These Were A Few of My Favorite Things in 2019

My Top Ten Self Care Products That Got Me Through My First Year Postpartum

 

When I decided to write about my “top ten of anything” to wrap up 2019, it was very clear that my top ten would be related to the birth of my son.  His arrival dominated my year!

I have written extensively about my postpartum experience because I think it’s really important to be open, candid and honest about what really happens when you are recovering from having a baby.  While every woman has her own unique experience, there are many unspoken aspects of recovery that make the process challenging, both emotionally and physically.   More and more women are speaking up about those things.

Among the most important messages, advice and wisdom I received during this period of my life was to make time for self care.  It sounds easy enough.  It wasn’t!  Caring for a newborn and yourself at the same time is not easy at all.  Especially if you have more recovery needs than the average new mom.

I simplified.  Self care would sometimes be as simple as taking a shower and using products that made me feel like a queen.  I compiled a list of my favorite self care products that were especially nurturing and luxurious!  These products made a huge difference in my emotional recovery – not only are they healing to the body and soul, but these businesses share high ethical standards and use the most natural, clean ingredients available.

It’s the little things that really aren’t little at all.
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10

BEE LUCIA WELLNESS CANDLE
I brought home the “Grounded” wellness crystal-infused candle with labradorite crystals. I would light this candle any time I needed to get grounded.  Simple as that.  Its delicate but soothing scent is all about relaxation and getting centered and to create a meditative environment.  Each candle is crafted around a specific intention, made with toxin-free beeswax, organic coconut oil, therapeutic grade pure essential oils and natural crystals.  When you burn your Wellness Candle negative ions are emitted to bind to toxins and help remove them from the air.  I write about the benefits of negative ions all of the time!  You’re not just getting the benefits of aromatherapy – but negative ions, too!  Note:  negative ions are beneficial particles for the human body while positive ions are harmful; negative ions are found in highest concentrations in natural, clean air and are abundant in nature – especially around moving water like waterfalls, ocean surf, at the beach or after a storm and especially in mountains and forests.  Take this candle home and you can create a similar soothing environment!  A local family-owned Portland, Oregon company
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9

URBAN MOONSHINE CALM TUMMY BITTERS
I have long used bitters for digestive relief.  I studied holistic nutrition and have made recommendations for many clients to use natural herbal bitters to help soothe digestive diseases.  I discovered Urban Moonshine at Portland-based market New Seasons.  I love the Calm Tummy blend because it has a strong yet gentle balance of chamomile and ginger – perfect for pregnancy nausea and postpartum tummy aches.  Urban Moonshine has an incredible website with pages like an online classroom – super informative!  A woman-run company based out of Burlington, VT.

 

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8

SHEA MOISTURE GROUND COFFEE SCRUB
This is another product I found at a New Seasons store in the greater Portland area.  The nutritionist working in the personal care section highly suggested this product.  I explained that after having my baby my arms and legs were dry and a little bumpy.  I tried a few approaches, unsuccessfully.  This scrub healed my arms and legs, leaving me with soft, smooth skin like my baby!  I love the texture and fresh ground coffee smell – a natual wake- me-up with my morning shower.  I will say you need to rinse out your shower after using this product – it can get a little messy.  But, well worth a brief clean-up for such luxurious natural medicine!  Shea Moisture was founded by Sofi Tucker a woman who started selling shea nuts at the village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. By age 19, the widowed mother of four was selling shea butter, African black soap and her homemade hair and skin preparations all over the countryside.  Her grandchildren run Shea Moisture, Sofi’s legacy.  This business has pioneered fair trade through Community Commerce at home and abroad.  A woman-founded fair trade company from Sierra Leone, Africa.

 

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7

PACHA SOAP CO.  SWEET HONEY ALMOND FROTH BOMB
I’ve never been into bubbles, froths or bombs in my bath.  I prefer basic epsom salt soaks – sometimes with a little milk and honey infusion for an added indulgence.  I received a Pacha Sweet Honey Almond Froth Bomb at my baby shower with some other self care items for new mamas.  I put the bath bomb on the shelf.  About the time my son was six months old, and I was done with the sitz baths, I decided to try the froth bomb.  It was a revelation!  The ultra luxe gold shimmer entices.  Once added to hot water, this lovely froth opened up all of my senses with its warm honey-almond fragrance.  The delicate froth turned the bathwater silky and didn’t leave residue on me (or my bath!).  Instead, the all- natural ingredients kissed my skin and gently softened my elbow, knees, heels.  I didn’t want to get out of the tub!  The ultimate self care!  Read about Pacha’s incredible mission on their website.  Pacha Soap Co is another global-conscious company spreading goodness through good causes.

 

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6

EVAN HEALY TULSI FACIAL TONIC HYDROSOUL
I get compliments on my skin all of the time.  I have been blessed with my grandmother’s excellent genetics.  But I still take great care of my skin.  I’m a little OCA (obsessive compulsive Advantage!) about it.  I use Evan Healy products for my morning and evening skin care regimen.  When I was diagnosed with celiac disease back in 2007 I became more mindful about not only what I was putting in my body, but what I was putting on my body.  I had to read labels for gluten ingredients, often hidden, like triticale, wheat germ, barley, and so on.  Once I began reading labels I quickly saw ingredients that I didn’t want to put on my skin.  I adopted the philosophy “if I can’t eat the ingredients then it won’t go on my skin.”  Your skin is your largest digestive organ – it absorbs everything you put on it, as well as other unseen things in the environment.  To lessen the toxic load, I decided I had control over what I would put on my skin.  Evan Healy’s products are fine to eat – not that you would, but, there are no harmful chemicals.  Her products align with my philosophy.  Just as I practice holistic nutrition, holistic skincare is nutrition, too. 

I love the Tulsi (Holy Basil) Facil Tonic HydroSoul.  I mean, I love all her products.  But, this was a standout for me in 2019.  It was especially restorative and therapeutic during my postpartum year.  Plus, it has an amazing spicy, sweet clove-like fragrance.  In Hindu tradition it’s believed that Tulsi is a goddess embodied in an herb and is revered as the holiest of all plants.  In the wisdom of Ayurveda, Tulsi exhibits anti-oxidant, purifying, awakening, grounding benefits to skin, respiratory passages and psyche.  This is more than a skincare product.   It is medicine.  Another great website to educate and inform.  A woman-run company based in California also involved in ethical projects as well as the American Family Farm Revival.

 

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5

WELEDA WILD ROSE PAMPERING BODY OIL
Weleda has long been a pioneer in natural products and even has its own certification for sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.  The mission is to create products that naturally work with your body’s own systems.  I only recently became a fan of rose oil or rose water.  This particular product is pure luxury.  I apply it from neck to toe as soon as I get out of the shower.  It has warming properties and just feels lovely.  I picked this out just at a time when I was going through some postpartum depression and I was going through the typical new mom identity crisis feelings.  This lifted my spirits.  Turns out, I learned in a healing Mayan abdominal massage treatment that I also needed work on my heart chakra, which is associated with balance, calmness and serenity.  Rose oil is associated with the heart chakra.  I was intuitively applying medicine.  Though global, Weleda still cultivates its own biodynamic gardens and work in fair trade agreements with small farmers and gardeners to source the best raw materials.

 

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4

WILD CARROT HERBALS WANDERLUST FOOT CREAM
My feet hurt a lot during my third trimester.  I had a bit of edema and my high arches were pushed nearly flat from the weight of my baby.  Even months after I gave birth to my son my feet hurt.  They sprang back to their normal high arches, which, I think exasperated the pain.  I just wanted my husband to squeeze my heels as hard as he could for relief.  My feet were also very dry from hormone changes and during harvest (I’m a winemaker) after being on them for grueling hours they’d often get wet and stay wrapped in damp socks for hours.  My feet needed some love.  I found this foot cream, thanks to the lovely new packaging.  It drew my attention!  I applied this indulgent cream immediately – the night of purchase, right before bedtime.  As the website promises – it’s perfect for slathering on weary feet, cracked heels and dry legs, and uses Oregon-grown peppermint oil to help revitalize the skin and restore the spirit.  It definitely softens and hydrates.  My feet felt completely renewed and restored.  A woman-owned company based in the beautiful Wallowas Mountains in Oregon.

 

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3

BADGER PREGNANT BELLY OIL
I started using this soothing belly oil during my third trimester.  I continued to soothe my healing tummy skin during my postpartum year.  It’s that rose scent again – but with vanilla.  Jojoba and coconut oils blend to make a super luxe, non-greasy oil that absorbs immediately and leaves a light scent.  Lovely!  Feels so good on stretching, stretched and stretch-marked skin.  A family-owned company with healing products, a healthy business and a mission to make a difference.

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2

KUU BOTANICALS GINGER & WILD ROSE INFUSED CASTOR OIL
Unfortunately, there isn’t a website available for this product.  I found it at a pregnancy and postpartum wellness center in Portland, Oregon.  This roll on castor oil was the perfect medicine for my c-section scar and scar tissue.  It can also be used for menstrual cramp relief.  It’s every bit soothing and warming with a delicate ginger and wild rose aroma.  A gentle application with the roller ball – and heat can be added like a traditional castor oil pack.  This product was ultra nurturing for me during my postpartum year. A local woman-owned Portland, Oregon company.

 

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1

EARTH MAMA ORGANICS PRODUCTS.  ALL OF THEM!
I am naming ALL of the Earth Mama Organics products as my number one self care products that got me through my first year postpartum.  I received many of these products as a baby shower gift – probably the most nurturing gift for my self care regimen.   Let’s face it – mama is often forgotten after baby comes along.  But Earth Mama Organics takes care of both baby and mama.  I could not have survived my immediate postpartum days and weeks without the herbal sitz bath, herbal perineal spray, skin and scar balm, nipple butter and milkmaid tea.  The diaper balm is by far the best we’ve tried – our baby has gone almost diaper rash free as a result of this balm.  I can’t praise this line of product enough!  The website is a wonderful resource for expecting moms to visit – with a “Birth Plan” category and other really useful information – I recommend all expecting mamas read the section on “Postpartum Lying-in Plan”, a practice we implemented that has made all the difference for both my recovery and my child’s comfort.  A local woman-owned Portland, Oregon company.

 

An Exploration of Self Healing

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Image courtesy of doTERRA (doterra.com)

 

One of the worst conditions following childbirth was a case of a painfully numb thigh.  I endured a long (traumatic) labor beginning with early labor for two days at home with manageable contractions, followed by 24 hours of “active” labor at the hospital that led to 3 hours of pushing until my baby stopped descending and would not pass through the pelvic bone – you could see my baby’s head – which made me believe I would successfully push him for a normal vaginal delivery.  Unfortunately, after several grueling positions of pushing, baby was not budging.  The doctor and nursing staff prepared me for a C-section surgery.

Somewhere within the 24 hours of active labor and pushing I asked for an epidural.  And, of course, that line was used to anesthetize me from my tummy down for surgery. I was given morphine and other pain killers that ended up with alternating rounds of Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

I had been retaining a bit of water in my ankles and feet during my last trimester – normal edema.  In the hospital, with the introduction of intervention medicine to induce labor, my legs swelled up a bit more.  When I returned home after surgery, my legs were painfully swollen with fluids from pregnancy, hormones, and childbirth.  They felt tight and somewhat numb.  Over the course of a few days, the swelling went down, the water retention went away, and my left leg felt totally normal.  My right thigh, however, held on to the numbness for days.

The numbness became one of the worst experiences of my healing and recovery story.  It prevented me from getting much needed sleep to heal.  It felt like tinnitis or some other annoying tick that just wouldn’t go away.  I started researching online numbness in the thigh following childbirth – with different experiences associated with epidural, c-section, or childbirth, in general.  I then polled my Facebook friends to see if other mothers had experienced either temporary or permanent numbness from an epidural or C-section.  I had so many responses that it made me feel less paranoid about my own numbness.  Most said they had experienced temporary numbness in a leg and most said it lasted anywhere from several weeks to a couple years!

At this point, I wasn’t concerned with what caused the numbing aches.  I just wanted relief.  I had tried to be patient with my recovery – they say it takes a minimum of six weeks to recover from a C-section.  But, I was recovering from what was more like two birth experiences – my son making it through the birth canal and then a C-section.  I was a swollen, sore mess.

After a week, much of my swelling was subsiding.  I was beginning to feel a little bit better.  The numb leg was making me crazy.  Finally, I tried ice packs at night to see if it would help.  It did not.  I agonized over the thought of having this linger for months or even over a year.  I tried a heating pad.  It did nothing.  Finally, after two and a half weeks had passed since giving birth, I pulled open my bag of doTERRA essential oils.  I had one in particular that I though might be soothing – a proprietary blend called “Aromatouch”.

Now, there are clear warnings to consult your doctor before using essential oils with pregnancy or breastfeeding.  So, I am not advocating that every mother start slathering up the doTERRA oils for relief.  You need to know what you’re using, what risks are involved, if any, and what contraindications are involved, if any.

I used a small amount to massage into my numb thigh – a couple drops by my knee, a couple more near my hip.  I rubbed out my numb thigh for about ten to fifteen minutes.  I slept that night.

In the morning, my leg felt better.  The numbness was still there, but it was dull.  I don’t know if it was the massage, the oil blend, or the combination that eased the numbing pain.  All I know was that it felt better.  I walked around my house more to stretch out my thigh, get some circulation.  I had been drinking copious amounts of water to assist in breastfeeding, and was eating thoroughly nourishing and nutritious snacks and meals to make my former nutrition school instructors proud.  I was taking high quality, food based, organic prenatal vitamins, fish oil for omegas, vitamin D and a probiotic to supplement my diet.  I was making the best choices I possibly could for healing and nourishing myself and my baby.

The next evening, I added one more application of the doTERRA “Aromatouch” massage oil with a vigorous ten to fifteen minute thigh massage.  Again, I slept that night.

It’s been a couple of days and the numbness is barely there.  Certain sitting positions seem to aggravate the tissue, but then I’ll get up and walk it out.  It is still there, but it is very dull and at times unnoticeable.

The image above lists the ingredients in the doTERRA “Aromatouch” blend.  I wasn’t sure if any of these oils specifically addressed nerve injury.  So, I looked up nerve damage (neuropathy) and essential oils.  The following essential oils have been long associated with addressing nerve pain: Roman chamomile, peppermint and lavender.  Both peppermint and lavender are in the “Aromatouch” blend.

Peppermint essential oil is attributed to relaxing muscles, controlling muscle spasms and acting as a pain reliever.  Lavender is attributed to improving sleep and acting as a pain reliever, but, recent studies suggest lavender plant extract produces an anticonvulsant and anti-spasm effect.

I’m not one to sware by essential oils.  I believe they have their place in healing and wellness.  But, I also believe individuals need to work with their regular healthcare providers – doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists – to ensure safe use and dosage.