Natural Baby Boom

Today’s world is chock-full of choices and parenting is no exception. A growing number of new parents are making informed and deliberate decisions to care for their children in a more natural and earth-friendly way. The community surrounding natural parenting is thriving here in Louisville and a cornerstone of that community is the Highland’s natural parenting and baby store, Mama’s Hip.

The Bardstown Road shop feels like someone’s home–someone who sells sustainable wood blocks and all-natural nipple cream–but a home nonetheless. There are several rooms, one following the next, with creaky hardwood floors, a couch, and plenty of room for the array of classes held there. All the merchandise is situated up high, as to be out of the reach of the little hands of the many children who spend time and are welcomed there.

Owner Shannon Stone said she wanted the focus of the store to be the community around parenting, not just the retail aspect of it. Her wares stick to the natural parenting theme. She mainly sells items that assist and promote cloth diapering, baby-wearing and breastfeeding, but of course there are onesies and baby toys too.

The classes are where Stone and her store really become a home base for the city’s parents. On the class schedule one can find a new mom’s group, a cloth diapering class, various mom and child yoga sessions, and a class on baby wearing, which touts the benefits of carrying children in a sling or wrap instead of a hard carrier. And these are just to name a few.

But Stone, who has two boys, Kyle and Kristopher, wants her store to be a place where moms, dads, kids and caregivers can come and interact with like-minded folk.

“We want people to come in and feel comfortable,” she said. “You don’t have to buy something or stay for a class, you’re welcome here.”

Emily McCay, who owns and runs The Diaper Fairy, a cloth diaper service, feels similarly to Stone in her willingness to help with few expectations.

McCay fields calls all the time from people who are curious about cloth diapering. She is happy to help and, in fact, provides classes at Mama’s Hip and Amazing Green Planet on the many options twenty-first century cloth diapering has to offer. “I want to be a resource for the entire community, even if they don’t need the service,” she said.

McCay’s service uses a “dry pail system.” She provides the pail, equipped with a waterproof liner, which doubles as the transportation sack, and a monthly deodorizing disc. Clients change baby, toss dirty diapers in the pail and once a week The Diaper Fairy waves her wand/picks up the sack and leaves a bag of clean diapers in its place. Just like magic.

Currently McCay uses a medical laundry facility, which uses a 12 step heating process and works with her specially formulated detergent, which is free of bleach, whitener, and enzymes to be gentle on those sensitive baby bums.

She admits that when her now five-year-old daughter, Camille, was in diapers committing to cloth wasn’t something she would have been able to do without a service. When she moved to Louisville two years ago and realized there wasn’t a diaper service in town, she knew what she needed to do. “I want to make parents consider something they would have previously thought impossible,” said McCay.

Mary Oliver Humke helps mothers when they are feeling like breastfeeding might be impossible. She owns Blossom Breastfeeding Support, a lactation consulting service, and offers her skills to moms and babies once they are home from the hospital and the 24-hour help is no longer available.

“I want to help moms understand what’s normal and educate and empower women to be their own advocate when it comes to caring for their breastfed babies,” said Humke.

She meets women by appointment in her office, but also enjoys home visits to get the full picture of what’s going on with both babies and moms. For many women and newborns breastfeeding doesn’t come as easily as one might think it would. “It’s a learned skill,” said Humke. “It is natural and the instinct is there.” It’s Humke’s job to draw that instinct out when it doesn’t immediately present itself.

“Women have been helping women since the dawn of time,” said Humke. This sentiment seems to run through the community of natural parenting. Women helping women, parents helping parents, all for the sake of the kids.


–Sara Jones Rust

Natural parenting Resources

Mama’s Hip

Since it opened in November 2007, Mama’s Hip has continued to grow its range and availability of classes for the community and has plans to incorporate knitting classes, opening the door to not just parents but anyone with an interest. Owner Shannon Stone plans on growing her business in other ways too, such as a non-profit organization to reach people in lower socio-economic neighborhoods who may not have access to information about cloth diapering or breastfeeding help. The plans are only in their infancy and her family’s needs come first, but Stone has great expectations for her shop.

The Diaper Fairy

Emily McCay’s first year of providing a cloth diaper service to Louisville and Southern Indiana was an excellent experience for her. She discovered that her clients are actually deciding to use cloth diapers in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, so there is a lag time between the time of attracting a new client and when she actually sees new business from them. At this point she is laundering approximately 1700 diapers a week. She hopes to grow her business this year by buying a laundromat and taking total control of the cleaning process.

Blossom Breastfeeding

Blossom Breastfeeding Support owner Mary Oliver Humke is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and has done extensive training at Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville, IN. She restarted her private practice this summer after a hiatus to concentrate on her family. In September she will be opening her office on East Market Street, and will be available, by appointment only, to see clients there. Until that time she will provide home visits only.

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