Why Every Parent Needs a Mini Fridge in Their Room

Four AM Mom thought, “I wish we had a mini fridge in our bedroom.”

I’d have bottles of water, juice boxes, oh my goodness and my favourite snack – energy bites!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

1 1/2c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2c peanut butter
1/3c pure maple syrup
1/3c semi-sweet chocolate chips


It's honestly not that my kitchen is super far away, but I wouldn’t have to walk up and down all those stairs, I wouldn’t have to worry about making any extra noise that could wake either of my daughters, dogs or husband. Plus, I’m also sore from my caesarean and would rather not have to leave my room in the middle of the night.

Oh, and how could I have not thought about bottles? I could store my breast milk for the hubby to do a night feed.

Genius! Pure genius!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

And what else is brilliant? Trading your night side table for a mini fridge for the first few months postpartum! Everything is within reach, right when you need it!



What Placenta Encapsulation Really Looks Like

Don’t worry. I am not going to be showing photos of placentas, or blood or anything else of that matter in this blog. While placentas are fascinating and wondrous, they do bring a cringe to most people’s faces when they are talked about. Admit it, it is pretty amazing that our body grows this whole extra organ to grow and support life and then completely discarded after birth. It deserves, at the very least, a round of applause. It was the best friend to your little one for nine months.


While placenta pills are the base of this service, this is all about support. Putting a moms mind at ease that she has a knowledgeable and understanding person she can contact to answer questions, to get professional referrals or just someone to say that ’this is totally normal’. Sometimes just knowing that you can call or text someone who has the knowledge of a postpartum doula can lessen stress. Because whoever posts on mom boards or groups and gets one straight answer and solved the problem without causing MORE stress. While they can be a great resource, it can also be very intimidating to put yourself out there on the internet if there is an issue or you are afraid that it may be a ‘stupid’ question.


Our placenta encapsulation service includes six weeks of text support, weekly check-ins by a doula, and an in home visit. We want to ensure you are taking the proper dosage, there are no complications with taking your pills or otherwise and that your questions as a new mom can be answered without judgement. Whether it is needed more in home support, a referral to an osteopath, recipes for amazing lactation aids or just an ear to vent. Some days it’s the simple things that can bring a new mom joy, like a shower, ALONE! Every new family is different in their needs but we want to make sure that you know you are supported and have someone to reach out to.

This is what we are here to do for you!


Placenta encapsulation isn’t just about ingesting this organ to help with numerous things including energy, healing, hormone levels and milk production. It is part of planning for your postpartum period and having the needed support in place while getting to know your newborn, learning to breastfeed, allowing time for your body to heal and keeping up with everyday chores.

Call in all the help you can get, you deserve it!

If you think that this service would be helpful for you during your postpartum, book your free consultation today!

Reflexology for Postpartum Relief

Recently, we were contacted by Nikki Yeager of The Relievery, a holistic business she owns with her best friend that really has a moms health as their top priority. When she wanted to share an article about reflexology and postpartum healing, we jumped at the chance to have her write for us!

If you are looking for a local reflexologist, let us know! We have some connections and often go for reflexology ourselves to help with energy clearing!

If I were to tell you that there’s a holistic remedy that’s been shown to be effective for increasing milk supply, easing the first bowel movement after a c-section, and decreasing postpartum depression, you may not believe me.


But guess what? There is, and it’s a wonderful modality called “reflexology”.


Reflexology is the concept of applying acupressure principles to the feet. We have thousands of nerve endings on the bottom of each foot, and those nerve endings travel up to different body systems, organs, etc. Reflexology practitioners believe that by stimulating the nerve endings on the feet, we can bring balance and release blockages in the associated body systems. While science is just starting to catch up, reflexology has been around since ancient times with recorded instances of it’s use as early as the Ancient Egyptians.


I personally discovered reflexology as a new mom. My husband would regularly give me foot rubs to help relieve my tender, swollen feet. At the same time, I decided to help a friend of mine launch a company to empower women with holistic self-care knowledge. With her knowledge gained during a Holistic Health Practitioner program, she invented socks with reflexology points printed on the bottom for Pregnant and Postpartum women. I got to test the socks with my husband, and those sessions worked miracles on my body. For months after giving birth, I’d experienced moderate hip pain that only got worse throughout the day, but after a few weeks of my husband using his knuckle to apply pressure to the “hip” point, that pain finally subsided.  



Since then I’ve learned so much more about reflexology. Not only can it help women with postpartum discomforts, but there was a study done in 2008 that showed reflexology during labor can actually help decrease the pain intensity and duration of birth!

If you’d like to incorporate reflexology into your self-care during and after birth, it’s best to start by visiting a qualified practitioner. You'll be able to find dozens of reflexology maps online for free, but make sure to exercise caution if you're still pregnant, as there are certain points you'll want to avoid. You can also check out these 5 free reflexology points that outline points for the lower back, emotions, sciatica and more.

Nikki Yeager is a freelance writer who tries her best to balance personal wellness and motherhood. She is Co-Founder of The Relievery, a company she created with her best friend to provide holistic self-care products to pregnant, birthing and postpartum women. You can follow The Relievery on Instagram or Facebook. Doulas can learn more about reflexology during pregnancy through The Relievery's new Doula Training.


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.


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!!


Shannon Moyer Szemenyei | Sweet Stella's

This year has been one of expansive growth. We've added a brand new team to serve the Toronto area, have expanded our services in London and added more doulas to serve you, and have taken things online to serve the international birth community with our podcasts, meditations and online courses.

We've become stronger, smarter and more supportive.

We've carved out things that are important to us, both individually and as a team.

We've built something really incredible here this year, and we thank you with every ounce of our beings for joining us and being a part of it. If it weren't for you, and your constant want for better and more, Sweet Stella's wouldn't be.

So, cheers to you. Cheers to us!

We wish you continued health and happiness, abundance and joy, as you enter and go through 2017.

Expect to see more greatness from our team!



Sneak Peak at 2017

We have so many amazing things in store for you all for 2017 and wanted to share just a few things that we have on the go with the team!

Lactation Counselor services will be launching, as will more online courses such as.....

Planning Your Postpartum

Self Care for New Moms

ABC's of Newborn Care

Mindful Motherhood | Sweet Stella's

We will also be publishing another Mindful Motherhood digital collection of meditations, designed for the modern mama. These meditations will be all about empowerment, rest, self realization, acceptance and encouragement when you need it most!

You can also expect more Car Seat Clinics with Lisa, placenta encapsulation information from Janice and sleep advice from Kerri!

Our team is growing their expertise and we cannot wait for all of the abundance that 2017 will bring!



Understanding Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is one of those things that that feels like it can only happen to someone else, until it happens to you.


Imagine yourself being caught in a rainstorm. All of a sudden, that skies part and the sun is shining and for a brief moment, it looks as though the worst is over.

Then it starts raining again, only this time it's coming sideways and so hard that it causes you to lose your balance and you fall....but never seem to stop falling.

The sun shines again, soon followed by the rain, a little thunder, maybe some hail and a great deal of wind.



Postpartum depression is a vicious cycle of feeling like things are great, then feeling like your entire world is crumbling and you aren't sure why. You don't recognize yourself. You doubt yourself. You wonder if your children would be better off with someone else.

There are moments of hope and moments of despair. Moments of happy and moments of sad.

All of these moments, packed into a hormonally charged postpartum transition that can take years to navigate.

Until it happens, it feels like a far fetched idea that has a huge stigma of being wrong or bad. Until it happens, it seems like that thing that can't possibly happen to you because you've got your shit together.

Until it happens.

And it happens. And you fall. And you don't know how you're ever going to get up.

But you do.

And the sun shines and there comes a day where you feel like that storm is never going to come again because you're just not going to let it.

Postpartum depression is scary and it's real. It presents itself in so many different forms from panic attacks to anxiety, from paranoia to rage. From isolation to extreme euphoria and even psychosis.

If you're feeling that things just aren't quite right and you can't recognize yourself or you feel that storm keeps coming, there is help. Lean on your supports and know that there people out there that want to see you dominate and be an incredible parent.

It doesn't define you and it doesn't own you.

That storm will end and the sun will shine.



Your Postpartum Body

We are so very hard on ourselves, especially shortly after having a baby. There is an intense amount of pressure in the media to strive for perfection....

a clean house

kids in designer clothing

well kept yards


and after having a baby, there is pressure to have an incredible body. We see it all the time. Post-baby bootcamp. Workouts and eating plans that place strict rules on what you can and cannot do...that don't necessary take into account (some of them do!) sleepless nights, hormonal changes, the demands of breastfeeding, your pre-baby body and lifestyle, your post-baby lifestyle (or lack thereof).

Be gentle

Be kind

It took 10 months for your body to change. On one hand, that's not a whole lot of time for your body to make all of these incredible changes. On the other hand, 10 months is a long time for things to shift and move and it's difficult to expect that within a few weeks of having your baby, your body will be back to its pre-pregnancy state.

Be gentle

Be kind

Your body doesn't undo all of that 10 months of change in a few weeks. It takes time, and while it can certainly be frustrating, we encourage you to love your new body and take it day by day. The scale does not define who you are.



How Life Trauma Can Impact Your Birth

It seems that this month we are talking all about the hard and challenging topics surrounding birth. At the beginning of the month, we talked about breastfeeding challenges. In the middle of the month, precipitous birth. And now? Trauma.

Trauma is something very real and very scary for alot of people, and yet something that we tend not to spend a whole lot of time talking about. And trauma can have different meanings to different people.

Death of an important person
Car accident
Infant loss
Childhood experiences
Adult experiences

Trauma takes many, many forms and has a massive impact on your birth process (and postpartum recovery!)


Well, most often when trauma hits, human beings tend to bury the emotions that are associated with that trauma. Fear, guilt, anger, despair, depression, sadness. There are so many emotions going on at one time, that it's often easier to bury them than to face them and let them go.

As we bury them, we hold onto them (rather unnecessarily) and then they creep up in situations that we don't expect....like birth! When hormones are running wild and you're being faced with a life changing event, it's reasonable to think that those buried emotions and experiences will come to the surface.

So, how do you deal with life trauma while you're pregnant? Isn't that just opening a can of worms, and inviting for stress during pregnancy?

Well, the best thing you can do (I speak from both personal experience and as a doula helping my clients through trauma) is to talk. Open up and talk about what has happened, acknowledge those emotions no matter how far deep they are buried and then let them go.

They serve you in no positive way.
You didn't do anything wrong at the time (or now).
You are whole and you are safe.
That past experience can no longer hurt you.
It won't happen again.
You are stronger than what happened to you.

Harness your own power and strength, and send the trauma on its way. Talking about your trauma may stir up emotions, but know that you are one step closer to releasing them and being free of them.

Chat with your doula, your partner, a trusted friend. Find an outlet like yoga or meditation to help you acknowledge and release.


5 Questions to ask a New Mom

We've all been there. A friend has a baby and we immediately want to swoop in for a snuggle, go ga-ga over buying cute baby gifts and maybe even make a meal or two to bring to the new parents.

Before you head over for a visit, consider the following questions and tips that we've compiled for you.

Did you know that one of the things that new mom's crave most is adult conversation? So often at our weekly Moms Get Social group we hear stories of motherhood, women coming forward and talking about their birth experiences and the first few weeks postpartum, and really what rings true is that they want to get back to being themselves.

Here is a list of questions to ask a new mom when you pop over for a visit, and a snuggle.

What would you like for breakfast/lunch/dinner?

Chances are, Mom doesn't quite remember the last time that she had a full meal. Bring something with you that is either something she has been craving since being pregnant or something that is exceptionally tasty and good. If the response is I don't know or Oh, don't bring anything, we are fine....bring something anyway. Coffee and donuts. Breakfast burritos. Her absolute most favourite meal. Sushi. Butter Chicken. Anything. She will love you for it even if she doesn't want to ask for it.

What setting do you use for the laundry?

Weird question, right? While it might catch Mom off guard for you to be asking about their laundry habits, it makes perfect sense to ask if there are any special instructions for their washer or dryer
before throwing in and completing a load for her. 

How do you install the carseats?

Important information for you to have for when you pick up the older kiddos and take them to the park, museum, splashpad or library! Giving a new mom some peace and quiet, time to nap, and space to breathe is an incredible gift and she's lucky to have you do that for her!

When is the best time to visit?

This is something that people often forget. Babies have schedules and parents like to stick to them if they are working. While certainly, babies sleep a lot, there are certain times that don't make for great visits. Bath time, feeding time and nap time are definitely times to steer clear of as they add a level of stress to the parents that they simply do not need.

Is there anything you need? 

If the answer is no, I'm ok...ask more questions. Advil? Hygene products? Wine? Chocolate? Formula? Diapers? Go through a list of essential mom and baby items, and even if the answer is still no, I'm ok...bring chocolate. And wine. Always chocolate and wine.

At the end of the day, never arrive to a new mom with empty hands. Bring something with you whether it is coffee or a meal, a gift card and instructions for her to take herself out shopping for a half an hour while you get your snuggles in, or even candles and a bath soak for mom. Bring something for mom specifically....she matters so so much.


Why You Need a Postpartum Doula

If someone asked you what a Postpartum Doula does, would you know what to say? Here are 5 reasons why every mom needs to have a Postpartum Doula on her support team for the first 6 weeks postpartum.

You need sleep

The old sleep when the baby sleeps saying is true, but how are you supposed to truly turn off your mom-brain and not tend to the mounds of laundry, the dirty dishes in the sink, and oh yeah...there's dinner to prep and kids to pick up at the bus stop. A Postpartum Doula can do all of those things...while you have a nap.

Your hormones, and emotions, are raging

Sometimes, you need someone to vent to who isn't so close to the situation (ie: your best friend, sister, mom, or spouse). Someone who can give an unbiased ear, and provide you with the emotional support you need. Our team of doulas have taken additional training in postpartum support, and we have a vast network of resources for women who struggle with postpartum mood disorders. Support is there and you don't have to deal with your hormones and emotions alone.

Sometimes your partner needs support, too

This is one that I can speak to from personal experience. I wish we had of hired (or even knew what one was!) a Postpartum Doula for our first baby when I had pretty severe Postpartum Depression. My husband was run ragged, up all night with the baby and had to deal with my emotions. Sometimes, your partner needs support too and a Postpartum Doula can do that.

When was the last time you ate?

Your Postpartum Doula can ensure that you are well hydrated and fed, and ours will bring you yummy snacks, fresh juice, baked goods and more. Sometimes we drop a delivery at your door, and send you a quick text message to let you know that it's there. Other times, we swoop in and do some baking in your home...while you have a nap or hot shower!

Self care is essential to your postpartum recovery

What good are we mothers to the rest of our family if we are completely drained and burnt out? Self care is something that we really encourage our clients to take part in after they have their baby. Once a week, treat yourself to a solo date night out. A quiet coffee. Shopping. A movie...all by yourself, while your babe is at home being taken care of by your Postpartum Doula. Matinees run during the week, so there's no need to put yourself on the back burner until the weekend when your Self Care Day fits with everyone elses schedule.

The first 6 weeks postpartum are about survival, and a Postpartum Doula can ease that transition, making your survival and snuggles with your newborn that much smoother and sweeter.


10 Reasons to Choose Cloth Diapers

As a first time mom I did not know that I had to make a decision on how to diaper my baby and even that cloth was an option. No one in my family used them, none of my friends (at the time) used them and I certainly skipped that part of my registry. I assumed that if I walked into Babies R Us that they had everything I would need, little did I know there was a small boutique baby store adjacent that I could have seen all my options for cloth.

In hindsight, I spent way too much time worrying about the colours and theme for the nursery, what brand of stroller and car seats were the best that I forgot one of the most important decisions I had… how to diaper my baby! It took me 5 months of midnight store runs, counting diapers and wipes for the week, spending way too much money for my family and all for something I was throwing in the garbage. I did some research into organic disposable diapers, which in turn I spent even more money on but it made me feel I was making a better decision for my baby’s health. I calculated how much it was going to cost to diaper my child for the next few years and a decided to jump head first into the world of cloth diapers. It was a large upfront cost, which I could have avoided if I would have known earlier and started buying slowly for our stash. I could have even put them on my registry as a cloth diaper that can be used hundreds of times is much more useful than most of the stuff I had received at my baby shower.

Disposable diapers were only invented 50 years ago, as a convenience and luxury item for families used only for those special occasions like vacation trips, visits to the parents or the doctor. It was not common to see a baby wearing a disposable diaper, which is the exact opposite in this day and age. It is not like cloth diapers are a new invention just catching on, the industry of cloth has just been perfected with easy snaps and even inserts that agitate out on their own.
We all know cloth is better for the environment. But did you know there are many other reasons that more and more parents are choosing cloth diapers today (yes, in the 21st century!!). These are only the top ten reason why moms and dads should consider cloth diapering their baby. Once you actually give them a try, you will discover many more. Promise!

1. Cloth diapers have come a long way!

Chances are you wouldn’t even recognize them today. Cloth diapers have evolved to such an extent over the last ten years that many rival disposables any day. In fact, if you were to put an All-In-One cloth diaper next to a disposable, you would find very little difference in bulk, size and function.

2. Cloth diapers are more economical!

Disposable diapers become very expensive when you consider a 2-3 year diapering period. They can only be used once and are then tossed away. They cannot be used for a second (or more) child. You can cloth diaper one baby for 3 years for as little as $400!! That’s a savings of $2500 (considering the average family spends $2800-3000 in disposable diapers over 3 years) for one child. Now, how much would you save if you had 2 or 3 more babies? Yes, that could mean a savings of almost $8000!! By the way, that initial $400 you spend on cloth diapers? Due to their excellent resale value, you may be able to get as much as 70% of the money spent on cloth diapers back on an auction site. Try doing that with your used disposables!

3. Babies are healthier in cloth diapers!

Disposable diapers contain many chemicals, poisons (TBT tributyl tin), dioxins (which are highly carcinogenic) and even perfumes and dyes that are all harmful to your baby and lead to diaper rash. The majority of babies in cloth tend to have less diaper rash as cloth diapers are more breathable and have none of the harmful chemicals or bleaches found in disposables. The gel that is used in disposables to absorb and hold in moisture is known as Sodium Polyacrylate. This substance has been found in the urinary tract of babies and may cause severe diaper rash, chemical burns, and bleeding in the perineum and scrotal tissue. Sodium Polyacrylate was removed from tampons because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome!! There are also many studies that have been done to show a direct link between using disposable diapers and childhood asthma as well as an increase in infertility in boys. Considering we have alternatives that are so easy to use today, why take the risk?

4. Cloth diapers are more reliable and less messy than disposables!

Yes, I am talking about leaks and those “poo-splosions”! With a correctly fitted cloth diaper the majority of moms experience less leaking than you get with using disposables. New, modern cloth diapers and covers are so customizable that you have the ability to get a perfect fit on your baby each and every time. Think you will have too much washing to do using cloth? I guarantee it’s no more (maybe even less!) than with disposables. It's a little known secret that the “poo-splosions” that occur from leaky solids are actually contained better in cloth. Disposable diapers have a slippery surface to them which causes a "slip and slide" effect with messy, leaky solids. It's not pretty, and can cause more laundry then a load of cloth diapers.

5. Cloth is more comfortable!

Would you like to wear paper underwear all day? Soft cotton or bamboo next to a baby’s tender skin is much more comfortable than paper and plastic. Babies also tend to be changed more frequently in cloth diapers, as opposed to single use disposable diapers, because moms are aware of when baby is actually wet. Just because a disposable “feels” dry, does not mean a baby is not sitting in urine. It just happens to be dry, crystallized urine. And, with the new microfleece fabric used as liners in cloth diapers today, your baby will not have wetness against their skin. The liquid is wicked away to the cotton diaper underneath, keeping baby feeling dry keeping rashes and ammonia burns at bay.

6. Cloth diapering is quick and EASY!

Yes, I said easy! The concept of convenience is a marketing ploy that disposable manufacturers use. They don't want you to know how easy cloth diapering really can be! With new, modern cloth diapers and the many accessories available today, cloth diapering is easy. And it takes no more time to change your baby and run a load of laundry than it does to change your baby, get baby dressed to leave the house, put baby in a jacket, find that second shoe, fasten baby in car seat, take baby out of car seat, go into the store, weave through the store to get to the disposable aisle...wait a minute? This seems like way more work to me! Cloth diapers really is only an extra load of laundry every 2-3 days, and you are doing it anyways so why not save some money.

7. Cloth Diapering is Fun!

With all the choices in diapers, fabrics, fun prints and colors to choose from and that fact that we can do away with pins, diapering is actually fun! The majority of moms that are cloth diapering love to talk about cloth diapers and how much they enjoy using them. They love to show them off! I don’t know anyone who feels this way about disposables. I know I have been THAT mom who shows off her baby’s cute fluff butt on many occasions, who needs pants when you have an adorable diaper.

8. Babies look adorable in cloth diapers!

Cloth diapers are a modern baby's fashion statement! And modern moms love to shop for cloth diapers. There are so many choices in cloth diapers today. With all the styles, prints and colors, babies look adorable in cloth! Show your little one off in a soft, comfy, adorable cloth diaper! You can even get them customized with ruffles, embroidered with birth stats or a funny saying or add a patch for your favourite sports team. The possibilities are endless!

9. Potty learning is easier!

It is a little known fact that cloth diapered children potty learn earlier and with less effort on the part of the parent. Again, cloth diapers are saving our families time! As children are actually aware of the sensation of urinating, the average child that is cloth diapered typically potty learns faster than their disposable diapered friends.

10. Cloth diapers are better for the environment!

Okay, I just had to throw this in! But you know it’s true!! The average baby will go through 6,000 – 10,000 disposable diapers before potty learning. That is a lot of diapers that end up in our landfills and they are said to take over 500 years to decompose. Cloth diapers are less taxing on the environment even when taking the amount of water and energy used to make and wash them.

There it is, 10 very good reason to choose cloth! Whether you choose to do it full time, part time or even use a diaper service. You are expecting, your baby is 6 months old or even a toddler, it’s never too late to start. It is our responsibility to show our children how to be environmentally conscious, cloth diapers can be your door into a healthier home. Who knows, maybe in 50 years the tables will turn once again and disposable diapers will be the “luxury” item! I know I didn’t like having to make those tedious midnight runs to buy a pack of diapers, I just have to start a load of laundry.

If you would like to learn more about your diapering choices or have questions regarding cloth diapers please feel free to send me an email! I am happy to discuss cloth and tell you about how easy, cute and fun they really are.


How to Feel Comfortable Breastfeeding in Public

Being a new mom is stressful enough, fresh air can do the body good, even for babies. No one wants to stay cooped up in their house if they are breastfeeding every two hours on demand. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding is for children up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years of age or beyond.
If someone told you while pregnant that you needed to stay in your home for two years, how would you react? You shouldn’t feel obligated to stay at home and not enjoy activities like everyone else just because you have had a baby. Get out there and help make breastfeeding something “normal”, show the next generation of young men and women that it can be done!

Some women feel confident enough to breastfeed in public right of the start – you may not be one of these moms so I will share with you some tips and tricks.

Proper clothing is key to breastfeeding discreetly in public. Many maternity and baby stores offer a wide variety of nursing bras, tank tops and shirts. If you are on a budget, just having an extra layer like a stretchy tank top underneath a shirt is just as effective. A flowy cardigan can double as a cozy blanket for your little one while staying covered as well.

Baby wearing
You might be surprised to see some moms wear their babies while breastfeeding at the same time, well it is easy and convenient plus you have two hands free! Whether you are out shopping, at a family member’s house or going for a walk around the block, being hands free and discrete can be easy.

This can take some practice in finding the right carrier for your needs, many cities have local baby wearing groups and lending libraries for advice and support.

If you are still unsure about heading out in your new breastfeeding ensemble in public you can always have a cover-up handy! Nowadays these can be very stylish and can double as scarves, blankets and even car seat covers!

Practice latching your baby in front of the mirror in different tops and covers, you might be surprised what you can learn by viewing this from a different perspective. Latching is the time where you would ever expose yourself completely, a baby’s head does a great job of covering the nipple area!

Another great tip is to turn your body towards a wall or a friend or family member who is out with you to prevent full exposure. Remember, never feel bad for asking for help from a seasoned friend or even a breastfeeding support group.

Also, you can practice what you would say to someone if you were ever confronted. It may never happen but it’s better to be prepared and confident rather than stumbling or feeling shame for feeding your baby.

Know your Rights
Breastfeeding in public is legal and a very good thing. You are nourishing your baby with the most biologically appropriate food, and at the same time you are educating any young men and women who might happen to see you. The Ontario Human Rights Commission specifically states:

No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up,” disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet.”

Find your Tribe
If you have any reservations about breastfeeding in public make sure that someone is with you that supports your decisions to breastfeed. Whether it is your partner, friend or family member have someone on your excursion there to help you out.

Joining a local mom group is also a great way to make new friends who understand our daily mom struggles, many of which can give you a boost in confidence to help you feel empowered!

Enjoy the moment, smile at your baby, don’t over think and act like you are doing something wrong. Breastfeeding can be a hard journey for some women, feeling ashamed, shunned or even bad for exposing a small amount of skin in public. Follow these tips and gain confidence!

And don’t forget to smile back when you see a mom breastfeeding at the mall or the park… she may need some encouragement


Tips For Creating Your Breastfeeding Space

Those few weeks before the arrival of your new tiny human you go through the nesting phase to make sure everything is set up; the nursery is decorated and crib is assembled, the diaper bag is packed, the baby clothes are all washed and folded and the freezer is packed with food. Just don't forget about your space, your breastfeeding spot.

Comfort and ease is the key! In the beginning you may want to choose a location in your home that you go to like a nursery, the bedroom, den or living room that provides enough space for you to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience. You will be spending hours in this chair so make sure you are comfortable and close to an outlet. Remember, you can never have enough pillows!

This space should have a comfortable chair, a supportive nursing pillow, pillows for your back or under your arms, small table and a basket. That table will be used for everything from glasses of water or tea to sip on while nursing and healthy snacks such as trail mix and protein bars for easy snacking. Nursing requires an increased intake of fluids and nutrients, so having this space ready and stocked will make this an easier transition for you and your little.

Keep a small basket of baby supplies to hold a few extra diapers, wipes, extra onesies, burp cloths, bum cream and other essentials. Also, don't forget about your essentials like lip chap, tucks pads, nipple cream, tissues, hair elastics, slippers, journal and a phone charger. This is a great way for your significant other or a family member to help you and restock when needed!

Remember this space doesn't have to be for just breastfeeding, it can also be used for pumping and bottle feeding as well. Being close to an outlet will help with a pump or bottle warmer. This comfortable space will help minimize stress, prevent injuries and allow you to enjoy those midnight feedings.

If at any point you are struggling with how to set up a fantastic space for feeding and bonding or establishing a positive feeding relationship with your baby, don't hesitate to ask for help! With over 22 months of breastfeeding experience, I am passionate about making sure new mom's have the support that they need. We have drop-in support groups, private consultations in the comfort of your own home, and even phone support to ensure your needs are being met!


5 Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn

When I first meet with a brand new postpartum doula client, I make sure that they know one thing by the time I leave their home. The first six weeks postpartum are about survival. Whatever that looks like to you, however that has to happen...whether you're in yoga pants every day or you get dolled up and hit the mall just to bring some normalcy to your life...however you survive is completely fine.

  1. Eat when the baby eats. Sure you've heard about sleeping when the baby sleeps, but you have to fuel your body (even if you're not breastfeeding). Keep a stash of crackers beside the chair that you sit in when feeding baby. Make granola bars and keep them in the freezer. Stock up on individual packs of crackers, cookies, pretzels, dried fruits and nuts. Noshing throughout the day will help keep your energy levels stable.
  2. Sundresses are your friend. This time of year means one thing...heat and humidity. To easily feel like a normal person again, stock up on some sundresses (and body glide to protect your skin from chaffing). They're flowy and girly, so you will emotionally feel relatively pulled together, but not stuffed into shorts and tank tops that might make you emotional over your post baby body. 
  3. Remember that the fourth trimester is about recovery. There will be time for fitness later. This is about survival and recovery. Eat well. Hydrate yourself. Be kind to yourself emotionally. Sleep when you can and don't sweat the small stuff. The saying (as much as it might grind your gears to hear) This Too Shall Pass is all too true. Sleepless nights are temporary, as are mood swings, your baby ponch and engorged boobs. 
  4. It's ok to say no. If you don't want visitors to pop over, say so. If your freezer is fully stocked to the point of dripping overflow water on your floor, say something. People mean well, they really do, but if you need space that is completely ok. You and your body have just been through a massive change and you're trying to adapt to a little babe needing you at every moment of every day. If you need space, just say the word. People will be far more understanding than you think.
  5. Ask for Help! It doesn't make you any less of a parent to ask for help. Maybe you need someone to come over and hang out with the baby so you can grab a shower or a nap. Maybe you just need a friend to come over with a glass bottle of wine so you can feel like an adult again. Ask for help. There are loads of family and friends out there who are itching for a way to help, but aren't sure what you need.
My tips for surviving the first six weeks could go on and on, I'm sure, but really at the heart of it is that you know your family and your baby best. You know what works for you, and need to stand in your power. Be confident in the decisions that you are making for your family!

My clients always ask what I would do if I was in their situation. I tell them that I don't live in their body, nor do I have to take care of their baby on a daily basis...so it's not fair for me to dole out that type of advice. I do say...if I needed a shower, I'd put him in a bouncey seat on vibrate on the bathroom floor....or.... it's only best if it's what works for you....and....it's not selfish to want time to yourself, you have to take care of you!

Remember....the fourth trimester is about recovery and survival. Whatever you need to do to survive, even if it deviates from your original plan for pregnancy, birth and parenting, that's ok. Plans change...babies change...life changes, and that's pretty awesome.


How Doula's Can Help, Even if it Isn't Your First Baby

So often I am asked but how can you help me? This is our second/third/fourth baby, we've done the labour thing before. I know what I'm doing.

The answer, very simply, is that no two pregnancies, labours or births are the same. Even our bodies, after they have been pregnant once, change and adapt to what it means to be pregnant.

Life changes the moment that your first baby is born. Colors are brighten, sounds are louder. Everything is more vibrant, fresher and more amazing.

Then comes that moment when you find yourself pregnant again, and life seems to stand still.

How will I parent two?
Is there enough love? 
How am I going to survive being pregnant and parenting a toddler at the same time?
What do I do when I go into labour and Jr. needs to get to soccer practice?
What about the after?

With the support of a doula throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum, your transition can be made so much easier.

Labour and Birth

During labour, your doula is by your side every step of the way from the moment you call them, until an hour or so after the birth of your baby. When this is your second+ child, you may call your doula to help you labour at home, where their care can extend to other members of your family. If you are needing to rest, your doula can entertain older children to make sure you are getting the quiet time that you need.


Adding a new baby to your already awesome family dynamic can be a daunting thought, as can the thought of getting dinner on the table every night while tending to your baby and other children. Thankfully, a doula can swoop in with a food delivery. I often like to drop things off at a clients house, leaving a bag of goodies on their door. I text them on my way home to let them know there's a delivery, and never ever ring the bell (who knows when mama and babe might be napping!). It's like a visit from the magical food fairy! For more ideas on how a doula can help during postpartum, look here.

Ultimately, a doula is there to support you in whatever you need, be it getting you information on the newest birthing craze, or lending a supportive shoulder to cry on when you are feeling overwhelmed.

First baby or fifth baby, the support remains the same. Unconditional, unbiased and there right when you need it.


10 Thoughts I Had About My Postpartum Body

A couple of months ago, I joined the #takebackpostpartum movement and posted a very vulnerable picture of my bare postpartum belly.

I had no idea the impact and reach that it would have. I shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and the likes started piling up. The comments started coming in and I was honoured to share this piece of myself with those I knew, and those I had yet to meet.

But my thoughts? Oooh....they were reeling.

1. What in hell am I thinking? Take it back take it back take it back

2. Maybe this will help one woman out there appreciate the changes that she's experiencing during pregnancy, and the anxiety she is having about what her body will be like after she gives birth to her baby.

3. How in the world do I have the linea nigra AFTER having him!? I thought that was supposed to come during pregnancy!

4. If I turn just so it looks like I have abs. Go me!

5. I'm decently happy with my midsection. I mean...the flat-rib-area is ok, but the under-the-belly-button area is just this ponch of flab.

6. Welp...it's the only body I've got! Might as well love it. And by love it, I mean where are the cookies?

7. I wonder if I'll ever see my belly button again....

8. Take it back take it back take it back

9. One day, regardless if my stomach still looks like this, I will feel confident in a badass sports bra and running leggings and dominate a race.

10. I'm so glad that I stayed active during pregnancy. This recovery has been a lot easier...

Bonus thought: totally having a glass of wine! I'll run tomorrow. Win!


Tips for Itchy Skin, Postpartum Itchy Skin

Once postpartum "complication" that I was not prepared for was a serious case of itchiness. I don't ever recall having it with my first, but definitely had it with my second and man alive! Talk about itching your skin until it breaks and is raw!

Postpartum itchy skin is commonly a result of the drastic drop in progesterone and estrogen following childbirth. Further, as your salt and water levels rapidly decrease after having a baby, the elasticity of your skin changes.

Off I went in search of relief, and I wanted to share some tips with you on the off chance that there are any mamas out there experiencing postpartum itchy skin!

My first remedy was to find a lotion to hydrate my skin. I started with coconut oil right after a shower, which worked nicely. When I found that my skin was itchy in the middle of the night, Gold Bond Triple Medicated Body Lotion was the only thing that I found would give relief. It has the cooling sensation of menthol, which was greatly appreciated at 1am!

Eventually, it got to be so itchy that it felt like I had hives, but without the hive-like blotchy red patches and rash. I sought the help of my bloggy bff, Shannon from Baby Shmizz, and she recommended an antihistamine like Claritin, which would target the areas of itchniess from the inside out. Off to the pharmacy I went, and home I came with the store brand Reactine.

I kid you not, within 20 minutes of taking the medication, the itchiness was gone.

Where were the patches of itchy postpartum skin?

Behind my knees
Under my knee caps
Under my bustline
My armpits
The inner part of my thighs right by my knees

And it was the kind of itching that nags at you, begging for relief...immediate relief!

If you are experiencing postpartum itchy skin, know that there are remedies out there and that you don't have to just sit and wait it out!

Update: if all else fails and you're still experiencing postpartum itch, go talk to your doctor. We found out that my hormones were way out of whack and my birth control pills were actually causing the itch!


What Is a Postpartum Doula?

This is a question that I get over and over, as the idea of having a doula after your baby has been born is rather unfamiliar to many.

Similar to how a birth doula provides mental and emotional support during labour and birth, a postppartum doula helps ease the parents transition once they return home from the hospital or birthing centre.

A few things that a postpartum doula does are...

  • Food delivery
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Helping the parents process their birth experience
  • Give mom an outlet to scream, cry, laugh, talk
  • Help partner with tips and tricks to support mom through things like postpartum anxiety, depression, and self care
  • Deliver self care kit and give mom some peace and quiet
  • Meet mom for a coffee date, without kiddos
Personally, I love being a Postpartum Doula. My favorite thing is to make a batch of waffles or muffins, then drop them off at a clients house and text them while I am on my way home. Knowing that you just helped by dropping off breakfast to a client...likely a very tired client who isn't taking the time to make herself a nice breakfast, but deserves breakfast in bed on a daily basis for just having championed through childbirth...it's such an awesome feeling.

Postpartum Doula's are incredible people who are there to support you through the emotional ups and down of your transition to parenthood. If you have older children, they are super effective with distracting them while you tend to baby, or taking both kiddos off your hands for a little while so you can take a few minutes out for yourself. 

Consider adding a Postpartum Doula to your recovery plan for after your baby arrives. You never know...a waffle and juice delivery may be just what you need when you've had a particularly rough night with your baby!