Eco-Friendly Pregnancy and Baby Care
Not well-defined as a rule, I choose to think of the term "ecofriendly" as meaning that these products are natural, are made in a way that does less harm to the environment, and in a way that is ethically and socially responsibly, can be reused or will break down in a way that doesn't negatively affect our environment, and has effects that are beneficial to the consumer. Picking out these "green" products can be challenging because, much like the terms "organic" or "natural," the terms can be used as part of the product's name or description without any obligation to satisfy any "green" requirements. There are some protected terms, of course, but I still recommend looking into the companies you want to support, and the products that you want to buy. If you encounter something new, please turn it over and read the description and the ingredients on the label to ensure it actually is what it says it is.
The idea of having an eco-friendly pregnancy and providing the same care to your baby, naturally translates into less interventions and more natural solutions wherever possible. As I've said before, all interventions, including antibiotics and cesarean sections, have their place, but there are a lot of steps that can be taken that fall somewhere in the middle. There are natural treatments for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, colds/flus, heartburn, and most of the other things that can develop in pregnancy. Stretch marks, I'm afraid, are the result of a combination of rapid growth and genetic predisposition. Keeping your skin (and your body) hydrated can help maximize the elasticity and suppleness of the skin, but there's no magic cure.
Once your baby arrives, you'll likely already have a slew of supplies at hand for any eventuality. Other moms will recommend things that worked for them, you'll come across things on the internet, and on television, but you'll likely have an idea of how natural you want to be when it comes to putting things on your baby. Companies will design entire lines of products based on what they think you'll need for you baby, but the truth is that brand new babies don't need soap, lotion, petroleum jelly, or shampoo. In fact, many of these products will actually irritate their sensitive skin. Simple, natural products such as olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil help keep their skin hydrated and protect their bottoms, without additives.
The most topical baby care item seems to be diapers, and for good reason. Disposable diapers, since wiping out the cloth diaper market, has probably generated enough waste to fill the famous Staten Island landfill in NY state, which was at one time the largest man made structure on the planet. There is a lot of controversy about whether cloth diapering or disposable diapering results in a smaller carbon footprint, because of the amount of water required for the frequent washing of cloth diapers, but I can't imagine that something that breaks down at a snail's pace, emitting hazardous gases as it goes, can ever be argued to be the better option. I appreciate that there are circumstances when a disposable diaper may be all you have access to or all that makes sense (especially in the early, meconium days), but generally speaking, it makes so much more sense economically and ecologically, to find a system of reusable diapers that works for you. Because of the resurgence in cloth diapering's popularity, there are more options than ever, in an effort to meet everyone's different needs. And if you need to use disposable diapers, there are now eco-friendly alternatives to the more popular brands, which contain perfumes, dyes, and other harsh chemicals. Seventh Generation, which incidentally, is one of the most ethically and socially responsibly companies out there, produces diapers that are free of latex, perfurmes, petroleum-based lotions, or chlorine processing (and they have wipes to match), while "The Honest Co." has a similar line of diapers and other products that are equally eco-friendly, if not more so.
Beyond diapers, there's a whole world of laundry detergent, clothing, fomula (sometimes necesary), etc. out there to navigate. It can be overwhelming, expensive and time consuming to get started, but ultimately will result in care for yourself, and your family that will result in better health for you and for the planet as a whole. Take a step towards a greener life.