On natural parenting and the COVID vaccine: Holistic. Yes. Natural. Yes. Intentional. Yes. Vaccinated. Yes.
I’m into “natural parenting,” and my kid got a Covid-19 shot this week. Hear me out!
My ‘crunchy mama’ credentials are pretty undeniable.
- Not only did I intentionally birth my child in my living room; I ate the placenta.
- Not only did I never own a stroller, I wore my kid on my back until she was 4.
- Not only do I put organic kale chips in my kid’s lunch, my kid has been vegan her entire life.
- Not only did I nurse my kiddo on-demand, I fed her other women’s breast milk (long story).
So I cringe when I see lists like 20 Signs You’re a Crunchy Mama that attempt to define natural parenting as naturally anti-vax. “Your children aren’t vaccinated and never will be,” that list reads.
And maybe you, dear reader, have accepted the anti-vax identity yourself. But I know you, like me, like to question things. So let’s do some questioning.
The modern debate about whether to vaccinate kids often characterizes the choice as between two sides: “Natural Parenting” and “Trusting Big Pharma.” But the truth is, holistic parenting can include supporting our natural immune systems by gently teaching our immune systems about the world they may encounter; that’s what vaccines do.
To be clear, no, I don’t trust Big Pharma. But I also don’t trust random crunchy mama memes I see on Facebook. I get my health advice from sources I do trust: the doctors, naturopaths and midwives I know; the New York Times’ science reporting; my county health department; the ACIP (a group of medical and public health experts that develops recommendations on how to use vaccines to control diseases in the United States).
And all the sources I trust continue to tell me the same thing: vaccination is safe, effective and well-tested.
My naturally parented 7-year-old has received all her recommended childhood vaccinations and her annual flu shot. Saturday, she happily got her first dose of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. I could attribute the ease with which she approaches vaccination to the groundwork I laid through attachment parenting. But honestly, she’s just a chill kid.
My kid had no side effects from the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. Her arm didn’t even hurt afterwards (she said it hurt a little in the moment when they actually did the shot).
She felt great all day after her shot and just wanted to jump on the trampoline, draw and tell stories all day. At bedtime (nine hours after her shot), she seemed extra-tired and on the verge of weepiness, but I don’t know if that was related to the shot, or just regular bedtime tiredness after a lovely, full day together.
She got a great night’s sleep and woke up feeling well-rested and 100%! I rested well too, knowing my kid was on her way to immunity, boosting her own wellness while protecting others.
Will your kid have as easy a time of it? Maybe you’ve got a homemade natural remedy you love to soothe your child with. Go ahead! Choosing to vaccinate your kid doesn’t mean throwing out all the other stuff you do. You can do it all!
What if your kid has some minor vaccine side effects, like a sore arm or fatigue? If so, dear parent, you can guide them through it with rest, snuggles and letting them know it’s just their powerful immune system learning and growing stronger.
And what could be more natural than that?
p.s. Some of my friends are telling me crunchy mama isn’t their favorite way to identify. What words would you use to discuss being into natural parenting? Earthy? Earth mama? Hippie parent? Holistic?
This post was originally published on darcyreeder.medium.com.
Editor’s note: Publication of an opinion piece does not mean Seattle’s Child or its staff endorses the views of the author.