My Top Five Basic Weleda Buys for a Family

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It can be difficult, when starting out trying to minimise potentially toxic synthetic chemicals in your household, to know where to start.  Some people are able to just blitz their under sink and bathroom cabinets of anything containing suspect ingredients, ditch the lot and restock with more natural products.

I wasn’t one of those people and I know I’m not alone.  I’ve been a teenage mother. I’ve been a working-on-a-low-income mother and a stay-at-home mother.  I’m currently a mum-of-many-children mother. All of these things can bring financial challenges and, lets just say that we are, like very many, on a strict budget. If I was just starting out finding out about potential toxins and wanting to #DitchTheJunk (link at the end of the post), I wouldn’t be able to simply empty all of my cupboards and buy all new.

However, I’ve been doing this more natural product thing for a while now and so I have a few tips and, leaving aside alternatives to common household cleaning products (which I hope to cover in another post soon), I do have some great recommendations for basic buys if you’re a family on a budget.

Often you seem to pay for what’s left out (rather than put in) and many synthetic-filled cosmetics are cheaper than more ethical and natural brands.  This is often because many of the chemicals that I am trying to avoid are used as cheap fillers to maximise the profit of the brand (and chances are said chemicals have also been tested on animals at some point – big sad face!) Chances are that these same ingredients have been sourced solely based on their cost vs the profit that they make, rather than any consideration for the wider environmental and social impact.

It is this attention to the sourcing and cultivation of good quality ingredients, plus a commitment to producing products that are free from petroleum-derived ingredients; GMOs; synthetic chemicals, preservatives and fragrances; that have not been tested on animals that can also make more conscientious brands, such as Weleda, appear more expensive than some synthetic alternatives – however, what really makes me baulk is how much MORE expensive some well known mainstream brands are when you realise that their ingredients are predominantly synthetic and potentially toxic! A quick trawl through the internet (or your local supermarket, chemist, etc) and you will find day creams that are easily £40 or more.  Compare that to the £7.95 Calendula Face Cream, featured in a Marie Claire article as one of their best moisturisers for under £10 (please note that since the Marie Claire article there has been a price rise to £9.50 – but still under a tenner!)

Suddenly more natural and ethical companies such as Weleda start to look a whole lot more reasonable!

Now, it is bluntly true that I could choose to not use any specific bought cosmetics at all (and I have tried the “no poo” thing and just used things like bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar to “wash” my hair; made my own deodorant; etc) but, chances are, you may not want to go all out crunchy and skip everything you are probably used to using (and the thought of doing so probably brings the majority of people out in a cold sweat).  You want to move away from those potential nasties hiding in your bathroom cabinet and make-up bag, but you’re on a budget and you want to know where to start.

So what do you do?

Pare it down.  What are your must haves? Any specific skin issues? Do you have children to buy for as well? Start with the basics and add in one thing at a time.

My Top Five Basic Buys for a family

In no particular order, based on my own family’s basic cosmetic and personal hygiene needs.

Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash

Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash £7.50

You will likely be wanting to wash yourself and the Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash is a two-in-one product suitable for all the family. Made with extract of organic Calendula and organic Sweet Almond Oil, this shampoo and wash is gentle and light-smelling and good for sensitive skin.  In time you could maybe look at one of Weleda’s dedicated shampoos and there’s a fantastic range of body washes and also a few bar soaps, but if money is tight and you need to double-up, you really can’t go wrong!

Weleda Children's Tooth Gel

Children’s Tooth Gel £3.75

Unless you’re a fan of making your own toothpowder, you will be wanting a toothpaste of some sort.  Weleda do a range of toothpastes, but if you have children, you might want to start with one specifically for them that can be used by all the family.  Fluoride-free Children’s Tooth Gel looks after new and developing teeth and provides natural protection.  With “extract of organic calendula flowers to keep gums healthy, silica for thorough cleaning and natural flavours of fennel and spearmint” there are no ingredients that could cause harm if swallowed.

In practice here we have both the Children’s Tooth Gel and I favour the Calendula.  However, my middle daughter and son and partner favour the Ratanhia (my partner says that it tastes more like how he thinks toothpaste “should” taste, i.e. strong and minty – whilst I love mint tea and often make my own from home-grown mint, I’ve grown unaccustomed to it in toothpaste, hence my preference for the more gentle tasting Calendula).  The Salt toothpaste (pictured at the beginning of this article) is also a very popular buy!

Weleda Calendula Baby Oil

Calendula Baby Oil £9.95 (or lotion £9.95)

Yes, this is becoming a bit of an ode to Calendula, but please bear with me, it really is an excellent first port of call!  Weleda offer a gorgeous selection of body oils (and lotions if that is your preference) but made from just organic Sesame oil and extract of organic Calendula flowers, the gentle Calendula Baby Oil is simple, unfragranced and suitable for all the family.  If you prefer a lotion, the Calendula Baby Lotion is a light, gentle lotion, formulated to care for delicate skin – again, perfect for all the family!

All three of the main Calendula products (including the Calendula Lotion) in my Top Five Basic Buys are all in regular (and in the case of the toothpaste, daily) use in my house, but we also have our own personal preferences from the further range of body oils and lotions and I will be covering this in another post.

Weleda Almond Oil - soothing facial oil for sensitive skin

Almond Facial Oil £17.95

Just in case you thought I was having a solely Calendula love-in in my Top Five Basic Buys, here’s something from a different range.  I’ve been using almond oil on my skin for well over a decade now.  It’s simple and multi-purpose – you can cleanse and moisturise with it (it makes a good eye make up remover for teens who favour heavy black eyeliner and mascara as well) and a little goes a long way!  It is the oil I use when doing facials and I really cannot recommend it enough.  Personally I stick with it just on my face (there are more economical oils to use for moisturising the rest of you!)

Almonds are packed full of beneficial minerals and vitamins and are high in unsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E (a known anti-oxidant that fights free radicals that age the skin).  Perfect for nurturing and protecting even sensitive skin, the Almond Facial Oil is gentle and suitable for family to use (from 40 down to toddler).  Yes, I also have a favourite cream I use, but my bottle of almond oil is still in regular (usually daily) use and in past difficult years, whether they be financial or the blips I have had with my skin being very sensitive and dry, almond oil was my skin saviour when I had to simplify!

Weleda Citrus Deodorant

Citrus Deodorant £9.50

I’ll let you into a secret, I am a big fan of home-made deodorant made from coconut oil and bicarb, perhaps a couple of drops of essential oil, honestly it’s great!  But my partner isn’t as convinced (he won’t try it) and my teenage daughter would prefer to spray and this is where the Citrus Deodorant comes into play as it’s useable by all deodorant-using family members (ie the three oldest here) without affecting any gender preferences.

Weleda offers a further range of deodorants – I love the rose and the sage is a great choice for both men and women as well.  However, where money is tight and something needs to be shared,  I think the Citrus is a happy medium that suits all of us – plus it’s a nice burst of uplifting citrus first thing in the morning when you could maybe do with a pick me up.

Deodorants are rather notorious for containing some nasty ingredients (see Breast Cancer UK’s excellent #DitchTheJunk campaign, link at the end of this post), but with Weleda deodorants you can rest assured that there isn’t any aluminium and all the ingredients are natural (they also come in a recyclable glass bottle with a non-aerosol pump spray).

After the Basics, What Next?

Now having covered what I consider to be the basics for my family, ie washing, teeth, moisturising and deodorant, what would I go for next?

Skin Food £10.95

It had to appear in here somewhere! I have dry skin – not helped on my hands by me needing to wash them a lot during the day (small children and more than a few animals) and me preferring to garden without gloves (soil can make your fingers very rough!) or my feet from me pottering around barefoot as soon as the weather warms (I love the feeling of soil on my bare feet in the summer).  Not just for your hands -in cold winter weather it makes a great barrier (although Weleda do produce a Weather Protection Cream) and is fantastic for preventing chapping.  I’ve heard stories of people putting it on the ends of dried out hair and as a make-up primer (I’m sure there’s more!) It’s also a multi-award-winning product that has stood the test of time (having celebrated its 90th birthday at London Fashion Week in 2016).

Weleda Shaving Cream

Shaving Cream £10.50

Not just for men, great for anyone who shaves.  Anecdotally I’ve heard the body washes are also creamy enough for helping with the shaving of body parts.

For Baby?

Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream

Calendula Nappy Cream £6.95

Not just for sore bums! This is the first product from Weleda that I ever bought.  Desperate to find something to help with my eldest daughter’s awful nappy rash when she was a baby I tried the nappy cream when it was recommended by a number of people on various Bulletin Boards (remember them? The forums used before things like Facebook?) The same, now teenage, daughter uses it on her spots and it is also good for any area that is itchy and sore.

And finally…

Arnica Bumps and Bruises Skin Salve

Arnica Bumps & Bruises Skin Salve £6.25

Not a cosmetic product, but a basic in this house.  Perfect for those inevitable bumps and bruises.  This is another Weleda product of longstanding in my household and well worth adding to a basic kit.  I will be writing a further blog post on the various Healthcare products available from Weleda, but out of all of them, this is the one most commonly used here!


I hope you’ve enjoyed the suggestions.  They constitute what I consider are good basic recommendations for a family to start with if you’re on a tight budget, but every family is different and you may find other choices more suitable.  In my family we have various other products that we use in addition to the above depending on the person – which I will save for another article – and of course, in time you can build upon any basic buys.

What are your favourite Weleda products? What would you recommend?

NB: prices subject to change, but correct at time of writing.  I endeavour to update them, but may miss the occasional one if there’s a price rise.  Quotes in quotation marks are taken from my webshop.

LINKS

Breast Cancer UK #DitchTheJunk campaign

Writing a Postpartum Plan

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Whilst pregnant, chances are you have come across a “birth plan”, a means of making your wishes and expectations known whilst you are in labour, but have you ever considered the need for a postpartum plan?

Of course, as a first-time parent, you can’t really know exactly what it will be like for you when you meet your baby for the first time (and, indeed, subsequent birth and post-partum experiences all differ too), but there are things that you can plan for that may help ease your transition into parenthood.

What is happening to your body postpartum is briefly covered in another post: The “Fourth” Trimester or “Baby Moon” and your postpartum (or babymoon) plan needs to take into consideration these very normal experiences post birth.

In a moment I’m going to write about what, in my opinion, should ideally happen postpartum.  It is an ideal. I realise that for some people it might be difficult to achieve that ideal, please don’t think that I don’t recognise that and at the end of this post I am going to write a little about that. I’ve been broke, I’ve been stressed, I’ve been a single mum – including a homeless single pregnant teenage soon-to-be mum (yes, really) – so I know sometimes life really is very far from perfect – please bear with me, I am planning an article on this and potential ideas/strategies that might be helpful for you if life is rather far from what many might consider “ideal”.

What should ideally happen post partum

Rest

Seriously, all day, every day. Ideally for at least 28 days, but if not, for as long as possible. Yes it can be hard (I will write about this later), but you need to give your body time to heal and you need to give baby time to get to know you and adjust to life outside of your womb.  Try to keep the first week (and preferably the next few weeks beyond) as quiet as possible – babies need to take things slowly and quietly whilst they get used to the world around them.  If you can, sleep when baby sleeps.  Also, remember that resting doesn’t mean being entirely confined to bed for an entire 28 days, rather that there should be a more gentle easing back into “normal” life.  Be gentle on yourself.

However, that said, please try to spend as close to the first seven days in bed as you can – plenty of skin-to-skin with baby and concentrate on establishing breastfeeding.  Get support if necessary – there are support workers/volunteers who will come to you if you need support with establishing breastfeeding.

Limit visitors during the first few weeks.  I know that everyone may want to visit you.  Babies are exciting! Of course other people are excited. But you need rest.  It’s one thing if people come bearing practical help – a meal to pop in the oven; an offer to give the house a quick going over or that they will do some laundry for you; but if there’s any chance that they will arrive expecting you to make them coffee and refreshments whilst they hold baby and coo (and people do!), say no! Please say no!  And if you struggle to say no, try to have a plan in advance that there will be someone with you who can advocate for you.

Consider limiting the number of people that hold your baby.  One of the best ways for you to bond with your baby and establish breastfeeding is for baby to spend as much time with you (and on you) as possible.  Being passed around can be very over-stimulating (so many different smells, touches and voices!) Please consider holding your baby – at this point a sling is invaluable (please see links) so your baby can’t be passed around like a parcel!

If you are tired, say so.  Anyone that cares for you will understand and give you space.

Try to stay at home and rest as much as possible.  Could someone else take the children to school? At least intially? Midwives do home visits (partly in recognition of your need to rest!); you have up to 42 days to register a birth;  if you really have to be involved in food shopping – maybe use the internet, get it delivered to you!  If you do need to leave the house, try to do so as gently as possible.  Take it as easy as possible, please don’t pile pressure on yourself.  The outside world is very stimulating to babies, try to take some time and not expect too much from them so early on in their experience of life outside of your womb.

Housework: As much as is practical: Not. Your. Problem. I repeat: you need to rest, rest and more rest. Ask, ask, ask. Let someone else do it. (If there isn’t anyone else, again, please bear with me).

Warmth

Try to avoid draughts and keep warm, but do get a window open if possible to get fresh air circulating and if it is warm, do get some fresh air (and hopefully sunshine) in the garden (or take a gentle walk if you feel ready and able to do so).   Warming massages using gentle (baby-safe) oils to soothe you and encourage your body to heal.  At this point, please don’t use strongly smelling oils that will interfere with baby smelling you and avoid using mineral oils, stick to natural, plant-based oils – sesame is ideal.

Nourish

Eat as well as possible. If you’ve been super-organised and have not (like I often did) felt like death-warmed-up in your third trimester, cook and freeze as many meals to stick in the oven as you can.  If you’re not a big cooking fan, or you’ve been absolutely shattered/ill/any number of reasons to feel like you Just. Can’t. Cook in your third trimester, get it in your plan. Ask people to help. ASK ASK ASK. Remember people care. People will make you a meal to put in your freezer. Please ask (and if you feel you can’t ask or that there isn’t anyone to ask, a post about this is planned too!)

All food and drink to be brought to you. Seriously. Let someone else take care of you. Not just for the first week, but aim for 28 days. You rest, concentrate on you and baby. That’s it. No other considerations.  Try to eat foods that you would eat to recover from an illness – warm, easy-to-digest soups and stews, if you eat meat, think chicken soup (bone broths, etc), if you are veggie, think kitchari and anything that will help promote recovery – especially protein and iron rich foods.  Drink warming herbal teas to help support your relaxation and healing.

Look at ways to encourage your milk supply: nurse, nurse, nurse. However, there are various herbs such as fenugreek that may be used to help support milk supply.

And last, but by no means least:

Enjoy!

This is a very special time – enjoy it! Spend time together as a new family – you, baby, your partner and any other children you may have.  Whilst you do need time to rest with your newborn, embrace this opportunity to spend some peaceful quality time together.  Read stories to your other children in bed, play cards or other quiet games, or simply time spent dozing together.

Enjoy the time do be quietly creative. Journal? Knitting (mind those pointy needles – but I got loads of knitting done in the early days – far easier before you’re dealing with a grabby 6 month old or toddler!) Maybe some colouring?  Think of something you enjoy.  Something that you can do quietly and indulge yourself.

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Writing the plan

Your Postpartum plan will be personal to you and your needs and circumstances, but, like your birth plan, it should outline the care you expect and/or need and what you would like to happen for the first few weeks postpartum.

Sit down with your partner, if you have have one, and make a list.  If you don’t have a partner, is there anyone else who is able to support you once baby has arrived? Even if temporarily?  Outline what you will need and discuss how that might happen.  If you have older children, consider how they might be encouraged to be involved and supportive (but recognise that adjusting to a new sibling can be a challenging time for some children).  It will potentially be a tiring time for all of you and certainly everyone will need time to adjust to the changes, so any external support you can organise from family and friends will support you all! (NB: Families come in all shapes and sizes and a future post for fathers/partners  is planned).

A baby shower or Blessingway can be a very good time to start to put in place the support you might need postpartum.  Ask people if they will offer to cook a meal, run the vacuum around, take the children to school, do a bit of shopping for you.  Look at the list above and think about how people can support you to put each ideal into place.

If you are in the position to hire one, you may find a postnatal doula helpful (link to information in Links below).


Please note:

Before you switch off and say, well yes, that’s all well and good and in some magical fairytale world the above might happen, or reading the above makes you feel sad, or even angry, because you feel that it is unachievable – pregnancy and motherhood hasn’t always been easy for me and I haven’t always achieved the above (or even close to the above!) – a post is coming about barriers to resting, barriers to you putting YOU first and some suggestions for solutions.


These may be helpful:

  1. Your body will be feeling a bit bruised and battered and has some healing to do: Arnica 30c tablets can help speed recovery.
  2. Hormonal changes whilst you are pregnant can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. Ratanhia Mouthwash can help strengthen and tighten gum and prevent irritation.
  3. Made with warming sesame oil and calendula flower extract, the fragrance-free Calendula Baby Oil is perfect for a soothing massage for you and, in time, baby too!
  1. During pregnancy your skin can become particularly sensitive. With organic sweet almond oil, the soothing Almond face care and body care ranges calm sensitive skin, reducing irritation and redness, whilst restoring your skin’s natural balance.  It is fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic.
  2. Whilst your hormones work to re-establish some sort of equilibrium, Aknedoron Purifying Lotion can help target blemishes and eruptions.
  1. Blackthorn Elixir is recommended by Weleda as a supportive supplement in times of growth (such as pregnancy and breastfeeding) – a lady I met recently at an NCT Nearly New Sale told me she is convinced it helped her feel so much better post birth!
  2. The Mindfulness Colouring Book is perfect for those quiet moments.  Commissioned from artist Lizzie Hobbs, each page is inspired by the botanicals and key ingredients found in Weleda’s ranges.  There are twelve pages to colour, taking you through the calendar year.

Not from Weleda, but potentially helpful – I love the fantastic range of teas from PukkaHerbs.  Please pay attention to whether any of the ingredients are contraindicated in pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding.

If you feel that further supplements would be beneficial to you, I personally also like the range of products from Viridian (you may wish to discuss any supplements to your diet with a healthcare professional).

LINKS

For breastfeeding support and advice:

Slings (Doncaster specific groups):

Outside support postnatally:

The “Fourth” Trimester or “Babymoon”

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Between 10 and 20% of women will develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year of having a baby (1)  with 60% reporting feeling “down” or “depressed” post birth (2).  And it’s not just expectant and new mothers,  according to research from McGill University, Canada, 13.3% of expectant fathers also experience depression during their partner’s pregnancy.

There is no magic solution to these figures, and some forms of peri and postnatal mental illness need specialist intervention and support, but there are things you can do that might help you through what can be a difficult transition into parenthood.

As figures show that British women spend the least amount of time in hospital after giving birth than in any other European country, it seems that quite often the general expectation is that women give birth every day and that once baby is here, they should just “get on with it”.   (Obviously I realise that not everyone chooses to give birth in hospital – I have a number of friends who have home-birthed – however, they are not necessarily immune to feeling the same external pressure once baby is here).

It’s a bit of a British stereotype, “stiff upper lip” and all that, but we are subject to advert after advert that tells us that if we feel below par, even fluey, no need to stop and rest, get back to work as soon as possible – and that’s before cuts to support for people with long term illness or disability.  For some of us, the message can seem very clear – show no weakness, soldier on.

In the UK many women will take only a few days to rest, before being out and about within a week or so (if not sooner).  This fast return to “normality” can bring with it various risks, from the physical strain it may place on the mother’s recovering body, to the additional stress in can place on a mother who is also still likely to be very tired, both physically and emotionally.

But this attitude isn’t one that is necessarily shared across the world (4) .

In some cultures mothers of newborns are expected to rest, completely, for as much as twenty to thirty days.   In the UK this is known as a “Babymoon” or “Fourth Trimester”. Although the term “baby moon” is also used for a last minute holiday pre-birth, the reasoning behind using it as a post-partum description is that it brings with it an idea of a timescale for this period.  It takes approximately 27 days (and a bit) for the moon to complete its orbit around the Earth and 29.5 days for it to cycle through its phases, as such a good indicator for the time a baby moon should last is about 28 days or 4 weeks (but some practices advocate longer – up to 40 days).

This period gives a mother time to rest and recuperate whilst getting to know their new baby, who, in turn, is given an opportunity to gently transition into their new experience of the world.

What is happening to your body postpartum?

Having previously housed an ever-growing baby, your uterus starts to contract and heal.   Every time you stand up, pick up anything heavy, twist or generally move around, you are disturbing the wound healing process.  You will lose blood, called “lochia” for up to six weeks as you shed the lining of your uterus. You need to give your body time to heal – and if you have had an complications and/or a caesarian – and then some!  You may find  perineal massage (5) particularly helpful in preparing for birth (it can help reduce the likelihood of tearing or an epsiotomy during childbirth) and Arnica helpful as an aid to healing.

A quick note on not lifting anything “heavier than your baby” – that includes not lifting your baby in a car seat, please get someone else to do it and, if you’ve had a whopper of a baby and had a caesarian (one of mine was 10lb 11oz and I’d had a caesarian) please try to take it easy on the carrying around in the early days, keep baby on you whilst sat or laid down, but try not to shift baby around very much – get some help!  A good sling is a fantastic resource and chances are you have a local sling library/consultant who can support you to find a sling that works for you and give you the option to rent a sling if buying isn’t an option (and often renting a sling is a good option regardless, giving you the option to change as your needs, or tastes, change – local links at the end of this article).

It may take a little time for your milk to “come in”.  This is normal.  It is also normal for a baby to lose some weight post birth – breastfed babies up to 7% (6) (and some sources cite as much as 10%) of their birthweight.  It takes time to establish breastfeeding.  The more time you can spend resting with your newborn, practicing a good latch and ensuring you eat and drink well, the easier it may be for your milk, and breastfeeding, to become established (and for you to cope with some of the difficulties you might come across whilst establishing breastfeeding).

Your body has to adjust to a change in the levels of hormones surging around your body. This change can mean you feel weepy and vulnerable, even when everyone around you is celebrating and supportive.  This is also normal (although if these feeling persist post “baby moon” please consider contacting someone for advice (PANDAS or Mind, offer support for peri (pre) and post natal mental health problems and support – please don’t suffer in silence!

All this can put a tremendous strain on you and it is important that you recognise that you need to give yourself time to adjust to this new way of being.  There are various things that you can do to prepare yourself as much as possible for these first weeks and I will cover these (and any potential stumbling blocks) in subsequent posts: Writing a Postpartum Plan and Putting Yourself First In Early Motherhood (planned)

YOU MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING USEFUL

The following products may be helpful in supporting you to prepare for baby’s arrival and to heal postpartum: Nursing Oil, Perineum Massage Oil, Stretch Mark Massage Oil and Arnica 30c.

Please visit my shop or contact me for further information.


LINKS

  1. http://everyonesbusiness.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Embargoed-20th-Oct-Summary-of-Economic-Report-costs-of-Perinatal-Mental-Health-problems.pdf
  2. Postnatal Care Funding“, The Royal College of Midwives
  3. “Expectant Dads Get Depressed Too” https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/expectant-dads-get-depressed-too-255950
  4. The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/09/new-mothers-in-uk-have-shortest-hospital-maternity-stays-research-finds
  5. Mama Natural: How To Do Perineal Massage (And Why You’ll Want To) – a fantastic blog explaining what Perinial massage is with (an explicit, so be warned) cartoon video – please contact me if you’d like details of our fab Perineum Massage Oil
  6. La Leche League: https://www.laleche.org.uk/my-baby-needs-more-milk/
  7. Slings (Doncaster specific):
  8. PANDAS Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support