is within kiddo’s easy reach!)

      • AA

        Are you being sarcastic or no?

        • sdsures

          Not if it contains hot liquid, no.

      • demodocus

        All the bigger strollers I’ve seen have cupholders, including both the ones I own. For your bpa free water bottle, of course. I *do* carry tea in mine, but i ensure it’s not hot enough to scald when I put it in there.

        • sdsures

          Still scares me.

          • demodocus

            The reason why I drink lukewarm tea most of the time. *sniff* I did get a good hot one post-partum while little miss was with the nurses.

          • TownTart

            You scare those who can think clearly, honey.

  • moto_librarian

    Yup. So many crunchy trends are just newly repackaged fetishizations of the exotic “other.” I know a lot of women that buy into this rhetoric, patting themselves on the back for outsmarting doctors with their “other ways of knowing,” completely oblivious to the fact that their smug assertions are dripping with racism and classism.

  • Jennifer

    Going all “natural” is easy when you have modern medicine to fall back on, a luxury most women in the developing world would kill for. The problem is these crunchy people are so privileged they are sheltered from the terrible effects of nature most went through /still go through now on a daily basis. The reality is nature doesn’t care about human survival or comfort so it is ridiculous to hold it up as the highest standard. I’ll take the scientific method even with all its flaws.

    • Kathleen

      I am so stealing your first line. I grant you, it’s not always helpful to do some kind of pithy statement like that, but sometimes I just want to have a zinger ready. “Going all natural is easy when you have modern medicine to fall back on…” Okay, maybe I’ll just think it and try to stay diplomatic.

    • lilin

      “The reality is nature doesn’t care about human survival or comfort so it is ridiculous to hold it up as the highest standard.”

      This! I find it so funny that somehow all-natural people think that nature somehow prefers their child to a billion chicken pox viruses.

      • AirPlant

        I find it ridiculous when people say the childhood diseases have a “purpose.”
        .
        The purpose of a disease is to propagate the microorganisms that cause it. Viruses do not exist for our pleasure.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          They do. That purpose is to propagate the DNA or RNA in the virus. Their purpose is not, in the least little bit, to help humanity.

        • Erin

          Maybe there is a market in children’s books about “Molly Measles” and “Matthew Mumps” just waiting to be tapped. We have one about a helpful Highland Midge so anything is possible.

          • MI Dawn

            What? You’ve never heard of Melanie’s Marvellous Measles?

          • Erin

            No, the word clearly hasn’t spread to this part of Scotland (maybe we’re too backward). Whilst I know a lot of semi “crunchy” types, breastfeeding to 3 and over, pushing vbacs/natural birth all the way, babywearing, baby led weaning etc, everyone is surprisingly on the same page here with vaccinations. In fact after we got our son privately vaccinated for chicken pox after a discussion with my Father’s oncologist, at least 4 of our friends made the same decision for their children.

            Had a look on Amazon and that book sounds “amazing”. Why am I not surprised that it was self published.

          • Amazed

            Go to the five-star reviews. They’re hillarious. All kind of suggestions for a sequel – Simon’s Smashing Smallpox, Paul’s Prideful Polio, Dolly’s Darling Diphteria and son on. Oh, and here and there people writing to thank her for boosting their business so greatly. What do they do, you might ask? Why, they sell tiny white coffins.

        • Sarah

          Mmm, they have a purpose alright. Just not the one the crunchies think!

    • Irène Delse

      Exactly: they have the privilege of being able to turn to modern medicine in case something her wrong. And they don’t ever credit medicine.

    • Kelly

      Yes. A woman I know just had her baby at home and then had to go the hospital for a hemorrhage. I don’t get it. Just go completely natural and die a natural death.

      • MaineJen

        Stories like this piss me off to an unreasonable degree. So the hospital is good enough for you, but not for your baby? ‘Kay, got it.

        • Kelly

          I know. I guess the hospital is only fine when the baby is out.

  • CSN0116

    Nearly all natural parenting practices in the US are the wealthy, White woman’s attempt at publicly glamorizing and capitalizing on the unfortunate and disenfranchised FORCED existence of poor women in developing nations. An existence that they would happily opt out of any day.

    It’s mockery. It’s gross.