8.05.2014

A Postpartum Wellness Kit : For Mama and Baby

I'm still pregnant over here.  40 weeks and 5 days... but who's counting?  ;)

In the past month or so, I've been pretty intense in my nesting.  We did a month of homeschooling, we froze meals, we organized, I sewed.  I finally feel pretty well 'nested' -  if not done with nesting- and ready for our baby to be born.

As I wait, it seemed like a good time to share what I've put together in my postpartum wellness kit. I may have procrastinated on packing my hospital bag, but I made this kit weeks ago.  After Jude was born (9 1/2 years ago already!), I became interested in herbs and making my own remedies, salves and lotions.  My favorite herbalist and now Yale-trained physician practicing integrative medicine is Aviva Romm.  I've enjoyed her books on pregnancy, postpartum, and childcare and have listened to hours of her lectures.  I'm not a trained herbalist and most of what I use is influenced by her work.



I buy my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They're high quality, pure, inexpensive and last forever.  Because the herbs are purchased raw and in bulk, I store them in glass mason jars.  I like to give different herbal preparations as gifts.   Even though this is a postpartum kit, most of the items can be used outside of the postpartum period.  In fact, I like to have most on hand for everyday use.

1.  Herbal Bath

label by Indigo

These herbs are great for making a postpartum healing herbal bath, sitz bath or for use in a peri bottle.  It's prepared like a tea.  I wrote a tutorial on how I make mine here.

2.  Calendula Oil and Diaper Salve (Ointment)



I love having calendula oil on hand as an after-bath oil or an infant massage oil.  Calendula has healing properties, making it great from rashy newborn skin.  The oil is perfect for sensitive skin because it's so gentle.

While working through the coursework to become a lactation counselor, I learned that a baby's sense of smell is so acute that they can distinguish the smell of their mother's milk from that other mothers' milk.  For this reason, I choose to leave my calendula oil (and all baby products) completely fragrance-free, including free of essential oils.

The calendula diaper salve worked wonders when Iris had a diaper rash.  The rash cleared almost immediately.  For us, it worked better than the store-bought versions.   Also, unlike many of the store-bought creams, this salve is compatible with cloth diapers.  It's so easy to make, too!

The salve also takes the itch out of mosquito bites and heals eczema patches and dry skin.  It's a great all-purpose ointment.

I wrote a tutorial on how I make my calendula and diaper salve here.

3.  Arnica Oil and Arnica Oil Blend


I used this arnica oil (undiluted) during my pregnancy when my ankles were swollen.  Between the Texas heat, being on my feet most of the day and exercising, by the end of the day I often had some swelling.  On really bad days, Dan would give me a foot massage with arnica oil and the difference in the swelling was dramatic.  It's great for kids' bumps, bruises, and sprains, too.

Arnica oil mixed with sweet almond oil makes a nice massage oil for sore muscles, perfect for after giving birth - or anytime.  I used 6 parts sweet almond oil to 1 part arnica oil in this massage oil blend.

4.  Astragalus root

Astragalus is a root used in traditional Chinese medicine.  It's also used in Asian cooking- in rice, soups, and stews.  I add it to my soups and stews (then remove when the soup is done cooking).  I also drink it like a tea.  I 'decoct' it by taking 4 roots that look like tongue depressors and simmering them in a pint of water until it reduces by half - 20 minutes(ish).  Astragalus is said to build energy and support the immune system.  I like to use it when I feel run down.  I'm pretty sensitive to herbs and don't use many internally, but astragalus root, ginger and chamomile are amongst my favorites.

I'm all ready with my kit and so ready to meet our new baby.  I hope she's ready soon, too!




10 comments:

  1. I can't believe you are still pregnant!! Glad you are all ready though! your interview is up on the KCW blog.

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  2. This is awesome! My mother always recommended unscented almond oil for baby massages. I can absolutely believe that a baby's sense of smell is that good, because I was amazed with both of my babies how acute MY sense of smell was. I know that I could pick my babies out of a lineup just by smell. Babies smell so intoxicatingly good to their mothers. I would sniff other babies and be like, yeah, that's nice and all, but it's not MY baby - my baby smells the best!!

    We like to pretend we're all civilized and stuff, but we're really just a bunch of mammals. ;-)

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    1. P.S. I'm off to the PNW tonight, but I'll be watching your blog for news! Wishing you good luck, a swift, peaceful, good labor, and a baby without a tongue tie!

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  3. thank you for posting this! wondering if there's a shelf life for the salve? i definitely want to make a few jars beFORE our new babe comes and i lose all of my energy. :) best wishes for your upcoming delivery!

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    1. That’s a great question, Jeni! I checked my book “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children” and it says, “Salves will keep for 2 years in the refrigerator or about a year if not. To extend the life of your salves to the full two years, you can add 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil or 1 or 2 tablespoons of herbal tincture per four ounces of salve.”

      Personally, I just squeeze in a couple of vitamin E softgels and mine have never gone bad. I never refrigerate them (that would make them harder/more firm) and I would say I almost always use them within a year - probably even within 6 months! :)

      Good luck!
      rachel

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  4. Blessings on you as you bring another wee one into the world. I'll look forward to pictures

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  5. i had never used calendula oil until poor newborn C had a diaper rash that wouldn't clear (it was part of his reflux, i think - constant pooping led to constant rashiness). the calendula oil at every diaper change definitely helped tame the rash and made it heal faster, too. poor little fella. my doula with O told me about arnica but i never used it...might need to get some now though - it's good for sore muscles and the like, right? anyway, this was a super interesting and informative post and i hope you're having a baby right now!! :*

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  6. Still nothing?? Come on little baby Kovac, we're all eager to see you! ;-) I wonder if your next blog post will be a 'Still preganant" or a "She's here!" post :-) Good luck with the delivery!!
    xo an

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  7. Teaser post!!! ;). My favorite diaper salve was homemade by a friend and it was the best! I'm not sure what was in it, but I remember it being so nice-smelling. Wishing you all the best during delivery!! -e

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  8. You are ready! Come on, baby!

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