Life without Plastic

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Zero Waste/Plastic-free Birth of UG3

Health and Safety Warning: I'm not a doctor, midwife, homeopath, herbalist, or other credentialed/licensed medical/health expert. All of the choices we made, including choosing an unassisted birth were based on my own personal research for my family's needs and should not be taken as medical advice. Anyone who follows our example is doing so at their own personal risk and I cannot be held liable for any outcome, either negative or positive.

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Our birth experience went wonderful and we ended up using very few of our supplies. We opted to have an unassisted birth with just my husband, myself, and UG1 attending. My labor was very short, 4 hours from start to finish, 2 active, and a 10 min push.

We had some issues with our midwife and changed her role to just providing prenatal and postnatal care up to 37 weeks. UG3 (a girl!) was born at 38 weeks, so we tried to have the midwife come within the agreed 24-36 hour window for postnatal care. She was just barely willing to come within 48 hours, but we were just going to take what we could get to keep UG3 home. Interestingly enough, she was born in the evening, so UG1 was up and watching a movie and came in to check on me. She saw UG3 just after she came out and still commented that "She's really cute."

UG3 had something come up the evening before midwife was scheduled to come and since she hasn't been involved in the birth, she didn't feel she could diagnose anything. So, we canceled our appointment with her for the following morning and headed to the ER at the children's hospital to see what was going on. Turned out to be nothing, but they weren't willing to do the newborn screening either, so they referred us to a pediatrician to have it done in the 48 hour window (yep, same as midwife).

Went to pediatrician and got a lecture about our decisions to refuse some procedures and finally got the 1st newborn screening done. We'll return to the pediatrician for the 2nd newborn screening and just take our girls for well child visits after that appointment.

Because we went to the hospital, every test was done with plenty of plastic which was non-avoidable, but not zero-waste or plastic-free.

We didn't end up using all of our supplies, but here is we did use:

    1. 1 unlanolized lightweight wool swaddling blanket postpartum to protect our sheets from lochia
    2. 1 wool Reusable/washable underpad and lanolized, used postpartum under swaddling blanket to protect our sheets from lochia and changing diapers
    3. 2 Stainless steel cord clamps, sterilized were used successfully to cut the cord with boiled kitchen scissors, after being scared off from cord burning by a pop that didn't even touch UG3
    4. Homemade cloth Postpartum pads from old towels, my repurposed baby blanket, and cotton layer for softness worked great for the first week and now I don't really need such heavy duty care
    5. Bubzi Co. Nasal Aspirator-Part Silicone, Washable, Reusable, Works better than bulb and can clean better to prevent mold build-up..worked great for clearing out a little extra fluid from UG3's nose and mouth, along with a couple of good wacks to the back and feet flicks 
    6. Twin Pack Newborn Metabolic Screen from the Utah Department of Health (Formerly the PKU screening, a necessary and life saving test and so we aren't going to alter this item.)  Update on June 3rd, 2016: It's all paper, even the mailer (excepting the adhesive! So already plastic-free.) We took this to the pediatrician's office, so they did use a band-aid, plastic heat packs, and alcohol wipes to perform the screening. I'm going to try to refuse the band-aid for the second screening.
    7. Birthing in the tub and cleaning with soap and water like any other day worked great and Mr. Greenie was a champion at removing all traces of our birth mess!
    8. Washing everything normally thrown away and using a large hand-me-down wet bag to put washables in also worked well. 

    9. Wide-Mouth Half-gallon canning jar worked great for encapsulating my placenta. The encapsulation specialist was amazing and had her own jar to send capsules home in. She put everything in a paper gift bag as well, so it looked really nice.
    10. Medium/Large mixing bowl to carry placenta until in jar worked fine.
    11. Staying over the bathtub as birthing area worked fairly well. We ended up using the plastic drop cloths that came with our house for cutting the cord on our bed. We're going to be able to reuse another time.
    12. Thermometer, we reused UG1's, no new plastic. We'll eventually replace with a glass one when the batteries go out. This will be reused for awhile of growing up.
    13. Gender neutral hand-me-down clothing and PUL newborn diapers/skin to skin contact and diaper free baby, (no new plastic and we'll eventually sell the diaper covers to get wool covers, no budget for it now.) We stayed naked for awhile and used our stainless steel dog bowl baby potty until we went to sleep.
    14. Towels (already cotton, not plastic) worked fine for drying off baby and after I showered off.
    15. Washcloths (already cotton, not plastic) weren't used.
    16. Cloth washcloths and wipes weren't necessary either. Mr. Greenie did use our cloth cleaning rags for tub clean-up.
    17. Receiving blankets (hand me downs from UG1 and skin to skin contact), didn't use for a couple of days as UG3 slept with us.
    18. Homemade postpartum pads (See above) and granny panties, mostly cotton with exception of plastic elastic waistbands. So amazingly better than disposables! Laundry was a load a day with newborn diapers and pads, but so much better comfort-wise.
    19. Frozen cloth maxipads, see Padsicles tutorial) Also amazing, I didn't feel any need for Tylenol, etc.
    20. Custom glass bended straws (For drinking in even the prone position) Fairly good, but one broke after one use. I would recommend 2 custom heavily bent and 2 regular bent ones.
    21. Coconut water in glass bottles (and grapefruit juice as a treat) Worked great in labor and recovery. Mr. Greenie also enjoyed, so that will be an occasional treat in our house.
    22. Foods easily digested (All in plastic-free packaging already) I did great with a yogurt and didn't even throw up this labor. My labor was again, super short though.
    23. Arnica Montana homeopathic 30 C (Only in plastic, but prevents bruising and decreases "pain" in labor, which I prefer to call discomfort. I would use a Arnica extract in a glass bottle in the future.) Seemed to work fine.
    24. Snacks for birth team (plenty of plastic-free options). Labor went so fast that Mr. Greenie didn't really need a snack or do anything but prepare the birthing area and tidy up.
    25. Car seat installed & ready to go for emergency transport (No plastic-free options exist for driving with baby in the car, we just went with the least toxic and will be recycling all our car seats. If you solely ride public transportation, then you could just hold baby or wear in a sling.) I installed it in early labor with my water leaking into a postpartum pad.
    26. Postpartum Sitz Bath Herbs (Already purchased before going plastic-free so there is tape closing box and a plastic bag holding the cloth herb packets, but you could make your own with homegrown herbs or buy from sellers on Etsy.) These have worked great for soothing ice packs and making padsicles.
    27. Comfy clothing and nudity for skin to skin (Both plastic-free, but clothing seems more like a relaxation thing to me, rather than being an invalid in bed.) I totally stayed naked whenever I could for the first week on my husband's vacation. The clothes helped to feel more healthy though.
    • Bonus:Shephard's Purse for Hemorrhage care, 15ml 3 times a day (Breastfeeding also helps) I used this once, but we didn't have a real heavy hemorrhage problem.
    • Bonus: Raspberry Leaf/Nettle Infusion (Hemorrhage care and reduces blood loss, & boosts iron/Vitamin K levels) Worked great and seems to help.
    • Bonus: Cottonwood Bark Extract, 20 drops 2-3 times a day postpartum for afterpains (cleansing rushes, I prefer.) This was phenomenal, I didn't feel tempted to use painkillers between this and the Padsicles. I would recommend this for every delivery!
    • Bonus: Bengkung Belly Binding Kit (Helps to heal and support rectus abdominus, along with appropriate exercise) This also seems to be working. I already had a diastasis from my first pregnancy.
    • Bonus: Olive oil in glass bottle (on baby's bottom to prevent meconium from sticking) Didn't really use this as we used EC from day one and didn't worry about getting our flats and prefolds stained.
    • Bonus: Tape measure (already owned plastic, to measure baby after birth) Actually forgot to measure UG3 until later. It's not required on birth certificate luckily.
    • Bonus: Candles for Cord Burning vs cutting (We already have the candles, otherwise we would choose beeswax candles. Burning actually cauterizes the cord, so cord remainder can be clamped, tied in a knot, tied off, etc.) Ended up sterilizing kitchen scissors and cutting after a candle popped, but not on UG3 or me.
    • Bonus: Clean sheets for the bed after birth is over and nap is needed for baby, mother, and father.) This worked fine.
    Overall, a great experience and fairly zero-waste and very little plastic! Super happy to have this little one out and about with us now. 

    Here's to less plastic, less waste, and more joy!

    Little Urban Greenie

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