Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


Leave a comment

Acne Prone Skin? Check out my new Zit Zapper and Facial Serum recipes!

I’ve struggled with acne since going off hormonal birth control a couple years ago and it’s wreaked havoc on my self-esteem.  Since then I’ve been on the quest for the perfect skin care regimen to help keep my acne under control.  In fact, searching for the perfect facial cleanser was what led me down the crunchy rabbit hole and I’ve been all in ever since! Over the years I have tried many different natural approaches to skin care including Oil Cleansing (OCM), cleaning my face with honey, African black soap, castile soap, and water only.  Most cleansing methods strip my face of its natural oil and while this may sound like a good thing it’s really not.  See, if you strip the skin of its natural, protective oils then it over produces sebum to compensate which can clog pores even more.  So these days I tend to use water only to clean my face, a Lemon Sugar Scrub to exfoliate every week or so, my Melrose and Witch Hazel astringent (find that recipe here in my blog post When You Vacation with an OIL Addict!) and a spot treatment for those particularly obnoxious pimples.  Historically I’ve just used Tea Tree oil as my spot treatment and while it works well on day to day pimples it doesn’t tackle the tough ones as much as I’d like.  I had used Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick in the past and was pretty happy with it overall.  I’d always wanted to make my own DIY version and had finally built up my oil collection enough I thought I’d give it a go.  So let’s check out the ingredients in the Burt’s Bees roll-on and why they are good for acne.

Doctor Burt’s Herbal Blemish Stick ingredients:

SD Alcohol 40-B – This is basically denatured alcohol.  It bothers me that this is the first ingredient on the list because that means that it is the ingredient of highest concentration in the product. There’s nothing really wrong with this ingredient but honestly it doesn’t really add much to the recipe either.  I tend to avoid alcohol because it has a drying effect on the skin and can strip the skin of it’s natural oils.

Calendula extract – Calendula is more commonly known as Marigold.  It is often used in skin care products because of it’s ability to calm the skin.  Calendula may help reduce redness and helps cleanse the skin of pore clogging gunk and reduce acne breakouts.

Borage extract – Borage, or Starflower, is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean region.  It’s remarkably effective at soothing irritated or damaged skin and can help calm skin by reducing swelling and redness.  Borage is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a fatty acid that is beneficial in maintaining healthy skin.  Borage oil or extract are excellent ingredients to add to DIY skin care recipes help reduce the appearance of acne scarring or redness and irritation from skin conditions like rosacea or eczema.

Yarrow extract – Yarrow is actually a common weed that grows native in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is an ancient herbal medicine, often referred to as Soldier’s herb and Nosebleed grass, known to staunch bleeding and reduce pain.  It’s also renowned for it’s ability to bring down a fever and help clear the sinuses! As far as skin care is concerned, yarrow is great for oily skin to help balance the oil, draw out blackheads, and tighten your pores! Do yourself a favor and google the medicinal uses of Yarrow.  Its an amazing herb to add to your herbal first aid kit!

Parsley extract – Parsley extract is excellent for helping cleanse and purify the skin which helps reduce acne breakouts.  In addition, parsley also contains high amounts of Vitamin C, chlorophyll and Vitamin K which are good for reducing dark circles and puffiness under your eyes.

Willowbark extract – Willow bark is usually harvested from white willow trees and is highly valued as a skin care ingredient because it is a natural source of salicylic acid (yup, the same stuff that is in over the counter acne products like Neutragena’s acne line, Clearasil, and Clean & Clear!).  In addition to helping reduce breakouts, willow bark extract also helps promote youthful, radiant skin by minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It also contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals and promote skin rejuvenation!

Lemon oil – Lemon essential oil helps balance overactive oil glands in the skin and encourages exfoliation of dead skin cells, both of which can clog pores and lead to breakouts.

Fennel oil – Fennel essential oil encourages skin cell repair and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It helps balance oil production without over drying the skin.

Water – used to dilute the mixture.  However, water can also promote the growth of bacteria in DIY products so I tend to not use it, or use distilled water if I do add to my products.

Tea Tree oil – Tea tree oil has been my go to for acne spot treatment for years.  It is renowned for it’s ability to not only dry out pimples but reduce acne breakouts when used regularly.

Juniper oil – Juniper essential oil helps cleanse and promotes healing by stimulate blood circulation.  It helps remove toxins and purifies the skin.  Overuse can increase redness, however.

Eucalyptus oil – Eucalyptus essential oil helps cleanse the skin and unclog pores.  In addition, it helps reduce inflammation that may result from acne breakouts.

Zit Zapper

Zit Zapper: A spot treatment for Acne-Prone Skin

Combine the following ingredients in a 3 ml roll-on:

  • 5 drops Tea Tree
  • 5 drops Lemon
  • 5 drops Lavender (I added Lavender because of it’s ability to help calm and soothe irritated skin, especially since I didn’t have an calendula extract in my recipe.  In addition, Lavender essential oil also helps regulate oil production and promotes healing.  I tend to pick at my acne so it’s always nice to add healing oils to my skincare regimen.)
  • 4 drops Ginger (I chose to add Ginger because it removes toxins and stimulates circulation.  In addition, it promotes a youthful, radiant complexion by helping rejuvenate the skin and improving skin’s elasticity.)
  • 3 drops Fennel
  • 3 drops Juniper 
  • 3 drops Eucalyptus Globulus (because this is the Eucalyptus I had on hand, but Eucalyptus Radiata might actually be a better choice because it tends to be lighter and more gentle than Globulus, making it the preferred chemotype for skincare)
  • top off with White Willow Bark extract (I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)

Next time I might actually make my own Calendula and Borage extract to add as well.  If I do that I’ll probably use a larger, 4 or 5 ml, roll on.  Both Calendula and Borage (as well as White Willow Bark) can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs if you are interested in making it your own.  Extracts aren’t difficult to make at all.  Check out Humblebee and Me’s post below for a recipe that includes Calendula extract and Borage oil.

*Note: This is a strong mixture and is only intended to be used as a spot treatment, not all over your face.  If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test first.  You may want to reduce the amount of essential oils or dilute with something like Calendula extract or Borage oil. 

Inspired by Burt’s Bee’s Herbal Blemish Stick and Humblebee and Me’s Indigo Acne Blaster

New & Improved Facial Serum

Perhaps you’ve been following me for awhile and remember my DIY Facial Serum from back in August of last year.  I still stand by that facial serum as a good starting point for anyone wanting to make their own skin care products.  It’s wonderfully moisturizing and I used it for months.  However, as my daughter started eating more solids and decreased the amount of breastmilk she was demanding day to day my hormones started returning back to “normal” (which is anything but) and my face started breaking out like a teenager’s again (sad face). My DIY Facial Serum uses fractionated coconut oil as a base which feels lovely on the skin but does have a high comedogenic rating (meaning it can cause acne breakouts).  Coconut oil rates a 4, meaning it has a “fairly high” chance of clogging pores.  So naturally I wanted to reduce anything that would contribute to my breakouts.  For awhile I switched to jojoba oil, which has a comedogenic rating of 2, or “moderately low” chance.  I was pretty pleased with this combo for awhile.

Recently, however, I was hearing a lot of buzz about Rosehip Seed Oil for skincare.  Rosehip seed oil is chalk full of vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that help hydrate the skin, relieves dry, itchy skin, reduces dark circles and minimizes the appearance of scaring.  Plus, it’s lightweight and non greasy, making it an ideal carrier oil for facial serums. And it has an even lower comedogenic rating that jojoba (1 = “low”) so I figured I’d give it a shot.

See how other carrier oils measure up with regards to comedogenic ratings here from Beneficial Botanicals.

I’d also been really curious about a new-to-me essential oil blend, White Angelica.  White Angelica is Young Living’s proprietary blend of Bergamot, Myrrh, Geranium, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Spruce, Hyssop, Melissa, and Rose in a Sweet Almond oil carrier.  While there are tons of amazing uses for White Angelica, including emotional healing, meditation, and Raindrop massage, all of these oils have amazing skin care properties and many are quite expensive (and as a result not members of my growing collection yet).  Let’s look at each of these oils individually.

Bergamot – Bergamot is a tropical citrus fruit with a lovely fragrance.  It is well known for it’s cleansing and immune enhancing properties.  In addition, it helps reduce the appearance of scars or age spots on the skin resulting in a more even skin tone.

Myrrh – Myrrh comes from a dried resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree, which is in the same family as the Frankincense tree.  It has a long history of medicinal use, highly valued for its wound healing properties, as well as an ingredient in incense and holy oil for ritual and religious ceremonies.  As far as skin care benefits, Myrrh promotes healing and helps soothe minor skin irritations like chapped or cracked skin and acne.  It helps sustain healthy looking skin and promotes a more youthful, radiant appearance by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Geranium – Geranium essential oil has a long history as a beneficial ingredient in skin care.  Even the ancient Egyptians used Geranium oil to help promote beautiful, radiant skin.  It helps defy the effects of aging by improving muscle tone and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  In addition, Geranium essential oil helps reduce inflammation and has been used to help soothe acne and other skin irritations by promoting cell growth and healing.

Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood – Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood is renowned for it’s healing properties.  It helps cleanse and protect the skin from infection resulting from acne, sores, or other wounds and is often added to skin care and beauty products for it’s ability to help tighten skin tone and minimize the appearance of scars and age spots.

Rosewood – Rosewood oil is extracted from the Aniba rosaeodora, an evergreen tree indigenous to Peru and Brazil.  It is a member of the Laurel family of plants like bay, camphor, cassia, and cinnamon.  Rosewood oil has a warm, woodsy yet spicy, floral fragrance that has been used in the perfume industry since the 1900’s.  In addition to it’s alluring fragrance, Rosewood oil helps fight the signs of aging by regenerating skin cell growth and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps balance sebum production thereby helping to reduce acne breakouts.

Ylang Ylang – Ylang Ylang is steam distilled from the signature yellow flowers of the ylang ylang tree native to the South Pacific Islands.  As you may imagine, it has a delicate yet romantic floral fragrance.  In addition, Ylang Ylang essential oil has amazing skin benefits.  It helps promote the appearance of healthy skin and hair by balancing sebum production, soothing skin irritations, cleansing the skin and promotes healing, and reducing redness and inflammation.

Spruce – Spruce essential oil is distilled from the needles of the Spruce tree and helps cleanse and purify the skin thereby helping to maintain the appearance of healthy looking skin.

Hyssop – Hyssop is a sacred oil referenced in many ancient texts, including the Bible, for it’s restorative health benefits.  Hyssop not only helps support healthy respiratory and digestive systems but also to help relieve pain and promote a sense of calm.  As for skin care benefits, Hyssop essential oil helps soothe skin irritations and reduce the appearance of scars and age spots.

Melissa – Melissa, or more commonly known as Lemon Balm, is a plant in the mint family.  The essential oil is distilled from the tiny buds and seeds of the plant.  It takes somewhere between 3 and 7 tons of plant material to yield 1 pound of essential oil which makes it one of the more pricey oils.  It is a gentle oil known for it’s ability to help soothe irritation and rejuvenate the skin.

and last but not least, Rose – Rose, ah how I covet thee…  Rose essential oil is probably the most expensive essential oil that Young Living sells because of the sheer volume of rose petals required to make a small 5 ml bottle.  But it is highly prized for many reasons, the least of which is its ability to moisturize, calm and soothe red or irritated skin.   Research suggests that it may also help reduce acne breakouts and regenerate skin cell growth!  It’s a must-have for anti-aging DIY beauty products!

So, even though I can’t afford to add oils like Myrrh, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Melissa, or Rose to my collection just yet, I’m thrilled to have them in a nice affordable (only $28 Wholesale) little blend like White Angelica! So naturally, I wanted to find a way to incorporate this into my New & Improved DIY Facial Serum! Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

New & Improved DIY Facial Serum

Combine the following in a 2 oz container:

 

So there you have it! My new favorite skin care recipes! Have you tried these recipes or have other recipes you would like to share? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below.

 

Want more information on natural ways to help rid your skin of acne? Check out this post by Thank Your Skin on How To Get Rid of Acne: The Ultimate Guide: 21 Easy Things You Can Do Today To Get Rid of Acne Fast and Naturally! I have to admit, I learned a few things I will be incorporating into my diet and skincare regimen! They also do some pretty awesome product reviews over there to help you find the best skincare products and makeup for acne-prone skin! So head on over and show them some oily love! 😉

 

I only use Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils because of their commitment to quality and Seed to Seal guarantee.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.

Acne Prone Skin? Check out my new Zit Zapper and Facial Serum recipes! was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


1 Comment

How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience! #WBW2015

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share a little bit about how essential oils can be used in various ways to help enhance your breastfeeding experience. You will see tons of info about how essential oils should be avoided while pregnant or nursing.  But 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts.

Safety:

Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using.

Please review the general safety guidelines listed in my previous blog post What Are Essential Oils?

Additional Safety Considerations for Nursing Mothers: There is a lot of contradictory information out there about essential oil safety and which oils to avoid while breastfeeding.  More often than not literature seems to lump pregnancy and breastfeeding together which makes it much more difficult for consumers to know what they can and can’t use (for instance Clary Sage should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions but it a great oil to use during labor and delivery as it can help speed up labor once contractions have started.  But I’ve read conflicting reviews of Clary Sage during breastfeeding – some say that it can help bring on milk after baby is born and will boost lactation other sources say that it will decrease lactation. As a result, I generally avoid Clary Sage just to be safe).  I would recommend erring on the side of caution and doing your research before using any essential oil while nursing.  Much of the information listed below comes from two of my essential oil bibles Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (you can buy it here) and Essential Oil Pocket Reference published by Life Science Publishing (you can buy it here).

Essential Oils and Uses: 

To Boost Lactation: 

  • Fennel – Fennel seed is often recommended as an herbal supplement to help increase breastmilk production.  Fennel essential oil may be more effective given that the concentration of the oil is much more potent than the plant or seed.  Fennel can be used as a dietary supplement, 1-2 drops added to tea or a tsp of honey, or it can be taken in a vegetable capsule.  Debra Raybern recommends taking Fennel every 2 hours and follow with a glass of water (hydration is important to keeping your supply up so always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!).  Fennel can also be applied topically.  For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (Coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex) and apply directly on the breast and lymph area under the arm, avoiding the nipple area*.  (note: Fennel should not be taken internally for more than 10 days as it could cause an increased flow through the urinary tract)
  • Basil – Basil is similar to Fennel essential oil in its lactation boosting properties and can be taken internally or applied topically in the same way.  Basil does not carry the same warning as Fennel, however, and can be taken internally for longer than 10 days if necessary.
  • Joy or Stress Away blends – Stress can have a negative impact on your supply so using essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress away, either diffused, dabbed on your wrist and behind your ears, or combined with Epsom Salt and Baking Soda for a relaxing bath!  Other oils that help reduce stress and promote relaxation include: Lavender and Sandalwood.

To Help Decrease Lactation and Relieve Engorgement (For Oversupply or When Weaning):

  • Peppermint – Most herbalists recommend avoiding peppermint while nursing as it can have an adverse effect on your supply (However, some mothers, like myself, will report that peppermint does not affect their lactation). However, if you have an over-supply issue or you are weaning your baby, adding Peppermint oil to your routine may help alleviate some of the pressure associated with engorgement.  Peppermint is a dietary supplement and can be taken internally.  Debra Raybern recommends taking 5 drops of peppermint orally several times a day to decrease supply.  You can add a few drops of peppermint oil to water, dip a wash cloth in it and wring out the excess water and apply directly to the breast as a cold compress.  Avoid heat application when engorged as this can increase swelling and inflammation.

In addition to peppermint oil, another natural remedy to relieve engorgement and help decrease supply are cabbage leaf compresses.  Simply take a chilled or room temperature cabbage leaf and apply directly to the breast between feedings for up to 20 minutes 3 times daily.  For weaning, you can leave the cabbage leaf on the breast until it wilts.  For more information on cabbage leaf compresses visit Kelly Mom’s blog.

For Sore, Dry, Cracked Nipples*: (Note: painful nursing and dry or cracked nipples could be due to another condition, such as improper latch or tongue or lip tie.  Please see a lactation consultant and/or pediatrician for evaluation)

  • Myrrh, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, or Sandalwood – When diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the nipple these oils can help moisturize the skin and provide relief from dry, cracked nipples as well as help speed up the healing process.
  • Valor blend – a good alternative to the above oils to help provide relief from dry, cracked nipples.  Dilute with carrier oil and apply directly on nipple.
  • Lavender or Roman Chamomile – Sore nipples? Add a few drops of Lavender or Roman Chamomile to your nipple cream or apply directly on your nipples with some organic coconut oil to help minimize discomfort.

When applying any essential oil directly to nipples, always make sure they are diluted.  I would ensure that the oil was fully absorbed into the skin or wipe off any excess before my next nursing session.  While all these suggested oils can be taken used orally for adults it is not recommended that small infants ingest oils just to be safe. 

For Clogged Ducts:

  • Geranium, Lavender, and Melrose blend – Each of these oils individually or used together can help promote circulation, reduce pressure and alleviate aches associated with engorgement and clogged ducts.  Combine 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender, and 2 drops of Melrose with 1 1/2 pints of cold water.  Dip washcloth into the mix and squeeze out excess water.  Apply as a cold compress directly to the affected area of the breast.  Repeat as often as once per hour for relief.  (Recipe from Gentle Babies)

In addition, hot showers, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath that completely covers the breast, breast massage, frequent pumping or nursing, pointing your baby’s chin towards the affected area of the breast while nursing, and “dangle nursing” (where you nurse from a position of hands and knees and dangle your breast towards your baby’s mouth) are all recommended to help alleviate discomfort associated with clogged ducts and to prevent development of mastitis.

For Mastitis: (Note: Mastitis is a serious infection and should always be diagnosed and treated by a health professional of your choice.  You may choose to use the following blend to help provide some relief as a supplement to your prescriber’s treatment protocol.)

  • Breast Blend Recipe – combine 3 drops Myrrh, 3 drops Vetiver, 2 drops Copaiba, and 1 drop Blue Spruce with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (Coconut Oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex are good choices). Massage blend onto breasts and under armpits two times daily to help provide relief from pain, swelling, redness or warmth of the breast.  (Recipe from Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

 

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

 

Have you used essential oils as part of your breastfeeding journey?  I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


Leave a comment

Set Yourself (or Someone You Love) Up For Breastfeeding Success: Products I Love and Gift Basket Ideas #WBW2015

Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding! And in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share some of the products that I love that have helped me along my breastfeeding adventure.  Not all of these products themselves are “natural” per se, although I do have some DIY natural options as well, but they are proved their worth time and again over the last 6 1/2 months in my home.  Check them out to help you on your natural breastfeeding adventure or even better, build a gift basket for someone you love who is expecting to set them up for breastfeeding success!!!

A Local Lactation Consultant – Few things are as natural as breastfeeding but unfortunately it doesn’t come naturally to every mom and baby.   A Lactation Consultant (LC) is a healthcare professional who has been trained as a breastfeeding specialist who helps teach mothers how to properly nurse their babies.   They can be especially valuable if you are experiencing difficulties getting a proper latch, having painful nursing sessions, or have low milk production.  They are trained to diagnose conditions such as lip or tongue tie in babies, thrush in mothers and babies, as well as clogged ducts and mastitis.  LC’s can offer invaluable advice on how to increase milk production through massage, pumping techniques such as “power pumping,” and recommending vitamins and supplements that may help. Lactation Consultants are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. under the direction of US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) may be found in a wide variety of health care settings, including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.  You may be lucky enough to not need an LC but knowing how to find one locally is important.

Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) here: International Lactation Consultant Association: Find a Lactation Consultant.

Find a FREE Lactation Consultant – even if you are not income eligible for WIC you can still speak to a lactation consultant or nutritionist at your local WIC office for FREE.  Find your local WIC office here.

 

 A Nice Water Bottle – Hydration is key to keeping your milk supply up and nursing will make you thirsty, especially in the early days!!!  Our hospital provided us with a big ol drinking cup with a lid and straw that I kept by my side all throughout my maternity leave.  I did really well keeping up with my water intake until I went back to work and started to slack off a bit.  So recently I invested in a pair of really nice glass water bottles, I purchased Zulu brand because I found them for $16.99 for a pair at Costco (you can find them for $14.99 a piece at Target if your Costco has sold out for the season.  I add a drop or two of Lemon essential oil to my bottle (it’s 20 oz – if it was an 8 oz glass I’d only add 1 because it can be a strong lemon flavor).  Having the slight lemon flavor keeps me picking up the bottle and ensures that I get at least 60 oz throughout my work day! Plus, it helps curb my appetite and prevents me from snacking on unhealthy snacks in between meals (Bonus!).  It is important that you have glass or stainless steel (although I prefer glass so it doesn’t have the slight metallic taste that steel water bottles have) if you intend to add any essential oils since the  oils can break down plastics over time.  Otherwise, a nice BPA/phalate free plastic water bottle (like Nalgene) would work just fine!

 

womanly art of breastfeeding Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International – The La Leche League International is an international nonprofit agency that advocates for breastfeeding and helps provide mothers with information about the benefits of breastfeeding worldwide.  Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a national best seller that helps guide new mothers through what to expect from their breastfeeding relationship with their newborns, helps problem solve some of the most common difficulties with breastfeeding that cause many mothers to give up,  and provides the latest scientific research on the benefits of breastfeeding.  It’s a valuable resource and good reference whether this is your first, or fifth, child!

More information about the book or to buy it visit the La Leche League International website: http://www.llli.org/thewomanlyartofbreastfeeding 

 

tank-top Nursing Tanks and PJ’s – You won’t want to put on clothes during the first several weeks after the baby is born… Hell, you’ll be lucky to get a shower.  But one thing I did before I had my daughter, that I highly recommend to all new moms, was to invest in brand new lounge wear.  I bought myself two nursing tanks, a pair of lounge pants, and a pair of yoga pants. I lovingly packed them away in my hospital bag and never put them on until after she was born.  It was so nice to feel like I was getting something new to treat myself yet something comfy that I actually wanted to wear.  The nursing tanks are amazing because they provide some, limited support, but are super easy to snap down and nurse your little one.  They are especially nice for when those cluster feeding sessions start and you feel like you constantly have a baby attached to your boob! After almost 7 months of nursing, still the first thing I do when I come home from work in the evenings is change into my comfy tank and lounge pants! You can get comfy nursing tanks almost anywhere but I preferred Target brand nursing tanks because they were inexpensive and came up to a size XXL (which is important for all us buxom mamas!).

 

essential-embrace_black A Good, Supportive, Nursing Bra – This is especially important if you are well endowed already because once you decide to brave leaving the house you will likely find that those comfy nursing tanks aren’t supportive enough.  Yes they will get bigger (Ugh, I know! Sorry…) so make sure to get fitted by a professional in your last month of pregnancy to have a better idea of what size the girls will be postpartum. You want to make sure that the bra is supportive but not too tight and many LC’s recommend avoiding underwires in nursing bras because the wire or bras that are too tight can contribute to developing mastitis (which as I understand it is no fun at all!). I know a lot of women really like the nursing bras they can get at Target (because of the price point) or Motherhood Maternity (because they have a cute selection) but I was unfortunate enough to be a large enough cup size prepregnancy that neither company offered nursing bras in my size.  The style bra that I found that I love is the Bravado Essential Embrace (pictured) because it was wire free yet still supportive, comfortable, and came in 3 colors (I hate bra shopping – it’s seriously traumatic – so I’m the type of girl that when I find a bra that fits I buy one in every color!).  The price point is pretty high on these bras, usually around $45-50 each, and while I’m normally quite frugal I cannot overemphasize the importance of a good bra in general, let alone a good nursing bra.  Well worth the money, hands down!

 

 

breast padsReusable Breast Pads – Boobies leak and reusable breast pads are a must if you don’t want to be throwing them away constantly (and if you’re reading my blog then you are probably hyper aware of your waste and carbon footprint too!).  You can find reusable breast pads at most retailers or boutiques nowadays but they tend to be really expensive.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m super cheap frugal so naturally I looked for the least expensive options.  I originally planned to DIY my nursing pads but stumbled upon a promotion for FREE breast pads so figured I’d give them a go before I took the time and effort to make them (besides I was busy making burp cloths, bibs, and baby blankets in my last couple months of pregnancy.  Apparently “nesting” for me means I must make ALL the things! lol).  My only constructive criticism of the free breast pads is that they do tend to show a bit through tighter fitting clothes.  So if your wardrobe is more fitted or this is a concern for you then you make want to invest in a more expensive brand like Bamboobies, which advertise that they are less visible (but I cannot attest to this as I personally have not tried them because I didn’t want to invest the money).  But the people I know who use Bamboobies swear by them!

Get 10 pairs FREE (just pay s&h – $12.95 – which seems expensive but is still cheaper per pair than buying reusable breast pads other places) from https://www.breastpads.com/ Current promo code for World Breastfeeding Week: WBWBP15 (If this code has expired a quick internet search will turn up several codes that should work on this site, including AThriftyMom1 or PJBABY)

Check out Bamboobies at their website: http://www.buybamboobies.com/

Feeling crafty? Make your own with this tutorial I found on Pinterest from DIY Mommy: DIY Nursing Pads (That Actually Work!)

B10-232-02_natural_nipple_butter_box_and_jar_whiteA Good Salve or Balm – Breastfeeding is hard work and nipples get raw and sore, especially in the beginning (or when those little teefers start coming in!) and a good salve or balm is a must!

medela-pisa1A Good Breast Pump – Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers. I have a Medela Pump in Style that my health insurance covered in full and I love it!!! There are lots of brands to choose from but availability will depend on your insurance company.  Medela, Ameda, AVENT, and Hygeia all get great reviews so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.  Something to consider, there are two types of breast pump systems: open and closed. An open system means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism which may allow your milk to be exposed to impurities in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria or viruses.  There is also the possibility that the milk could be sucked back up into the tubing and pump itself where it cannot be cleaned and could allow mold or mildew to grow (This is why you should NEVER resell or buy a used open pump system – no matter how many people you may see selling theirs online or in yard sales. Reputable consignment shops and sales will not accept open pump systems). All current Medela styles are open systems.  Closed systems have a barrier in place that protects the milk from impurities as well as protects the pump mechanism from sucking milk back up into it.  The AVENT Comfort Double Electric, Ameda Purely Yours, Lanisoh Affinity and Signature Pro breast pump series, and Hygeia Q are closed systems.  The Hygeia Q, although less well known, is the only pump endorsed by the La Leche League International.

Call your insurance company for more information on which pumps are covered by your plan.

Tips on how you can get your FREE breast pump in this article by USA Today: How To Get Breast Pumps Covered By Insurance

Also check out Baby Gear Lab’s Top Ranked Breast Pumps and breastpumpratings.org’s Pump Comparison Chart.  Both websites offer great side by side comparison of all the different features as well as lists of pros and cons of each pump.  This is a great resource when trying to decide which pump is the best choice for your family!

 

milksaverproductMilkies Milk Saver – Breastmilk is called liquid gold for a reason! You don’t want to waste even one precious drop and the Milkies Milk-Saver is a reusable, recyclable, BPA/Phalate free tool to help you capture every last drop!!! Simply place on the other breast when nursing or pumping to catch the milk from your let-down.  This is especially helpful in the early months when your supply is still regulating or after baby starts sleeping through the night and you wake up engorged. The down side? The price point on this item is really high at $27.99 but it is so worth it and makes a great gift!

For more information, reviews or to purchase visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Milkies-Milk-Saver-Breast-Collector-Storage/

 

Lanisoh TheraPearlCooling Gel Pads – Cooling gel pads are a wonderful idea for when your breasts become engorged or painful.  Simply throw in the fridge or freezer then place over your nipple for instant relief.  Most brands of breast pumps make their own line of cooling gel pads, including Lanisoh, Medela, and Avent as well as a few other non pump brands. I personally prefer the Lanisoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pads (pictured) because they can be cooled to help with swelling or engorgement, heated to help with clogged ducts or mastitis, or even used as a let down aide while pumping. The Lanisoh TheraPearl pads are available at most major retailers but you can check them out here for more information.

 

Mother's Milk TeaTeas, Herbs, and Oils: 

Traditional Medicine’s Organic Mother’s Milk Tea is a favorite among nursing mothers and widely available at most supermarkets and health food stores.  It is comprised of several herbs known to help promote lactation, including organic bitter fennel fruit, organic anise fruit, organic coriander fruit, organic fenugreek seed, organic blessed thistle herb, organic spearmint, organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbana leaf, and organic marshmallow root.  (Note: some mothers do not like the subtle licorice flavor from the anise fruit)

Get your free sample of Mother’s Milk Tea by sharing your breastfeeding story here: http://www.askthelactationconsultant.com/freebies.html

Other Herbs:

  • Fenugreek – Fenugreek is probably the best known herbal supplement to boost milk supply.  Fenugreek is a middle-eastern spice that comes from a plant in the pea family. It is found in capsule form as well as in tea.  The tea may not be as strong as taking it in capsule form. It can be used in conjunction with Blessed Thistle. Warning: a common side effect is that it may make you smell like maple syrup, so if you are opposed to this smell you may want to avoid it.  You can buy Fenugreek capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the seeds, extract, powder, or capsules through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Blessed Thistle – Blessed Thistle is another really common herbal supplement recommended to help increase breastmilk production.  Often recommended to be used in conjunction with Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle is highly regarded by the breastfeeding specialist, Jack Newman. Traditionally used to help with indigestion and with loss of appetite. Blessed Thistle is not the same thing as Milk Thistle, although both have been identified as galactagogues.  Milk Thistle is more often used as a food (peeled, tender shoots) rather than an herbal supplement.  YOu can buy blessed thistle capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy blessed thistle in bulk to make your own tea or get the extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf – Red Raspberry Leaf is a common ingredient in nursing teas and tinctures.  It is high in vitamins and minerals, including niacin (in the B Vitamin family). Also known as a uterine toner it can help the uterus return to it’s normal size immediately following birth.  Some recommend Red Raspberry Leaf to help support uterine health while trying to conceive as well as to prepare for birth after 40+ weeks gestation.  You can buy Red Raspberry Leaf capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. I buy mine in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own tea.
  • Chasteberry (Vitex) – Chasteberry is actually a prolactin-inhibitor usually recommended to help balance hormones but has been proven through repeated studies to increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers.  This may be an ideal choice if you are struggling with hormonal imbalances while breastfeeding, including PMS. Note: Chasteberry may start menses in nursing women so avoid if you are relying on lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method.  You can buy Chasteberry (Vitex) capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the berry, seed, powder, or extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Other less common herbal galactagogues include: Fennel seed (may help with let down and to ease mother’s digestive issues), Goat’s Rue, Alfalfa (avoid if you have an auto-immune disorder), Wild Asparagus, Nettle and Hops.

Get your free Guide to Herbs and Breastfeeding published by Earth Mama Angel Baby here: http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/herbs-for-breastfeeding-ebook 

Essential Oils – There is a lot of information out there about essential oil safety that lists oils that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and you would do well to take heed and research any essential oil before using it to know your risks.  Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using (I prefer Young Living – for more information on why check out my blog post Why I Chose Young Living Essential Oils). But there are several essential oils that when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts, including Fennel, Basil, Geranium, Lavender, and Myrrh to name a few.  For more information on essential oils and nursing check out my previous blog post How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience!

 

IMG_2779 Lactation Cookies – Want to go the extra mile when making a gift basket for a new mom in your life? How about throwing in some homemade lactation cookies! Check out my favorite recipe in my previous blog post Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies!

 

Do you have a product you love that I failed to mention? Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!