Earth-friendly Postpartum Care

Hey there!

Today is the 6 weeks mark since Ella Simone was born. Everything is under control. Here’s a pic of me with baby n.3.

No, really. Things are good. Little dragon seems to be dairy-intolerant at the moment, so no dairy for me, but that’s a nice motivation to ditch the cheese and go back to my good, old plant-based diet.

Anyway, what is this post all about? Well, I figured since I just increased my carbon footprint massively by bringing another human onto planet Earth, I might as well try and balance things a bit, by making a post about how to keep your environmental impact low, during the postpartum period (and the months that follow).

I will keep it short and sweet, çause if you are googling “postpartum”, you probably don’t have all the time in the world to read long articles in that phase of your life. So, here it goes:

For the baby:

For the cord: Instead of the usual plastic clip for the umbilical cord, you can use a rubber ring! Much more comfortable for the little one and from a natural material. If you google around, you might see that people create their own cord strings by using embroidery thread. In principle, that can be ok, since the cord closure doesn’t have to be sterile, but a long string can get into pee and poop and you don’t want all those germs into your baby’s fresh belly button. Here is the ring I bought, in case you live in the Netherlands and want to get it.

(By the way, this and any other links in this post are not affiliate links, meaning I make no money out of them. I just put them there for your convenience.)

Diapers: obviously, washable diapers are the most environmental-friendly solution, especially if you get a bunch and won’t have to do laundry as often. BUT, if you are not up to the task (I tried and failed for various reasons), there are nowadays environmental-friendly alternatives. We get those Finnish ones, that are made of wood pulp and seem to work well for our little one. No leaks so far. There are other brands too, with good reviews. By getting a diaper made of wood/bamboo pulp you drastically reduce your plastic consumption.

Wipes: I didn’t even realize that wipes have so much plastic in them. I mean, I knew there must be a reason you are not supposed to through them in the toilet, but never thought about it much, ’till I saw an advertisement for “plastic-free” wipes. And then it hit me. So yeah, wipes. Shitloads of plastic. In the Netherlands we have now a plastic-free alternative for on-the-go. But for home I try to use those washable wipes with warm water. Are you still pregnant? Use that time pre-kid to make your own. I have the sewing machine, I have the fabric leftovers but I also have two older kids, so yeah, that didn’t happen here.

Clothes: get as many hand-me-downs as you can. I love having my kids wear the clothes our friends’ babies wore. And I always give ours to new moms, when my kids outgrow them. Another option is shopping second-hand. I have my favorite shop in our little town, here in Hillegom. If you ever come this way, do check it out. It’s called Toost. To go a step further, you can wash your clothes with Tru Earth detergent, that’s also plastic free. Not sure if there are similar brands out there, but that one I can recommend, since I ‘ve been using it for months already.

That’s our collection for the first 3 months. 80% hand-me-downs, 10% gifts and 10% second-hand shopping.

For the mom:

Postpartum bleeding: I am a cup user myself but the first 6 weeks you are not allowed to use the cup, so sanitary pads it is… I did use the super-thick, diaper-like that come in the care package you get in the Netherlands for the first week postpartum. But then I used my “fancy”, washable ones, made of organic cotton. I rinse them with cold water, I let them soak a few hours and then wash them with Castile soap. You can also machine-wash them at 60 degrees and I do that once a week, just to make sure there are no germs left there. I got a set of six and they were enough for me. Mine are from Imse Vimse, but you can make your own or order from Etsy and support a small business. I got mine from Plastic-Free Amsterdam together with other stuff, so I didn’t bother looking around for other options.

washable sanitary pads and breastfeeding pads, made of organic cotton and bamboo respectively
my Castile soap block after 6 weeks of daily use. This thing lasts for ever! I love it.

Breast pads: if you are breastfeeding, using washable pads will also spare the planet a load of plastic/packaging materials. Just like with the sanitary pads, I wash my breast pads with Castile soap. No need for soaking. I am very pleased with how absorbent they are. Here’s where I got mine.

Skin Care: we ‘ve switched to shampoo bars and body bars a while ago and I ‘ve found products with mild scents that are great to use even with a baby attached on you the whole day. No nasty chemicals either. Our soaps (shampoo, conditioner and body wash) as well as my deodorant are all from Happy Soaps. We also have an alum crystal deodorant that Nikos uses. We got one with a cork packaging, which I am very happy about. Yet a bit less plastic! My face cream from White Rabbit is vegan (as are all the Happy Soaps, by the way) and comes in a beautiful bamboo box (metal on the inside). Our toothpaste comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. The girls hate the taste, I love it. I will try out a different taste though, once we are out of this one.

The bits of left-over soap bars go into these little jute/bamboo bags, that are also used as scrubs. That way nothing gets wasted!

Balms and oils: It’s ridiculously easy to make your own skin care oils and balms with some olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax (not vegan) and shea or cocoa butter. I do that from time to time and I really enjoy the process. You can make solid moisturizer bars if you use a silicone mold and then you need no packaging or storage box. But, if you go for the store-bought version, then you can definitely find plastic-free options.

a gentle skin balm that my friend Pauline brought me from France, a baby massage oil and a feet massage oil that I use myself

Obviously, many of these things you will be using for many months postpartum, even years. Making the switch to plastic-free or low-plastic products right from the start of your little one’s life will make it easier to build plastic-free habits. After all, since you brought a(nother) little human on the planet, you probably want the planet to be an enjoyable place in the future as well, right? Not to mention the added benefit of protecting your little one from harmful chemicals and microplastics that are present in common, plastic-packaged products!

Make the switch, be gentle with yourself if it goes slow, and enjoy your little one(s)!!

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