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LIFE WITH BABY

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BabyBjörn Cradle of Comfort & Style

29 weeks and counting. I can honestly say that I feel like a duck – calm up top but paddling like heck under water. We are not even close to being properly prepared for this baby’s arrival. We are still in the midst of determining which products we absolutely need and which ones will just end up getting stashed away in our storage. Friends who have been down the motherhood path before have sworn about this product and that, which has just added to our ever growing list of baby must-haves. After some careful consideration on the topic of sleep once Baby Bean arrives, we decided that a bassinet would be a convenient solution. Why?

Our plan is to keep Baby Bean in our bedroom for the first four months at least, but we don’t necessarily have enough room for a crib in there. After hearing how difficult it can be to get things done around the house, or even shower for that matter, I also wanted an option that was portable and compact so that I can easily move it from room to room to keep a close eye on the baby. Plus, we live in a open concept condo. Although quite spacious at 1,250 sqft, it’s not laid out like a house which means most of our living space is in plain view of our guests. It’s kinda nice to not have to compromise our design aesthetic because we have a new addition to the family. Our BabyBjörn Cradle just came in this week and I am dying over how chic it is. It has a beautiful, sleek and minimal design, plus comes with the most adorable canopy attachment.

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn

If you’re expecting and thinking about a cradle, figuring out how you would use it should be the first step in narrowing down the right one for you. I investigated the many options that are out there and used the following pillars that lead me to choosing the BabyBjörn Cradle.

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn Canada

    1. Safety: The safest cradles are designed with mesh walls making sure there is adequate air flow for your bub.  When it comes to the mattress, most assume thicker is better for comfort but that shouldn’t be what you focus on. The bassinet mattress myst be less than an inch thick and firm to help reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). You should also pay close attention to the materials used. Your baby may not sleep for long periods of time but he/she will definitely be sleeping often. You want to make sure your cradle is made with clean, eco-healthy materials. The BabyBjörn Cradle actually ranks #1 in this category, certified by the renown Oeko-Tex Standard, Class 100.
    2. Size and Weight: Us condo dwellers are lucky we don’t have to worry about going up and down flights of stairs but we do have to consider more narrow hallways. Depending on where you live, you must consider the layout of your home in your cradle choice. The weight and size will matter if you want to relocate your baby while it sleeps and at a mere 13 lbs, I find this one super easy to maneuver.
    3. Cleaning: So yes, here’s where the baby will sleep for it’s first few months and I have no doubt there will be a few accidents and messes alone the way. I don’t know about you but I’m no treacly trying to add more cleaning chores to my to-list list, so having a removable lining for practical and simply clean-ups is key.
    4. Movement & Rocking: My mommy friends have all given high praises about cradle movement to help get babies to sleep. LOVE the innovative engineering of this one that creates a soothing vibration that responds to either your touch or baby’s movement.

 

Now that our cradle is here, we can move on to the rest of our daunting list of baby products to acquire. If you’re expecting this summer and interested in this bassinet, you will be happy to know that its available and discounted on Amazon until Sunday, June 4th, 2017. American friends, the cradle is on CRAZY sale – originally $349.95 but is now on sale for $279.00. Shop the cradle here and use the discount code 15OFFCRADLE and your total will be $257.03. Not to worry my fellow Canadians, you aren’t left out of the mix. Originally $461.00 CDN, the cradle can be shopped here for only $299.99.

Casual Chic in Breton Stripes

Breton stripes somehow always reminded me of French fashion, so when I found this chic little Hatch Collection dress, I immediately snatched it up for my recent trip to France. To be honest, I hadn’t realized exactly why I associated stripes with the capital of fashion but during my visit I learned that the Breton stripe originated in Bretagne (pronounced Brittany in English), a region in the North West coast of France. I just so happened to spend a couple days in one of it’s small towns, La Gacilly, with Yves Rocher. The original knitted Breton shirt with blue and white stripes was made for the French army and the stripe pattern is so closely linked to Bretagne, that their flag even contains the Breton stripe pattern.

Sasha Exeter - Hatch Collection

Photos shot by JessBaumung.com

WEARING: Jacket (similar here) |  Dress |  Boots (similar here) |  Sunnies |  Bag | Hat (vintage)

While non-maternity fashion has dominated majority of my looks during my pregnancy, I have stumbled across some brands with pieces so great, that I couldn’t resist getting – and truthfully, if I didn’t tell you they were maternity, you would have no clue at all. If you’re expecting you NEED to check out Hatch Collection for their cult fave dresses, jumpsuits, tops, denim and swimwear. I picked up this Hatch 3/4 Dress from Ani & Wren here in Toronto.

SHOP MY LOOK


 

Advice for Expectant Mothers From Mom’s Who Get It

Whether you’ve planned your pregnancy or are completely surprised by the news you’re expecting, are you ever really and truly ready for the task of “Motherhood”? Réjean and I discussed having a baby before we began to trying to conceive and with my age slowly creeping higher and higher into the thirties bracket, there seemed to be no better time than the present to get the ball rolling on our baby making plans. Truthfully, conception happened much quicker than we anticipated and of course we were ecstatic but that feeling of excitement was quickly replaced with fear and sheer terror. If you know me, you would probably describe me as confident or even stoic and definitely ready for any challenge BUT with my impending role of Mother just around the corner now, I’m not going to lie, literally freaking out.

Photo by Jess Baumung for Huggies Canada

Funny enough, all the questions that I asked myself before getting pregnant I was able to answer confidently but now there is some self doubt creeping in all of the sudden and only seems to worsen the closer it gets to my August due date; “Can I REALLY handle this responsibility?”, “Do I make enough money to give this kid the life he/she deserves?Will I be a good enough?…because my own mother certainly set the bar hight” . That being said, I have gained some confidence from discovering the benefits of practicing skin-to-skin when Bean arrives after getting introduced to the Huggies Hug Planwhich I dished all about earlier this month – found here in case you missed it. Réj on the other hand is somehow the calmest I’ve ever seen him and he keeps reminding me that our mother’s, grandmother’s and women generations before them seemed to innately know things for example the importance of hugs without having access to scientific research.


My plan for sanity is to stay clear of the extensive books on expecting and planning to stick to a few trusted sites like Huggies.com while also turning to some incredible women I am lucky to know, who I look up to and each exemplify the type of mother I want to be for Baby Bean. I’ve turned to them for advice on everything from skin-to-skin knowledge, midwives vs doctors, breast feeding, to even helping me choose Huggies diapers and wipes for my babe (thanks to Shannae) and decided to share some of their best insights with some of you who are also nervous moms-to-be.

Trisha Enriquez – Founder of NoTummyMommy.com, Nutritionist, Pre-Natal Fitness Expert and Mommy to Harper

Trisha Enriquez has become infamous in the city for her adorable photos with 3 year old daughter Harper who shares her mom’s love for fitness, health and wellness. Her Instagram account motivates mommies near and far to find time in their day to move and stay active, while often wearing the cutest matching activewear. A multi-hypenate, Trish is the creator of NoTummyMommy.com, a certified nutritionist, pre/post natal fitness expert and also specializes in helping mama’s work on core rehab, pelvic floor health and diastasis recti (otherwise known as separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy).

One of the best suggestions I received after having a baby was to pay an expert to help sleep train my child. It was worth every damn penny and the entire family benefits!
 
Best advice during pregnancy? Get your hubby to up his perineal massage game! This could be a serious game changer in my opinion.”

Suzanne Cohon – President, ASC PR; Mommy to Parker

Suzanne Cohon - ASC Public Relations

A native New Yorker, Suzanne Cohon, who now calls Toronto home, is the fierce boss lady behind ASC PR. Mother to Parker, her 11 year old mini-me, Cohon also finds time to give back to the community as Chair of the Ronald McDonald House Opening Gala and as a member of the Board of Directors at the prestigious Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery just to name a few.

As a new mom, I always kept wishing for the moment for my daughter to crawl, walk, talk, go to school, sleep through the night, etc. I was constantly looking forward to how much I would enjoy her future self. I look backward and regret as I think I missed so much. So much was taking place right before my eyes however, I wasn’t looking. For any new mom or mom-to-be, my advice is this – enjoy every minute of everyday. These littles grow so quickly. If you don’t stop and focus, these precious moments will pass you by.”

 Shannae Ingleton Smith – National Advertising Sales Professional at Rogers Publishing; Mommy to Kensington Grey

Toronto transplant and Calgary, Alberta native, Shannae Ingleton Smith is new to motherhood, after giving birth to her daughter Kensington Grey back in December 2016, but what she is not new at is being successful in media sales and the publishing world, currently employed by Rogers Publishing & Media for Macleans magazine. Shannae is currently working on re-emerging herself into the digital space with a new site (launching soon) after taking a hiatus from the blogging world to focus on her corporate career.

Having my daughter has been a life-altering yet beautiful experience.  I’m still blown away by the fact that my husband and I created this tiny human being that is a miniature version of both of us but unique in her own way. I’ve learned many useful lessons about motherhood since having Kensie. The first of which, I learned from my mother early on. She told me to relax. Trust the ones you love with your baby. You can’t do everything and you can’t be with her every living, waking moment. Trust me, I tried and then sleep deprivation kicked in. Suppress your inner control freak and let the ones you love help out if they are willing and able.  This will allow you to recharge so that you can be the best version of yourself for your little bean, especially in those first few weeks.

Also, as a new mother, I’ve found using a diaper for your baby with a wetness indicator like Huggies  Little Snugglers, goes a long way. There will be times when your baby is crying and you’re not sure why so this feature can be a huge help when trying to figure out what your baby needs.

The last piece of advice that I’d give to moms is to not lose your mojo. Don’t be afraid to do all of the exciting and inspiring things that helped define you pre-baby. Becoming a mom is my greatest pride and joy, but being a mom isn’t the only thing that I am. Continuing to nurture my passions post partum was a non negotiable for me. Write that screenplay. Run that marathon. Start that blog. Wear the killer outfit. Keep being the badass, rule breaking, thought provoking, opinionated girl boss that you were pre-baby. Your mini me is watching and he or she will thank you later.”

Elle Daftarian – Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner and mommy to Sophia
Elle Daftarian started off her career in fashion business but then went on to tackle careers in event planning & design titles and is most well known for her upscale bakery Petite and Sweet (now closed) and her television show, Sugar Stars on the Food Network. Now, this petite beauty is transitioning into her next role that will be launching soon on ElleDaftarian.com.
My best advice…lead by example. Kids watch everything you do and they want to be just like you. Learn to love yourself before you can love them and make sure they know how much you value yourself. Lastly, once that baby comes out they become their own person. As a mother, you are there to support their journey, not tell them how to live it.”
Felecia Exeter – Former magazine editor and mommy to yours truly

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

For those who have followed my social channels, you have seen her face sprinkled in IG posts and appearing in some of my IG stories on weekends here and there because we are thick as thieves. My mom moved to Canada after marrying my father. If you can believe it, she only saw him a total of three times over the course of a couple of years due to their long distance relationship before he popped the question and moved her across the pond to Toronto. A bank employee at BNP (Banc Nationale de París) before going to Canada, she secured a job at Telemedia Publishing, at the time home to magazines like Canadian Living, TV Guide and more, as a secretary and worked her way up within the company eventually becoming an Editor. Being my hero and inspiration, proving that hard work pays off in both love and in your career.
Sasha, as you know I had virtually no additional support when I first had you. I was in my early twenties and thousands of miles away from my family and friends. Everything that I learned was from trial and error, I would say and pretty simple now that I think about it, however I do wish someone had told me these things when I was a new mum.
When the baby is sleeping, you should use that time to get your own shut eye, which you will really need; have a bath or just do something relaxing for yourself. Remember to set priorities. Your job as a mother should be very similar as your career job in a way. It is impossible to get everything done every single day. Do what’s crucial and important and everything else can wait. Last but not least, try and remain positive throughout the pregnancy. YOUR baby feels EVERYTHING!”
I may not be an official “Mommy” yet but I’ve learned so much about pregnancy throughout these last 28 weeks and still learning something new every single day. It has been the most humbling experience. The advice I have for other mother’s is to listen to you your body! If you’re a high functioning person like I am and used to pushing yourself, you will need to slow down and let the baby and your body guide you. When you’re hungry – eat. When you’re tired – rest. If you’re starting to feel stressed out and overwhelmed – find a way to relax and chill. And lastly, don’t underestimate the importance and benefits of hugging your baby before he/she arrives. Give your baby infinite love and good energy by hugging your belly. It’s a great way to interact and connect with your little one and when your further along in your pregnancy, it’s so fun to feel your baby react back with movements.

SHOP THE HUGGIES PRODUCTS I’VE BEEN STOCKING UP ON HERE:

 

Thank you to all these fabulous ladies for taking the time to share their thoughts and advice with me…trust me, I need every single bit. Have any amazing mommy-to-be tips you want to share with me prior to the Bean’s arrival? I would love to hear from you via Twitter @SashaExeter, where I can also share your advice with my social community.


This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and thoughts in this post belong to myself and the women who agreed to participate!

How To Choose The Right Prenatal Vitamin During Your Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of misconceptions especially in the early stages. There are so many thoughts, ideologies and just sheer nonsense made available to us online, it’s become difficult to decipher what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s considered necessary and what is not during pregnancy. Well, there’s one thing most know for sure, prenatal vitamins are crucial  in helping ensure both mama and baby get the necessary nutrients during this important time of development while they also help to avoid birth defects and potential pregnancy complications. However, many don’t realize the importance of making sure they are implementing a prenatal vitamin option at least six months prior to conception and that not all options on the market are created equal. Both facts, I honestly didn’t discover until after my miscarriage last fall.

At my core, I will admit I am a bit of a granola grinder and naturalist. Part of me hangs on to the idea that if we eat good food, we will be healthy and pass on that health to our growing baby. It’s a very simple idea and one I love but I understand that even eating well balanced meals doesn’t necessarily mean I am getting everything I can use. Not to mention, most foods we eat today, even when made from scratch, can contain genetically modified ingredients, colorants, antibiotics, etc. However, gone are the days of my grandmother’s generation, who were able to get all the required nutrients from the local grown foods on the small Caribbean island she came from, so I’ve come to think of prenatal vitamins as a personal trainer to help mama’s and their babies be the strongest and healthiest they can be.

I’ve used various prenatal vitamins in the past ranging from fancy physician prescribed options to over the counter drug store brands. I guess you can say paranoia crept in when I became pregnant again so quickly after the miscarriage. This time around I wanted to really ensure that both myself and this baby were getting all the required minerals and vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. I obsessed over the labels on the bottles, naturally, then did as much research on the one’s that seemed the most popular.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a little investigative testing on four prenatal vitamins I had purchased over the past several months. Nothing too scientific and something any of you can easily do at home. I simply put each of the vitamins in a glass of vinegar and let sit for an hour or so, mixing with a spoon periodically. Knowing, if it breaks down in the vinegar, I could be sure that it will do the same in my stomach allowing my body to easily absorb the contents. If not, I wouldn’t be digesting it properly and could potentially mean there’s a few vitamins just floating around in my stomach doing absolutely nothing. My test yielded some results that were very surprising, and hard to stomach (no pun intended), leaving  Forté Elements Prenatal+ as the only option that completely dissolved in my vinegar solution. So it should come as no surprise that this is the brand I’ve been using ever since. Also, after chatting with my midwife and naturopath, I am taking additional Folic Acid (1mg) and Magnesium at bedtime (300mg), the former to ensure I am getting the maximum amount and the latter to help me with sleep at night. The cool thing about the human body when it comes to supplements is that it knows when it’s received the right amount of nutrients. Anything over and above that is flushed out of your system.

If you’ve been pregnant before, pregnant now or have friends that have filled you in regarding the horrible and often times debilitating nausea symptoms associated with pregnancy, you may be wondering if prenatal vitamins can contribute to this undesirable side effect. Truth be told, 80% of women experience morning sickness and nausea, especially during their first trimester. I had the WORST time for the first 4 1/2 months and seriously didn’t think I was going to make it out the first tri alive and still feel queasy from time to time if not doing anything to help regulate it. When this level of nausea hits you, you will likely stop at nothing to find a solution that works in settling your tummy so you can live somewhat of a humanized life LOL! I tried EVERYTHING and often sought out advice from my followers on IG stories. It’s still unclear as to why these symptoms exist; doctors claim it was to do with the HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and can sometimes be aggravated by prenatal vitamins. The latter is likely because your body may not be used to the extra nutrients, like iron, and will need sufficient time to adjust. When I switched over to Forté Prental+ I discovered that they also made an anti-nausea supplement and in my desperation, I had to get my hands on it right away. Forté Anti-Nausea contains a specialized blend of vitamin B6, ginger, peppermint and clove that helps ease the struggle fest caused by pregnancy nausea. I’ve been using it religiously for the last month or so and I can confidently say, paired with regular exercise, I think I have finally found the right combination to keep these symptoms at bay.

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements
Photo by Bettina Bogar

I know that there are endless options on the market for prenatal supplement care but this brand is a pioneer in the development of condition-specfic combinations of vitamins, minerals and essential trace elements, Forté Elements has completely defined a new category of mediceuticalss based on evidence based research. Not a term your probably used to hearing, mediceuticals are nutrient supplements using combos of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients for things like pregnancy and the postpartum period, that unlike nutraceuticals, are subject to very strict guidelines for quality/safety and are supported by evidence based research. Meaning, you can be assured that Forté Elements Prenatal+ and other pregnancy supplements contain the appropriate amounts of the nutrients pre-pregnant and pregnant women need to help support their growing babies.

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements

Forte Elements actually has a wide array of nutritional supplements outside of their prenatal category covering joint care, pre and post operative, trauma care, in addition to nerve, brain, bone health. To discover and learn more, head to ForteElements.com.

Expecting Soon? Here’s Why You Should Consider a Hug Plan!

As I get closer to my delivery date, my anxiety continues to rise exponentially. And when it comes to impending motherhood and raising a child, I am realizing how little I actually know right about now. In order to stay grounded, I keep reminding myself that if there were a manual for being a parent, then our baby would come with one. At 25 weeks along, I am now starting to put some thought into a birthing plan with my midwifes and pre-natal naturopath, which I am pleased to say will include a hug plan for our little Bean. Trust me, not a term I had ever heard before until my first official meeting with the Huggies Canada team. I guess now would be a good time to announce I’ve joined their group of No Baby Unhugged Mom Ambassadors alongside Jeanine Macintosh of Six Time Mommy, Elaine Atkins of Elaine Loves, Solmaz Khosrowshahian of TheCuriousCreative.com, and Natalie Preddie from The Adventures of Natty P among others.

Sasha Exeter - The Hug Plan - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador
The perfect Mom-to-Be starter kit with stuffed animals, books, onesies, Huggies Snugglers and wipes

Ok, so I will be the first to admit, having a baby has somehow turned into a multi-billion dollar industry with products, services, gadgets and apps for literally everything under the sun you can think of, to apparently make parents lives easier. But, with so many options out there, it’s almost impossible not to get too overwhelmed. A lot proving to be useful or even necessary, while there are others you can certainly do without. Diapers are one of those things that obviously fall into the “necessary” category and in my personal opinion, is one of the most important first decisions a parent will make for their baby. Why? Your baby’s diaper is directly on your child’s skin 24 hours a day (more than any other garment) and the choice of brand is usually made before the baby comes before even trying it out. Réjean and I did extensive research over the last few months to allow us to make an  informed decision how we were going to diaper “the Bean” and we both undeniably agreed that Huggies was it (much more on why in the coming months).

As part of the #NoBabyUnhugged program, I attend an event last week at what I like referring to as the “Huggies House”, a private mansion in Yorkville, where we got an extensive education on the importance of skin-to-skin, tips on what should be included in our hospital bag and a deep dive into diapering and wiping 101.

The Power of Hugs

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged

Unless you’re a mother, mom-to-be, or surrounded by friends who have already given birth and won’t shut up about it, chances are you’ve never heard about skin-to-skin before. I sure as hell had not heard the term legit until two months ago. It pretty much implies exactly how it sounds and refers to hugging or holding your newborn baby, when he/she is only in a diaper, against your bare chest within the first hours, days and weeks after birth. Sounds quite basic doesn’t it? Turns out it’s actually one of the most valuable gifts you can give your little one. Proving to be vital for the healthy development of babies, our intimate group got a chance to speak with Dr. Dina Kulik, MD; an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Staff Physician in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital, who shared her very personal story on the rapid improvements she witnessed to her newborn son’s health through skin-to-skin contact after having health issues at birth. During our first of three interactive stations, we got to do a “blind feel” test to get a chance to experience what baby’s would feel when they come in contact with blankets, swaddles, diapers and touch for the very first time while also getting a chance to try on Hug Vests that mimicked the feeling of being hugged.

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Solmaz of TheCuriousCreature finding her way through the blind “feel” test

To be honest, I think the power of hugs has always been inherent with mother’s but when babies are born with health complications, it has been doctors and nurses in the past who had usually recommended babies be taken away and placed in the appropriate unit for extensive care – with good intentions of course. Fast forward years later and 600+ medical studies on the effects of human touch; looks like moms actually do know best and the physiological and psychological skin-to-skin contact were just too great to ignore…dramatically changing the way newborns are treated immediately after entering this world:

  • Improved oxygen levels
  • More stable body temperature and heart rate
  • Improved pain tolerance
  • Faster weight gain
  • Improved sleep
  • Healthier brain development
  • Less stress, and much more

Last year,  Huggies launched the world’s very first Hug Plan, which acts as an extension of a mom’s existing birth plan in order to help her fully get the opportunities and benefits of skin-to-skin for their newborn. We have just filled ours out actually and it helped Réjean and I list our skin-to-skin preferences in every possible scenario (because who knows what could happen on delivery day) post birth to make sure the Bean gets adequate hug time. You can create your very own Hug Plan and find more information right here.

Hospital Bag Essentials

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Canada - No Baby Unhugged

Fellow “Mom-Bassador” Natalie Preddie, who had her son Charlie 6 months ago, took us through her labour/birthing experience in the second station and touched on how she found skin-to-skin with her husband and baby, plus dished a few details in regards to what was included in her hospital bag. With most of the items being things I would have naturally accounted for in mine, I will be honest, the Depends protective underwear was quite a surprise and come highly recommended for comfort.

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged
Natalie Preddie’s Hospital Bag Necessities

Diapering – 101

Seeing as though hugs are so important for infants, it only makes sense to have a diaper that’s soft and comforting too. Diapers have come a real long way from what I remember them to be in the past and Huggies has become known for their constant innovations that allow them to offer the best protection, comfort and skin care; specifically designed to allow a baby’s skin to breathe.

At our third and final station, in a mock nursery no less that looked so freaking amazing I want to replicate it at home, we got the low down on Huggies Little Snugglers. Seriously, how damn cute is that name? And ironically the same diapers my best friend Shannae swears by for their baby girl. I’ve come accustomed to hearing BM (bowel movement) massacres from other mom’s (who have been using other brands) where poop has literally shot out of diapers and through clothes, and while sometimes the messes are bound to happen, it seems as though Huggies has a good handle on such things with a Pocketed Waistband designed to keep messes where they belong and their trusted Leak Lock System that provides up to 12 hours of leakage protection – thank GOODNESS. While some of the other ladies present were already new moms, I was the only “Expecting Madre” so I found even the simplest details like the colour changing Wetness Indicator, that will tell me when the Bean’s diaper needs changing and the front/back labelling on each will no doubt be a lifesaver when Réj is on diaper duty. Crazy to think that this is how big, or shall I say small, the Bean is right now in my stomach. Currently the size of the baby below weighing in at just over 1 lbs and approximately 10 inches long

The absolute tiniest diapers ranging from preemie (only available at hospitals) to newborn

I left the Huggies House, feeling more confident and a teeny, tiny bit less stressed out but it definitely got me thinking more about the No Baby Unhugged initiative. Most babies are born healthy and are able to get warm embraces right away from their parents, however there are circumstances in which a mom may not be able to be by her baby’s side…so what happens then? Be prepared to get a bit teary-eyed people! Huggies is going above and beyond the call of duty here and helping ALL babies get the hugs they need when mom’s can’t be there themselves, by funding and facilitating hugging programs in Canadian hospitals.

Sasha Exeter - No Baby Unhugged

Sasha Exeter - The Hug Plan - No Baby Unhugged
Shot by Jess Baumung for Huggies® Canada

If you’re expecting too, you can totally take part by visiting NoBabyUnhugged.ca and uploading a photo of you holding your baby (or your belly) on Instagram using the hashtag. In return, as a thank you for your support, you will receive a complimentary pack of Newborn Sized Huggies Diapers.

This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and reviews are my own!

Bugaboo Bee5 Launch | Today’s Most Comfortable & Stylish Compact Stroller

The last several months have been a bit surreal but now things are starting to get real. Sleeping has become a bit more difficult at night. My belly has started to restrict my mobility and it’s now time to start thinking about getting those first few big items for the “bean” like a car seat, stroller and decorating the nursery. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a bit overwhelming and if I’m feeling this way, I can only imagine what’s going on in poor Réjean’s mind right now. So…we’re taking baby steps (no pun intended) and beginning with our search for the perfect strollers.

The second I discovered I was pregnant I couldn’t help but start paying attention to the strollers that parents were pushing around the city. And by “paying attention”, I mean “obsessing”. Even stopping a more mother’s than I would like to admit, on their walks to ask them how they felt about their buggy choice. Call me crazy, but as a first time, slightly neurotic mom-to-be, I just want to make sure I make the best possible decision when it comes to a chariot for my child.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

So yes, there’s a ton of stroller options on the market and it’s nice to know that you can really narrow the search down significantly by not only determining a budget but also thinking about your current lifestyle and/or the lifestyle you aspire to have once your little one arrives. I started the search very early on and knew that I wanted a stroller that can transition easily with my child from newborn to toddler. Well to be fair, I initially started the search when I was pregnant the first time last fall before my miscarriage and had identified Bugaboo as one of my top stroller options, so we were ahead of the game this time around when we confirmed the news we were expecting again. With our extremely active lives, plus our love for travel and endless adventures, we desperately need a stroller that can not only hold up against our crazy lifestyle, but look good while doing it also.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Bugaboo’s stroller lineup is legit impressive and trust me, this makes choosing one from the five current options not an easy task but from the looks of it, the bean may be lucky to have a couple set of wheels because I don’t think Réjean and I could survive without a running stroller as well. I believe what’s made the brand so popular amongst Mom’s and Dad’s alike is that there truly is a stroller for everyone. When it comes to personal style, everyone is unique in their own way when it comes to design preferences and aesthetics, so why should it be any different when it comes to your baby’s stroller right? What I love so much about Bugaboo is that the brand values the importance of individuality allowing you to “Show Your Style”  – meaning; whether your a “Fashionista”, “Dreamer”,  “Urbanite” or a “Health Nut” – like me, they’ve got you covered. Last week I got to kick off my partnership with the brand at the media launch of the new Bugaboo Bee⁵ at Planta with the most fab moms and moms-to-be in the city. It’s there where I got a deep dive on the most comfortable and stylish compact stroller currently on the market, while also getting pampered, noshing on the best vegan food, and customizing my very own Bugaboo embroidered bag.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

I was so conditioned in the past to think of strollers as being heavy, clunky, difficult to maneuver, limiting and not at all stylish but the Bugaboo Bee⁵ will forever change the game for urban moms and dads like us. So yah, no embarrassing moments taking 20 minutes trying to open or close the stroller in a mall parking lot with a screaming baby on your hip or struggling to hop into an Uber or the subway during rush hour downtown. The super compact chassis has a one-hand, one-piece fold that makes things so ridiculously seamless, it’s going to make even me, clumsiest woman alive, look like a consummate pro on my first spin outside with the baby.

And while of course functionality is key, I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty damn amazing that the Bugaboo Bee⁵ is highly customizable, allowing me to mix and match with countless different colour options to help reflect my own personal style; from bold or minimal basics from the Core Collection, muted tones from the Premium Collection or the super adorable prints from the Signature Collection. My style is usually very minimal but I am loving the idea of treating the stroller as an accessory and having a pop of colour on the canopy. Now with all the basics covered on how this new and very much improved Bugaboo stroller is going to help lighten our load and enhance our new journey, in the upcoming weeks I will be moving on to the best part – choosing colour combos and accessories. So, stay tuned to find out how I showcase my #HealthNut stroller personality in our upcoming customized colour reveal and “buggy breakdown” soon!

For more information on the Bugaboo Bee⁵ and for some more stroller inspo head to Bugaboo.com and or follow the hashtags #BugabooBee5 and #BugabooStyle on your Instagram.

4 Things I Didn’t Expect During Pregnancy

Well, well, well…most of you that read my blog also follow me on social media so this will not be news to you but…we are expecting our first baby this summer. The official announcement was posted on my Instagram account exactly a month ago today and while most of you may have thought it was something I was itchy to share, it was quite the opposite. As this is not Rejean and I’s first pregnancy, we suffered a miscarriage last fall (ICYMI, you can read about it here) and were devastated. After the initial joy of discovering I was with child; panic, anxiety and fear immediately set in. I’m not so sure about Rej, but I was absolutely terrified history would repeat itself and I would end up with another non-viable pregnancy and I was unsure whether I could handle another disappointment . I knew even before taking the home test that I was pregnant but to be completely honest with you, I was in complete denial for the first two months until my naturopath confirmed that my HCG levels were soaring through the roof and that there was no mistaking the fact that there was a little bean inside me.

So what next…? After carrying for almost 12 weeks the last time around, I thought I had this first trimester thing figured out but apparently I knew nothing because EVERY SINGLE PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. While most women gloat about how amazing their pregnancy experience is, it is not all roses for everyone, trust me! The first four months for me were insanely difficult but thankfully I am starting to finally feel like a normal human being again with the occasional bout of nausea. We are safely in our second trimester and almost at the 20 week mark. I cannot believe how fast the time is going. As the anxiety starts to fade a bit day by day, it is replaced with more and more excitement…and can only hope that the rest of the pregnancy is smooth and stress free.

There’s so much shit that has thrown me for a loop during the first 18 weeks and because I am a control freak, I wish I could have anticipated them but that’s not real life. It’s impossible to foresee the pregnancy future and for one reason or another, a lot of women only stick to sharing the positive sides of their pregnancy. So on that note, I’ve decided to share some of the things I discovered on my own, that I wish SOMEBODY had told me.

DISRUPTED SLEEP CYCLES

Majority of women talk about suffering from severe exhaustion during their pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. I remember feeling like I was in a coma during my first pregnancy but this one has been a very different experience. Rather than wanting to sleep my days away, I was barely getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night during the first couple months. Pregnancy insomnia is definitely a thing and thankfully it’s not harmful to the baby however it can get rather annoying. I assumed that this issue would occur later into the pregnancy with the physical changes to my body making it more uncomfortable to sleep but these early onset sleep issues for me were caused by emotional changes, stress, anxiety and the need to urinate a few times a night.

I did figure out a few ways to help with getting more sleep in recent weeks because after this baby arrives, I don’t anticipate getting much sleep at all:

  1. Drink plenty of water during the day and minimize water intake after 7pm
  2. Eating to sleep works wonders. Eat a healthy dinner to avoid heart burn and just before bed have a late night snack, something high in protein to help keep blood sugar steady throughout the night
  3. Make your bed a comfortable cocoon to help induce your sleep once you climb between your sheets. Make sure to bolster or add a pillow underneath your feet, tuck a pillow between your knees and sleep on your side. Still struggling to get comfortable? Do not pass go or collect $200 – and purchase one of those full body pregnancy pillows. It will not disappoint – I swear by mine!
  4. Exercising during the day will give you the energy you need earlier on but help you feel tired later on so you can get rest at night
  5. When you’re carrying another human being your body temperature is elevated causing you to feel like you’re overheating at times. Feeling hot and sticky does not set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Consider adjusting the temperature in your home or closing a vent in your bedroom to create a cooler environment for sleep.

HAIR GROWTH/HAIR LOSS

Most pregnant women speak praises of hair growth during their pregnancy. Around week 20, it’s highly likely that your hair gets thicker, shinier and looks more healthy than normal, all credit to those lovely pregnant hormones – particularly estrogen. Not to mention the increased blood circulation and metabolism pumping mega nutrients to your hair and nails. Well turns out, everyone’s prenatal experience and every single pregnancy is quite different. I was thoroughly looking forward to the luscious locks of my dreams but I’ve ended up not having any hair gains at all and worse – suffering from prenatal hair loss. Sounds a bit weird I know and there may be several reasons why this occurred.

My natural hair back in August 2016. 

During my first pregnancy I experienced no change to my hair but last November, almost 30 days after my miscarriage, I started to notice a change to the texture of my hair, thickness and length. Initially nobody else seemed to notice the difference, not even my hairdresser who I see on a weekly basis. I am pretty sure at one point she thought I was absolutely nuts. By the end of December the changes were clearly noticeable and enough to not only make me worry but had me feeling a bit depressed. I know it sounds a bit shallow, but I took pride in my beautiful, natural hair that took what felt like a lifetime to grow to the length it was. I was almost certain that when I found out I was pregnant at the end of last year, my hair would start returning to it’s healthy or at least healthier state. Sadly, I have yet to see a difference, even with daily prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements and it appears that I am still shedding a considerable amount of hair on a daily basis. After playing web detective, which I’m not normally an advocate of, I discovered that hair loss during pregnancy can occur for a variety of reasons; with hormonal changes being one of the top culprits. Whenever the body experiences a drastic hormonal change, your normal hair growth cycle can be halted or disorganized causing excessive hair shedding or what is called Telogen Effluvium. Usually caused by dramatic emotional experiences during pregnancy also explains the state of my locks after the emotional distress I experienced after my miscarriage. Nearly half way through this pregnancy, I am going to have to wait for the condition to correction itself and to see any improvements until at least six months postpartum. In the meantime, here’s what I am doing to help reduce the hair loss during this time:

  • Eat fruits and veggies that contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may add some protection to the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
  • Avoid unnecessary stress to the hair by staying away from tight ponytails, weaves, and braids
  • Use ultra hydrating shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
  • Avoid excessive heat from flatirons, curling irons and blow dryers. as much as possible

MIGRAINE PAIN

Migraine headaches are like the lottery when it comes to pregnancy. If you suffered from migraines prior to being pregnant chances are there’s a high probability that you will experience stronger ones during – especially early on. However, there are a few lucky ducks who claim that their migraines actually diminish during pregnancy. I unfortunately have not been the exception but rather the rule when it comes to prenatal migraines and spent several weeks hemmed up due to crippling head pain, which caused me to be sensitive to noise, smells, food and even exacerbated nausea and vomiting symptoms. What’s the culprit for this annoying head pain? If you’ve guessed good ‘ole pregnancy hormones, you guessed right! Sadly, there’s not much you can for the pain during a prenatal migraine episode but on the upside, these pain cycles won’t last forever. Most healthcare providers consider acetaminophen (regular strength Tylenol) to be the only safe over-the-counter pain relief option throughout pregnancy but I strongly urge you to consult your treating physician prior to taking any. I personally didn’t have much success with Tylenol and had to resort to a few other tactics to help me with manage the pain:

  • Meditation and mindfulness techniques
  • Exercise (prior to full blown migraine)
  • Cold compress to the forehead and neck
  • Regular massage therapy
  • Warm epsom salt baths
  • Stretching; both preventative and during an episode
  • Increase water intake

NOT ALL PRE-NATAL VITAMINS ARE CREATED EQUAL

This one sort of threw me for a loop and I think that it is one of my most surprising discoveries throughout during this time. Our mothers and grandmothers may not have been popping prenatal vitamins, or even know what they are for that matter, but our generation sure as hell has been made aware that it’s a critical part of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. During the first pregnancy, although planned, we were not aware that I should have been popping this magic pills prior to conniving and that the most important period for brain and neural tube development occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy. With our lifestyles, nutritional habits and the state of our food being so different than it was in previous generations, it’s imperative that women get the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals during (and even before conception) to prevent neural tube defects and support your little one’s growth and development. I actually never stopped taking mine between the two pregnancies.

Seeing as though the health care industry has deemed these supplements so important for pregnant women, one would expect that there be a set standard amount of each vitamin and nutrient found in each pill. I found out about a month into my current pregnancy that this is in fact not the case and immediately made changes to my prenatal vitamin, choosing one with DHA (omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid that benefits vision and brain development) and also added an additional 1 mg of folic acid. Even though folic is already in my prenatal supplement, I wanted to add some more, just to be on the safe side. There is no harm with taking a bit extra folic acid because whatever the body doesn’t need, it will flush out in your urine. Here’s the basics that you should have in your prenatal vitamin:

  • 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic acid (folate)
  • 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 mg of calcium
  • 75 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of B1 (thiamine)
  • 3 mg of B2 (riboflavin)
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 10 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 20 mg of iron.
  • 150 mcg of iodine
  • 30 mg of biotin
  • 25 mg of magnesium
  • 150 mg of DHA

Pregnancy has turned out to be nothing but surprises so far and I’m sure this is just the beginning. Looking forward to sharing all the good, bad and the ugly with you all over the next several months until our little bean arrives.

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