Using Wool for Cloth Diaper Covers

I’ve used cloth diapers for my babies since about 10 years ago, starting with my 2nd child.  I switched from disposables when she was 2 or 3 months old, and never looked back.  Over the years, I’ve tried just about every type and brand of diaper on the market.

By the time I was pregnant with my 5th and last babe, I knew exactly what I liked and didn’t like, and purchased only the things that I knew worked for us:  Fitted diapers with wool.  

It’s occurred to me that even among other cloth mamas, wool with fitteds seem to be a minority combination.  Maybe no one knows how to care for wool, or they think it’s difficult, or confusing…?

FYI:  Wool diaper covers are called a variety of things:  covers or wraps–these usually look like a regular cover and have snaps or velcro tabs; soakers or pull-ons–these look like underwear but are thicker, often with a roll-down waistband, and they pull on, as the name suggests; shorties and longies–these are usually knit, styled more like pants or shorts, and double as clothing and a diaper cover.

Wool care is actually really easy, and in my opinion wool covers and cotton diapers are much preferable to any diaper with synthetic fibers.  I will discuss the reasons why in a future blog post–but for now, let me just share some facts about using wool for cloth diaper covers:

  • WASHING:  Wool does NOT get washed with your regular diaper laundry, and NEVER goes in the dryer!  Unless you want to shrink it to fit your child’s baby doll..  Yes, I have done this accidentally.
  • One lovely thing about wool for diaper covers is that, unless it’s soiled, it only needs to be washed about once a week.  Yes, you read that right.  Wool is naturally anti-microbial, and so it simply needs to be aired out when damp, and then it can be used again.  In other words, you can use the same soaker for overnights several days in a row–just turn it inside-out to air-dry all day, and by evening it’ll be ready to use again.
  • However, woolies are a hand-wash-only item (For this reason, I especially love fitted diapers.  They ensure I never have to hand-wash poo stains!).  I do this in the sink, with Eucalan Wool Wash.  If you don’t have (or don’t want to buy) Eucalan, you can also use a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap, or a teaspoon of your favorite natural baby wash or baby shampoo.
  • Water must be room-temperature/cold!  Too cold and you’ll shock the fibers, too warm and they’ll shrink.  Fill the sink with water, check the temperature, then add your wool wash or other soap product.  Swish it around, then add your woolies, turned inside-out.  Let them soak for about five minutes, then gently squeeze out the excess water, and place them on a thick towel to dry.  You can place another towel on top, then roll them up together, and stand on the towel roll.  This sounds awkward, but really cuts down on your drying time.
  • Hang your woolies, or lay them flat to dry.  This will take at least a day.  Don’t put them outside in the sun on a hot day, because the heat will shrink them!
  • LANOLIZING (what’s that?!):  All natural wool contains lanolin, which keeps it water-resistant and anti-microbial.  After repeated washings, the lanolin gets washed out and you’ll need to re-lanolize.  You can tell if your wool needs lanolizing if the water soaks right in, saturating the fabric when you put it in the sink.  If it floats/resists being pushed down into the water, and you see water drops beading up on it, it’s still got some lanolin in it.  Of course, the other way to tell if your wool needs lanolizing is if, when your little one’s wearing it, and her diaper leaks right through it!  But I’d recommend avoiding that if you can help it!
  • Lanolizing only needs to be done once every few months, and it’s quite easy to do as well.  If you have a tube of Lansinoh from your early days of breastfeeding, you can easily lanolize your woolies in a few extra minutes during your wash routine.

To lanolize your woolies:  

1. Fill the sink with cold water again right after washing them, and place your woolies in the water, inside-out.

2. Get a mason jar or drinking glass, and fill it with HOT water from your tap.

3. Put a small amount of lanolin into the water–either a pea-sized amount for one or two woolies, or about an inch-long strip for six or more–and stir vigorously until it melts.  It should look like golden oil droplets in the hot water.

4. Pour this quickly into the sink, on top of your woolies.

5. Swish with your hands, and let the woolies soak for about 30 seconds to a minute–then remove them and dry as usual.

  • BENEFITS:  Wool is THE BEST for bedtime leak protection.  No more wet sheets!  With wool, it’s water-resistant, not waterproof–which means that if it’s compressed, you might feel some wetness.  In other words, if baby’s absolutely soaked her diaper, and you pick them up, you might feel wetness on your arm, in the area where it’s squeezing the wool against the soaked diaper.  But this rarely happens unless the diaper is REALLY wet, and it won’t leak the way that a soaked pocket diaper would.
  • Woolies are also super-cute–if you buy shorties and longies instead of just soakers, they double as clothing, which simplifies things.  It’s more comfy for baby to wear fewer layers, and it gives them more freedom of movement, which is especially healthy when they’re learning to crawl.
  • You can use any sort of diaper underneath a wool cover–prefolds, flats, contours with snappis, fitteds, etc.  However, I prefer fitteds, for their superior poo-catching abilities!
  • You can spend as much or as little as you like on your wool stash.  You can find gorgeous, handmade works of art for your baby to wear that cost over $100 a pop; you can make your own wool soakers and wraps from cut-up woolen sweaters, sewn by hand–or anything in between.  It can be gorgeous and comfortable for baby, either way.
  • Not all wool is scratchy, and it’s actually a very healthy fabric to use, even in warm climates.  Wool is naturally breathable and has the ability to regulate temperature, so it keeps you cooler in the heat, and warmer in the cold.  This quality makes it much preferred over non-breathable synthetics in our Texas summers!
  • Wool is hypoallergenic.  Except for a small number of people who are allergic to lanolin, wool is an excellent choice for sensitive skin.
  • Wool is really, really durable.  While many of the new, synthetic, made-in-China diapers are falling apart after being used for only a few months, wool can be passed on or handed down from child to child with very little decrease in function.  Using gentle, correct washing techniques, woolies will stay out of the landfills and last for many years.
  • Woolies don’t have to be bulky or thick.  I have thicker wool for nighttime, and thinner wool for daytime use.  They sell jersey knit wool and even wool crepe fabrics–very trim under clothes, and very breathable on hot days.

I think wool is a beautiful, healthful, and useful alternative to both disposable diapers and synthetic cloth diapers.  If you’re curious about wool, I highly recommend buying or making one or two covers (here’s a great link for making your own soakers, diapers and more), and using them for nighttime.

My absolute favorites for nighttime are Aristocrats brand pull-ons.  They retail for about $35 each, but you can pick them up used for as little as $10.

I’m at the point now where I have mostly wool, and only a few PUL covers as backup.  For a long time, I avoided wool (as a former vegan, of course), but now it’s my favorite.

…and it’s so cute!
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Homemade Bumble Bars Recipe

Ah, Bumble Bars

Gluten-free, organic, and so delicious.  I was introduced to Bumble Bars by a dear friend of mine, who is big-into healthy eating (even moreso than I am).  At first, I wasn’t sure whether I liked them that much–but when I saw them at the store, I thought I’d try one again….and the next time….and, well.  I really love Bumble Bars.

They are, however, rather small, and rather expensive, and worst of all?  Only obtainable at stores that are an hour or more from my home!

So I decided to try making my own.  The first batch was okay, but wasn’t quite right.  This simple recipe, however, is spot-on awesomeness:  

Mix up the following in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula:

  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. corn syrup (Gasp! I had this on hand from making holiday candy–shhh!) or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, cashews, or another nut you like
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar (or 1/2 heaping tsp. cinnamon.  I didn’t have plain cinnamon on hand! )
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Generously butter a square glass baking dish, spoon the sticky mix in and smooth it down as best as you can.

Bake in a 175 degree oven for 1.5  hrs.  It will still be sticky when it comes out.

You can eat it just like this, or you can improve it by flipping the whole thing over in the dish while it’s still warm (Yes, this is tricky.  Using two spatulas would be a good plan.).  Gravity works the honey/syrup down to the bottom as this bakes, and so if you don’t flip it, the top will be more dry/firm, and the bottom will be more sticky and moist.

Either way?  Amazing sticky goodness.  I would have posted a better picture of the finished product, but I ate most of it already. 🙂

Egg Ideas for Easter, Ostara & Spring

Next week it will officially be Springtime!  In our house, we celebrate Ostara, or the Vernal Equinox–most commonly known as the First Day of Spring.  In Greek myth, this is the day where the Goddess Persephone returns from her six-month stay in the Underworld to rejoin her mother, Demeter–and her joy brings forth the crops and bounty of the Earth.  Springtime–and Easter–are traditional celebrations of fertility, and so the egg is an obvious symbol.  Sprouted seeds are another symbol that we tend to include–especially since we’ve started keeping a vegetable garden.

There’s lots of things that you can color eggs with besides conventional (chemical!) store-bought dyes.  Also, you can celebrate with egg symbols without actually using or eating eggs.  Here are a few ideas I’ve tried:

Natural Egg Dye:

Other natural egg dyes need different instructions and different amounts of time for each color you want to use, but I think that’s a lot of hassle.  Instead, this technique will take a bit longer, but it’s the same for each color.  You can use brown or white eggs, but make sure they’re raw.  They will cook and color at the same time.  If you use eggs that are several days old, they will be easier to peel later.

Gather up several pots and probably two dozen eggs, white vinegar–and the following, to give a good variety of color:

  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage (sky blue)
  • Large handful yellow onion skins (red-orange)
  • 2 Tbsp. turmeric (bright yellow)
  • 1/8 cup liquid chlorophyll (green–omit vinegar!)
  • 1 cup blueberries (pale blue)
  • 1 cup grape juice concentrate (grey-purple)
  • Large handful red onion skins (brown)

Fill a pan with about 4 cups of water, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, and one of the color ingredients above.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.  THEN, add the raw eggs (up to six at a time) and simmer on low for another 30 minutes.  Dyed and cooked in one step!  You can use all four burners and do four colors at once.

***ETA:  I had originally listed red onion skins for green–but I cannot get that result to duplicate, for some reason.  They turned out a deep brown instead.  So I’m using liquid chlorophyll for green, since I have that on hand.

Also, the eggs dyed with yellow onion skin look really dark because i forgot about them..!  If you leave them in the dye-pot in the fridge overnight, they will turn bright red 😉  Sorry for any confusion!!***

After you’ve done your backyard egg hunt, make deviled eggs–but hold the Miracle Whip!

Deviled Eggs:

  • Dill pickle relish
  • Hummus (Garlic, plain or red pepper–your choice)
  • Paprika–just for topping
  • Hard-boiled eggs, of course

Peel your hard-boiled eggs, cut them in half lengthwise, and put the yolks into a big bowl.  Mash them up with about an equal amount of hummus, and relish added to taste (every good chef knows that tasting is more important than measuring!).  Then scoop the mixture into each egg-white half, and sprinkle with paprika.  Done!

Now, here’s one more recipe that isn’t natural or healthy, but it’s fun–especially for kids who like to help with baking!

Pink cream cheese cookies:

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg
  • Fun colored sugar, sprinkles, etc.

Preheat oven to 350.  Put all ingredients into a big mixing bowl, and invite your kiddo to squoosh everything together with his or her bare, clean hands!  Once the mix looks uniform, drop it by teaspoonfuls onto a baking stone or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  You can shape/flatten them to be more cookie-like, if you want.  Then add sprinkles or colored sugar.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

These are yummy, and so easy and fun to make.

Egg Candles:

I’m not as clever as some mamas who make their own egg-shaped candles–I just buy them at Hobby Lobby (gasp!).

Egg candles are one of our family rituals every year, however.  I get an egg-shaped candle for each of us, and we all take toothpicks and carve symbols that represent things we’d like to see grow and blossom in ourselves during the year ahead.  Sometimes we use runes, others we just write words, or make pretty patterns.  Even my two-year old does this with us.  When we’re done, we talk a bit about what we’ve carved into our candle and why, and then we arrange them into a circle on a heat-proof platter, light them, and let then burn themselves out.  The colored wax makes pretty patterns on the plate, and sometimes we save the whole thing.

Someday, I will re-use that wax to make more candles.  Y’know, if I ever get into candle-making. =)

Painted Wooden/Plaster Eggs:

Again, more evidence of my love of Hobby Lobby.  When I was vegan, I used to buy wooden and plaster eggs and paints for my kids, worried that they would miss the actual eggs and egg-dying come Spring-time (they never cared!).  I would get the plaster ones that are molded into designs, making it easier for the younger ones to paint.  The wooden ones are more durable, but you have to have a steady hand to paint patterns on them–or else a taste for abstract art 😉  These hide just as well for egg hunts, or are a fun craft project when included in an Easter basket.

Seed Intentions:

Get some dried butter beans, limas, or other large, light-colored bean.  Pick out a few for each person in the family.  With a permanent marker, draw things on the beans that symbolize your intentions for yourself in the coming year–hearts, peace signs, stars, spirals, whatever speaks to you.  Then plant the beans and watch your intentions grow!

A fun way to do these is to plant them inside of old egg shells, if you’ve got at least half of the shell intact.  If you plan ahead, you can save eggshells for this project as you do your cooking and baking over several days or weeks (wash and dry them if you plan to add them to your garden outdoors, to prevent soil contamination).  Take an ice pick or other sharp object and pierce a hole in the bottom of each shell-half for drainage, then fill the shells with a small amount of potting soil.  If you want to re-plant your beans in the garden, you can plant them right in the egg shell.

I like this activity because it combines the actual growth of new life within the seedling and the egg imagery–but in this case the egg is fulfilling the death/rebirth part of the life cycle, nourishing life in a different way.

Natural Grass Easter Basket:

Instead of using gross plastic “grass” in your kids’ baskets, why not sprout a basket full of real, lush grass?  If you have a kitty, he or she will enjoy nibbling on it after you’re done with it!  This project takes about a week, and might be tricky to pull off if you want it to be a surprise, since my kids invariably find things like this that I try to hide while they’re in-the-making.

The tricky part:  Get a basket, and find a dish or pan that fits inside really well (those tinfoil baking pans work well).

Next, soak a handful or two of wheat berries in room-temperature water overnight.  (You can get these in a health food store, or probably in the grocery’s bulk section).

Then add about an inch of potting soil in the bottom of your dish or pan, and spread the wheat berries over top of it in a uniform layer (just about obscuring the soil).  Lightly cover this with more soil, thoroughly water, and place the dish or pan in a sunny windowsill.  Keep the soil moist, and in a week you’ll have a living carpet of green!  Your kitty will thank you.

Happy Spring, everyone!

The Exhaustive List of Homebirth Supplies

If you’re having a homebirth with a midwife, she’s probably provided you with a list of supplies–or a pre-made birth kit–that you should have on hand.  However, if you’re birthing at home without assistance, you may wonder what supplies and items would be worth having on hand to maximize your comfort and peace-of-mind as your labor time nears.  Of course, birth can and does happen without any special equipment at all, and things work just fine.

Nothing on this list is essential, really–and it’s good to keep that in mind.  You shouldn’t be stressing out in week 39 because you’ve run out of honey and can’t find a local source for red raspberry leaf tea!  Sometimes less is more.

However, if you’re a planner like me, you might like to research all your options beforehand, just to make sure that you’ve got the best shot at being deliciously comfy throughout your entire birthing and postpartum process!

Pre-labor:

  • Spare vinyl shower curtain or painter’s drop cloth–this can be spread on your bed weeks in advance, in between the mattress pad and fitted sheet, to protect your lovely mattress from getting soaked in the event of your water breaking unexpectedly–or if you’re planning on laboring in bed.
  • Birth ball—Make sure you get one that’s the right size for your height. You can sit on it, lean over it, bounce and do hip circles on it. You can also cover it with a blanket if you don’t want to feel cold vinyl against your skin. Laboring with the aid of a birth ball is so much more comfortable! It also helps baby descend and get into optimal position before labor even starts.
  • A stethoscope or doppler–You and your partner can both learn to listen for baby’s heartbeat with either of these devices, and you can time baby’s heartbeat as well.  This may prove to be an excellent skill during labor.
  • Red raspberry leaf and nettle tea–both are excellent for the female systems and rejuvenate you during and after labor.  You can make up huge, iced pitchers of this tea and sip it like a sports drink.
  • Old sheets for your bed/birthing area–they are soft and comfy because they’re so worn-in, and if they get hopelessly stained (maybe you ran out of peroxide?), you won’t cry if they get thrown out.
  • Birth affirmations–you can write your own or find some that resonate with you on the internet.  Here’s some of mine.  You can print them out and have your partner read them to you while you’re laboring, or pick one or two to memorize and chant as mantras during contractions.  You can even record yourself speaking them aloud and play back the recording during labor.
  • Candles and a lighter or matches–A beautiful, naturally scented or beeswax candle can be a great focal point during contractions, and adds calming ambiance to your birthing space.  I’d avoid mass-produced candles or synthetic scents, because who wants to bring a brand new baby into a chemical soup for his first air-breathing experience??  I avoid incense for that same reason–although an oil burner can be used to naturally and gently scent the air without being overwhelming.
  • Alcohol–for disinfecting scissors if you plan on cutting the umbilical cord. (You don’t have to cut the cord at all if you choose not to—read on to learn about Lotus birthing!)

Early labor:

  • Chux pads–or puppy “training” pads–or just a bunch of old towels.  Birth is messy business, and sometimes there just aren’t enough clean towels available!   Plan on at least a box full of these–more if you want to avoid lots of laundry!
  • Blow-up tub pillow–if you want to relax in the tub while in labor, it’ll be so much more comfortable to have a soft place to rest your head!  A folded-up towel would work, but it would get wet and mushy, and slide into the water, etc.
  • Arnica–You can get a cream, a homeopathic remedy, or a cooling gel–any of which can be helpful.  Arnica is typically used for bruising and muscle fatigue.  Some women swear by arnica cream or gel for cooling the “ring of fire” during crowning and pushing the baby out.  Other women say that taking the homeopathic remedy throughout their labor takes the edge off of contractions.  As for me, I made an oil infusion with dried arnica, and used the oil as a belly rub during bouts of prodromal labor, or whenever I was exhausted.
  • Bach Flower Remedies Rescue Cream–this stuff is a homeopathic calming remedy, and in the cream form, it’s excellent for getting back rubs from your partner, or rubbing it into your temples to soothe a headache.  Some women also swear by Rescue Cream as the perfect aid for dealing with the “ring of fire”!
  • Bach Essences Rescue Remedy–you can get the pastilles or the drops, but either one is a great way to help you “chill out” as you’re approaching transition–AKA the “I can’t do it anymore!” stage of labor.  Nice to have something tangible to combat those feelings with.  If you’re especially concerned, the specific Bach essences of Hornbeam and Oak are also very helpful in relieving feelings of despair and exhaustion, or a feeling that you can’t go on.
  • Neroli oil–This scent is very calming and relaxing; however, pure essential oil of Neroli is rather obscenely expensive, so this is one instance where I recommend buying a synthetic version.  You won’t be putting this on your body, just using it for aromatherapy.  You can fill a misting pump-bottle with plain water, and add a few drops of Neroli oil.  Then  you can mist your pillows or the air in front of you.  This is also a nice, portable remedy if you find yourself in a stressful situation while away from home.  My daughters claimed my bottle of Neroli spritz after the birth, dubbing it Sweet Dream Spray.
  • Clary sage essential oil–This oil can be used in an infuser for aromatherapy or added to a carrier oil for massage into the belly during labor.  Clary sage is said to help induce labor, or else speed a slow-progressing labor.  I used this both aromatheraputically and as a massage oil–I simply added a few drops to my arnica infusion.  Don’t use this one before you’re full-term!

Birthing:

  • A hand mirror–It might be just the encouragement you need to see your baby’s head when she starts to crown–and besides, how often do you get the chance to see something like this??  The very first glimpse of your baby is unforgettable.
  • A crock pot, metal mixing bowl that fits inside of it, and clean, soft rags (or those birdseye prefolds!)–to make hot-oil compresses.  This is my favored method for dealing with the “ring of fire” and baby crowning.  Set up the crock pot ahead of time in your birthing space–with water in it, and the metal bowl inside, sort of floating on/in the water.  When you’re in labor, have your partner turn it on WARM (not high, no matter how slowly you think the oil will heat up!!), place the rags inside the metal bowl, and pour the oil over them, saturating them.  You can use plain olive oil or create an herbal infusion ahead of time (store it in the fridge for freshness).  I used fresh ginger root to good effect.  The ginger and the heat bring blood to the surface of your tissues, helping it to expand with ease.
  • Ginger root, calendula, comfrey, or other herbs (if you’re making an infusion)–Use cheesecloth to make a sort of “teabag” for your herbs, and allow it to steep in the oil at room temperature for 12 hours or so, or in the fridge for a day or two.  To use the compresses, your partner will take two warm, oiled cloths out of the crockpot and hold them against your perineum as you’re crowning–or you can do this yourself if you’re able to.  Makes the “ring of fire” much less intense, and helps you avoid tears or skid marks.
  • Warm blankets–Set aside a pile of things that you think you’ll like to wrap the baby and/or yourself in right after the birth, and let your partner know that once you’re in active labor, toss them into the dryer.  That way you’ll have deliciously warm receiving blankets and a bathrobe to slip into as soon as your new addition is here.  I think it’s a nice way to give baby a gentle transition from his world into ours–skin-to-skin with mama, and a warm blanket over both of you.
  • Camera–Even if you think you wouldn’t want photos of yourself in labor or giving birth in a million years, I highly recommend having your partner or a friend take some.  How many times in your life will you experience these moments?  Capture them.  You can always erase the memory card later if you REALLY want to.  Just don’t forget the batteries!!

Postpartum:

  • Something to cope with the possibility of postpartum hemorrhage—a hemostatic herbal blend will work, or you can just arm yourself with the knowledge that consuming a piece of placenta has dramatic and near-immediate effect on stemming hemorrhage bloodflow. Even a small piece of placenta held in the cheek or under the tongue, like a homeopathic pellet, will transfer powerful hormones to the brain and body via your capillary system, telling your uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding.
  • Peri bottles—I liked to have two of them–one for warm water and one for a soothing herbal blend.  Both are used to help you urinate more comfortably right after birthing.  You can also reuse any squeezable plastic bottle, such as a witch hazel bottle.
  • Peroxide–I like to have a full bottle on hand, because this stuff is excellent at getting out blood stains.  Just pour it on and watch the magic happen.  You never know when you might need to rush to the bathroom–and drip on the carpet on the way there.
  • Witch hazel–this stuff is divine!  It’s basically the only ingredient in Tucks pads for hemmorhoids, and even if you don’t have those now, you might have some for a day or a week after pushing out baby!  Witch hazel is also safe to use on your girly bits, and it’s incredibly soothing, cooling, and great for reducing swelling in those first few days and hours.  It’s also cleansing, which is always a plus.  How to use it, you ask?
  • Cotton rounds–Squirt witch hazel on these and use instead of toilet paper or wet wipes.
  • Cloth menstrual pads–soak one in witch hazel and lay it on top of a dry one–then place in underwear and sigh in comfort.
  • Gerber birdseye prefold diapers–Use these in place of cloth pads the first few days when bleeding is heavy–or soak them in witch hazel!
  • Nori seaweed–Believe it or not, seaweed is excellent at healing tears.  This kind is what you woudl buy to roll sushi in–it comes in dry sheets in a bag or jar.  Just get a piece wet, and use it almost like tape to “paste” a tear together.  This is what midwives often use in lieu of stitches.  I wish I’d known about it for the one birth I needed stitches for–getting stitches down there is awful!
  • Honey–If you’ve just got “skid marks” or minor tearing, honey is excellent to use.  It’s antimicrobial and promotes fast tissue regeneration.  Civil war nurses actually used it for soldiers on the battlefield!
  • Dark colored, comfy, fuller-cut undies.  No fun trying to “balance” a postpartum-sized pad in flowery white tanga panties.
  • Sitz bath–Warm water to sit in might be just the thing to soothe a sore bottom.  Try to have your partner set it up for you–otherwise, by the time you get around to setting it up yourself, you won’t really need it anymore. 🙂
  • Herbal blend for the sitz bath–If you want to splurge, you can get some lovely pre-mixed herbal blends from companies like Earth Mama Angel Baby.  These herbs are brewed like a strong tea, but then placed in the sitz bath, bathtub (great for your skin and perineum while you relax with baby!), or even a peri bottle.  Again, ask your partner to set this up for you, because you’ll probably be so busy nursing and cuddling that you’ll forget to do these little nice things for yourself.
  • After-Ease (by WishGarden Herbs)–This is an herbal blend for soothing afterpains, those contractions you get after birth that signal the clamping down of the uterus as it shrinks back to pre-baby size.  These often get worse after every baby.  Mine were awful even after my firstborn, and so I don’t recommend messing around with these.  They tend to get worse when baby nurses, and they can make you miserable if you don’t have something to deal with them.  If herbals aren’t enough to provide relief.
  • IBUPROFIN.  Up to 800Mg, every four hours. This is one of the few times in my life that I happily embrace allopathic medicine.  Take it or leave it!
  • Peppermint essential oil–this oil can be used aromatheraputically to help your bladder release, if you have trouble urinating after childbirth.  Very helpful!
  • A large bowl—to catch the placenta, so that it can be looked over to make sure it’s intact.
  • Large freezer bags–if you don’t have a plan for your placenta yet, you can freeze it for weeks or months while you decide.  Once thawed, it will still be useful for just about anything except encapsulation.  There are lots of options for what to do with your placenta, even if you’re not lotus birthing or encapsulating it.
  • Watercolor paper–this thick, fibrous paper can be found at art and hobby shops, and it’s excellent for making placenta prints.  You can use paint, or the blood of the placenta itself.  Either one makes a lovely print, although if you’re planning to encapsulate, you will of course want to avoid paint!  Have this on hand before the birth, and make sure to have your partner remind you that you want to make placenta prints!  It’s easy to forget in the bliss of the moment, and there’s only a small window of time during which you can make them 😉
  • Supplies for placenta encapsulation, if you’re doing it yourself. Read all about that at PlacentaBenefits.info.
  • Supplies for care of the placenta during a Lotus birth, if you’re planning on that.  More on Lotus birthing here.  And here.
  • Alfalfa tablets, and/or liquid chlorophyll—Perhaps you’ve been taking liquid chlorophyll throughtout pregnancy, which is helpful with your iron levels. Alfalfa has a very high content of Vitamin K—the clotting agent in human blood. Increasing your intake of Vitamin K in the weeks before and after baby is born will assure a healthy amount of Vitamin K is being transferred to your baby via breastmilk. Also, a Lotus or partial Lotus birth will ensure baby gets all the cord and placental blood she’s supposed to, lessening any concerns about Vitamin K or lack thereof in your newborn baby. More on the Vitamin K issue here.
  • Fresh, yummy juice–No, I don’t mean the shelf-stable, over-sugared kind!  Get a friend to bring over fresh fruit and greens and whip you up a super-nutrient smoothie.  This will energize you right after the hard work of birth.  Juicing helps to make nutrients more available by breaking down the tough cell walls of plant foods–especially greens–and it’s a quick, easy way of downing some healthy calories.  You can even add a piece of placenta to the smoothie for dramatic reversal of heavy bleeding!
  • Lots of frozen, nutritious meals–or an arsenal of good friends and family on call to prepare your family dinner for the first few days or weeks after the birth.  You need to take care of your body, and hopefully you can ask for and receive help.  Having access to healthy meals that you don’t have to prepare is worth so much right after a birth–it’s the best new-baby gift you can receive!
  • Birth-day cake—and perhaps some wine to share with friends!

For Baby:

  • Suction bulb or NoseFrieda–During a natural birth, the compression of baby’s chest after the head is birthed is often sufficient to clear the airway of any mucous and liquid, but again, on the chance that baby needs some extra help clearing out, it’s great to have this on hand.  For what it’s worth, I highly recommend the NoseFrieda over a bulb syringe, because it’s much more gentle and comfy for baby.
  • Inkpad and acid-free paper–to capture those precious first footprints.  I’d recommend having several sheets of paper to make multiple copies.  Baby feet don’t tend to hold still for perfect footprints!  And, that page in the baby book?  Maybe after you’ve made a bunch of footprints, pick out the best ones and cut/paste them into the baby book.  Otherwise your baby book might just get smeared with ink on that page.
  • Small bottles of olive oil–you can buy a big bottle and then separate a few out into empty sample-size lotion bottles or whatever you have on hand.  Olive oil is great for the skin in general, and putting olive oil on baby’s bottom in the first few days helps tremendously with cleaning those uber-sticky meconium poos off his tender skin.  Otherwise you’ll have to rub rather hard to clean him up (yes, even with warm cloth wipes), and neither of you will enjoy that!
  • Thermometer–good to have on hand just in case, especially in the early days.  A low-grade fever might be nothing, but it might also be the first indication that something’s not right with you or baby.
  • Fish scale–Use this with a ring sling, and you’ve got an accurate baby scale!  We picked ours up at a big-box store for about $12 (ridiculously cheaper than an “infant scale” or even a postal scale–although if you’ve already got either of those, rock on). Just don’t forget to weigh the sling separately and then subtract its weight!
  • Powdered goldenseal root–This herb can be bought in capsule-form, but don’t bother taking them.  Goldenseal is a natural cell proliferant and is also anti-microbial.  This makes it perfect for packing into deep wounds–or healing baby’s cord stump!  Goldenseal dries out the cord and helps it to fall off quickly (2-4 days on average), while alcohol (the doctor’s recommendation for cord care) actually preserves the cord stump, making it take longer to heal.

I’m quite sure I’ve left out a few things, but as I mentioned already–birth can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it!  I hope you find this list useful–even if you end up using none of it!

Birth Affirmations for Peace and Ecstasy

I am the embodiment of the Divine Feminine, the Mother Goddess, the Bringer of Life Force to the Earth.

My body is imprinted with the wisdom of the ages, to birth babies as we have done for thousands of years.

I relax, open to feeling the energy of this moment in all its divine power.

I allow and welcome the waves of cosmic energy to swell within me, break on the shores within, and wash away any anxiety, pain, or fear.

The flowing life-force energy cascades through me.

I am a channel for this loving power-flow, opening a sacred portal between worlds.

I feel the power within me, surrounding me, and know that I am strong.

I surrender to the cosmic flow of the universe; feeling it, observing it, riding the waves of divine energy.

Fear and pain are washed away in the ebb and flow of these cosmic waves.

My body is wise and strong.

As the pressure builds, I feel my body opening, stretching, surrendering to the waves.

I am blooming like a sacred lotus flower, creating a space between the worlds for my baby to come through.

I am enveloped in divine wisdom and love.

My body is sacred, and I trust its ancient knowledge.

My mind is free, my heart is light, and my spirit is one with this child–with All That Is.

I trust in the rhythm of my body and my baby.

I am unafraid, at peace; and I welcome this experience with courage and strength.

I put my trust in the Divine Wisdom of the Universe–in all that is.

There is no way out but THROUGH.

There is nothing to fear–only LOVE.