Natural Postpartum Supplies
When I was getting ready to start midwifery school, I saw someone post that they had free postpartum supplies (left over from their hospital birth) that they wanted someone to have. I jumped at the chance to start building a nice supply closet for my clients.
I drove and got them. I unpacked them when I got home - parabens. The products had toxic chemicals in them. These products were to be used on a healing perineum. Disappointed, I threw them away and kept what I could.
Before that, I taught childbirth education classes with a midwife and this was something we talked about on week 5 of our 7 week course. Always lots of questions and lists printed off from websites, often stressing the mother out about making sure she had everything.
I decided that, as I move into midwifery (and of course, my current pregnancy), it would be good for my brain to compile this list of what we can use for our recovery postpartum - without jeopardizing our health with toxic chemicals on our most sensitive parts (breasts included).
Natural Postpartum Supplies
1) Perineal Comfort
For the first few days postpartum, when lochia is the heaviest, I have found that a disposable pad is my preferred choice BUT many conventional brands have bleached cotton and chemicals in the gel.
Thankfully there are natural options like Natracare Maternity pads. 2 boxes should be plenty if you are switching to cloth pads…
During my last two postpartums, I used homemade cloth pads after the first couple days. I am really glad I did. I was able to make padsicles (see below) with them and wash them easily with our laundry (I rinse them first). Those cloth pads were then able to be used on my heavier days of my cycle.
As far as undies go - some buy regular undies at the store, just a bigger size but I have found that the sexy mesh undies - are really supportive.
Some of my cloth pads were soaked in a solution of water, witch hazel, aloe vera, and a small amount of Lavender essential oil and then frozen. Ice packs on the perineum felt wonderful for me and it is something they often handout at the hospitals postpartum (just the ice packs, not the padsicle).
Women have done this with disposable pads as well, so if you are opting out of cloth, don’t worry, you can still use them!
Postpartum Herbal Sitz Bath
I cover this in my What Herbs Should I Have Postpartum but mentioning it here because using it as a rinse during/after urinating AND as a sitz (shallow) bath is beautifully comforting and healing. Head over to the post to see whats in it and how to use it.
With all my babies, I left the hospital with some sort of pain reliever - acetaminophen or ibuprofen. I learned that the more babies you have, the stronger the after pains are (and I certainly found this to be true after my 4th baby).
Thankfully we have herbs for that. I talk about Cramp bark, White willow, and Motherwort tincture trio in my What Herbs Should I Have Postpartum post so you can read more there.
Additionally, having Ginger for a tea can bring some much needed warmth and relaxation to the mother, helping her cope with postpartum cramping. I use Ginger externally in my Earth & Fire salve and I love how it melts my tension away.
3) Homeopathic Arnica
Great for bruising and swelling in life but also in birth. You can take this during labor and immediately postpartum. I personally did not find it help with after pains but, like I mentioned, it helps with any bruising or swelling - which I didn’t have too much of - but I do feel it was a wonderful item to have postpartum.
4) Abdominal Separation
While I am partial to the Bengkung belly bind because of its history of use, the beauty of the wrap and the process (with beautiful warming herbs to be in line with the TCM belief of qi and warmth - see last weeks post) , some sort of abdominal support postpartum is helpful - especially is you have a larger separation that crosses into diastasis recti.
Ensure that the bind isn’t too tight, however, because it will put more pressure on the diaphragm AND the pelvic floor. Think of a blown up balloon that you are squeezing in the middle, that air has to go somewhere.
Katy Bowman - founder of Nutritious Movement - has an amazing resource on this. Her books (also available as ebook) called “Diastasis Recti: The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation”. I recommend reading while pregnant because how we stand in pregnancy can really affect that separation.
Additionally, Katy has a DVD for Nutritious Movement for a Healthy Pelvis which is a must for all moms - with ANY kind of delivery. I can proudly stand here and say I have 4 children - pregnant with #5 - and do not pee with I sneeze or laugh (and I used to!)
5) Breast Care
During my first 3 pregnancies, I used disposable breast pads (occasionally reusable ones with baby #3 but not much) . I went through boxes and boxes of them. My let down is incredibly fast so the side that the baby isn’t on will just be drenched with let down. The problem is, they can trap moisture, which can cause some issues with yeast and bacteria.
With baby # 4, I switched over to all reusable - to include upcycled wool breast pads. Wool is this amazing fiber that can absorb up to 35% of its weight in liquid, while still feeling dry AND is breathable. Merino wool is usually what is used, a far cry from the itchy wool of the cliche granny’s sweater. While more bulky, these worked beautifully and I never had problems with thrush or mastitis with baby #4.
You don’t have to wash them constantly, just switch out the pair and air dry (wool is also naturally antimicrobial!). Wash them when you can and air dry.
For sore breasts - a towel soaked in warm Lavender and Calendula tea on the breast is incredibly soothing. if you are wanting cold, let the tea cool. These are two great herbs to have for newborns so buy some in bulk!
I will be covering mastitis in another post, which I will link to once up!
6) Flower Essences
It doesn’t matter if your birth went exactly as you dreamed and planned, the adjustment to a baby is a big one. I think the Rescue Remedy blend is a great one for every home to have and can be really beneficial in moments of stress and anxiety (for everyone experiencing it). Its readily available in both dropper, candy, and gum form.
In addition to my own flower essences (of which I recommend Native Rose for new moms always), I love working with the Icelandic flower essences available at Floracopia. The following are just the briefest description of these beautiful options.
Rhodiola - increases the feeling of strength, vitality, stability, and rootedness
Wood Crane’s bill - deep sense of inner security and acceptance (YOU ARE ENOUGH!), soothing, calming, and grounding
Velvet bells - for the womb and heart, intuition, feminine creative power
If you are looking for something more personalize, contact me and we can get started on a flower & stone essence consult for you.
Last week I talked about this in the 5 Areas to Plan Postpartum but it needs another mention. New moms need to eat to replenish their daily energy and their overall life energy. Now is NOT the time to diet - at all. Find snacks that are easy to grab or to have your partner make.
Ensuring that they are deeply nutritious is always best but that can be a lot of work - and sometimes you just want that yummy quick snack. Eat it!
8) Beautify Your Home and Love Yourself
Hopefully you are able to be in your home, undisturbed, for weeks following a birth. When that nesting instinct kicks in, use it to create beautiful spaces in your home - with beautiful words and images that remind you how precious and sacred YOU are. Bring in flower, house plants, beautiful figurines…anything you find beautiful and put it in your home.
Use Rosewater on your body to treat yourself like the Goddess you are and nourish your body with Rose oil after showers and baths.
A birth changes you but only in that you become the fulfillment of mother stage of the Goddess in the flesh. You are beautiful in the eyes of so many people - treat yourself that way.
Have a beautiful robe to wear postpartum, something that makes you feel beautiful - because you are.
While I know this list can continue on for every tiny detail - I will end here, but I want to hear from you…