Sunday, February 20, 2011

Are Crunchy Latinas really that rare?

You know it never really dawned on me... I was looking at the blacktating blog and then I realized.. I wonder if there's a chichi blog... (Latino slang for breasts) like an equivalent of a blacktating blog for Latinas.

Though I was born here, I grew up in Mexico.. Tijuana to be exact.. My mom worked at a local IMSS clinic, sometimes I would get to spend the day there if I had no school, I would hang out with the "parteras rurales" rural midwives.. they were paid by IMSS to help deliver babies in rural areas of Tijuana, we even had an emergency birth at the clinic once too!  The clinic was not equipped for a birth but the nearest IMSS hospital in those days was 30 minutes away but realistically with the traffic.. 45 minutes to an hour.. I will never forget that day.. it was a February 2nd, They appropriately named that baby Candelaria.

I used to sit with them while they showed expectant moms this new high tech video for its time where you could make choices, kind of like those books where you go to a certain page if you make a certain choice and the outcome of the story was different each time. You would push a button for the character in a novela to start breastfeeding and push another button to have her switch to formula or to keep breastfeeding.. I saw all variations of this novela. The breastfed family was well rested , happy and healthier while the formula fed baby was cranky and the mom was sleep deprived from washing bottles int he middle of the night and mixing and heating formula until it reached the right temperature.

I guess the exposure to birth and breastfeeding got engraved in me.. I often wonder what the would think of me if they knew I am a breastfeeding, baby wearing in my rebozo, home birthing mother. They'd probably say I'm a dying breed.

C-section rates are up 50% in Mexico,  1 in 2 babies are born via c-section and I was informed the rate is higher for private practices.

I do not know what the percentages of breastfeeding are in Mexico all I can say is aside from the videos I didn't know much about breastfeeding, my mom formula fed us and the only time I saw a woman breastfeed was my mom's friend who had a salon.. she once whipped her boob out in broad daylight and fed her toddler.. I remember I found it shocking and I hid behind my mother but when I saw that this lady kept going with her conversation as if nothing was happening I found a sense of normalcy in the situation.

The Only baby wearing I came in contact with growing up in Tijuana was this...

And gentle parenting... no my friends... (you can read that in a cheesy Hispanic accent)

I grew with la chancla! and with el cinto!

I am not the only person that chose to parent this way because I wanted to do the opposite of the way I was brought up, I had my share of experiences of things that weren't right while growing up but it's not something this post is about..  but it did have an influence I have to admit.

As I sit here typing this I can tell you the only people in my life that do things similar to me are all online. I have looked up meetings, groups, etc and they all are in the North county of San Diego, where the population is predominantly white.  Down here in the south bay, you don't really see much of that, people don't even know we have a birthing center in the area  "birth roots" Everyone assumes the only birthing center is in Hillcrest, more up north.

A Home birth for a Latina most likely was an unplanned, "In 2006, non-Hispanic white women were three to four times more likely to have a home birth than women of other race and ethnic groups. Home births were more likely than hospital births to occur to older, married women with singleton pregnancies and several previous children" 1

A big thing about this is the culture has evolved!  In the Hispanic culture it is so normal to ask "parto natural o cesarea?"  (natural or c-section) because it could go 50/50  and cesareans are looked as normal.  You ask "Pecho o teta?" (breast or bottle) and most likely you will hear "las dos" Latinas initiate breastfeeding in higher numbers than the U.S. average (80% compared to about 75%). But Latinas also supplement more than the average (at two days, 33% compared to 25%). Which prompted a campaign in Connecticut called Las dos.* 2

You hear things like "lo vas a embrazilar"  meaning if you hold your baby too much he'll get used to your arms. You hear instances of putting honey (a big NO-NO before the age1)  in baby's pacifier so they can take it. The grandmas all have an opinion on when you should start feeding your baby solids.. in my paternal family it wasn't unheard of for a 3 month old to be eating bread soaked in bean broth. Family can a lot of times be counteractive to any efforts made to breastfeed or parent gently.

A big part of our history is that the first generations of immigrants that started coming to this country were loosing their customs and culture to assimilate to the western culture. It still goes on today, a lot of Mexican American youth do not know where they come from or even know spanish.. My family is guilty of that, My husband is half mexican american, half caucasian. I am mexican american, my husband does not know Spanish as his mother doesn't either (his grandparents did not teach Spanish to their children in fear they would develop and accent) I read, write and speak spanish because I was raised in Mexico but sadly.. I have not been passing this on to my daughters, it is much easier to speak English in my household :(

With that said.. we are loosing things that would come naturally to our culture such as babywearing, breastfeeding, homebirthing, attachment parenting to "modern living"

I looked online for resources on latinas and breastfeeding, babywearing, homebirthing and there wasn't much to read.

I googled "attachment parenting latina" and did stumble on this blog called "culture mami"
I felt like I found a needle in a haystack! though rather easily  thanks google..

I also was very excited a bit ago to learn of Dulce de Leche another Crunchy mami  out there in the online world..

I am glad other latinas are out there speaking their minds on the parenting front.. We don't have to assimilate to mainstream, when abuletita tells you, you're hugging your bebe too much mija.. You don't have to put him down you can tell her you want to do things like her grandparents did.

I hope if anything somehow Other Latinas get inspired and come forth with their crunchiness and inner Indigena.

If want to keep a list of fellow gentle latina parents, if you know of any blogs, stories, articles, shoot them my way and post them on my facebook wall

Lets not be so rare!



  1. I'm so glad I got to read this post! :) My mom is from Mexico and my dad is from El Salvador. My grandma was all about telling me to let my son cry at night so we would stop asking to be fed and EVERYONE in my fam told me not to let my son sleep with me -___- but I didn't listen to any of it. I did what I felt was right for my son and I. Funnily enough my son decided at 4 months he didn't want to sleep with us anymore or wake up at night to feed. His choice :) but yes there are few of us, but I'm glad I'm not alone :)

  2. Thanks so much for the shout out! So glad to have found you as well!

    Rock on madre!!! Will most definitely be visiting your blog often!

  3. I really loved this post. I'm just a regular ole white girl, but I still loved hearing about how we ALL need support in breastfeeding, birth, babywearing, and other "crunchy" things. I loved the way you wrote this and included the phrases in Spanish. My mom was born in Germany and my grandmother never spoke German to her kids once they were in the US. I wish she had b/c now I feel like I missed out.

    I suppose you'll be a pioneer in creating a community/page you were looking for!

  4. Another great post! You rock sista friend! Glad we found eachother. I'll be here often catching up on past post and reading present postings!



  6. Thanks for your post, I feel the same way....

  7. You're not alone!! I do believe there are more mamis out there opting to live more naturally and pass down their Spanish to younger generations. I'm one of them and it's challenging to say the least. My mom didn't understand why I wanted a natural childbirth w/out interventions the first time, now this time I'll be using a partera and she's even more horrified-fearful. Even though she's Mexicana she chose other routes of birthing, but I do thank her everyday for.making it a priority to teach me Spanish and encourage me to embrace my culture-heritage.

  8. Right on! Latinas want natural birth too!!!



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