By Ash Stevens
“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
Nothing shows a woman’s strength and love quite like birth. And nothing compliments the admirable marathon-of-a-feat called “birth” like a little relaxation and TLC. Across the world, the time of birth marks a very important window of time for both baby and mother. Many traditions see the first 40 days as a time of confinement, where both baby and mother are nurtured and cared for so that they can bond. Pulling off six weeks of home rest is easier said than done here in America, but we can still honor mama’s birth and celebrate family with helpful gifts and offerings.
Soothing Essential Oils
Everyone’s in a rush to buy mama diaper rash cream and baby clothes, but let’s not forget about the women who made it all possible — and how. Birth marks the beginning of days or even weeks of discomfort from postpartum swelling, cramping, bruising, and birth wounds. Breastfeeding-safe essential oils are a great gift for moms (and many can even be used with baby). Consider lavender, helichrysum, roman chamomile, and frankincense for healing; eucalyptus and clove for pain; fennel and basil for breastfeeding; and more. Apply essential oils using a soothing rub or gentle massage and you can encourage greater healing by enhanced circulation, reduced tension, and an uplifted mood.
Heat alone is a powerful healing aid. Combined with hot water and herbs, you can create a tea or bath that will soothe the body as much as the soul. There’s a long list of motherhood-approved herbs that have been used by various cultures throughout history. Red raspberry leaf is a shining herbal star thanks to it’s ability to encourage lactation while acting to strengthen and tone the uterus (making contractions more efficient and potentially reducing intensity and duration of pains). Then there’s calendula, lavender, chamomile, arnica, and comfrey for healing. And let’s not forget to address postpartum contractions by way of cramp bark, skullcap, and motherwort for postpartum contractions.
These herbs work great alone, but they also pair wonderfully with natural healers like witch hazel extract and aloe vera gel. Of course, you want to get the thumbs up on use and dosage before you pull out the credit card. Find out what you can use and how via an herbalist and your care provider. Once you have that figured out, you can read up on all the fun ways these herbs can be used. Postpartum healing pads, poultices, herb baths, spritzing sprays, infused oils — these are but a few of the fantastic herb concoctions (and DIY parties) that await you.
Soothing Herbal Kits
If you’re looking to buy a ready-made postpartum kit, I can personally recommend Green Goo’s Mama & Baby Gift Set. I discovered this company thanks to my CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife), who is actually friends with the owner. I tried out the products and ended up loving them. I love it because it comes with a tin of herbs for healing sitz baths, plus a nursing cream and a belly balm. All products are packed with soothing, infection-fighting herbs that will ease pain while beautifying skin. It also comes with an herbal baby balm that can be used on everything from diaper rash and dry skin, to eczema and cradle cap. They’re even B-Corp certified. That’s a HUGE win with us earth-lovin’ mamas.
Another fab option for made-to-order postpartum love is Earth Mama Angel Baby. Their Postpartum Recovery Essentials Bundle includes a box of herbal tea with herbs traditionally used for childbirth and menstruation, and a glorious “bottom balm” and “bottom spray” for some much-appreciated perineal relief. Don’t underestimate the power of a postpartum gift. It also has their postpartum herb pads — the herbal eco alternative to Tuck’s pads — which can be stuffed directly into mom’s post-birth diaper for instant relief. They can also be steeped into a tea and frozen into a pad to create a padsicle. Which surely sounds like a terribly awkward thing for anyone who’s never given birth; but as Earth Mama Angel Baby puts it, “Labor can make you feel like your bottom has gone fifteen rounds with a prizefighter and run the NY Marathon – all at once.” So, don’t be surprised when this postpartum gift sends mama into an endless rave of non-stop hugging and a wide-eyed outburst of thank yous.
Now let’s get to basking in the sublime light of motherhood!
Ash Stevens is a gardener, a writer, and a fan of all things green. Her love for health and sustainability began with her journey into motherhood, and it’s grown exponentially ever since. She’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle through gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors. If she isn’t writing or reading up on exciting green trends, she’s probably playing Connect Four or swimming in the river with the kids. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.