Our oil and salve helps prevent stretch marks and relieves the itch of stretching skin, using certified organic herbs. Each herb offers unique soothing and protecting properties.
Marshmallow, the progenitor of modern day commercial marshmallows, is an herb with varied uses. It can be eaten – raw or slightly cooked, makes an excellent soup thickener, and the roots can be used as a meringue substitute. Mallow softens skin and soothes skin irritations, boils, stings, and runny sores. In a tea, it soothes mucus membranes, swollen glands, and irritations of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract.
Lavender is a beautiful perennial plant with a familiar clean and soothing scent. It grows up to two feet tall with many branches of gray-green linear leaves. Its very aromatic purple flowers, which grow on terminal spikes, are gathered just before opening and used to relieve headaches, depression, exhaustion, and to promote relaxation and sleep. They are also used in herbal body care and aromatherapy in sachets and sleep pillows; relaxing baths; antiseptic face washes, steams, and toners; and creams and oils to relieve aches and pains. Lavender also helps to minimize scarring.
Rose is the classic flower with a wonderful aromatic smell that has inspired much poetry. But did you know that once the flower petals fall off what’s left is a valuable seedpod, called rose hips? The hips are very high in Vitamin C. You can use them to make a tea to relieve cold symptoms, or puree into a syrup or jelly mixed with applesauce. Rose hip oil helps prevent scarring. Roses are known to hydrate the skin and are wonderful to use for a face wash, steams and herbal baths. You can even put the flower petals on cuts to stop bleeding.
Calendula is an easily planted annual with orange and yellow flowers and alternate leaves. The unusual curlicue seedpods easily reseed themselves. This herb is an all purpose skin healing herb used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema. It relieves muscle cramps, painful swellings, hemorrhoids, and insect bites. It can be used in a footbath on swollen feet and as an eyewash on sore, tired eyes. A hair rinse including calendula reduces dandruff. The orange and yellow petals of this edible flower are a colorful addition to salads.
Chamomile is a highly aromatic herb which many of us drink as a relaxing and calming tea. It has finely cut leaves and small, many rayed white flowers with yellow centers that bloom daily throughout its growing season. It’s a gentle herb to drink for its calming effect on children and adults. It is also used to relieve indigestion, gas, and diarrhea. It can be used on sores, rashes, scaly skin, sunburn, and windburn, to soften skin and to reduce wrinkles. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties for use on sprains, strains, and sore muscles. A hair rinse with chamomile even brings out blond highlights.
Witch Hazel is an herb many mothers come to swear by after pregnancy and childbirth, and we thought we’d take a moment to share some details about this powerful (some mothers might say sanity saving!) plant.
But first, what does this plant have to do with witches? It’s likely an etymological mix-up, stemming from the Middle English term “wiche,” which means pliant or bendable and has nothing to do with witches. Or perhaps the use of the branches of the plant as divining rods is related the name.
Witch hazel is a shrub or small tree growing in the rich soils of the eastern part of the United States. The star shaped leaves become brilliant colors in the fall while the round fruits, which have projections, shoot their seeds several feet as they ripen.
Witch hazel leaves and bark contain astringent tannins which stop internal and external bleeding. Both the bark and leaves are used to treat hemorrhoids, varicose veins, swelling and bruises, and sore nipples. Internally it stops diarrhea, vaginal discharge and excess menses. Witch hazel is an ingredient found in eye drops and many skin ointments. It was used widely by Native Americans for medicinal purposes.
And of course it’s used widely after childbirth to soothe sore perineal muscles, reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids. Used in a bath, as a spray directly on tissues or on a pad, or as a balm on hemorrhoids, it’s an effective herbal remedy recommended by moms and doctors alike.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
But there are some herbs which are healing when used externally, but are not safe for ingestion. One such herb is Comfrey.
We often hear from mothers who have questions and concerns about the use of comfrey in breast compresses and nipple creams, so we thought we’d share this information to clear up some of the confusion.
Comfrey is an herb recognized for its value as both a fertilizer and a healing herb. It’s native to Europe, grows in damp, grassy locations, and has a bell shaped flower often in a blue or purple color.
Comfrey has long been valued for its ability to reduce skin inflammation. It is also thought to stimulate cell growth and repair. One of Comfrey’s nicknames is “knitbone” because it was traditionally used to aid the healing of bone fractures.
While healing when used externally, Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause veno-occlusive disease if used internally.
The Botanical Safety Handbook, published by the American Herbal Products Association, classifies Comfrey as Class 2a – for external use only, Class – 2b not to be used [internally] while pregnant and Class 2c not to be used [internally] while nursing (parentheses ours, for clarification). In 2001, the US Food and Drug Administration advised makers of dietary supplements containing Comfrey to remove their products from the market and label products that contain Comfrey ‘for external use only.’
Comfrey has great value as a healing herb, but should not be included in any product that could possibly be ingested by a baby.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Several herbs used safely used by women for generations are an excellent source for the increased vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy, and to prepare your the uterus for labor.
These herbs can easily be made into teas and incorporated into meals on a regular basis. Every person is different, and your body may react differently now to foods than it did previously, but used wisely and in moderation, these herbs make wonderful teas and foods.
These common herbs are available in most natural health food stores and are well-worth using for their nutritionally-packed support during these special months.
This information is provided for educational, and not medical, purposes. Consult your health care provider for advice tailored to your needs.
But did you know that what you put on your skin holds the same potential? And when it comes to the delicate skin of your baby, it’s even more important to use only those products that are gentle and nurturing. Unfortunately, many popular body care products contain chemicals of concern.
We can’t rely on regulation to protect us from potentially dangerous chemicals in our body care products. The FDA has banned just nine chemicals from cosmetics, while the European Union has banned more than 1,000.
Shopping “natural” or “organic” is no guarantee that your products are free of dangerous chemicals. A product that is labeled as being “natural” may be mixed up with synthetic dyes or fragrances. Buying higher cost products is no guarantee either – many are full of the same ingredients and harsh chemicals as the less expensive brands.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re buying products that are safe and pure? Shop for products that don’t contain the chemicals listed below, in either their ingredients or their packaging. You’ll find a detailed explanation of the risks they pose on our website.
Want to find products that don’t contain these ingredients? Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to search for safe products.
At Motherlove we’ve been committed to making safe, toxin-free, herbal products made with organic ingredients for mothers and babies for over 20 years. We were recently named a “Champion” (the highest level of compliance) of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Our products are all rated a zero (the lowest rating) the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, and we are proud to publish our complete ingredient lists. Motherlove uses safe, recyclable packaging for our products, and they are free of “shelf life” preservatives and any artificial ingredients. You expect that from “real food.” You should expect that from your body care, as well.
We’re very happy to share an interview with massage therapist and trainer Lisa Gallauresi, LMT on partner massage for pregnancy and labor.
Lisa is a massage therapist, parent educator and trainer. She has been an instructor at massage schools, developed curricula for hospitals and training centers, and consulted on prenatal bodywork for large spas including Kripalu Yoga Center. Her training includes newborn and infant massage, and she is a certified prenatal specialist.
If after reading Lisa’s answers you’re sold on the benefits of partner massage for pregnancy and labor, check out Motherlove’s Birth and Baby Oil! It’s gentle enough for both mothers and babies, and has a zero toxin rating.
What are some benefits of having a partner massage a mom during pregnancy and labor?
The benefits of partner massage during pregnancy and labor can be physically and psychologically profound for the mother and her partner. When I teach a partner massage class I provide general tools for relaxation and bonding. We address the most common discomforts of pregnancy and create an environment that facilitates spoken and unspoken physical communication. If a person has specific structural issues or preexisting conditions they need to see a qualified massage therapist or physical therapist.
We know that the positive effects of massage in general are greater if administered by her partner. This is in part due to the emotional connection and support that is inherent in the massage. Women experience a decrease in the level of stress hormones, deeper and longer sleep patterns, reduced soreness and pain in muscles and joints, decreased anxiety and less postpartum depression. Partners feel empowered to provide hands on comfort as well as emotional support. Familial adjustments are easier and self-confidence in parenting skills are buoyed. Laboring women feel more attachment with partners and therefore react with more self-assurance and a heightened belief in their ability to cope. The perception of labor outcomes are more positive for both parents when massage is administered.
What are typically moms’ favorite areas to be massaged during pregnancy and labor?
During a typical pregnancy, most women enjoy massage to the low back, shoulders and between the shoulder blades, although you can never go wrong with a nice foot massage! During labor, the intention of the massage shifts. In early labor women may enjoy massage around the jaw and the scalp, lots of kisses and encouraging words. As she shifts into a deeper labor space to prepare for the second stage, she usually does not like light touch. Massage includes deep and sustained pressure to the sacrum and low back with limited talking and focused awareness.
Can you describe some easy massage techniques for pregnancy and another one for labor?
Partner massage tools for pregnancy are more about intention than technique. Loving, focused, hands on time with little or no distraction is a way to connect and be present with each other. Creating space to mentally and spiritually witness each other as partners in a journey creates a strong family foundation to build upon. You do not need special tables or tools to do this massage. Mom can sit on a stool, chair or birth ball that is facing a table, counter or bed at the correct height. She can lean forward with several pillows in front and lean forward. She may need a bunch of pillows to get comfortable. It is best if the table is against a wall so it remains stable.
The partner can take a quarter sized amount of lotion or oil and stand behind her in an open and relaxed stance, feet in a lunge position bending at the knees. Starting slowly and lightly at the nape of the neck he/she can create a diamond shape with open and relaxed hands by going out along the shoulders and down to the mid back where the bra line would be. Warming up the tissue and gradually getting deeper they can “pick up” the tissue at the top of the shoulders and knead it until it softens like dough. Let mom tell you what feels good and follow her directive. Learning what relaxes her is useful information for labor.
During labor, if mom wants to be touched, deep sustained pressure to the sacrum and top of the buttocks is welcomed. A tennis ball is a useful massage tool for long hours of labor massage. Rub the ball along the low back and use it to provide counter pressure in the sacral area. The hands and feet can be reached easily in most labor situations and it feels nice to have a firm foot or hand massage.
Are there some areas to stay away from during pregnancy and labor?
Every pregnancy is unique, so parents need to talk to their health care provider for any contraindications to massage. A licensed massage therapist that specializes in prenatal work can offer private tutorials with specific guidelines that consider adaptations for each couple. In partner massage we do not do leg work because it is specialized. Women should not lie flat on their backs after 13 weeks and should not receive massage while lying on their stomachs. The general rule of thumb in a typical pregnancy is that if it feels good, go for it!
Partner massage is a hands on tool that allows couples the opportunity to bond and communicate. Pregnancy and labor is perceived more positively if mom feels supported and cared for. Many partners want concrete tools to show support and therefore feel as if they are participating in the process. Learning to listen and support a new mother is a skill that I hope will translate into the postpartum period and provide a strong family foundation for years to come!
If you’ve had a vaginal birth, taking care of your (likely sore) bottom can be a bit of a job in the early days after your baby’s birth. Here are some simple things you can do to relieve pain and bounce back quicker:*
Cold compresses. Many moms use ice packs to reduce swelling and soothe pain in the early hours after birth. Be sure to wrap cold packs in a soft cloth or other soft material so that the cold pack doesn’t directly touch your tissues. Some moms wet and freeze their pads to create convenient cold compresses.
Sitz baths. Warm water, especially when infused with healing herbs, can do wonders for tender tissues. You can make a sitz bath in a bathtub or with a basin that fits over your toilet seat (in the hospital, ask your nurse for help with this). Added to your bath, our Sitz Bath and Sitz Bath Concentrate soothe sore perineal muscles, reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids. Our Sitz Bath Spray can be sprayed directly on your perineum an offers the same relief. All of our sitz bath products have a zero rating (zero toxins) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and are made with 100% certified organic ingredients.
Witch hazel. Witch hazel is an herb which is soothing to sore, swollen tissue, and especially helpful with hemorrhoids. You can buy witch hazel soaked pads. You’ll also find witch hazel in our organic Rhoid Balm, which relieves swelling and itching during pregnancy and after birth, and in our sitz bath products.
Peri bottle. Many moms who have had tears, stitches, or episiotomies find it soothing to spray their perineum (front to back) with warm water after or during urination. Peri bottles make this easy. It can be especially helpful to use a peri bottle while urinating if you have stinging pain when using the toilet.
Medications. Your health care providers can discuss over the counter and prescription medication options that are safe for breastfeeding. If you have additional questions about pain medications and breastfeeding, you can call the Infant Risk Center for free information from a knowledgeable and breastfeeding-friendly pharmacist.
* This post is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice, seek the recommendations of your health care provider.
At Motherlove we’ve been committed to making safe, toxin-free, organic herbal products for mothers and babies for over 20 years.
That’s why we’re pleased to have recently been named a “Champion” (the highest level of compliance) of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. The Compact is a voluntary pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible, and fully disclose product ingredients.
Out of the more than 1500 companies who signed the Safe Cosmetics Compact, only 321 were fully in compliance with all the goals of the Compact, which earns those companies “Champion” status.
Motherlove products are all rated a zero (the lowest rating) on Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s safe cosmetics database, and we are proud to publish our complete ingredient lists.
Motherlove achieved Champion status by:
You can read more about the Compact and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the new report, Market Shift.
Massaging your baby facilitates bonding, relaxation, and promotes sleep, digestion, and boosts babies’ immune systems. It can alleviate gas and even help with teething pain. And it’s been shown to relax parents and stimulate the production of oxytocin – “the love hormone.”
Our Birth and Baby Oil is gentle enough to be used as an infant massage oil (as well as for perineal massage during labor and birth). An all natural mild scented oil with certified organic lavender and no essential oils, it’s also excellent for dry skin and cradle cap. Our Birth & Baby Oil has a zero rating (zero toxins) on EWG’s Skin Deep database.
One infant massage DVD we love is Bonding With Your Brilliant and Beautiful Baby Through Infant Massage, from BabyBabyOhBaby. Watch a preview of this gorgeous and inspirational guide to infant massage.
To get started right away, check out the videos below from Infant Massage USA which introduce some basic strokes.
Getting started with infant massage:
According to Dr. Sears, a rash which is “red, raised, patchy rash with sharp borders, mostly over the genitalia but with satellite spots sprinkled around the diaper area,” may be a result of an overgrowth of yeast. Yeast rashes are more common after antibiotic use. If your baby has a prolonged diaper rash which doesn’t respond to treatment with barrier creams, it may be yeast and require a different approach.
If you suspect a yeast rash, try our Diaper Rash and Thrush salve. It’s an all-natural herbal solution for persistent, inflamed diaper rash. It can also be used on your nipples if they’re yeast-infected, and does not need to be washed off prior to nursing. It’s diaper safe and compatible with all diapers including cloth.
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