I recently saw a conversation between some moms in my yoga group that triggered me into shame. One mom was asking about diaper rash remedies. Some responses were: cloth diapers, going diaperless for a period of time, Desitin, and cleaning with water and cloth.

One mom responded with a statement that shook me to my core. She said “we prefer not to use products with petroleum so we tried…” yada yada yada.

My mom brain read “we don’t use this and, if you do, you’re a bad mom”.

Into a frenzy I went! Looking at whether products I used for my daughter contained petroleum. Wondering if she was in danger because we used those products even though they were recommended by the pediatrician. Questioning every choice I had ever made.

Then, I stopped. I realized I was doing what was best for my daughter based on our situation.

My husband was laid off in January 2023 while I was eleven weeks pregnant. He has been unsuccessful in finding another job, so we are a one income family.

Let’s face it, so-called “natural” products are expensive. The ability to try various products which may or may not work is not a luxury we can afford. Does that make me a bad mom? I don’t think so, but that statement instantly made me feel that way.

If I didn’t already feel like I was letting my daughter down, I might not have felt so attacked.

My Pregnancy Story

Before we decided to have the conversation about starting a family, my husband and I had three goals:

  1. Financial stability
  2. Secure jobs
  3. Debt free

We knew that debt free was unrealistic due to our student loans. However, because of the loan freeze due to COVID, we felt comfortable forgoing that as a requirement. In 2022, we believed we met the first two criteria.

I found out I was pregnant on November 18, 2022. Everything was great, minus the horrendous morning sickness. We went about our lives and planned for our new and exciting future.

Then, my husband got laid off unexpectedly.

All of a sudden, our financial security and stable jobs were no more. My income alone was not enough to cover our rent, let alone our other bills. And planning for our new addition? Forget about it.

We decided to move back to our hometown.

Overall, this was the best thing that could have happened to us. My mom lives half a mile away, which has been so wonderful.

We burned through our savings and have had to rely on friends and family to stock our home with baby essentials. With the exception of one box of diapers and a couple pairs of pajamas, everything for my daughter has been gifted or bought for us.

We are so grateful. But, there is a looming guilt that I can’t provide for my daughter. I can’t afford to buy her natural products. Groceries are expensive enough without having to worry about organic produce and avoiding packaged foods.

I wish I could give her those things, but that’s not feasible for us.

My Birth Story

I knew from the get-go that I wanted a spontaneous, unmedicated birth. I bought discounted versions of pregnancy and birthing books from Thriftbooks.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May, Hypnobirthing: The Breakthrough Natural Approach to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing — The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan, and Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy by Myra Wick and Mayo Clinic were my best friends in the months leading up to our big day.

My mom was kind enough to pay for me to join a weekly prenatal yoga class. The moms were so supportive and understanding of my situation. We all shared resources and went on walks.

But, I always had this lingering sense of shame.

I couldn’t afford a doula.

A home birth was not an option for us.

All new mamas who joined us started by asking the same questions, “who is your doula?”

I was on my own, just me and my books. During the last four weeks of my pregnancy, I drank the red raspberry leaf tea, ate my six dates a day, bounced on my yoga ball, and tried to walk as much as possible.


40 weeks came and went with no sign of movement. My OB let us decide what the next steps were because baby was healthy. We opted to wait until the end of the week and hope.

No amount of hope would speed things along.

At 41 weeks and 1 day, it became clear that we needed some assistance to get labor started. I called the OB office expecting to get a foley balloon placed that evening and be sent home. However, the nurse said once we checked into the hospital we would not be leaving until baby was born.

The realization that I would not go into spontaneous labor crashed around me like an ocean wave. I knew it was best, but I was devastated.

That night, we went to the hospital to start the induction.

It wasn’t until 34 hours later that I started having painful contractions. Unfortunately, because I had been in the hospital bed for well over a day, my hips felt like they were going to implode. Each surge would send me into a full hyperventilating hysteria. No amount of counterpressure, massage, or position change would ease the crushing sensation I felt in my body.

We had an agreement that if I said, or was offered, an epidural three times over an hour time span, then it was a genuine want.

In those three hours between the start of painful contractions and when we met the anesthesiologist, I saw my dream birth slipping away.

I knew deep in my heart that my only chance was to get an epidural, but I was defeated.

It was almost a full 48 hours from checking into the hospital to meeting our child. Nothing went as I wanted.

I know I made the best decision for us, but my heart hurts at how I felt let down by my body.

Closing Thoughts

I fully believe that if I had the opportunity to have a doula that I would have had a different birth outcome.

It is a disservice to my community to not have access to affordable doula care for low income families. I was let down by the system.

The only local hypnobirth class is costly, upwards of $400 if I remember correctly. That’s not accessible for mothers like me.

How are new parents expected to provide the best for their children when the best is not available to all?

The stigma I feel because we use Desitin or because my birth was far from what I wanted haunts me. Comments like “we prefer not to use [insert product here]” or “we only use natural products” further emphasizes the brokenness of the system.

I became fascinated by all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum during my pregnancy. My dream would be create a local nonprofit to provide doula and lactation services for my community.

Of course, that requires money I don’t currently have, but I imagine how many families could be helped by this type of resource.

It is my hope that every mama gets the pregnancy and birth of their dreams AND that they never feel ashamed about the products and foods they feed their children.

We are all doing the best we can.

If you’re like me, know that I support you. Please reach out if there is anything I can do.

This article was originally published at Medium. Republished with permission from the author.