Dec 20, 2008

Interview: Crystal teaches natural birth

Next person to be interviewed in our Living Naturally in Louisiana series is Crystal Garcia, 22 Ruston, LA. She is a natural birth instructor, mom, photographer and Tech graduate from Child Development.

Sirpa: Crystal, how did you become interested in the natural child birth?

Crystal: I first became interested in natural childbirth a couple years ago, while I was working on my degree in Child Development. It came up in my Infant Development class and I knew two of my professors that gave birth naturally and spoke highly of it. Soon after that my husband and I became pregnant with our first child I began looking into different methods of natural childbirth and felt that The Bradley Method was the best fit for us because it was focused on husband coaching, relaxation, healthy eating and preparation.

When my husband and I started the classes he did not really want to go and felt uneasy about even being in the room when our son was born. At the end of the class series he was confident and calm about the birth process. He was amazing during my labor and knew what was going on with my body. We grew so much closer through our birth experience and I wanted my friends, family and everyone to have that same experience that takes away fear and replaces it with education and empowerment. That is why I decided to become a Bradley teacher.

Sirpa: So your children were born naturally? How was it? Didn't it hurt?

Crystal: Haha, yes, both my children were born naturally. Josiah was born in August of 2007, he came 10 days past my due date and after around 32 hours of labor, 12 of which were at the hospital. His birth was difficult because I saw the on call doctor who was not in agreement with my plans to deliver naturally. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver within a certain time frame and constantly gave me exams and pressured me to get an epidural. Autumn was born last month and came only a day past her due date and her birth was so much better. I still labored over 24 hours, but was only at the hospital for 2 and a half hours before she was born. This time I knew both my nurses and my Doctor and I had a birth plan in my chart so that I knew we were all on the same page. My birth team was very supportive and wonderful.

It did hurt, but the pain was manageable and by the time you think you may not be able to withstand the pressure it is almost over. Surprisingly to most people the most painful part of labor is pushing the baby out, and it is actually a time of renewed energy for most women!

Sirpa: Tell me about the Bradley method!

Crystal: The Bradley Method is a method of husband coached childbirth that emphasizes relaxation, preparation, healthy eating and physical activity. The class series is very extensive. It is usually 12 weeks long and covers all three stages of labor, coaching, nutrition, pregnancy exercises, birth plans, c-sections, newborn procedures, post-partumn, breastfeeding, emergency childborth (like what to do if your child is born in the car), choosing your birth team and more.

Like I said the classes are geared towards couples planning on having a natural birth but many couples take the classes when they think they may try natural or just to prepare in case it is not possible to get an epidural and to be informed patients.

Sirpa: What are the benefits of having your baby naturally (or with the Bradley method)?

Crystal: There are so many and they vary with each birth and woman. With interventions there is something known as the domino effect where one intervention leads to another and another. For instance, when a woman gets an epidural it often slows her labor so she needs Pitocin to make her contractions harder, which may put the baby at distress, which may lead to an emergency cesarean. When you labor naturaly you are at less risk of complications and the need for a cesarean.

Women how give birth naturally always have less problems establishing breastfeeding. Babies who get drugs via their mother's epidurals have shown decreased suckling reflexes up to the third month of life in one study.

For me my favorite part is that I stay in the comfort of my home with my husband at my side comforting me in any way I need. Then when the baby is born I breastfeed her and walk out of the room to my postpartum room, where I shower and have a meal. The recovery is just amazing with a natural birth and the feeling of empowerment as a new parents was amazing.

Sirpa: That sounds great. You must be concerned about how medicalized the birth has become these days?

I am because I know how beautiful and intimate birth can be for a woman and for a family. I also know that many of the "necessary c-sections" that put women and babies at risk are caused my interventions and women who didn't have the information they needed to make the right choices.

Sirpa: How could the situation be improved?

Crystal: One of the biggest ways for things to improve is for women to become informed consumers of obstetric services. This means that you should interview your OB before choosing one. Also avoid inductions unless medically necessary. Women are at a much higher rate of cesarean when they go in for inductions, and I feel like if more women knew this thety would avoid it. You must understand that birth is a business and if lots of women changed doctors and hospitals to find mother friendly maternity care, eventually things would change.

And lastly, go to The Birth Survey website fill out the information regarding your birth experience and join the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care in making information about providers and birth places available to women everywhere so that they can make informed choices. There is also an organization called The Birth Network that just opened a chapter in the Bossier area that people can get involved with to support birthing options locally.

Sirpa: What can parents interested in natural child birth do to prepare for their birth in Louisiana?

Crystal: Take a QUALITY birthing preparation class. Not a short class that gives you a hospital tour and shows a video, but a good informative class that will really make you prepared. There is a Bradley teacher in Shreveport, I teach in Ruston, and there is a new teacher that just started teaching in Monroe. If you are interested there also doulas around our area. Get a good physician. If you are in the southern part of the start you also have the option of using midwives in a birth center or at home. Look into all your options and do not settle for a practitioner who is nice that your coworker sees.

Sirpa: What kind of response have you received from your students so far?

Crystal: Well I have taught three 12 weeks class series so far and the response has been great. 80% of the couples from my classes who have given birth vaginally did so without pain medications and all students reported having learned so much from the classes. Most tell their friends what a great class it is whther or not your plan to give birth naturally. I have had the priviledge to attend some of the births, and they were all beautiful and even got to I photograph a couple of them. That is the great part about attending a Bradley birth; I can be there for support and to give the coach a break if he needs one, but mostly I watch the couple do what they were trained to do, which is work together to give birth to their babies. In the process I have captured some beautiful moments.

Sirpa: I had a possibly unnecessary c-section with my baby. What if you have already had a c-section, can you have another one naturally with the Bradley method?

Crystal: Ah yes! That would be called a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and yes you can. I actually have had one couple in my classes planning a VBAC and on of my previous students is pregnant with her second planning a VBAC as well. The Bradley Method classes can help you find the right practitioner and birth place for you special circumstances, teach you poses and pregnancy exercises to help your baby get into the optimal birthing position and all of the other natural techiniques for labor.

Sirpa: So when will you teach your next class series now that your baby has arrived?

Crystal: My next class series starts the first week in January and I take only 5 or 6 couples per class so that everyone gets the individual attention they need. You can visit my website for more information on my classes and for my contact info!

If you know someone who you think should be interviewed for this series (or if you think YOU should be!), send e-mail to livingnaturallyinla @

Dec 18, 2008

Make your own dish washing detergent

I told you earlier about a natural dish washing detergent recipe that you could use also in the automatic dish washers. I tried it today in our dishwasher and it worked great. I think even better than my store bought earth friendly detergent. The recipe is here) if you want to try it.

Dec 16, 2008

More in Ruston Daily Leader

Monica wrote another interesting column about veganism where she mentions our group too again. Read it online from here. Last time she mentioned the Living Naturally in Louisiana group, we got some new members and new readers to the blog. Thanks Monica! Read the previous posting and column from here.

I need to add one thing though. As Monica says, you can get the protein, minerals and vitamins you need from vegetarian food too. But in a vegan diet there is one thing you can't get from just vegetables and that is vitamin B12. Vegan needs to supplement that. (Ovo-)lacto-vegetarian gets it from (eggs and) dairy. Check this link from Vegetarian Society, it says "However, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans and so these foods should not be relied upon as safe sources":

And just to be clear, the Living Naturally group is not a vegetarian group. All vegetarians and non-vegetarians interested in living a more natural life in Louisiana are welcome!

Dec 11, 2008

More about the I am not a Dirty Hippie -party

My new friend Monica wrote about the recent I am not a dirty hippie party in her blog too. The previous posting I wrote about it is here.

Dec 8, 2008

Two months without shampoo!

Oh, people keep asking me if I am still on no 'poo (no shampoo). Yes I am. I have been shampoo free for two months now. I am still washing my hair, only not with shampoo but with baking soda and apple vinegar rinse a couple of times a week and sometimes with plain water in between. After a short adjustment period I didn't have to wash so often, my hair got used to the more infrequent washing. And the BC/ACV wash doesn't have any suspicious, possibly cancer causing ingredients that some shampoos have. My hair looks nice, it is soft and shiny and the best part: my itchy scalp is gone. I could go to a no 'poo commercial. I will add a photo soon.

Look also my previous postings about the experiment from here.

Living Naturally group in Ruston Daily Leader

Our group and blog is mentioned in a column by Monica Crowe in the Ruston Daily Leader today. The column, Is 'vegan' a dirty word? is really good so check it out from your copy or online

"To find a support group of vegan, vegetarian, health- and earth-conscious individuals, visit the Living Naturally in North Louisiana Web site at Also check out the Living Naturally group blog at"

By the way, Monica makes beautiful jewelery, check out her blog.

Dec 7, 2008

The natural christmas tree


I decorated our Christmas tree with mainly natural stuff like in the old days. In the old days they used to decorate the Christmas tree with edible stuff and eat all of it when the Christmas was over. I used organic apples, pine cones from the park, gingerbread and a couple of fair trade ornaments from the Serrv web store. I wanted to get fair trade ornaments but they are expensive so I decided to buy a couple each year and slowly build up my collection in addition some home made ornaments.

I wanted to decorate the tree with newspaper strips like they did in one of my favorite books, The Salvage Sisters' Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic. I tried it but didn't get it to look good. I am still going to make the newspaper wreath from the same book.

I guess the most environmental friendly Christmas tree would be one that you plant later. My husband said he would not dig the hole but I wanted a tree so we got a cut spruce tree. I love it. I love the smell of it. I have never had a plastic tree and I can't imagine having one. I am rather without. Last year we decorated our biggest house plants since we spent the Christmas abroad.

The only problem with the edible ornaments is that it is hard for my little son to keep away from them, he is eating straight from the tree and I have to add more ornaments. But that is fine. I have more apples and tomorrow we will bake more ginger bread.

After one rainy day we had it was so humid that all the ginger bread fell from the tree! They just fell down! I can't believe it. If anyone has good hints about how to harden them against the humidity, let me know.

Dec 5, 2008

Story of stuff

A reader of our blog shared this incredible video about the stuff we use. It is great, watch it.

About the person who made this video:
Annie Leonard is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, with more than 20 years of experience investigating factories and dumps around the world. Coordinator of the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, a funder collaborative working for a sustainable and just world, Annie communicates worldwide about the impact of consumerism and materialism on global economies and international health.

Ear infections and P.E. tubes

Hi everyone,

Sirpa has already posted lots of helpful information. She has also sent me a great link about ear infections in children that I would like to share.

Unfortunately, our son Dominic, 20 months, has an otitis media in both ears again. I think it is maybe his 8th infection. When he was one week old, he already suffered from an ear infection that was treated with antibiotics. The ENT who saw Dominic yesterday, suggested we should think about inserting P.E tubes as his ear infections are hard to get rid off - we had to try several different antibiotics. I am hesitantant to agree to the procedure but I also don't want him to take antibiotics all the time...

I would appreciate your comments about the placement of P.E. tubes, especially if you or your children have first hand experience with reocurring ear infections and will search the internet for more information during the next days.

Dec 4, 2008

Green dishwasher detergent recipe

I just found this from Green Living Tips. You can use it for hand washing or automatic dish washers. Haven't tried it yet because I have still some Seventh Generation detergent left but I will when it is finished.

Dishwasher detergent


2 cups liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil
1/2 cup white vinegar