When you’re pregnant it’s easy to spend all your time planning for the birth and baby’s first clothes, but completely forget to plan for your postpartum recovery. Recovery after birth takes time and thought if you want to do it naturally and with as little waste as possible. Most postpartum essentials lists involve far too many disposable products destined for landfill. I thought I’d round up my favourite natural, eco friendly postpartum essentials you’ll need to help your recovery.
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Postpartum essentials #1: Reusable maternity pads
Postpartum bleeding is basically the consequence of skipping nearly a year’s worth of periods. You then have them all at once! The first few days in particular are intense as your body releases what’s known as lochia. Also, you shouldn’t insert anything into your vagina for at least 6 weeks after giving birth vaginally. This means you can’t use tampons or a menstrual cup at first.
Reusable pads are easy to use and take care of. In my opinion, reusable maternity pads should definitely top of your eco friendly postpartum essentials list. I personally like to support small independent businesses here, so check out FabPads or some of the other indie makers of reusable pads on Etsy.
That said, I couldn’t face the laundry in the first few days postpartum so I used Natracare maternity pads for a couple of days. Nothing is 100% biodegradable in landfill so these do have an environmental impact. However, they’re pretty ethical as far as disposable pads go and are very reasonably priced for an organic product.
Essentials #2: Reusable bed pads
One of the most wasteful items usually on a postpartum essentials kit is disposable bed pads. It’s good to have something to protect your bed and sofa from leaks, but I can’t stand the idea of all that waste.
Instead I bought two cot mattress protectors, one to wash and one to use. They’re the perfect size for popping under your bottom while you take it easy and snuggle your lovely little newborn. They come in handy later on during potty training, if you can think that far ahead!
Essentials #3: Ritual postnatal multivitamins & protein powder
Most of us know it’s pretty important to take a high-quality prenatal supplement, but how often do we think ahead to our postpartum vitamins? After your body has been through labour and you have a new human to devote yourself to, you’ll need to take care of your nutritional needs.
Ritual postpartum vitamins have all your essential multivitamins as well as high quality plant-based essentials oils. Not only that, they are specially formulated to support lactation for those crucial early weeks and months of breastfeeding. Even if you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, postpartum supplements are well worth the investment for promoting They’re vegan, free from GMOs, gluten and major allergens, plus the bottles and caps are made from 100% recycled material.
I also recommend their special pregnancy and postpartum daily protein shake, to help support the additional needs of your post-baby body. Ritual Essential Protein is soy-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and it’s formulated without GMOs, major allergens, stevia, sugar or sugar alcohols, and artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners. Perfect for new mamas who are the REAL body builders 💪
Essentials #4: Postpartum recovery bath herbs
This herbal recipe makes an amazing, multipurpose remedy that you must have among your postpartum essentials.
They are physically soothing, provide antiseptic qualities (due to the tea tree) and offer emotional comfort during the postpartum phase.
You can use it to soothe grazes and tears or put it in the bath for a lovely relaxing soak, with or without baby. It’s also ideal for padsicle recipes, where you soak an eco disposable sanitary pad in the mixture and freeze it. Personally I found padsicles a bit soggy and cold but many women swear by them.
postpartum herbal bath recipe
Do not use if you are allergic to any of the ingredients
|1 part dried chamomile flower||2 parts dried marigold (calendula)|
|1 part dried comfrey leaf||1 part pink Himalayan rock salt|
|1 part dried lavender||10 drops tea tree essential oil|
Mix and distribute into small organic cotton drawstring bags, filling each bag about ¾ full. Soak each in 1 litre boiling water for at least 4 hours. Batch make the mixture in the early postpartum days, freezing any excess for later use.
- Use in a perineum bottle or sitz bath to aid vaginal birth recovery
- For an abdominal birth (c-section), use in baths to ease discomfort or tightness around the scar. You must wait until 6 weeks after the surgery though.
- Soak reusable pads in the mixture, freeze and place in maternity pants
- Use in postnatal mother-baby baths for skin-to-skin bonding time and to ease fussy babies in their fourth trimester
- Use in baby’s baths any time they are having difficulty sleeping, particularly during sleep regressions
Essentials #5: Perineum bottle
Being made from plastic, this isn’t 100% eco friendly but they do at least use eco friendly packaging. I wanted to include it as the perineum bottle was absolutely essential to my postpartum recovery.
If you’re having a natural birth, you’ll need a bit of help getting through those first few painful trips to the bathroom. It’s much less hygienic and more painful to use toilet paper for the first week-ish, so the perineum bottle is a lifesaver. Used in combination with the soothing postpartum herbal bath recipe above, it makes loo visits much more bearable.
Essentials #6: Arnica
I don’t generally advocate for homeopathy due to the lack of evidence that it actually works. There are two exceptions, however. Nelsons Teetha granules, which genuinely seems to give Ursula relief from teething pain, and arnica.
My experience with arnica, which I’ve taken for various bumps and bruises since childhood, has always been positive. It’s a staple in our first aid kit. I took it every 2-4 hours for a week after giving birth and it was extremely helpful for my physical recovery.
Essentials #7: Bengkung belly wrap
This isn’t something I’ve tried myself but, given that I still have a mum tum 18-months postpartum, I wish I had!
Bengkung belly wraps are traditional postpartum recovery aids from Malaysia. They support your core and give you a helping hand in getting all those loose abdominal muscles back in order.
I know the knots make it look daunting to tie up, but here’s a great video that shows how easy it can be to tie a Bengkung belly wrap.
If you don’t mind ordering from the States you can get some beautiful ombre coloured wraps that are certified organic use 100% vegan, natural dyes and claim to be zero waste. For readers in the UK, here are some similar ones although the cotton is not organic.
Postpartum essentials #8: Water bottle with straw
If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you’ll be drinking a LOT of water as it’s super thirsty work.
For both my home birth and postpartum recovery, I couldn’t have survived without my water bottle with a straw. It makes a massive difference being able to sip water from any position, especially if you’ve got a baby attached to your boob.
I LOVE Ocean Bottle, who make a fantastic flip-lid bottle as well as open topped ones. They come in some fab colours and are made from recycled stainless steel, silicone, and BPA-free ocean-bound plastic. Not only that, they have a 10-year warranty so, although they’re an investment, you know they’re built to last.
Essentials #9: Frugi nursing clothes
There’s an argument that you don’t really need to buy many nursing clothes. You can do a lot with a simple nursing vest under any top you already own. It’s also nice to get back to your pre-pregnancy wardrobe and say goodbye to the endless Breton stripes you find on most maternity clothes.
Personally though I found it helpful to have a few nursing tops and dresses, as I was more self-conscious than I thought I’d be about breastfeeding in public. Nursing tops offer discretion as well as easy access and it was great to be able to quickly reach inside my top, unhook my bra and latch Ursula on with minimal boob-sposure.
Frugi organic cotton tops and dresses offer a much-needed splash of colour and personality to the often drab world of maternity wear. Their prices mean the brand is an investment, but they do fantastic sales. A small number of well-chosen items will serve you throughout your postpartum life and even into toddlerhood.
Essentials #10: Organic nursing bras
Nursing bras are a must-have for anyone trying to breastfeed, but when I was researching this article I struggled to find organic cotton ones.
However, Etsy came to the rescue once again and I found these lovely organic handmade, custom nursing bras. They are available in a wide variety of fabrics, come with rave reviews for comfort, and are made by an independent seller, so definitely worth a go.
Essentials #11: Nursing pyjamas
After my lovely home birth, my midwife told me that I should spend one week in bed, one week on the sofa, and then start gradually venturing outside. I was more than happy to take this advice literally so I spent most of the first two weeks postpartum in nursing pyjamas and a robe.Obviously if you have other children you might not get this luxury, but I still think being postpartum is a great excuse for new pyjamas! Lily & Ribbon have some lovely soft bamboo cotton options available, including these nursing pyjamas.
Essentials #12: Comfortable trousers
Once you’re ready to say goodbye to the sofa and start getting back to normality, I really rate soft jersey trousers as a practical solution to the problem of postpartum clothing, a tricky transitional space from maternity wear back to regular clothes.
They offer the comfort of pyjamas but are stylish and acceptable to go outside in, and I love them so much that I still spend most of my time in soft jersey trousers. Once you’re running around after a toddler and picking alphabetti spaghetti up off the floor 50 million times a day they come into their own!
I love these soft GOTS organic jersey lounge trousers from sustainable fashion company Thought. They feature a wide fold-over waistband, comfortable pockets and a wide slouchy leg, making them perfect for comfortable yet stylish postpartum life.
Essentials #13: Reusable nursing pads
Nursing pads are a staple on any postpartum essentials list, but there’s no need to add to landfill by using them. Imse Vimse are a fantastic brand and their reusable nursing pads are organic, vegan and cruelty free.
Postpartum essentials #14: Rescue remedy
Postpartum life is an emotional rollercoaster and your hormones are all over the place in the days after giving birth.
I’ve always found Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to be a supportive emotional aid in times of distress. It does have a very low alcohol content but not enough to be of concern in terms of breastfeeding.
Essentials #15: Nipple cream
Weleda is a fantastic ethical brand with a wide range of products for pregnancy and postpartum recovery, including a fragrance-free nipple balm. It’s not vegan though due to beeswax, which is a common ingredient in natural organic nipple creams.
If you want a vegan option then try every crunchy-mama’s household staple, organic coconut oil.
Postpartum essentials #16 fenugreek
Another recommendation for nursing mothers, fenugreek is a traditional herb used to help boost milk supply. It’s usually top of the list of lactation boosters for mums struggling to breastfeed, but I should mention that it can have mixed results. Give it a try but keep an eye on your supply to make sure it’s working.
Postpartum essentials #17: Mother’s massage oil
And finally, this one is for mothers who have had an abdominal birth (c-section). Obviously all mums in postpartum recovery need a good massage, but I added this gorgeous organic massage oil for women who want to reduce the appearance of their c-section scar.
It is rich in vitamin E and, when used carefully on the scar, can help aid skin recovery. Make sure you research how to take care of your c section scar and follow the advice of your medical team.
I hope you’ve found some inspiration in my eco friendly postpartum essentials list and are now looking forward to a relaxing and natural recovery from birth.
While you’re here, take a look at my 19 Must-Have Eco-Friendly Newborn Essentials post to help you decide what to get your snuggly little newborn when they arrive. If you’re a first-time mum, I also have a guide to Matrescence to help you prepare for what to expect in terms of your emotional response to becoming a mother.