Friday, March 23, 2012

Elimination Communication and Squatting Toilets

We do Elimination Communication (or EC for short) with our daughter, who has recently doubled her efforts to become mobile. She can now push herself up onto all fours, and is horribly pleased with herself. However, she still refuses to sit in or on anything. She will sit on my lap or on the floor between my knees, but the highchair and actually sitting on the potty is a no-no. So today while I was holding her over her potty, I was wondering why this is, since she is perfectly capable of doing it.

I remembered a couple of articles about pelvic floor issues, and that they mentioned peeing while squatting, squatting while giving birth, and all of a sudden it hit me - the position you hold infants in for EC is essentially the same. If their legs were long enough, they would be squatting. This was also the same position we were shown in the hospital to help ease the distress of eliminating for a newborn, the only difference being whether the diaper was on or off. Clearly there is some connection with this position and the process of elimination. Do countries that typically squat also typically use EC? Could it be that this is actually the normal way of doing things?

My dad is a pretty well traveled man due to his work, so he has seen a lot of different cultures in his life. One story I remember him telling is of a business man being very confused by western bathrooms in his hotel, as he could not see where he was supposed to do his business. Apparently his culture does all their bathroom business while squatting, and the most appropriate/similar place he could find was the shower. At the time I thought it very strange, after all, everyone these days does their business in a toilet, right? Apparently not. A rough estimate is that currently two thirds of humanity uses squatting toilets.

A quick search revealed some pretty significant health benefits to using a squatting toilet. This is in addition to the female specific benefits relating to childbirth and the pelvic floor that I mentioned earlier. Humans are in fact so well built for squatting, we are born with “squatting facets” on our heel bones to keep us balanced, but since people in western societies never squat, they disappear as we mature and the bone remolds

And yes, it turns out that the countries that practice Elimination Communication are in fact by and large also the countries that use squatting toilets, including China, India, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the arctic, and parts of Africa and Latin America. In these countries it is normal, and to them the idea of using diapers and sitting toilets is as foreign as going diaper free and using a squatting toilet is to most westerners.

This is not the first time that our wonderful modern conveniences have been proven to drastically decrease quality and length of life. There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about computers, offices and desks. There is an absolute ton of "ergonomic" products out there, which I'm sure is a wonderful business idea, but when you think about it, doesn't really make all that much sense. How can something be ergonomic if no part of the position or use the product is designed for is natural? There have been hundreds of studies proving time and time again that sitting or standing for long periods of time come with some pretty significant health costs, and that the human body is designed to be in motion. (Treadmill desks anyone? Take a look at what this guy has achieved!)

I am very pleased to have discovered this information at this point in my life. I strongly believe that knowledge is empowering, that by taking charge of our health we can make big changes in ourselves and in the world around us. I feel that it is important to be a good role model to my daughter so that she can grow up and live to her full potential, and it is amazing to think how something so basic can affect your health in such a deep way. I feel very grateful to have this knowledge and be able to do something about it now, not 50yrs in the future when significant damage to my body has already been done.

I am not sure really where I will begin. This is such a different way of looking at my body, of a part of our lifestyle, of a way of thinking that it is kind of overwhelming. But I have made drastic changes before, and I can do it again. For me, if something will literally change my life for the positive, it is totally worth doing, no matter how strange or difficult. One step at a time.

It is amazing to think that this journey I am starting on began by helping my baby girl use the potty. How wonderful to hear your baby teach you about the world as if it is fresh and new to you as it is to her if you just stop and listen. She has taught me so much already, I can't wait to see what other adventures she takes me on!

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