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!