Settling into a New Normal

After a month of daily selfcare, writing out my heart and taking my supplements regularly, I was ready to see Dr. Martens again.

A few days before my appointment, my period returned and this time there was no pain. No nausea. No cramping. No heavy flow. No cravings, even! I felt even, dare I even say normal.

A new normal. A shift.

Acupuncture Afterglow

Acupuncture Afterglow

This change was so good and so welcome.

I shared my experience with Dr. Martens and I feel as though I've found my new normal. She agreed and we rejoiced, then I hopped up onto the treatment table to drift off to sleep for a little acupuncture induced nap!

I want to talk a bit about this process of writing each day. It's become so incredible for me, and I foresee these pages making their way to print and being bound in collections to share, mindfully, with others who are struggling with their darkness. My process of writing isn't always pretty, but it's been helpful in letting me feel and navigate things like death and fear. Namely, processing the grief I've been holding over my Dad's death.

I wanted to share with you these words, ones that I wrote on the anniversary of his death.

All at once, the magnitude hit me like a wave. A wave crashing down with such force, that I had no time to prepare, or recover.

Today. This date. It always catches me off guard, yet I always know it's coming.

The wave hits, and I'm pulled under. I can't breath, and there's no use fighting.

My heart breaks. It shatters into a million pieces, my soul seeping out between the cracks.

Today. This date. It makes my bones ache, my body hurt. The magnitude of losing you crashing on me like a wave.

It hits over and over, and I feel the wave starting to swell as the date draws near.

It's almost over. Just hold on. I'll spend a year putting the pieces back together, only for it to hit again.

You see, this cycle of grief is never ending. Be it the loss of a parent, friend, teacher, mentor. The loss of a child. It's always there, deep inside, and for me...writing has given me an outlet again, a safe place to let my heart out so that I can breathe.

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One thing that Dr. Martens said that really stuck with me was when I mentioned how the scale is still going up and down like a yo-yo, but I don't really seem to care. I'm not beating myself up about it anymore, because things fit differently and I feel differently. She said that often when we immerse ourselves into a practice of selfcare, and we truly start loving ourselves, that the conversation shifts and the other measures that we used to use to define us start to matter less. Things like the measuring tape, scale, training schedule and all of the failure and guilt that comes along with them.

I'm in such a great place, and while I know that it changes from day to day, month to month, I have the tools to get through it all and be true to myself.

One more appointment to go!!

Lexi's Birth Story - World Prematurity Day

A HUGE thank you to Nicole McCullough, Lexi's amazing mom, for sharing this story with us!!  Today, we honour babies like Lexi and mamas like Nicole - along with the hospital staff that take life saving measures to ensure these little lives have a chance!
 


After a devastating loss we were ecstatic to find out we were expecting again. I was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks for dangerously high blood pressure. While admitted we also found out our little rainbow baby also had IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction). I was told I would be in the hospital for the next 3.5 months until she was born. After only 5 days in the hospital my condition worsened and I developed HELLP Syndrome. I was told to contact my family because they would be taking me in for an emergency C-Section as it was the only option to save both of our lives. My daughter was born in November of 2012 rather than March of 2013.

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Lexi came into this world weighing a mere 500 grams, had no respiratory effort and required ventilation. The Doctor told my family that we were very lucky as they don’t often attempt to help babies weighing less than 500 grams. During her first few weeks of life and her 109 day NICU stay, Lexi battled pneumonia, suspected sepsis, Bilateral grade1 IVH , RDS with PIE, BPD, Persistent PDA, mild pulmonary hypertension, stage 2 ROP, anemia and apnea to name a few. Our little miracle could only breast feed in the NICU up until 2 days before discharge when she was finally able to master the bottle (Haberman).

Finally, 10 days after her actual due date, we got to bring Lexi home! It was an exciting yet scary day. As much as we were excited to have Lexi home with us it almost felt like we were leaving part of our family behind. Her primary nurse, we referred to as her "NICU" mommy, was exactly that. They treated Lexi like their own. The nurses , neonatologists, social workers and NICU Respiratory Therapists are amazing at what they do and we are forever grateful for the exceptional care they provided for not only my daughter but for us as well. We have returned to the NICU every year around Lexi's birthday with donations for the babies and families as well as a birthday cake from Lexi to the NICU staff.

We are so thankful to have been able to keep some of our favourite ladies in Lexi's life! Lexi had many follow-up appointments after leaving the NICU and she continued to amaze her Doctors and Specialists. Our little preemie decided she could do things according to her actual age rather than her adjusted age and just after her 1st birthday she took her first steps and hasn’t stopped running since.

Lexi looks up to her older brother and he loves her to pieces. I’ll never forget the first time he saw her, he said “she’s so cute” and whispered “grow bigger baby Lexi.”

Although I still struggle with PTSD from our rollercoaster of a journey, I have my amazing little miracle & support of my family to get me through my days. Knowing we can provide hope and inspiration to other families of tiny little miracles helps me get through tougher days. Sometimes things don't go as planned but you learn and grow from your journeys

The Eye Opening Appointment

Appointment #3 was definitely an eye opener. I knew that I had taken on too much and spread myself too thin. I knew that I was forgetting to take my supplements and they weren't able to do their job effectively because I wasn't being consistent. I knew that my weight had started to creep back up.

I knew

I knew

I knew

At this appointment, instead of talking about diet and what to eat at what time of day or how to be more consistent with my supplements, Dr. Martens simply let me talk. I talked about how I had changed my routine at the gym and was now doing two days of crossfit style workouts and three days of running a week to train for the Enchated10k in February. I talked about the stresses of being a mom and a business owner, something that she can relate to all too well.

Regaining control!

Regaining control!

It was so refreshing to sit there and just talk. Express what was going on in my life at that given point and time and feel validated. She got it. She knew that I was talking about and how it made me feel. She knew the impact that those feelings had on my hormones.

And she let me know that it was ok.

We broke the stresses down one by one and talked about strategies for not taking on things that were a waste of time or resources. The minute that I feel like I'm getting drained emotionally or mentally, I need to step back and consider what is good for me and what is not. What fills my soul with joy and what is me doing something out of obligation.

For a doula, that is hard! I live and breathe by helping others and it can be incredibly hard to say no! But, just like I tell my clients, I can't pour from an empty cup and I have to take care of myself first.

Then she asked do you write? I said that I do, but that my journal has been sitting without passages since about September 18th when the stressful junk started building up. And that it's so silly that it's something I forgo because I really love it and have the perfect area in my office to sit and write.

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Before getting on the table for acupuncture, she said that my homework before the next appointment is to sit and write. Even if it's only for 10 minutes each day, to sit and write and be mindful of it.

For acupuncture, we did another round to stimulate ovulation and she added an acupuncture needle at the crown of my head. I always love asking her what she's doing and why, so I asked what it was for. She wanted to get me out of my head and more into my body, so the needle was there to start to diffuse that energy that was pent up and send it down into my body.

20 minute lovely little nap later, and I left feeling relaxed and excited to head home to write. I lit some incense, chimed my singing bowl, put on an Om Mani Padme Hum chant, and sat. After a few breaths, I put pen to paper and I wrote.

I've been writing every single day since, and being real with myself. I have been consistent about taking my supplements and have stopped beating myself up if I forget. While it may not always look like sitting at my meditation space with chanting playing and incense burning, I still make a point of writing about my day. It's become incredibly therapeutic for me and I'm processing things that have been long buried deep down. Sometimes in Sanskrit, sometimes in English...but always something each and every day.

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My last cycle was painless again, no nausea or complications.

I'm waiting for my next appointment, which is in a few weeks, but I'm feeling confident that I'm in a good place. I'm healing, and taking that process one step at a time. Never did I expect to experience this at 3 years postpartum, but it's happening and I've found a path that feels good.

It's OK To Not Be OK

What does `ok` even mean?

Today is a rough day for me, I am NOT ok. I can admit this.

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Why do I have to love my life, my kids, my house, my body, my job every single day? That expectation of such a strong emotion is too hard on new moms. Life is not easy, and neither is being that person in a household who wears so many different hats.

Cook, dishwasher, care giver, cleaner, grocery getter, plan maker, laundry doer, potty trainer, tantrum diffuser, hair brusher, book reader, tickle monster and the list goes on… It’s exhausting!

Being able to meet all your needs on top of taking care of one or more tiny humans takes skills, ones that you have to relearn at different stages and when new additions are made. You can realistically only have so many cups of coffee to help you through before breaking down and asking for help. Do not get to the point where you NEED to have someone help you out. Plan for this and allow yourself some self-care, it is important to everyone around you for you to be healthy and happy.

You deserve it!

I deserve it!

It may be as simple as enjoying a HOT coffee, alone, outside of the house. Going and seeing a movie and not having to hide to eat candy. A mini vacation for your soul.

It may require to call in help from family, friends or professionals like us here at Sweet Stella’s. We are here to help facilitate whatever you need to make you happy and healthy again.

It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to want to spend time alone. It is ok not to be ok.

From one momma to another who is having a rough day with a runny nosed clingy baby, a toddler who is testing my limits, and a long list of things that need to be done today… everything will be ok.

Stress and Life Make for a Forgetful Mom

So my second appointment with the naturopath brought some unexpected challenges. Labour day weekend meant the shipment of my supplements was delayed, and I had to move my appointment to get to a funeral....basically, life happened.

Wait.

Let's take a step back.

After my first appointment, I started supplements to help regulate my adrenals, liver and reproductive hormones. Within about a week of taking the supplements regularly, I could feel a huge shift in my body. My mood swings had regulated, I was able to make more rational decisions and was able to deal with stressful situations more easily. Even my husband noticed that I wasn't so quick to get angry, my patience had improved and I was more affectionate as well.

4 in the morning, 1 at lunch and 2 at the end of the day

4 in the morning, 1 at lunch and 2 at the end of the day

Awesome! It looked so promising, and I was excited for my next round of acupuncture. I mean, who doesn't like having a little nap in the middle of the day, covered with blankets and a heat lamp, while soft tranquil music plays? Sign me up!

Another cycle came, 32 days, and was just as painless as the initial one after my first appointment.

But, as I mentioned and as life would have it, things didn't necessarily go to plan. My appointment was a bit delayed and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to continue taking the supplements as they were first prescribed so I was delayed in ordering another round of them, and the long weekend threw a wrench in everything as well!

I just want to feel like myself again!

I just want to feel like myself again!

Thankfully, when I explained this to Dr. Martens she was incredibly understanding. She just kind of gets it that life sometimes doesn't go as planned and even with the best intentions, sometimes you have to push the rest button. So that's exactly what we did.

We did acupuncture to stimulate ovulation, I started taking my supplements (again) and was excited to see how things would go.

All I can say is they didn't go as planned, yet again. My weight started to creep up, there were some unexpected stressful situations and I felt like a total failure at trying to get control over my cycles and health. The next cycle was awful and the pain returned with a vengeance.

How did appointment #3 go? Stay tuned!

Long Cycles. Painful Periods. Mood Swings.

Sound familiar? Today, and in a few posts to follow, I'm going to be talking about postpartum hormones and periods; shedding light on something that I definitely was not expecting to experience at 2 years postpartum with my third pregnancy.

When I first went off birth control in 2009 for us to try to conceive, I experienced annovulatory cycles. I'm talking the ones that go on for 53-60 days and the doctor concludes that you just skipped your period. Until a wonderful group of women on The Bump encouraged me to start charting my Basal Body Temperature, I had no idea that I am a late ovulator (cd18-21) and that a normal cycle for me is about 33-37 days.

Fast forward to January 2015. I was 6 months postpartum with our second baby/third pregnancy, had been on birth control for a few months and saw my weight creeping up and up, regardless of a rigorous running and training schedule. I figured it was just how my body was, ignored it and just went along my merry way.

6 Months Postpartum - Just before my first 10km at Disney

6 Months Postpartum - Just before my first 10km at Disney

Jump ahead again to January 2017 and my weight had plateued for almost a year, though my body was incredibly stronger from a solid weight lifting schedule at the gym and eating relatively well. My mood swings were....something to be desired. It wasn't uncommon for me to completely lose my temper over the smallest thing, and I was starting to really feel like I didn't recognize myself emotionally anymore.

January 2017 - post tibia stress fracture rahab, post car accident rehab...feeling not at all like myself

January 2017 - post tibia stress fracture rahab, post car accident rehab...feeling not at all like myself

Instead of dealing with it then, I let it go. I again faced long cycles. What was 34 days in January extended to 37 days, then 42 days, and even one cycle that was 54 days. Many false pregnancy tests were taken and in July, I decided that I was done feeling this way. There was something going on, and I needed to listen to my body.

Off to the doctor I went, and without so much as doing a test or taking much time at all, an IUD was recommended. It was pretty clear that my hormones were out of whack, but which ones? How much? Was there anything else going on? My doctor ordered blood work, and I considered my options.

While an IUD certainly is a great thing for many women out there, I wasn't confident that it was the right course of action for me. Getting pregnant wasn't a concern, and I didn't feel comfortable having something in my body that prevents my body from doing what it naturally should. I just wanted my body to work!

So, I made an appointment with Dr. Lindsay Martens, a naturopath in London, ON who specializes in fertility. After a quick phone consultation, I felt confident that seeing her would get my questions answered and me on a path of health and wellness.

At my initial appointment (cd28), we went over a copy of my blood work from cd42 of my previous cycle, talked about stress, work, life, motherhood. She was incredibly personable and put my mind to ease that I was in fact not going into early menopause, and that I did, indeed, have a hormonal imbalance issue. To be more specific, adrenal fatigue, liver fatigue and estrogen dominance.

Left: August 2017 after seeing Dr. Martens       Right: July 2017 at the height of hormonal issues

Left: August 2017 after seeing Dr. Martens       Right: July 2017 at the height of hormonal issues

With supplements prescribed, I hopped up on her treatment table for acupuncture. It was incredibly soothing and healing, and within 3 days of the initial treatment, a painless period came. It was something that I hadn't experienced in a very long time. I had gotten used to a brutal 2 day period of heavy bleeding, nausea and severe abdominal cramping to the point of tears sometimes. This time, it was painless and stretched over the course of 4 days, and was only ever a medium flow at worst.

Since that first appointment, I've seen Dr. Martens twice. There have been some challenges along the way, unexpected stress, but I'm getting to know what my body needs to be healthy and that my weight (whether stagnant or not) isn't a true marker of my health.

Stay tuned for more posts on how I'm taking control of my postpartum health!

Time Out!

No, not like a time out with your friends or a date night out with your spouse.

But a time out....like you would give to a toddler.

Sometimes, just like a toddler having a meltdown over being given the blue cup when he wanted the Dory cup, we need a time out too.

And that is perfectly ok. In fact, it's encouraged!

Give yourself a time out this month. Plan it in advance if you need to, or announce outright that you need a time out.

Give yourself a bit of quiet and space to reflect. To recharge. To sip a coffee, while it's still hot.

Time outs are just as effective as diffusing emotions for adults as they are for calming little ones.

Enjoy it!

The Child and Youth Development Clinic at Western University is OPEN!

This past Wednesday, our London team had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the NEW Child and Youth Development Clinic at Western University! Located on Richmond Street just North of the Richmond university gates, this centre provides high quality, affordable and comprehensive services for children and families in need.

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Who do they help, exactly? Well...imagine that you're a parent of a few small human beings, and they're having trouble adjusting to a new school, new baby, and you're exhausted. Wait lists for behavioral specialists to help with school and sibling transitions are years long, and you have no idea where to turn to for help. Where do you turn?

You turn to the Child and Youth Development Clinic. The practice is run by graduate student clinicians who very much believe in a whole family approach, making their services accessible and affordable, and instead of focusing on what your child is struggling with and what needs "fixing", they focus on how to balance their strengths and weaknesses, how to best support the child overall and create plans designed for each child to thrive, whether at the Clinic, at home or at school. The Clinic uses a multisource psychological assessment and intervention strategy designed to understand and enhance cognitive, academic, neuropsychological/attentional, behavioral/emotional and speech abilities of children and youth aged 3 to 18 years old age.

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Who can you expect to see at the Clinic? Graduate students in the School and Applied Child Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis and Speech and Language Pathology at Western University. This means you are accessing some of the regions foremost thinkers, doers and supporters of mental health for children!

The Clinic is bright and welcoming, and doesn't feel at all like a medical building. The assessment rooms are equipped with cameras so Attending's can assist the Graduate Students in assessments and truly, it is a team effort in helping children.

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This is a huge game changer in the mental health and well being of children in the London, Ontario community! The Clinic is based on financial need, meaning they offer a sliding scale deteremined by income and personal circumstances, and they are committed to finding a way to help every family that comes through their doors.

Stay tuned for more from our team about the Child and Youth Development Clinic! We had the pleasure of chatting with some of their clinicians and can't wait to share with you!

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I just don’t feel ‘right’ and other reasons to go see a pelvic health physiotherapist

After having my second daughter and having a wealth of further knowledge about my body both during and after pregnancy, I felt as if things weren’t back to normal. While everyone’s normal will be different, I just didn’t feel as great as I did postpartum with my first. Avery has now officially been on the outside longer then the inside and I typically say to clients that, as mothers, we need to allow our bodies to heal as it takes on average 40 weeks to grow said baby.

Time to listen to my own words of wisdom and take my own health into consideration, off to physio I go!

We are very lucky to have an amazing group of women here in London, Ontario at The Mama’s Physio. They have over 30 years’ experience combined on their team who truly have the health of your mind, body and soul in mind. With an inviting and comfortable waiting room, a smiling face to greet you and maybe even a cup of hot apple cider while you wait. The team make you feel comfortable to moment you step in the door and go up the stairs. “We believe you are designed to flourish” is their motto and they can get you set up to meet your goals.

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Once you make your appointment there is some paperwork, a few pages, but this is to help better understand your personal history of pregnancies, labour, mental and physical health. Allowing them to see where you are, where you want to be and what is causing any issues. The questions are personal. Very personal. It is best to be as open as possible for you to allow your body to heal, both physically and mentally. Women tend to hold tension within the pelvic floor so stress and anxiety can be the cause of many issues.

Women tend to believe the myths that ‘time will heal’, ‘just do some kegals’ and even ‘that’s normal’…

It is NOT normal to urinate when you sneeze.

It is NOT normal for pain during intercourse.

It is NOT normal to have pain from inserting a tampon.

It is NOT normal to have to run to the bathroom.

It is NOT normal to feel like something is ‘falling out’.

We need to address these issues head on and spread the word that there is help and it should not be embarrassing to talk about. If any of these top five reasons resonate with you, I encourage you to seek help!

  1. Gaining better bladder control – running and exercising without leakage, decreasing the urgency and frequency of urination and even sleeping through the night without waking.

  2. Stopping pelvic pain – painful intercourse, pain with arousal, painful tampon use and tailbone pain.

  3. Managing the urgent need to urinate – feeling the need to urinate the moment you get home or when you stop to take a moment and even around running water can be signs of weakness.

  4. Relieving constipations – while typically this is due to diet and/or stress, it can be related to a tense pelvic floor.

  5. Improving your core strength – the pelvic floor is the base of your deep core system and for this to be at optimal function your pelvic floor must also be functioning optimally. This may mean strengthening or loosening these muscles or possibly a combination of both.

As women we need to reconnect with our pelvic floors and be more in tune with our bodies as it is necessary for our health and wellness. Connecting with your pelvic floor can help prepare you and your body for childbirth. Childbirth sees the pelvic floor go through a very beautiful change and can leave you in a disconnect with our bodies, this is a wonderful time to truly reconnect and learn more. Educating yourself and seeking a pelvic health professional is the first step in connecting with your body. You will be in a safe space with highly educated professional who have your health and wellness in mind. Your questions can be answered without bias and working together can determine the appropriate course of treatment catered to your needs.

Stay tuned for my progress and first-hand account, while my issues will vary from yours this may give you the push to seek help and take care of your own pelvic health.

xo

Janice

Cleo Madison Clothing Review

When Cleo Madison contacted me over the summer about doing a collaboration of some sort, I immediately wanted to get them involved in our Acts of Kindness campaign. The weather, however, had other plans and was a sweltering 34C on September 21st, making it near impossible to wear the gorgeous ruby red Lucy top that they sent me.

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Now that the weather has changed to cooler temperatures, this long sleeved, super soft shirt is perfect.

It hangs so beautifully on the body! I was happy that it hugged my arms and chest, but gently floated away from my tummy...an area that alot of moms struggle with after having a baby or two. I struggle so much with my ever changing body, that I often just don't shop for myself. Putting a quality piece of clothing on your body that fits you perfectly in all the right places will change how you view yourself in the mirror (for the better!)

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So far, I've worn it to teach meditation classes, to business meetings and on a date-night with my husband. It is so versatile! It easily goes from the yoga studio with a pair of athletic leggings, to an evening out with accessories and heels. The colour is perfect for every season, too!

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I cannot recommend this company enough. They are so personable and easy to work with!! They have a gorgeous collection of dresses, tops, skirts and super cute swimwear at affordable prices! Be sure to check out their footwear, too! My personal favourite are the Monaco Ankle Booties!

xo

Shannon

Doubting Yourself Lately?

Plain and simple, you are exactly the mother that your children need.

 

I know, I know. Even on the easiest of parenting days, it feels like we are failing. It feels like we aren't doing enough, being there enough, modeling good behaviour enough, providing enough.

But we assure you, you are.

You are exactly the mother that your children need. And the very fact that you doubt and worry about these things shows just how much you care about your kids.

So this month, when you get caught in that spiral of worry and doubt yourself as a parent, remember:

you are exactly the mother that your children need.

Big Lessons from Little Ones

Have you ever stopped to just watch? To observe these little human beings and how they interact with one another, and us?

In the summer during one of our off weeks, my little guy, Graeme, was home with me and asked me to sit on the floor of the kitchen with him. Really...for no reason. He just wanted to sit and have a snack and chat.

He turned to me and said "So...what do you like today, mama?"

It was so funny to me. He just wanted to sit and slow down (rare for him, the little ginger!) and have a conversation.

When was the last time you just sat and observed their behaviour? Joined them on the floor for a chat and a snack? Enjoyed, really enjoyed, just being in the moment?

Haaka Breastfeeding Pump Review

Breastfeeding. It’s hard at first, we can admit that. Both you and your newborn are learning a skill you have never had to do before! So if I could say to you that there is something that can make it easier, it should be a must-have item for all new moms who are planning on breastfeeding.

Catch those leaks while you are feeding on one side, these leaks will just be wasted into a breast pad or most likely your shirt. Leaks happen.

Haaka Breastfeeding Pump

Reduce engorgement when you find yourself away from baby for too long, when you wake up in the middle of the night and baby is STILL sleeping (seriously is happens, don’t wake them, enjoy it while it lasts).

Relieve pressure once you return to work, have a night out with your friend or even a thing I heard is real – date night!

AND it all fits into a small bag, no wires, no plugs, nothing to take apart to sanitize, safe for you, baby and the environment.  The Haaka Pump is the best thing since sliced bread – sorry to now make you crave carbs, breastfeeding cravings are a real thing! Prevent wasted milk, be able to pump discreetly and easily just about anywhere. Plus the price tag of $36.99 is VERY easy on the eyes and pocket book.

Pumping

Simply suction to your breast and let the pump do the work for you as it draws your milk using suction. 100% eco-friendly and safe for mum, baby and our environment. Dishwasher safe - BPA, PVC and Phthalate free. This pump is so simple and easy to use -

  • Sterilize your pump.

  • Place top of pump over your nipple – make sure your nipple is in the neck of the pump and comfortable.

  • Apply suction – you may need to adjust a couple of times. Once the pump is secure and comfortable you can squeeze the base of the pump (not interfering with the top/suction) to create some movement.

  • A warm cloth or compress on top of your breast is also a great tip and gently massage the top of your breast.

  • Once milk begins to flow simply leave the pump alone to do its thing.

  • Once the pump becomes full empty into a storage bottle and reposition.

  • Also attach in the same way while your child is feeding on your other breast and collect all let down and milk which would otherwise be lost into a breast pad.

Breastmilk

As every women’s breastfeeding journey is different, as will be their results which can vary as each woman and her supply are unique. Always remember that breastfeeding is a simple supply and demand, so what you take out your breast will continue to produce. Having an overactive letdown can make feeding harder for babies and possibly give them gas or colic. Speaking with a doctor, obstetrician, midwife, doula, and health nurse or lactation councillor about your pumping options and what your pumping goals are is highly recommended.

Be Quiet and Still

There are so many lessons to be learned while sitting in the quiet and stillness.

As moms, the moments of quiet are few and far between. I know in my household, there is often one child chasing the other, hockey sticks banging on the kitchen floor or giant bouncey balls being thrown at each other (like right now as I'm writing this!).

The moments of quiet are few. And these children certainly don't know how to be still unless they are sleeping!

So as a mom, I find it incredibly important to start and end my day with quiet.

At the beginning on the day, I take my time rising for the day. I am slow and mindful, and I relish those moments where the older one is getting himself ready for the day and the younger one is still sleeping.

At the end of the day, as I get ready for bed, I am mindful about my process. I do everything methodically from putting on my pajamas to taking our my contact lenses to smudging our room and giving thanks for the day.

Be slow.
Be quiet.
Be still.

There is so much to be learned and gained from these mindful practices, and as moms...we need them.

 

Creating Your Support Circle

One thing that we stress with our clients during our prenatal appointments is to create a solid support circle to help with the postpartum transition.

Transitioning from pregnant to postpartum can be incredibly overwhelming, even for moms who are experiencing postpartum for a second, third, fourth + time! Creating a support circle to help during those first 6 weeks postpartum can help immensely!

Think about all of the things that need to be done...
laundry
dishes
cooking
cleaning
baby care tasks
appointments

And don't forget about self care!! Who can you call on to help out? Who can take baby for a stroll on a nice day while you grab a shower and a nap?

Surround yourself with people who truly care and make you feel good. Their care and want to see you succeed as a parent will make you feel wonderful!

 

Who Am I? Shannon's Story

When I read Lindsey's post about Who Am I and her identity struggles after she became a mom, I wanted to have each member of our team open up a bit about who we are as individuals, parents and women.

This month, it's my turn.

As many of you know, Sweet Stella's started because I lost my identity when I became a mom in 2010. I needed something that was mine. Something that I could pour my heart and soul into and let go of the stigma that followed my postpartum depression, anxiety and rage.

Little did I know that losing my identity was exactly what I needed to really find who was hiding inside. Sometimes, it takes something really humbling, something scary to make you dig deep and get to know yourself again.

So, who am I?

I'm a woman. I'm a creator, an artist.

I'm a free spirit with a wild heart. I refuse to be told what I can't do.

I'm a mom. A mom who puts herself first, who loves to lift weights and hike, and a glass of prosecco. A mom whose kids drive her nuts from time to time, and who loves to sing them Yesterday every night at bedtime.

I am me.

Unapologetically. Authentically. Hippie heart and all.

It's taken me a very long time to get here. I've had to be broken to find myself, but I did. I found myself and I'm so happy I did.

Who are you?

Understanding Active Labour

Active Labour is typically described as the time where the cervix dilates from 3-7cm and does a whole boat load of changes such as thinning and effacing. Baby descends lower into the pelvis and contractions get stronger, longer and more intense.

You may have heard your health care professional say something like when your contractions are 5-1-1 you are in active labour and need to go to the hospital/page me.

Unfortunately, labour and birth are quite unpredictable and there are many variations of normal. What's important is that you listen to your body and find your own normal.

If your contractions are every 15 minutes (and you're 39-42 weeks pregnant) and you find it difficult to walk or talk through them, chances are your body is doing a lot of changes and preparing for birth. Some women don't actually get to that 5-1-1 rule until their water breaks, and your water can break at any point during labour. Some babies are even born in the water sac (referred to as en caul)!

When you're nearing the end of pregnancy and you feel like things are starting, go through a mental checklist. Ask yourself

  • how am I feeling?
  • am I angry? (anger is often associated with transition, 7-10cm)
  • do I feel pressure and like I need to poop?
  • can I walk or talk through this pain?
  • what do my instincts say?

You've got this, mama! Active labour is hard, but you can do it. You were made for this!

Labouring at Home

There's a big reason why we encourage clients to stay at home during labour for as long as possible.

Control.

You're able to control your environment, and feel at ease in your own surroundings, which will help with the flow of oxytocin and labour progression.

Think about your home for a moment. Picture yourself there.

You feel safe and grounded. You feel loved and cared for. The environment is familiar, so the stress hormones are already lower.

You can eat and drink as much or as little as you'd like, and you can move around freely. You can rest, you can bathe, you can just be.

If your plan is a hospital birth, spending as much time at home prior to heading to the hospital could help you avoid a longer stay in your birthing suite.

When contractions are too much to bear, and you can't talk through them anymore, and comfort measures are failing....head in!

Being at home brings incredible comfort, and control.

Birth and Your Doula

Birth from the perspective of your doula is an incredible thing. We get to see you at your most vulnerable, and your most triumphant. Truly, it is an honour to support a woman during birth!

While every doula is different, we often find ourselves...

  • Applying counter pressure
  • Placing cold wash cloths on foreheads and backs
  • Fetching popsicles and freezies
  • Rubbing Partners back
  • Holding moms hand

We do whatever is needed in the situation, and sometimes that includes excusing ourselves to the waiting room to give you space. Our role during birth is whatever it needs to be, and that is largely determined by how your labour unfolds and what your wishes are.

We want nothing more than for you to have a positive birth experience and we will do everything in our power to try and help that happen for you. We strongly believe in your power as a woman, and know that you can do this.

We are your champion. We are your cheerleader. We are your doula.

Fertility: Your Body, Your Journey, Your Choice - Natural Supplements

Welcome back! This month we are focusing on Natural Supplements! Sometimes changing your diet and your lifestyle will solve your infertility, some women notice better results when taking natural supplements and herbs. The first thing my naturopath recommended for me was Cod Liver Oil, which also happens to be great for pregnancy. 

The following herbs were also recommended to help increase fertility:

• Red Raspberry Leaf– This is probably the most well known fertility herb! It is high in nutrients and helps tone, strengthen and also brings overall health to your uterus.  You can get it in a capsule but is also available as a tea (which is my favourite). 

• Nettle Leaf– Is very high in minerals. It is nourishing to the adrenals and kidneys. It is a stress reducer and also tones and strengthens the uterus. Once pregnant, it is great for getting enough nutrients during pregnancy and has a high vitamin K content to prevent hemorrhage. You could add nettle leaf to a tea and drink before and during pregnancy.

• Dandelion– Contains vitamins A and C as well as some minerals. The root is beneficial to the liver and the leaf is mildly diuretic. It can also help cleanse the body and remove toxins.

• Alfalfa- Has vitamins A, D, E and K and 8 digestive enzymes. 

• Red Clover– Is very high in vitamins and contains almost every mineral. It has been known to help balance hormones and restore fertility.

• Maca (or Maca Root) – Is a hormone balancing herb that is known worldwide for its fertility promoting properties. It is good for both men and women to increase fertility.  It is a very strong herb that often has very noticeable effects on fertility. You can get it in a powder form or in capsules.

• Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry– This helps lengthen the luteal phase of your cycle (which is when fertilization and implantation occur).  

IMPORTANT: Do not take any of these herbs in combination with fertility drugs, hormone treatments, or hormonal birth control! As with any herbs, supplements, or medication, consult a doctor or health care professional about your specific case!

Fertility struggles can often be linked to hormone imbalances. The herbs listed above can help to balance your hormones; however, sometimes your hormones are so out of whack that it might be beneficial to try a progesterone cream (which is by prescription).   

For couples, struggles with infertility can be quite painful. Proper diet and nutrition can be a big help and are beneficial in overall health. While sometimes medical treatment is necessary, couples should at least consider changing their diet first to support their body.

xoxo

Stephanie