Everything You Need for a Green and Natural Pregnancy, Delivery, and 4th Trimester

by - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Congratulations, you are going to have a baby soon! When you get pregnant, it doesn't take long before you realize that having that baby takes a lot of stuff. A whole lot of stuff.

Bringing a person into the world might make you start wanting the Earth or the country or your town to be a little bit better. One look at my baby boy and I wanted to make the world better (and here we are). If you are trying to be Earth-friendly, this big honking party can cause a real dilemma- you are about to get a whole bunch of items that you might only use for a month or two, and a lot of it is made cheaply (meaning some super sketchy labor policies, non-recyclable materials, all sorts of nonsense). If you are trying to encourage American labor, this can be tricky as well, since most major baby clothing brands are made elsewhere. This is the bad news.

The good news is that it can be done! Welcome to the Green, Zero-Waste, and Natural Baby Registry.

The first step for many (though not all) of us, most of which happens before you even start your baby wishlist, is taking care of yourself, before, during, and after that big day where a bunch of strangers hang out around your business (ah, the memories). This can get overlooked, but let's take a minute and focus on that, because you do make a lot of little purchases (and can register for help with them), and they do matter.

If you pick green options for all these early buys, it can be a powerful first step to buying ethically for your baby is when you are managing your pregnancy (and making your registry). You can't control everything that your family and friends buy you for your future baby (you will get at least one onesie with "Mommy's future ballerina" or "Future Slugger" on it. I am sorry, but we all live through it), but you can try to be strategic about what you buy and ask for. First, think about how you group what you need: 

1. Do I need to buy this? It can be so exciting to be pregnant that you want to buy pregnancy clothes, pillows, EVERYTHING. But the truth is, a lot of your already existing wardrobe could help you through the majority of the pregnancy. When you go to deliver, you can pack your bag with things you already own. A new human will be newness enough- for everything else, if you can reuse something old, do it!

2. Can I buy it (or be gifted it) used? This is HUGE for clothes. Baby consignment stores are relatively easy to find, and there are usually sizable collections of baby clothes at Goodwill and the like. Gifting economies (like the Buy Nothing Project) have baby clothes up for grabs almost everyday. You can't stop other people, but you can commit to cutting out most new clothes from your own purchases. We can talk more about this later.

People will buy you so much clothes. Make a bold choice and ask for secondhand items on your shower invitationEncore Baby Registry is an awesome baby registry where you can register for brand new and secondhand items in the same place. 

 Go see your local consignment places first, because you may be surprised. We got our changing pads there, as well as blankets (those Aden and Anais ones that people love, as well as the little ones with animal heads, which are great but super creepy), toys, and books. Join your Buy Nothing Project (or start one!)- we have already lent out a swing and a bouncer (both of which are absolutely essential for about 5 minutes, and then you never use it again). Shopping used is so eco-friendly, but it also saves you oodles of money. 

3. Can I find it made locally or out of sustainable materials? Your priorities are your own, but I will try to give you a heads up on some of the products and companies that are more ethical and responsible. Studies just keep proving plastic is extremely sketchy, see if you can find other options instead. 

4. Can I find it Open Box? You can also usually find "Open Box" versions on many of the big baby products on Amazon, meaning someone returned it almost immediately, but everything is in place. Once you are filling those gaps in your registry, this can be a Godsend, because they are always cheaper and it keeps the world from being filled with stuff people aren't using.

I do use affiliate links for Amazon, but I highly recommend you register locally or where makes the most sense for you. 

 Without further ado, these are some of the good options we found (and I will try to at least mention other ethical and green products and you can report back if you liked them):

For Your Pregnancy

Baby Books (used)

Our Pick- Get them used or from the library! 

 What to Expect is good to have, but you probably don't need to buy it fresh when there are hundreds of copies waiting to get love again (and I bet you will use websites and apps more). You could also check your local library for some of that wisdom. If you think something is particularly great- buy it! I honestly mostly used an app, and the internet to constantly ask if my weirdness was normal.

Belevation from Amazon

Belly Band (used)

Our Pick- Baby Consignment Stores
Other Options- Belevation or My Bella Mama.

 The Ingrid and Isabel model is genius, but it is also imported and made of synthetic fabrics. Check out your consignment store for these gems, because really, what else are people going to use them for? So you can find them in most baby consignment stores that sell maternity clothes or even ThredUp. A belly band and a hair band can keep you regular clothes lasting so much longer. If you need to get one new, I recommend Belevation or My Bella Mama, both made in the US.

Belly Care (new)

Our Pick- Burt's Bee's Mama Bee Belly Butter and  Mother's Special Blend 

Other Options- Best Nest WellnessNine NaturalsBaby Belly BarGreen Earth NaturalsEmpire SquidWandering Mom Shop (this one looks especially great), and Earth Wise Skincare Co

 The effectiveness of these things is pretty well-debated. but I loved the way it felt, and I made it through without stretch marks (the first time). Two of the brands I loved and used are made in the US;  I used Burt's Bees most days after the shower, and if nothing else it felt good and smelled great. I used Mother's Special Blend after the first pregnancy, and I do think it helped.

from Neodesigner

Body Pillows, Support Bands and Ginger Pops (just wait)

 As soon as you are pregnant, it's tempting to address all the crazy symptoms you might have. But you won't have all of them. In fact, most pregos don't even get most of them. Address your discomforts as they come! Your pregnancy will be all your own.

If you do decide one (or all) of these are needs, I have you covered.

For a body pillow, I have used a giant stuffed fish, which I highly recommend, but if you can't find one (and you dont want to buy the Made in China Boppy pillows- why does a pillow ever need to be imported?), this pillow from thesustainablebaby is all organic materials and made in the US.

For other options, check HandsonforHomemadeLeachco, Coop Home GoodsRelax Home Life, Five Diamond Collection, and Millas World.

Support bands will supposedly help your back if you are having a lot of pain. You have a few Made in the USA options, though you might try a friend's first to see if it helps- Gabrialla, Underworks, or Alpha Medical.

Ginger Pops can be a lifesaver for nausea, so it might be a good first stop before considering medication.Eco-friendly brands? Preggie Pops and Tummy Drops,

Clothing (mostly used, just a few pieces new)

Our Pick- Secondhand, check baby consignment stores and Thred Up
Other Options-  Made in USA filter on Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the PodBun Maternity, and Pink Blush Maternity

The first time, I spent way too much on maternity clothes that only worked for a few months. This time, I mostly filled my closet with used clothes. Name brand stuff too! If you make your wardrobe with secondhand pieces, you can focus your money on key pieces.Also good to know is that most baby consignment stores have small maternity sections.

I love that contemporary women put their bellies out there while pregnant, but all that stretchy stuff means a lot of synthetic fabrics, and if they are plastic-based, they are really bad for the environment.

Where can you find solid, made in America pieces? Both Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod have Made in the USA filters so you can find things easily. Etsy has tons of t-shirt, robe, and maternity dress options, so it is worth looking there. Another great place to look is Pink Blush Maternity- not everything is made in the US (you have to check) but much of it is and they have extended sizes compared to lots of other places.

Ideally, pick things that will work postpartum as well. If you are breastfeeding, think about how you can get a boob out of it. When you come home with a baby, you look about 5 months pregnant, so maternity clothes have an afterlife.

My essential list for maternity clothing is pretty short- 1-2 pairs of jeans, 1 stretchy maxi skirt, 5 shirts, 2-3 casual dresses, 1 nice dress, and 3 pairs of leggings. A few pieces I would definitely recommend:

-One Pair of Jeans- These pregnancy jeans were made in the US but they aren't alone. I got a pair of AG Jeans maternity pants, and they are my favorite jeans I have ever owned. Writing this, I kind of miss these jeans. They seem expensive for maternity clothes, but they got constant use and stayed out the longest of all my maternity clothes. My best advice is to go stretchy, buy one pair (two tops), and to make sure you know your preference about how much of your belly is covered- just go try them on at the consignment stores.

- One Fancy DressThis dress was another huge winner which has since been passed around to other pregos I love. Nothing should be called flattering when you carry a giant cauldron on your front, but damn this dress is flattering. From Ingrid and Isabel (who partially manufacture in the US), and you can tell they know their way around a bump- slightly longer but flowy sleeves, empire waist, and a great view of some oversized nunjas. Rachel Pally also makes an amazing maternity dress, though if you have a fancy event while pregnant, I would rent something from Rent the Runway first.

- A Few Versatile Pieces- Say it with me- Maxi dress. You can buy a few pieces that give you space in that first trimester that will stretch as you grow and make for good wear when the baby comes. There are always tons in secondhand stores, but you can really find made in America ones all over the place too.

-Some Shapewear- This sounds like a joke, but I definitely used it. For me, I just wanted something to keep my giant prego thighs separate so I could still walk everywhere. Belevation has great options, and they are all made here.

Nursing Bras (new) 

Our Pick- Bella Materna

 You think this is something to worry about late in pregnancy, but as soon as you are thinking "bigger bra" you should think about getting really supportive nursing bras with clasps. Rather than buying two sets of not great bras, buy one set of really supportive bras (because your boobs have it so hard anyway).  I would recommend Bella Materna. Most of their stuff is made in America, and they have a stellar  reputation and customer service.

Also, people talk about "sleeping bras" or soft bras which look like a sports bra. Actually, what it reminds me of the bra your mom buys you because puberty is coming any minute.  They are too wimpy for the task at hand. Here is a US-made one from Belly Bandit in case it turns out to be just what you need, but I think they are straight up nonsense.

Did I mention you can get almost everything you need used? Do that. Check with your friends who have babies. Check Thred Up if you don't have any consignment nearby! Don't waste a bunch of money on clothes you will only wear for a few months! But it also isn't the time to buy junk that will make it straight to the landfill. You don't want your baby's world to be a giant fast fashion landfill.

Prenatal Vitamins (new)

Yep, you need them. Check the bottle and get them in bulk (if you plan to breastfeed, you have a long run with those horse pills).

Workout DVDs (used)

Do what works for you, but KEEP MOVING. Once you fall off the exercise wagon while prego, it is so hard to get back on. You can buy some of the gems (my favorite is Summer Sanders and her sister in law- used for 1.84). There are plenty of options, just be sure to check the Used section.

what to bring to the hospital

Your experience of delivery obviously depends on how you intend to deliver. My guess is that home births create a lot less waste, but obviously many of us don't have the support or the ability to do this. You can still have a positive impact with a hospital birth.

That said, don't overpack.

We brought so much the first time and then my husband just kept forgetting our bag in the car. We did fine without it. The point of this is, you will need less than you think. Both bubs spent their first two days diaper only, and you don't want to miss any good skin to skin time. It's the best. I wouldn't buy anything specifically for your hospital time unless you think you would use it again.

We got our packing list here, which includes genius things like a phone charger (you will be sitting in bed a lot). I would add your camera charger, a surprise bag for your partner, and flip flops for the shower (bring socks too! hospitals are cold).

I am not going to do too much for these, but I do want to point out that there isn't anything on this shopping list (like so many others) that you can't buy with ethical materials or Made in the US.

from Ginger Lous

A Going Home Outfit (new)

Our Pick-  Little Beans Baby Shop
Other Options- Monroe's HouseGinger Lous,  Gigi and MaxThe Southern Closet 101, and Maine Girl Creations.

Our first time, we used a newborn outfit gifted to us. I think Carter's made it. This last time, we bought a special (dinosaur) outfit from an American Etsy seller- Little Beans Baby Shop. It was adorable and perfect for the moment, and it is a cute little memento I will keep forever in his baby box. Honestly, you could put them in something used, but if you are going to splurge, Etsy has truly special stuff. Just avoid the faux Native American motif- it's not going to fare well through time.

One Swaddle Blanket (used)

Our Pick- Used
Other Options- Snug Bug muslin blankets

 I have talked about swaddle blankets on my Don't Buy Aden and Anais post, and I will talk about it more later in the registry. But the short version is- You can find used Aden and Anais blankets in pretty good condition at many kid's consignment stores, so if you are feeling like you have to be in on the trend, do it that way.

from Bliss Joy Bull

Toiletry Bag, Shower, and/ or Make Up Bag (wait)

 Do you have any of these already? Then they will work just fine. I also think you overestimate how much you will be sprucing in that time in the hospital. Mostly you will just bleed on things. I must have showered, but I don't remember it, and it would have been a rinse off. Bring the toiletries you can't live without, but you don't need tons of make up. A few options if you don't have the bags you need- Bliss Joy Bull,  Jack and Mulligan, Dana Herbert, The Club BagGracie Designs, and Needle and Oak. Just buy something you think you could use again, and go with that!

Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles (new)

 Never buy those little travel-sized shampoos! Those are nonsense! It's just waste.

 If you want something that size, try a cool reusable bottle like these from Moyo Natural Labs (my new favorites). I have these GoToob ones, and they need to travel in their own biobag, but otherwise, they are awesome and waste-free. You can use the same ones for a long, long time and keep tons of "travel-sized" waste out of landfills.

Toothbrush (you have it)

 Ok, you have one of these already. I get that. But if you are ready to make an eco-friendly change (and this is a perfect opportunity- almost all toothbrushes are fresh plastic), try a recycled plastic toothbrush from Preserve or a bamboo toothbrush.

Hairbrush (you have it)

 I feel confident if you need one, one already lives in your home, but if you are looking to replace there are  eco-friendly options (ours even has wood bristles)

Moisturizer and Face Wash (you have it)

 If these things matter to you, you already have these products (and probably some failed experiments) at home. We have been trying to find natural and made in America face wash we love, but the most important thing in my opinion is to just do bar soap. You can wrap it in paper to take it back home. I absolutely love Kiss my Face olive oil soap, but there are tons of great face bars out there.

2 Maxi Dresses (new/used)

 Look up! Already covered this. If you are trying to breastfeed, bring something you can get a boob out of easily. Otherwise, whatever you already have in maternity clothes will be perfect.

One Cardigan or Hoodie (you have it)

 Just bring something you already have at home. It's just to stay warm if the maxi dress isn't cutting it!

One Nursing Tank/ Pajama (new/used)

I covered this in the pregnancy section, and honestly, this is only if you are a pajama pants and top kind of girl. At least for me, I was still in a hospital gown most of the time, so I just wore a pair of old pajama shorts underneath. Nothing fancy or special. You know which of your business you feel alright having out.

Phone and Camera Chargers (you have them)

Ack, alright, there is one thing you can't buy green or Made in the USA.  For the record, electronics are the worst.  But don't forget your charger, because you spend more time just sitting around then you expect.

for the fourth trimester

Those first few weeks can be rough, and you are in survival mode. We tend to make less healthy and ethical decisions under that kind of pressure. So picking up the things you need now (or registering for them) can be a huge help. 

Nursing Pads (new)

Our Pick- Love your Reusables and Marley's Monsters
Other Options- NuAngelBaby KicksBaby GreetersPrarie Love OrganicSoft and Scrubby, and Greening Boutique.

 You will see lots of these one time use, disposable nursing pads AND IT MAKES NO SENSE. What evil villain convinced us that this was something to throw away? They wash up just like anything else in your laundry and are perfectly reusable.  My pick?  Love your Reusables are organic, made in America, and around the same price as a box of the the disposables (but they will last for much longer). If you want to register for something more fun, I think Marley's Monsters has adorable designs to really spice up those nipples (I kid, but not really).

Nursing Pajamas (used or new)

Our Pick- Use what you have
Other Options- Majamas

 I think normal nursing tops (or just a low cut t-shirt) and a pair of soft shorts or pants is just fine. I got Majamas the second time around, and they felt kind of synthetic. At least it is modal, which is a plant-based synthetic.

Nursing Tank (used or new)

Our Pick- M. Rena or Mother Bee
Other Options- Preggers Maternity

 Tanks with snaps were a big part of my nursing mainstay the first time. Now I think really any tank that is soft, stretchy, and covers is so important (I like these ones from M Rena and Mother Bee because you can use them while pregnant and even post-nursing too). You could do a button up and easily stay mostly covered. You can sometimes find them in Maternity sections in consignment stores, but in general, your best bet is probably to get an American-made version.

Post-partum Belly Wrap (new)

Our Pick- Belly Bandits
Other Options- Bellefit

I didn't find these particularly helpful after my c-section, but some people do swear by them, especially helping them refind their shape and accelerate healing. I may not have been committed enough to wearing it, but I didn't mind wearing my Belly Bandit. They are one of the most loved versions of this idea, and they are Made in the USA! They also don't hurt or constrain you past reason. This one looks even better because it is made from bamboo. Bellefit, definitely more hardcore, are also (mostly?) made in America. 

Sanitary Pads and Panty Liners (new)

Our Pick- Organyc
Other Options-  Natratouch, and Veeda

You can read about pads and panty liners in our Green Goods for Lady Parts post- the short story? They create a hell of a lot of waste, but a TON of awesome alternatives are out there. For your normal menstrual needs, you can find something reusable and save the world from so much waste. Best case scenario, we would all use reusable ones all the time, but I can't imagine being ok with my mother or mother-in-law having to deal with that mess while I recovered post-birth. If you are doing all your own laundry, maybe that would work for you, but let's look at some other options too.

Organyc makes organic cotton pads that are biodegradable and much kinder to the wearer than the bleached things we all grew up with. Maybe not perfect for regular shopping, but worth it post-partum? Natratouch also has all-cotton pads (so biodegradable and healthy), and their cotton is even grown in the United States. Honestly, Seventh Generation's offering is pretty freaking lame, and it looks like they aren't even made in the US, but it is still better than plastic-lined and chlorine soaked panty liners that mainstream brands schlep.  liners look a little better.

Everything You Need for a Green and Natural Pregnancy, Delivery, and 4th Trimester

Alright! Be on the look out for Part 2 next week and please leave comments if there are things I should add! It can be tough to do all this research as 1 person, but if we share our ideas, I think we can make a big difference! Check out the whole green baby registry here!

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  1. Amazing post. I'm obsessed lately with the idea of waste-free/minimalist and this would have been a lifesaver when I was pregnant - now if there's a next time around I'll know what is worth buying haha.

  2. Really great list! I remember these days a couple of years ago and you hit everything right on the nose!

  3. What a comprehensive list! I am a big fan of consignment stores and buying things gently used whenever possible.

  4. Love this! I still sleep with my pregnancy pillow! They are a must have!



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