9 Natural Remedies To Help New Moms (Hello, Sore Nipples!)

Expecting a baby? Try these natural, organic cures for the body issues no one likes to talk about, from tearing to depression.

February 1, 2017
sore nipples
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Before I gave birth to my son, I was the poster mother of preparedness: drawers full of baby clothing in graduating sizes, diaper delivery subscription secured, electrical outlets covered, and furniture anchored to the wall. I had compiled phone numbers for pediatricians and food delivery services. I had a hospital bag neatly packed in the closet, including a personal hospital gown. 

Related: 4 Types of Baby Products That You Should Buy Green (and one you can skip)

It was only after I’d given birth that I realized I’d overlooked a critical piece of the post-partum puzzle: myself. I hadn’t given any thought to what I might need in the aftermath of bringing a human being into the world. Many friends with kids of their own had told me ahead of time that I needed muslin swaddle cloths, but no one thought to mention what I would need to deal with vaginal tears, sore nipples, or cramping in the days after birth—or that any of this would happen at all. I was in utter shock.

And while my new son had legions of aunties and friends fretting over him, my own needs took a back seat. When my body behaved in ways I found perplexing and painful, I found myself scrambling for solutions. During late night feedings I sent desperate emails to other mothers, and Googled things like “pain when breastfeeding” and “remedies for thrush.”

Related: 6 Moms Share the Times They Felt Like Total Failures

My son is now four, and I’ve been on the receiving end of those pleading emails more times than I can count. I’m always glad to answer them. Over the years, I’ve put together a list of essential items for new mothers, which I encourage you to put at the very top of your baby-prepping list. 

angel baby bottom balm
Photograph courtesy of amazon
For Perineal Tearing

Tear down there? Most of us do. It’s estimated that 90% of women who deliver vaginally experience perineal tearing. I’m a member of that statistical club. And while hospital staff sent me home with a range of products to numb my wound and promote healing, my instinct was to try organic products first. And I’m happy I did: Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm was effective and calming, thanks to gentle, soothing herbs like St. Johns Wort, yarrow, witch hazel, and calendula. To maximize its effectiveness, store the salve in the refrigerator before use. If you’re too sore to apply a topical balm, Earth Mama Angel Baby also makes a similarly relieving New Mama Bottom Spray for hands-off relief. 

Related: 5 Ways to Use Witch Hazel For Perfect Skin

after ease
Photograph courtesy of amazon
For Postpartum Contractions

There’s nothing like holding your sweet baby in the hours after you give birth…only to experience more contractions. (That’s right, they don’t stop just because you’re finished pushing.) Afterbirth contractions help to return your uterus to its original size – a process that can last for about two weeks after delivery. These cramps are spurred on by breastfeeding, which releases the hormone oxytocin – your body’s way of telling your uterus to close up shop and return to normal.

Not all moms feel these after-pains, but many first-timers do. Take the edge off of them with AfterEase tincture from WishGarden Herbs, which contains black haw bark and cramp bark, both of which contain chemical compounds that counteract contractions in the uterus: a couple of drops of AfterEase tincture in a glass of water helps to alleviate muscle cramping. Couple this with a gentle tummy massage, and make sure to pee often (a full bladder can interrupt contractions). Tinctures do contain alcohol, but at dosage levels similar to that of a very ripe banana, or of a glass of wine consumed over two weeks. If cramping is severe or fails to diminish within the first couple weeks, see your healthcare provider.

Related: 6 Times You Should Never Use Essential Oils

healing salve
Photograph courtesy of amazon
For C-Section Recovery

If you deliver via C-section, you’ll be caring for your babe and your belly. To speed healing, Rebecca Brett, mother and co-owner of Minnow Lane in Fishtown recommends  Earth Mama Angel Baby C-Mama Healing Salve. “This stuff is rich in specific ingredients that aid in the healing of wounds—vitamin C, fatty acids, and amino acids. It has amazing healing properties and it smells delicious.” Formulated specifically for C-sections, this salve can also be used for regeneration and repair of surgical wounds, as well as burns, rashes, and stretch marks.

nipple cream
Photograph courtesy of amazon
For Sore Nipples

Ah, breastfeeding. The picture of contentment and satisfaction. Aside from your first few goes at it. But there's one thing no one tells you before you begin: breastfeeding can hurt. A lot. Pain can be brought on by myriad issues including general soreness (hey, you’re both new at this), cracked nipples (which can bleed), and mastitis (an infection resulting from a clogged duct) among other things. Luckily, the pain passes as your body adjusts, and there are ways to cope until that happens.

Paige Wolf, mother and author of Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt has a few go-to solutions for nipple care. After experiencing her own soreness, she developed a one-two sucker punch that combines warm salt water and  Motherlove Nipple Cream, a 100% organic, plant-based salve which contains extra virgin olive oil, marshmallow root, and shea butter.

Wolf advises breastfeeding mothers to make a warm compress with healing sea salt – you can simply use a clean wash cloth, soaking it in boiling water and cooling it just enough to feel comfortable on your skin. Apply for roughly ten minutes, and air-dry completely. Apply nipple cream generously and repeat between each feeding. You can use this approach with any cream, but remember that your baby will be ingesting anything that residually sits on your nipple, so applied products should be 100% certified organic.

A warm compress like this can also aid in relieving mastitis – a common infection that occurs when a milk duct becomes blocked. Combine it with plenty of bedrest, extra nursing sessions, and massaging the blocked duct in the direction of the nipple. 

Related: 7 Surprising Things You Should Eat If You’re Breastfeeding

nursing pads
For Gentler Nursing Pads

Sore or cracked nipples can be irritated by disposable nursing pads, so instead of disposables, try uber-soft LANAcare reusable wool breast pads, instead.  Wool wicks moisture away and has natural anti-bacterial properties, and the pads are easy to care for. Two or three sets are all you need, and they rarely need to be washed thanks to the inherent properties of wool. When pads become wet with breastmilk, just let them air dry—the milk converts the natural lanolin of the wool to lanolin soap, which cleanses away bacteria. 

essential oil roller
Photograph courtesy of Chop Wood Carry Baby
For Easing Stress

A major tenet of milk-making is relaxation.  Taking a few moments to center and ground yourself with a whiff of a calming essential oil before (or while) nursing can do wonders for your supply. Sandlewood, chamomile, and lavender all have soothing properties, as does spruce, which is a prominent element in the mellowing blend Root Down blend from Chop Wood Carry Baby. Owner and creator Karina Mackenzie Hoess recommends the scent in roller form for mothers. Dab it on pulse points before nursing. Just don't allow essential oils to come in direct contact with baby’s sensitive skin, as they can cause irritation.

Related: 5 Best Essential Oils For Anxiety

rescue remedy
Photograph courtesy of amazon
For Reducing Anxiety

All that baby bliss got you down? Most women experience waves of sadness that ebb and flow with changing hormones after giving birth. These waves fluctuate over the first few weeks of motherhood, and can be regulated with some self-love and with Rescue Remedy, a tiny vial of wildflower infusions (also known as flower essences) that you administer with a simple squirt beneath the tongue. In 2007, an anxiety research study by the University of Miami School of Nursing in conjunction with The Sirkin Creative Living Center found flower essences to be effective at reducing anxiety and alleviating panic. I also lean on Wish Garden’s Baby Blues Tincture, which contains herbal mood lifters like St. John’s Wort, which can elevate serotonin levels – that mood stabilizing chemical produced by the body. If your baby blues extend well beyond several weeks, and feel more severe, definitely contact a health professional to discuss support for postpartum depression.