An Exercise in being Mindful and Letting go

When I last wrote about Elimination Communication or EC for short, my goal was to explain and educate about the practice of EC to those around me (you can read about it here).   Now I want to focus on where we are in our journey with EC.


In the last couple of months, baby M has been busy working on many new skills simultaneously.  Some of these skills or milestones include: learning to walk, showing more interest in solids (therefore eating more solid food) and getting his molars.  As I mentioned in my earlier post about EC, when a baby is working on a milestone, it often affects EC through more misses or a partial/full potty strike.  However, once the milestone has been reached, things usually resume as before or sometimes even with more progress made i.e. no misses.

Since I last wrote about EC, our practice of it had been going rather well and I was confident that baby M could be completely diaper free by his first birthday.  Then, round two of teething began.  We went from having hardly any misses to a lot more wet and soiled diapers.  It began with me mixing up his cues.  At the same time, he was also busy exploring and disliked being taken suddenly from his play to use the potty, even if he had to go. He let me know that he did not want to be interrupted during his playtime by going on a partial potty strike.  Only then did I realize that I needed to be more mindful in this area, and not interrupt him when he was clearly focused on exploring or playing.

During this time, I verbally cued him when I knew he was going, then changed his diaper promptly after the fact.  Within a couple of days of mostly verbal cueing (instead of whisking him off to the potty), he let me know that he was ready to use his potty again. Even though he was still teething, baby M began to have less misses after this point.  During his potty strike however, I almost lost hope that all of my hard work and attention was somehow in vain, even though I knew both intuitively and intellectually that the so-called challenges were merely due to his growth and teething.  I also had to remind myself that being in tune with baby M far outweighed anything else.

Since reaching his milestone of walking, and finally cutting his last molar, many of the challenges seemed to have abated and a sense of routine has re-emerged in our overall life. Our EC is at the point where baby M let’s me know most of the time when he needs to go.  Sometimes when he is really busy playing I will offer him a pee break, but the difference is I ask him if he needs to go and when I take him to the toilet I say “Pee first, then play.”   Verbalizing what we are doing does make a difference.  Also, distracting him with a toy or book for when he needs to sit a bit longer helps too.

The thing about EC is that it really is about the relationship and communication between you and your baby, one of respect and trust.  EC is worth the effort and if I am ever blessed to have another baby, I will most certainly start EC at the very beginning.  Until then, I will continue to enjoy the journey that we are currently on.       underwear2

* And here is baby M at 8 months wearing little underwear that I purchased through Tadpoles and Butterflies.  I highly, HIGHLY recommend this company.  Not only does Tadpoles and Butterflies share many of my parenting philosophies, they also carry all the essentials that any natural parent would need.


Switching to Cloth

Recently I was listening to a podcast interview with the founder of Lunapads, Madeleine Shaw (you can listen to the interview here), and discovered that many mothers who use cloth diapers also switch to cloth menstrual pads. Apparently, I am not the only mother to make this connection.

Some of you may know from reading my blog that I use cloth diapers for my baby as a back up for EC (elimination communication).  It was this use of cloth diapers that started me thinking about other items in my life that were disposable, but need not be.  I was familiar with Lunapads, but never really gave it a second thought, that is until after giving birth.

Initially after the birth of my son, I used the disposable pads and mesh panties (not very environmentally friendly) found in my home birth kit for my lochia (flow of blood after birth). While every postpartum women experiences lochia, the fact is that no matter how short and light it is, the use of disposable pads, yes even “natural” disposable pads, are just plain uncomfortable.

Then around the time that my son was two months old, a shift in my thinking happened. My lochia had long since subsided, but somehow I found myself looking at various products for the postpartum women. During this research,  I came across cloth pads, particularly Lunapads in the form of the postpartum kit. If only I had used these instead of disposable pads!

I knew at that point I had found my answer to not using disposable pads anymore. However, since I am breastfeeding my child, my period had not yet returned at this time. Instead, I sent a sample of Lunapads to each of my sisters as a test run.  One of my sisters who had not yet considered using cloth pads, tried them out and found them to be incredibly comfortable. In fact, she excitedly called me on the telephone to report that Lunapads were indeed the most comfortable pads she had ever worn and was also thinking about switching. If I needed any confirmation, this was it!

The use of cloth pads for me is more than just about being comfortable, it is about the connection between my period and my body’s ability to grow and sustain life as well as give birth.  In essence, I see using cloth pads as a way to reclaim and honor certain aspects of my womanhood that are directly linked to my menstrual cycle.

Now that my period has returned, I am excited about using my cloth pads from the Lunapad’s starter kit. More importantly though, I seem to have arrived at a place where I now view my cycle as positive event, and that is something worth noting if not celebrating!

Our Journey into Natural Infant Hygiene

potty2Recently, a lot of people have been asking me about elimination communication or EC, here is my journey so far. I first became aware of EC shortly after my baby was born. I was talking on the phone with my older sister when the subject of my baby’s bowel movements came up. If you are a mother, then you understand that this is a standard topic of conversation, and if you are not a mother, then bear with me.  Since this is my first baby, I wanted to know if his grunting before a bowel movement was normal.  My sister took this opportunity to tell me about EC, and explained that when a baby is about to pee or poo they often signal by grunting or squirming, this signalling is their way of communicating. Each baby has a unique way of showing that they need to eliminate their waste and it starts as soon as they are born. By reading your baby’s cues, you are able to attend to his* hygiene needs by helping him eliminate in a designated spot like a potty or toilet instead of his diaper.  The goal of EC is not to potty train, but rather another way of meeting your baby’s needs. In essence the focus is on the relationship, and the communication, hence the name elimination communication.

I started EC with my son when he was about seven weeks old, I began by cueing him when he was going pee or poo by saying psss for pee or hmm for poo. I would also cue him when I changed his diaper.  Through my research on the subject I found some excellent resources on EC. Next, I made the switch to cloth diapers and began holding him in a position similar to the one seen in the picture above, only with his back resting against my stomach; to my amazement it helped him go.  Just before he turned three months old, I read Ingrid Bauer’s book on EC entitled Diaper Free and decided to practice EC full-time. For a about a week I held him over the tub to do his business before purchasing a Baby Bjorn potty. I should also note at this time, that a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water is invaluable for cleaning up misses as it helps neutralize the smell of pee.

At home, the practice of EC is fairly easy as the potty and the toilet are accessible however, practising EC outside the home does take some planning.  For example, before we leave the house, I offer an opportunity to use the potty and do the same once we arrive at our destination. When we go to a friend or family member’s house I try to bring his potty, otherwise I hold him over their toilet. I also time our walks so that he has just used the potty, which is usually in the afternoon as babies tend to pee a little less than in the morning. Since I wear my baby when we go walking, grocery shopping or doing chores I find that it is easy to keep in tune with his needs.   Although he is not completely diaper free (I use diapers as a back up), I plan on replacing his diapers for little underwear especially when I wear him.

Practising EC can be difficult at times as there are days when I seem to miss all his cues and we have a lot of wet diapers and the occasional soiled one too. These are usually days when I am preoccupied or busy with more than usual or he has reached a developmental milestone such as sitting or crawling. If this is the case, I simply cue him when I notice he is wetting his diaper or keep him close to me by either wearing or carrying him. I do this in order to take the pressure off of  him and me because EC should not be a stressful thing. Then there is teething, which is particularly challenging and exhausting as it causes him to breastfeed all night long, which means if he is not waking to feed, then he is waking to pee.   With that said, the benefits of being more in tune with my baby, having less soiled diapers, and minimum to no diaper rash far outweigh the so called challenges. If you are like me, then you will soon find that EC becomes part of a daily rhythm where you intuitively sense your baby’s needs. In other words, less guesswork and more ‘knowing.’

Now that we are almost at the nine month mark, I find EC to be easier than ever as my baby lets me know when he needs to use the potty by changing the tone of his voice. So, if you are looking for an alternative to potty training, or simply wanting to understand your baby better, or live a more sustainable life then I highly recommend EC.

*I use the third person masculine in reference to my baby boy.