I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant, and will be in my 37th week by the time you read this. At that point, our baby could come at any time and he would be considered full-term! Throughout this entire journey, I’ve documented many pregnancy hacks for the eco-minded mama. It’s been such a fun, new adventure! In this final blog post before taking my maternity leave (and leaving you all with wonderful guest bloggers to finish out 2020!), I thought you might want my top 8 pregnancy hacks here in one place. 😉
If videos are your jam, check out my YouTube channel where I’ve been documenting this whole experience since the 1st trimester! And of course, if you scroll through my Instagram, you’ll find several scattered posts related to this pregnancy. I was also recently part of a panel for eco-parents, representing the pregnancy stage. I would definitely encourage you to follow the other 2 speakers on Instagram: @raisinggeneco and @amyescott. They’re full of great ideas for parenting young kids while caring for the environment.
…First, Why Try Any Of These Hacks?
Simply put, as parents, we’re raising the next generation to inherit our earth. What are we giving them in that inheritance? What kind of values are modeling through our actions? Are we going to teach them how to be kind, compassionate, loving advocates who stand for what’s right?
It all can seem overwhelming if you think about it too long or too hard… But just like with anything else on this site, I believe we simply need to start somewhere. Take one step. Assess your capabilities. Reflect on your growth. Take another step. Keep going.
The only way to end up where you want to be is to steadily move in that direction.
If you think about it, pregnancy is the perfect beginning to this journey. Your life is already changing, and you’re already adapting your habits. So why not make them count for something that will last even longer than 9 months? The sooner you begin taking small steps toward sustainable living, the easier it will continue to be. And it will feel so much more natural to begin involving your child/ren in this process with you!
Kids need to know none of us are perfect. Adults don’t actually know everything and a BIG key to success is becoming lifelong learners! Don’t worry about doing any of this perfectly — that’s silly and impossible. Start wherever you are, do the best you can, reflect on what you’ve learned and then keep moving forward. Your kids, and the earth, will be much better off because of your willingness to try, try, try again.
So with that in mind, let’s explore some of these eco-hacks to see what will work best for you!
8 Pregnancy Hacks for the Eco-Friendly Mama
Below are the tips and tricks I learned while trying to navigate being pregnant and still living as sustainably as possible. The bonus perk of all these pregnancy hacks was how much money we saved in the process of implementing them! Caring for the planet always includes many personal benefits. But if there has ever been a time to save money, preparing to bring a child into your world is definitely it! 😉
1. Eat More Plants & Track Your Nutrition
Although being fully plant-based isn’t accessible to everyone, we can all reduce the amount of animal products we consume. And in pregnancy, that’s actually expected anyway! I mean, how many types of meat and fish are we supposed to stay away from during those 9 months??
And on top of that, one of the biggest pieces of guidance I’ve received from multiple midwives, nurses, and other people is to be careful with consuming cow’s milk/dairy. Especially while breastfeeding, because many babies end up having varying allergic reactions.
So… eating mostly plant-based, whole, clean foods seems like the better route anyway! An entire world of food is open to you without limits, it’s super healthy, the farming of these foods has a much lower negative impact on the environment, and it typically saves you lots of money in your grocery bills. What’s not to love about all that?
While Pinterest and Google contain endless recipes and resources for eating delicious, plant-based meals while pregnant, I would also highly recommend downloading the free Cronometer app on your phone. This app makes it so easy to track your daily nutritional intake — even water and exercise! And if you’re concerned about getting enough protein while pregnant, this makes it super clear how you’re doing. You can scan barcodes of items or manually enter what you eat and check the nutritional report throughout each day. Then adjust what you eat accordingly.
2. The Minimalist Maternity Wardrobe
This pregnancy hack is one of my favorites because of how much money and time it saved me! I only bought FIVE pieces of maternity clothing in my entire pregnancy. And honestly, I didn’t even need to, I just wanted them! Here’s the secret: community.
Whether you have a friend/family member who’s been pregnant, you join a “buy-nothing” group on Facebook, go to a clothing swap, etc — you can often find access to many articles of maternity clothing absolutely free. One of my friends let me borrow her “capsule maternity wardrobe” (about two large bag’s worth of clothing). I’ll just give it back to her once I no longer need it. A few family members also wanted to buy me some cute maternity pieces for Mother’s Day and my birthday. Don’t be afraid to ask for those items as gift ideas!
Finally, if you need/want to buy some maternity clothes for yourself, opt for secondhand. I got the three dresses in my maternity photos (above) from Poshmark for a total less than $50! I also bought two other dresses from a secondhand consignment store for less than $30. And that was it – my five items! Personally, I think maternity clothes are often in super great condition because they’re not worn very long before most people pass them along. So chances are, you’ll find exactly what you need, and in beautiful quality.
3. Create A Sustainable “Baby Registry”
Similar to maternity clothes, there seems to be an endless supply of baby items in the world today! Babies grow through their initial phases so quickly. And the baby industry makes a ton of money constantly trying to sell you as the parent on the latest and greatest must-have thingamabob for your baby…
Don’t let them fool you. Sure, there are some things you might prefer to buy brand new — like a breast pump or teething toys. But most of what your baby actually needs probably exists in perfection condition, just waiting for a second life. So when it comes to having a “registry” or sharing gift ideas with your loved ones, how do you navigate that in a sustainable way?
The easiest hack I came up with was to simply make my own! First, Kevin and I wrote down what we already had. Then we created a Google Doc of what we still needed (or wanted). With a shareable doc, it was really easy to list those items and link them to specific brands/businesses we wanted to support. And it was that much easier for the recipient to just click the link to order exactly what we needed!
We didn’t link every item to something new, though. Many of the items were just listed (e.g. bassinet, newborn onesies, boppy pillow, etc). We emphasized how much we love hand-me-downs. To us, giving others the chance to pass on something they already owned and no longer needed was a gift to both us and them.
If you’re interested in using my exact template as a foundation to build your own, you can access the doc as a patron of That Minimal Life! You’ll be able to make a copy of the doc and then edit/personalize it so you have your very own sustainable “baby registry”. (Just one of the many perks to becoming a TML Patron!)
4. Host A Low/Zero-Waste Baby Shower (easily!)
We had SO much fun putting together our joint baby shower as a couple. And with the help of our family/friends, we created almost ZERO waste from the whole event! Here are our top tips based on our experience:
- Sent digital E-vites (this also made it easy to include the shareable link to our “baby registry” doc!)
- Decorated with baby items we already owned / were gifted (hanging onesies, ultrasound photos, and blankets was easy and SO cute!)
- Creative activities that wouldn’t be thrown away (e.g. guests could add a page to our “advice book” rather than playing a game like melting chocolate into disposable diapers for people to guess what the “poop” smells like) 😉
- Used our own: dishes, cutlery, cleaning supplies (all reusable, and family members helped us clean up at the end — barely took extra time at all)
- Family members made the majority of the food, bought a few packaged things (the only trash created from the whole event!), and it was all plant-based! Easy ideas include: fruit salad, veggie trays, pasta salads, chips/crackers with hummus/guacamole, baked desserts, lemonade, tea, water…
- Many people creatively wrapped their gifts without waste (e.g. wrapping onesies inside a baby blanket and tying with twine); We also saved and repurposed all other wrapping materials to be reused another time (bags, tissue paper, bows, etc)
5. Look For Free Resources In Your Area
This pregnancy hack has been a lifesaver when it comes to feeling prepared and saving money. I had no idea how many pregnancy centers were in my area until we got connected to one. Then I Googled others out of curiosity. Many of these centers have resources available for free (or at least very low cost), like donated baby items, clothing, food/formula, etc. Some of the centers even offer classes to help you through your pregnancy and prepare for parenting!
We’ve been working with Colorado Family Life Center and loving it! We take free classes that we’re interested in from their 250+ selection. As we complete each class, we “earn” boutique bucks to “spend” on items that have been donated to them. Because of this and the generosity of family/friends from our baby shower, we haven’t needed to buy most of our baby essentials!
Start by simply Googling “pregnancy centers” in your area, and see what comes up. You may be surprised at what you’ll find!
6. Meal Prep Between Weeks 34-36 and Freeze for Postpartum
While you still have the energy and a fairly safe time-frame (assuming your baby doesn’t make an early entrance!), this pregnancy hack will make a world of difference later. I don’t want to worry about what to eat while recovering and caring for a new baby. I also don’t want us to rely mostly on take-out. Prepping meals ahead of time has totally put my mind at ease! Plus, I used containers rather than single-use plastic bags for less waste.
Here are two of the most simple ideas for meal prepping before baby:
- Prep crockpot meals: simply put all the ingredients into a container to freeze without even cooking! Then, all you’ll need to do later on is thaw the container overnight, dump those ingredients into your crockpot, and let it cook on low all day. Voila – easy dinner!
- Freeze leftovers from meals you’re already eating: just make sure you make about twice as much as you normally would, then put the extras into a container, and boom – ready to freeze.
I have a whole video about this with exact recipes on my YouTube channel, if you’re interested!
7. Hack for Storing Breast Milk
I was stumped for a long time thinking about how to store breast milk without all those single-use baggies people typically keep in their freezer. But, with a little creativity, we finally found some solutions!
- You could use an ice cube tray (make sure it’s one that has an airtight, snap-on lid to keep bacteria out) to freeze the milk you’ve pumped. Then, store the individual cubes in large containers, or even large plastic bags if you need to (food-grade), in order to reduce the overall amount of waste.
- Fill smaller-sized mason jars with your breast milk and freeze that way! We’re planning to use the 4oz and 8oz sizes. This way, they’re easily stackable for storage and contain the right amount for thawing.
8. Natural Items for Postpartum Care and Healing
As you enter those final weeks of pregnancy, you’re probably starting to think a lot about what’s going to happen after giving birth, or postpartum. Caring for your baby will obviously be all-consuming in many ways. However, it’s vitally important to take care of your needs (preaching to myself, too)! Your body needs to heal, but your emotional and mental well-being cannot be overlooked, either. Here are some all-natural / eco-friendly postpartum hacks I’m planning for myself, and hopefully they help you, too:
- Use period underwear for your postpartum bleeding (I LOVE my Thinx panties — you can read more about those or reusable pads in my blog post about sustainable period products!)
- Earth Mama has a bunch of wonderful products for both postpartum care and for breastfeeding.
- If you want some bath salts or herbal teas and remedies, you can often find those in bulk with less packaging, especially from a zero waste store (like The Zero Market!)
- I’ve heard soaking reusable pads/cloths in herbal tea with soothing qualities (like calendula) and then freezing them can provide comfort — like an infused cold pack.
- Cabbage leaves are supposed to help with engorged/swollen breasts!
- Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea from 36 weeks on tones your uterus, supposedly helping with a smoother labor, birth and recovery process…
- If you need nursing pads, check out Bamboobies!
- Of course, REST as much as possible, drink tons of water, and have many nutritious snacks on hand for easy access. Be sure to reach out to friends and family to keep your spirits up and to prevent yourself from feeling isolated. We’re built for community!
Note: always consult with your medical/care provider to ensure you’re doing what’s best for YOUR body and well-being. These are just suggestions!
Sending You All My Best!
Like I mentioned earlier, this whole thing we call life is a constant learning process. We aren’t perfect, we won’t master things overnight, but if we’re constantly learning and reflecting and growing — that’s what matters. And that’s a beautiful gift we can pass on to our kids.
No matter where you are in your pregnancy or parenting journey, I hope you feel encouraged by some of these ideas and motivated to make some adjustments.
Got any pregnancy hacks for sustainable living that I didn’t mention?? Please share in the comments — I’d LOVE more ideas!
As a side note, I’m officially beginning my maternity leave after this post, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be left without content! I’ve got AMAZING guest bloggers lined up to continue posting every other week through the end of the year. They’re covering all sorts of topics like mental health, minimalism, sustainable gift giving, hosting a green holiday party, traveling responsibly… We’re wrapping up 2020 with a bang!
To make sure you never miss a post (or to keep up with my baby updates 😉 ), sign up for my email list and you’ll be kept in the loop 2-3 times per month. You can also follow me on Instagram and/or YouTube — my interactions will be scattered for a bit, but I’ll be around!
Sending you all my love, well wishes, and looking forward to a NEW YEAR!