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LIFE WITH BABY

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Welcome to the Family Buick Envision

Bringing a new life into the world can be both exciting and terrifying for new parents. Even though you may have months to prepare for the arrival, the unknown and the what-if’s to come can be unnerving. As one might imagine, I spent most of my pregnancy researching and acquiring all the baby products I felt we needed for Maxwell in her first few months of life and quickly realized at the end of the summer that I may need a new vehicle to match my new lifestyle as an “Urban Mum”.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter

I have had my license for 20 years ( and you can stop trying to calculate my age right now!) and consider myself to be a great driver but let me tell you something, nothing scared me more than the thought of being behind the wheel of a car with a newborn baby. Most of my anxiety came from not trusting the other drivers out there. I literally became fixated on finding a car that came with as much safety technology as possible to protect us on the road. I also realized quite quickly that this new vehicle would have to be adequate in size to accommodate all the new (and mandatory) things I now needed every time I left the house. Not to mention, one with cool-air ventilated front seats to help me get me through the end of summer and fall because I’ve been a sweaty mess for months thanks to my hormones. And if I can be completely honest with you, I needed a car that also just looked pretty damn cool. The “Mum” title can immediately put you into a category of un-coolness, especially when it comes to vehicles. What I wanted was something sleek enough for my city events, roomy enough to handle long road trips plus all the extra crap that comes with having a baby, next level safety features and tech savvy to handle my work needs on-the-go because a traditional maternity leave doesn’t quite exist for me. That seems like a tall order I know, but the 2017 Buick Envision miraculously ticked all the boxes, making it the perfect addition to the family just before Maxwell’s arrival.

So many of you commented and private messaged me on social media about the Envision. Some of you surprised. Most of you intrigued. Just like the old adage, “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” the same can ring true about Buick’s latest fleet of vehicles. They are far from the Buick’s of the past but I know for many, it’s hard to call them a luxury brand since it occupies something of a middle ground between mainstream and high-end. Turns out, the Envision easily competes with other cross-overs in it’s class like the Lexus RX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and it’s natural rival the Acura RDX, providing more value for money in my personal opinion. Here’s what has me hooked on the 2017 Buick Envision during our first month with the vehicle so far – making it worth a look if you’re in the market for something new, safe and stylish as a new mom or mom-to-be.

Heavy on Safety and Tech Features

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The Envision has more features than you could possibly imagine. I kid you not, even the base model at $35k has a rear camera, OnStar telematics, 4G WiFi hotspot, active noise cancellation, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, 4 USB jacks and an 8-inch LCD center stack, XM Satellite radio, just to name a few. With my newly acquired anxiety about vehicle and driving safety with my baby, it was a no brainer to go with the Premium II version, which comes in around $50K, that literally comes with every single alert and assist feature possible available on a vehicle in today’s market:

  • Forward Collision Alert (FCA) System to help avoid front-end crashes by alerting the driver with flashing alerts and a pulsing seat if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly.
  • Forward Automatic Braking designed to automatically engage the brake system if the car detects you may crash into a vehicle ahead of you.
  • Lane Keep Assist helps to avoid crashes due to unintentional lane shifting/departures and just like a guardian angel will assist by gently turning the steering wheel to keep you in your intended lane, if it detects your drifting towards another lane without using a turn signal in that direction.
  • Plus, surround vision cameras which gives you a 360 view around the vehicle and comes with the car’s Driver Confidence Package.

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

What has me hooked…

I will never stop singing my praises for wifi connectivity in Buick’s. I have raved about this feature many times driving media fleet vehicles from GM Canada but now that Maxie is here, I am able utilize our wifi access to play lullaby’s for the her via Spotify and YouTube. We’re currently obsessed with “Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay”. The front camera has come in pretty clutch too, and helping me navigate into tight parallel parking spots downtown that I would previously never attempt. Oh, and by simply pressing the blue On-Star button, I get access to a 24 hour operator who can do everything from suggest the best Italian restaurants within 10 kms, send turn by turn directions to the car if I am lost and even acts as emergency roadside assistance.

Size & Design

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The SUV market has something for everything I believe in terms of size. For my current needs, I was looking for something compact but still roomy. I also preferred a more comfortable ride over sporty handling for obvious reasons. Nestled perfectly between the brand’s subcompact Encore and the larger three row Enclave is where I found the Envision. During my final weeks of pregnancy I was patting myself on the back for not choosing a full size SUV knowing I would have struggled climbing into the driver’s side. The Envision’s height made it easy for me to get in and out of the car, even a week past my due date. It also turned out to be the perfect height for my pup and little nephew to climb in on their own as well.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision Buick Style - So Sasha
Left rear bench is reclined back to reveal the option of additional space for back seat passengers

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

2017 Buick Envision
A hidden storage compartment makes it easy to store vehicle and personal items

A compact crossover it may be but rear seat passengers will find the extra few inches desirable in the back as the rear bench slides back and reclines to allow more leg room; a feature we will no doubt enjoy on upcoming road trips. As for the trunk space…quite impressive for a compact crossover. More than adequate for our little family now with 27 cubic feet available, although I have only tested out the space with our Bugaboo stroller chassis. The trunk easily converts to 57 cubic feet when one of the rear seats is folded down into a 60/40 split. I am sure over the coming months I will have plenty of opportunities to test out the different space configurations. To ensure I have optimal storage space back there for larger items like the stroller, there is a hidden compartment underneath the floor of the trunk perfect for storing personal items. It’s actually also a brilliant way to hide any valuables in the car that you wouldn’t want seen and potentially stolen. When it comes to small(er) SUV’s, it’s not uncommon to find small sunroofs…one of my pet peeves. A panoramic moonroof extends into the car’s rear cabin making the interior bright and airy even with my dark leather appointed interior.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

What has me hooked…

While warm days with sunlight streaming through the windows and moonroof is great for most passengers, it’s not always the most ideal for teeny tiny babies confined to their car seats in the back. However, the size of the Envision’s moonroof allows me to close the moonroof cover half way to provide shade for Maxi in the rear but to still allow ample sunlight in the front cabin. My hidden storage compartment in the trunk is one of the best things since sliced bread. I have used these compartments in recent weeks for extra diapers, wipes and drop sheets for Maxie instead of stuffing more than necessary into her diaper bag. I have even left clothes, extra shoes to change into if my feet start getting sore on the road and even my laptop between meetings.

More Bang For Your Buck

I know this all sounds amazing but the question on everyone’s mind is always the pricing; and rightfully so. The base model starts in and around $35k with freight while there is four other trim line’s (Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II) ranging from $36-50K. With the base model coming in so strong with all it’s features, it’s actually a better choice and more bang for your buck over the Preferred trim line which only offers a dozen or so additional minor features . But if music, enhanced safety, and heated (front and rear)/ventilated seats are your thing, then the top two tier trim lines would definitely be for you.

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter
Photography by Elaine Fancy

We no doubt have tons of adventures ahead in the Envision and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to start creating our first family moments and share them with you guys. For more information on the all new Envision or other vehicles within the Buick line-up head to Buick.ca.

8 Things You Should Know (But Nobody Tells You) About Post Pregnancy

It is almost hard to believe that four weeks has gone by since our little Maxwell was born. A week late on August 22nd at 2:34 am, our lives changed forever. To be quite honest, I have been in a bit of a haze the last two weeks surviving on cat naps and coffee. Tons and tons of coffee. It’s all good though, because when I look at this ridiculously adorable face, it makes it all worth it.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Huggies Mom Ambassador

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Throughout my nine months of carrying Maxwell, I was told all the cliché things about pregnancy and motherhood; “Giving birth is the greatest gift!“, “Motherhood is the hard but the most rewarding job” and a slew of other Hallmark sounding phrases. All 100% true statements but what I needed to hear the most that realness on what to expect post labour in the first few weeks. Documenting my journey to baby has allowed me to connect with a lot of you in the IG community and I’ve discovered that so many of you are expecting your first baby this year. So, here’s eight things you should know (but nobody tells you) about post pregnancy to help you survive the first few weeks.

1. The Importance of Skin to Skin

Skin-to-skin with a newborn is important and crucial in so many ways for both you and your baby. Most advocates of doing skin-to-skin would recommend that this start at birth. Both Réjean and I created a hug plan very early on during my pregnancy which we shared with our midwives and doula as we were keen on having our skin hug with Max as soon as she entered the world. That first contact is the most intense connection ever! When we placed her on our chests and she starred into our eyes, it was like she knew exactly who we were. But more importantly, there’s actually some scientific stuff according to Canadian Association of Paediatric Centres that makes skin-to-skin so beneficial:

  • It helps promote healthy weight – when baby’s are warm they don’t use their energy to regulate their body temperature, so they can use that energy to help them grow instead.
  • It can help make breastfeeding easier – newborns have a heightened sense of smell so placing your baby skin-to-skin helps them seek out the nipple and begin breastfeeding faster.
  • It reduces baby’s stress and pain – just 10 minutes of this skin cuddle time can reduce your baby’s stress hormone and increase oxytocin.
  • It promotes better sleep – less stress = better sleep
  • It helps dad and baby bond – we have a whole nine months to bond with our little one when they are in our stomachs and once they enter the world it’s almost as if Dad has some catching up to do. This is a great way for Dad’s to get in their quality baby bonding time.

2. The Truth About Diapers

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Oh my goodness…we were not at all prepared for the amount of diapers we were going to have to change a day. Trust me, probably one of the most surprising discoveries since becoming parents. The first couple days were not so bad as the baby was only getting colostrum and my breast milk hadn’t come in yet but holy moly, once she hit a week old,things got hectic. Our midwifes gave us a rule of thumb to go by when it comes to the number of changes Maxwell should have per day. Basically, the number of diaper changes should mimic how old they are. For instance, if you’re baby is 3 days old, he/she should have gone through 3 diapers. On day five there should be five changes and so on. However, after a week, the daily nappy change should be anywhere from 6-9 diapers.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

Using Huggies Little Snugglers has made our lives so much easier and has been reassuring knowing that little Maxie is in a diaper designed to keep her delicate newborn skin clean and healthy. For you fellow new time moms out there, you can receive a free pack of diapers to trial on your little one by supporting Huggies “No Baby Unhugged” initiative. The wetness indicator on this diapers are amaaaaazing and has taken the guess work out of knowing when it’s time to change her diaper. When the baby starts crying, Réj has a mental check list he runs through of the possible reasons for her agitation and looking to see if that indicator has gone from yellow to blue is the first thing he checks out. Most helpful during the middle of the night especially. Maxwell’s belly button healed in record time too, partially due to the umbilical cord cut-out on her Newborn diapers which is brilliant.

3. Midwifery and Doula Post Natal Support

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

I had planned to discuss this at more length when I share my birth story but in short, the support we have received from our midwives and doula has been phenomenal. Both during our pregnancy and post labour. To be honest, I am not sure we would have made it through the first week at home with Max without Kristen and Alusha at Toronto’s Community Midwives and our Doula Leah Jackson. We chose this avenue of care because of the extra benefits during the prenatal stage but it wasn’t until much later that we learned that the postnatal care and assistance was even more critical and useful. What most don’t seem to realize is, having a midwife comes at no extra cost for the Mum and Dad. I know the assumption from many has been that it costs thousands because the idea of this personalized care sounds fancy but in  Ontario the costs are actually covered by OHIP. We had 5 in-home medical visits for Max within the first week after her birth and a little extra postnatal care from our Doula whose role is to not only help with the baby but to also provide assistance and care to the new Mama. Max and I have enjoyed Leah’s massages, lactation assistance and she’s even helped with the first couple bath times. Ladies (and gents) do yourself a favour and be open minded about these options and also know that they can be used in conjunction with hospital births.

Maxwell getting her congenital heart test done at home by our Midwife Kristen
8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Huggies Mom Ambassador
Doula Leah Jackson – BirthIsBeautiful.ca

4. Make Bath Time a Fun, Bonding Experience (Your baby will sleep better too!)

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

In these early stages, everything you do for your child is an opportunity to bond with your little one. Although it’s super easy to feel robotic going through a cycle of feeding, changing and putting your baby to sleep, try your best to do each thing mindfully and with intention as time flies so quickly. I was petrified at the thought of having to give this tiny human a bath alone after being shown twice the ropes from Leah, but now I look forward to this time with Max, especially because she loves the water so much. Plus it’s time for the three of us to connect as a family. After she is out of the water, we have added baby massage to our routine and it’s help tremendously with sleep time at night, even though she’s only a month old. Co-bathing and breast feeding in the tub has some tremendous benefits as well!

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - So Sasha

5. Sleep Deprivation is REAL!!!!!

Ok, so this is absolutely no joke. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic in some countries. After a 43 hour long labour and five days straight of no sleep afterwards, I entered in a mental parallel universe and trust me when I say it has not been a pleasant experience. No matter how many people told me, ” Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!” I did not listen. You will want to do all of the things you can’t when you bub is awake; like cook, clean, work (if you’re like me and work because you’re self employed) or something even as basic as have a shower, but trust me, not getting any sleep is not only going to affect you but it will affect the baby too. A happy, rested mama = a happy, rested baby. If you’re unable to take naps during the day, perhaps think about pumping your breast milk or using formula so your partner can help you out with the nightshift.

6. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Number five is the perfect segue way into pro tip #6…you and your partner need to work as a team. Bringing a little human into this world is no easy feat and caring for you bundle of joy in the first few weeks can seem overwhelming, especially for the Mum’s who are already suffering from drastic hormonal changes. Finding a way to tag team and share responsibilities with your partner is critical during this time and sets the foundation for how the household will run as a new family. Easier said than done, I know! Réjean and I struggled hard during the first week. I hadn’t slept well since month seven of my pregnancy, followed by a very long labour. By day five of no sleep post labour, I thought I was going crazy. This led to arguments and fuelled my postpartum blues. I was so angry watching him sleep blissfully for 11 hours a night on the couch while I tended to the baby alone in the bedroom all night. Thankfully, an intervention from our midwives and doula helped us realize quickly that we needed to implement a plan immediately which involved breast pumping my milk or using formula so Réj can feed Maxwell while I catch up on sleep or get work done. Splitting the nightshift when possible is key because two tired parents is truly a recipe for disaster. Since I am in more demand than he is with breastfeeding and all, he has stepped up to the plate with meal prep, coffee making and keeping the common areas of our home tidy. It has not only tremendously taken the pressure off me to “Do All and Be All” but it’s also made us better humans to each other and to Maxwell.

7. Breastfeeding vs Formula

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

Do yourself one big favour and don’t pay attention to anyone that makes you feel bad about your feeding choices – or any choices when it comes to you and your baby for that matter. Remember, if there was a manual with all the right things to do, our children would come with one. Some women have a very difficult time with breastfeeding; whether they don’t produce enough milk or they are suffering from chapped nipples or mastitis. While some babies find it challenging to latch or have nipple confusion. Full disclosure: I don’t love to breastfeed. Matter of fact, I don’t love it at all. I understand and appreciate the benefits it gives my baby, which is why I do it but if things continue to be uncomfortable, I will move to my plan B feeding plan. My advice, find what works best for you and the baby. If you are adamant about breastfeeding but finding it to be a challenge, there are free  breast feeding clinics made available to women throughout the city, just ask your healthcare provider for the information. Formal lactation specialists can also be hired and they come to your home as well. At this point, we are doing about 80% breast milk and the remainder formula and you know what, the baby is doing just fine. As long as your baby is fed and not going hungry, that’s all that really matters.

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8. Mind, Body & Spirit

Photography by Jess Baumung + my personal iPhone 7Plus

There is so much going on with a woman’s body during this time, it’s easy to think that you are loosing control. Truthfully, at some points I’ve believed I actually had. The raging hormones that plagued women during pregnancy don’t disappear right away after birth. Often times, your hormones can cause you to be even more unpredictable once your bundle of joy has made it home. I spent the better part of the first two weeks crying uncontrollably and I am finding out this is very normal. Crying from exhaustion, hunger, physical pain from labour, no longer recognizing myself and the changes to my body, postpartum edema (swelling), painful symptoms from “Baby Wrist” also known as Tendonitis, discomfort from stitches due to vaginal tearing…the list goes on. Just four weeks in, I am very much still in what a lot of Mum’s refer to as the trenches, so I am trying to be mindful and gentle with myself but it’s difficult. The best advice I have been given about this is that it’s temporary and this too shall pass. These are all very normal feelings but it’s important to keep a watchful eye on it and to not feel embarrassed if we need to seek help of any kind.

 

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is also about making mothers; strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength!”

If you’re expecting and interested in creating a hug plan for you and your baby,  you can create one right here.

This post has been sponsored by Huggies Canada however all views and opinions are my own

How to Design a Small Space Nursery

I have finally finished the unthinkable. The idea of designing the perfect nursery for Baby Bean, sans the help of an interior designer, stressed me out for months. Living in a condo in tight quarters can sometimes pose as a serious design challenge. Although our digs is not as pinched as most Toronto condos, measuring around 1200 sqft, the third room we decided upon for the nursery is far from spacious. What was once a secondary gym housing a commercial size squat rack and all our workout equipment plus accessories, has now been miraculously transformed into what I would like to think is a calming, colour neutral space perfect for our little princess.

I may not have had the help of a pricey interior decorator but I did have one major trick up my sleeve that allowed me get this space finished in record time and for the most part without having to leave the house. MAJOR BONUS!  So here’s the deal, I have been an Aeroplan member for over 15 years. I had accumulated enough miles to give me top tier status for a couple years while working in my previous corporate job. Over the years, I have used my miles to travel to several Caribbean islands, Europe and across the entire United States. But, it wasn’t until now that I started fully utilizing all the benefits of being a member outside of just redeeming for flights. So you may be wondering how a loyalty program could have possibly played a key role in this nursery, so I will let you in on a little secret that turned out to be quite a big lifesaver this past month. The Aeroplan eStore is a magical online portal that connects you to over 120 flagship retailers. You can not only shop from the comfort of your own home but you’ll automatically earn an Aeroplan mile for every $1 spent on online purchases. And, if you pay with your Aeroplan credit card like we did, you can collect miles twice.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

In my personal opinion, this is the best possible scenario for those who love shopping just as much as they love travel. There are tons of shopping options for just about any category – fashion, accessories, beauty, house & home, electronics, baby, books, entertainment, etc. Plus, with every purchase you get closer to your dream getaway. My plan is focused on earning miles while I shop for the nursery so I can fund our first family vacation, as I had missed the window of opportunity for a babymoon (ahem, which I am still chuffed about Réjean!). It’s super simple actually. Just choose a category, search for a retailer, enter your Aeroplan number and last name to start shopping and earning miles right away.

Regardless of the baby’s sex, I always knew that the room’s decor and most of the clothing would be in a gender-neutral colour. Grey is not only beautiful but it’s also a colour palette that can easily grow with Bean as she gets older, but please don’t ask me about all the stars. I have no clue where my obsession with stars came from to be honest.  I was not certain I wanted to create a gallery wall or drill shelves into the walls, so I decided to use wall decals  from Urban Walls to create a symmetrical focal wall. Grey stars are also trickled throughout the room in accents and make many cameo appearances in her wardrobe. Let’s just hope she ends up liking them as much as I do.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design
Bean’s first couple months of sleep will be in her BabyBjörn Cradle in our room

After the torturous task of choosing the perfect white paint, it was time to start sourcing the essentials for the room. I began my search through the Aeroplan eStore at some of my go-to Canadian retailers; Hudson’s Bay and Indigo. Knowing the dimensions of the room, I knew the amount of furniture would have be minimal so no rocking chair unfortunately for feeding time. Instead, I looked for pieces that were compact and could easily take Bean through her first few years of life.

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

Small Space Nursery Design

I love baby furniture that doesn’t look like baby furniture, if you know what I mean. I found this classic South Shore Cuddly Change Table with Removable Changing Station via the Aeroplan eStore at Hudson’s Bay and thought it would be the perfect small space hack. We could easily have the change station left on top like you see above but due to the fact we have limited shelf space and no room for a side table, I opted to put the removable change table and pad within the wall to wall, built-in closet Réjean built. This allowed me to display a few trinkets on top of the dresser, alongside her growing French & English book collection with adorable LED letter bookends and crib side Skip Hop Owl that acts as both a nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling and sound machine. My favourite part about the sophisticated and minimal design of this dresser means it will be around for years to come. I also searched high and low for the perfect convertible crib that would not overwhelm the room but also could eventually transform from toddler bed to single bed as she gets older. With hardwood and marble flooring throughout our home, I felt the urge to warm up the space with an area rug. Also, great to protect her delicate knees when she starts crawling. The rug I found online is plush under the feet and is also completely washable – which is perfect because with a little one and a dog running around, stains are pretty much inevitable.

Small Space Nursery Design
Photos by Elaine Fancy @e_fancy

Besides the mandatory plush toys, endless amounts of cozy blankets/swaddles from my fave Aden & Anaïs and extra storage to accommodate millions of Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes; I also made Dyson’s Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier and our diaper genie “Nursery Necessities”. Living in a condo means the air can get quite dry and with friends and family expected to be visiting non-stop, this humidifier monitors the room’s humidity, temperature and kills 99.9% of bacteria. As for the diaper genie, it really doesn’t need much of an explanation, does it? Ain’t nobody got time for a nursery that smells of soiled nappies.

Here’s 7 Tips for Designing the Perfect Nursery in a Small Space

  1. Go Neutral. By choosing a neutral colour palette, you immediately make the nursery look more open and airy. I found that the white walls, that have a slight grey undertone, reflects light and miraculously makes the space look larger.
  2. Maximize Storage. Fit more storage options into the nursery by utilizing the space wisely. Picking furniture that has additional drawers to store essentials.
  3. Essential Zones. When planning the room layout, think about essential zones – diapering, sleeping and playing. The key to designing a nursery in a small space is to focus on a need based space plan first and then pull together the remaining details.
  4. Double Duty. Invest in furniture that is multi-functional. The additional bench on one side of the wall closet works well as a folding station for clothes or a diaper change station while the change table quickly becomes a chic dresser when the detachable change station is removed.
  5. Accent Walls. This is both fool proof and brilliant. Accent walls draw eyes to the back of the space adding a bit of drama to a small room.
  6. Avoid Bulky Furniture. Scaled down furniture is always best. Choosing smaller pieces with sleek lines will always make a room look larger.
  7. Use Rugs. Try using a pattern rug in a light or bright colour to anchor the nursery and introduce some personality into the space.

Just like life, this nursery is a work in progress still and I suspect after lé bebe arrives we will add a few things here and there but what I have accomplished so far could not have been possible without the help of Aeroplan and their amazing eStore. Not yet an Aeroplan member, head to www.Aeroplan.com to register now and start earning miles today! Stay tuned for a live IG stories room tour and shop Baby Bean’s nursery items below:

SHOP OUR FAVOURITE NURSERY ITEMS

 

*This post has been sponsored by Aeroplan, however all views and opinions are my own!

Must-Have Baby Registry Essentials

The journey to baby is marked with several milestones that indicate you are getting closer to meeting the adorable little human being you have been cooking inside of you for nine months. As I have settled into my final trimester with just over a month to go until delivery day, it is time to start organizing Baby Bean’s nursery and getting the necessary things we will need to set us up for success in the first months of parenthood. Although prepping for a new baby is very exciting, there is just so much to do which can often make this process overwhelming for some, myself included! Just a few months ago I knew absolutely nothing about baby basics and now I feel I can almost hold my own with other mom’s on newborn necessities.

So Sasha - Huggies

So Sasha - Huggies

As a first time mom-to-be, I confidently tackled all the larger items for the baby that were an obvious “no brainer” – the crib, stroller, newborn onesies, nursery furniture etc. However, after speaking to friends with babies, it was clear I needed to create a Babies R’ Us Gift Registry, like ASAP, to help me get prepared with the smaller, everyday essentials that often times get overlooked during the third trimester madness. Here’s a fun fact for you…did you know that the average child goes through 5,000 diaper changes in a lifetime? I know, mind blowing right? It kind of makes you wonder how anyone would miss adding essentials like Huggies Diapers and Natural Care Wipes to their baby registry.

So Sasha - Huggies

With my time super limited these days I was really pretty stoked that setting up my registry turned out to be a quick and painless process. For newbie mom’s, there’s a special little section dedicated for us in mind called “Top Registry Items”  in case you get stuck or suddenly feel overwhelmed. It categorizes everything and seriously steered me in the right direction to creating a comprehensive list of outstanding items we still need to get.  I simply downloaded the new Babies R’ Us App on my iPhone so I can easily update it on the go but if you’re the type that needs a bit more hands-on attention, you can totally reserve an appointment with a Baby Registry Expert in-store, who can help guide you. Oh and the best part, when you register you’ll receive a free gift pack which includes coupons and samples to help start you and baby off on the right foot!

We are seriously blessed with amazing friends, family and brand partners who have been so supportive in helping us prepare for our little girl’s arrival. After securing most of the larger items so far, many of you have asked about the about the products I’ve put on my own registry, so I thought I would share some of my favourite “off-the-beaten-path” essentials that you may not have thought to add to yours, that can be found at Babies “R” Us stores or their online registry section. 

So Sasha - Huggies
Réjean and I have chosen Huggies Little Snugglers as our diaper of choice, which also happens to be the #1 choice in Canadian hospitals, and have already fully stocked up on newborn and size 1 packages.  They come with a pocketed waistband to help keep smelly messes inside the diaper where they belong and the newborn diapers even have an umbilical cord cut out perfectly shaped to help the belly button healing process.
So Sasha - Huggies
A diaper genie is all my friends keep raving about as a must-have and the Playtex Diaper Genie Elite has a double lock design and 7-layer bag helps keep odours from escaping into the nursery. On sale now for only $39.97
So Sasha - Babies "R" Us
Based on feedback from you mama’s out there, I learned that there are to be NO blankies in crib for safety reasons so Halo’s Sleep Sack Swaddle quickly got added to our registry thanks to your recommendations, to keep Bean warm and snug while she sleeps.
So Sasha - Huggies
Made in the France with natural rubbers and paint, Sophie the Giraffe is the go-to for teething babies worldwide after gaining popularity in Europe back in the 60’s. I have literally seen this item on every one of my friend’s baby registry’s over the years
So Sasha - Babies "R" Us
Breastfeeding in public can be nerving for most new mom’s so I love this breastfeeding scarf to cover us up during feeding while we are out and about.
So Sasha - Babies R Us Canada
“I have too many swaddle blankets!” – said no one ever. I have tons but just keep on collecting. Love the neutral prints and colours of these ones by Koala Baby.

Photography by Elaine Fancy Photography

 

Throughout this process I have also realized how expensive it is to get ready for baby so I will be giving away a $200 Babies “R” Us gift card to one lucky follower on Instagram. To enter, like, comment/and or tag someone you know on this Instagram post here. *Contest runs from July 13th to July 18th, 2017. The winner will be selected at random and contacted via Instagram DM on July 19th. Open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec.

ATTN: Mom’s and Moms-to-Be, July is BABY FEST at Babies “R” Us. That means, from now until July 20th, 2017 there are MEGA savings for all your newborn to toddler needs that you won’t want to miss out on both in-store and online. Get signed up for your baby registry today at www.BabiesRUs.ca

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

Pregnancy & Parenthood: Thoughts From The Father-To-Be

Since my pregnancy journey began it has amazed me how much we hear about the woman’s perspective during this very special time. I mean, I guess it is quite understandable as it is us who carry this precious cargo around for 40 weeks, but what about the men? Although they may not be affected physically like we are, they still go through a roller coaster of emotion ranging from excitement, fear, anxiety and nervousness. They struggle to support their partners psychologically while trying to stay alive during our hormone induced meltdowns. And trust me, the latter is REAL because there were some points my hormones were so next level, I didn’t think the both of us were going to make it through this pregnancy alive. Kudos to you my love for surviving through the worst of it!

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

I’ve been getting a few comments from my male friends lately who happen to be father’s, asking if I have a man’s perspective on the pregnancy journey and it dawned on me that I have never really sat down and talked to Réjean about how he feels, selfishly being so consumed in my own prenatal struggles. With just over one month left until we welcome our little one, I decided it was time to chat to find out how he’s REALLY feeling about fatherhood, if he’s  freaked out about the gender of our baby (and for all those who have been wondering, yes we eventually did open the envelope from the ultrasound technician that contained the sex), his thoughts on delivering a baby in a hospital vs. home and what about his diapering skills? If you’ve seen his attempts to diaper a teddy bear on my IG stories, you know we have some work to do still in that area. Thankfully, HUGGIES® Little Snugglers are almost fool-proof for first time dad’s like Réjean. To make life easier, these Little Snugglers will allow him to quickly get Baby Bean into a clean diaper minus the potential hassle of putting it on backwards because the front and back is clearly labelled – how brilliant right?. Also, for those times of father/baby bonding alone, the wetness indicator line will let him know when the diaper to be changed, avoiding any unnecessary confusion.

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Sasha: “So, this hasn’t been our first time to the rodeo of course but what was your first reaction coming home from work that day when I told you I had done a pregnancy test and we were expecting again? And I mean, I remember what your reaction was but I want to know how you were really feeling inside”

Réjean: “Ummm, oh crap! I’m pretty sure that was my initial thought inside my head but I obviously didn’t say that. I remember just feeling both scared and excited at the same time.”

Sasha: “To be honest though, I am still in shock how quickly we got pregnant again. Were you nervous that it happened so quickly after the miscarriage?”

Réjean: “Nope”

Sasha: “Uh what? Not at all? Like, really?”

Réjean: “Well, no because every time I look your way you seem to get pregnant so I knew if we wanted to again, it would happen”

Sasha: Giggles…”Noooo, not scared that it wouldn’t happen, just scared of what could happen, when we got pregnant again with the possibilities of another miscarriage being higher”

Réjean: “Well yah, I was a bit worried. Scared for you and your well-being.”

Sasha: “Ok, so what made you change your mind about having kids in the first place? I mean, when we first started dating you were not so stoked on the idea of being a father.”

Réjean: “…Because I found the right person”

Sasha: Laughs “Ok, you’re cute! But seriously…wait, are you for real? You’re making me blush”

Réjean: “Yeah”

Sasha: So let’s discuss the topic of gender. Obviously you knew what I wanted but we had battled for ages about whether we were going to find out what Bean was going to be. I know you felt that the birth of our child is already going to be overwhelming and raising our child would be full of surprises, so why not find out the gender now. Well… now we know it’s GIRL. Super surprising to me because I could have sworn we were having a boy for sure, but I legit couldn’t be happier <Screams> Omg, I can’t believe I’m going to have a mini-me but for some reason I get the feeling that a daughter scares you! LOL. What are your thoughts on being a daddy to a little girl?”

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador
It’s a Girl! This week we’ve been busy putting together Bean’s larger items like her Bugaboo Camelon 3 Stroller

Réjean: I am excited about it but in some ways I think raising her will be a bit more of a challenge than raising a boy. I will definitely be more protective. There’s always going to be that side of me that wants to protect her whereas with a boy I would have been less stressed out, letting him just figuring his own stuff out along the way.”

Sasha: “What surprised you most during this pregnancy journey? What was really shocking or is there anything that made you think, why didn’t someone tell me this beforehand?

Réjean: “Well…I actually already kind of knew that there were other options for women outside of the hospital for child birth but I was impressed at how much care you were going to get throughout the pregnancy by us deciding to have a Midwife and Doula. With the level of anxiety you had in the first few months, it was really nice to have extra hands on deck, during the early stages and I don’t think there is anything better than you being able to deliver our baby in the comfort of our own home.  I am so glad that we decided to do extra research and pursue this route. I was also shocked to learn how important skin-to-skin is for a newborn.  I mean, I had no clue what a Hug Plan was before you told me but after hearing more about it, seems to make a lot of sense. If a baby feels the most secure in the womb, I could understand why it would love the warmth of being hugged and held close. It’s something that both you and I can have to connect with Bean too, which is cool plus so many physical and emotional benefits for her.

But other than that, no other surprises. As I guy, I’ve heard horror stories so I was expecting just about anything. I did keep hearing things about how crazy women can get during pregnancy due to the hormones so to me this didn’t seem as bad as people make it out to be. But I’m not sure if that’s because you’re more stronger than most women or that your just not making it out to be that hard, but for me, I dunno…I think that’s it.”

Sasha: “Ha…what about my weight gain? LOL”

Réjean: Coughs “Uh yeah, it’s actually about what I expected. But, it came quicker than I thought…”

Sasha: “Hehehehe…wait, what?”

Réjean: Not like in the beginning but I guess what I mean is that it was a big change pretty quickly in the third trimester. Your belly went from nothing to like SOMETHING…you know?”

Sasha: “I know right! I was looking at photos on Instagram from back in April and my bump was so cute and small. It truly was the pregnancy honeymoon stage. Now I feel and look a bit ridiculous.”

Sasha: “What would be one word to describe me during this pregnancy?”

Réjean: …. *silence*

Sasha: “Just one word. Anything that comes to mind. Are you afraid I’m going to get mad?”

Réjean: “Strong. I would say, strong!”

Sasha: “What about baby chores? Do you think we will be sharing these duties? Is there some things that you can think ‘I can’t do ________. I can do x,y & z but I just can’t do _________.’ i.e. perhaps you’re terrified to bathe her when she’s a newborn or something like that”

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Rejean: “Everything you do I think I can manage to do. Well, I am a bit scared to clean her private parts but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. LOL.”

Sasha: “You’ve been getting schooled a bit on Diapering 101 – some of the basics I’ve learned thankfully from the Huggies® team like making sure to keep all changing essentials close by, how to properly clean her bottom and creases using Huggies® Natural Care Wipes (our go-to wipe because they contain Vitamin E & Aloe making it perfect for her delicate skin), making sure to wipe from front to back, how to apply creams, powders, etc…but does the idea of changing diapers freak you out still?”

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

Réjean: “No. Well what do you mean will I be disgusted by what I see and the smells? I mean, as a Dad it’s going to take a bit of time getting used to cleaning my daughter’s private parts during diaper changes. It’s a bit weird but I think I would feel the same way about cleaning up my son too now that I think about it.”

Sasha: “From 1-10, how prepared do you feel for Bean’s arrival? I mean, not taking into account all the stuff we still have to get and set up (with 10 being most prepared)?”

Réjean: “I’d say 7. I just think I will figure out the rest along the way and of course the help of YouTube.”

Sasha: “What are you looking forward to about being a dad?”

Réjean: “Looking forward to bonding and spending time with her. Teaching her stuff like how to be a woman…”

Sasha: “Wait a minute, your going to teach our daughter how to be a woman? LOL”

Réjean: “No, I should say how to be a strong and independent individual that has self respect.”


This whole pregnancy experience has been humbling and has most definitely brought us closer together as a couple. We are in the midst of planning our home birth strategy with our amazing Doula Leah Jackson but we have already ironed out the details to our Hug Plan and Réj will be the Designated Alternative Hugger. No matter how much you prepare, we have discovered that you can’t anticipate everything, which is what makes the journey so interesting.  However, we can expect a few things for sure, like the fact we will be changing a million and one diapers over the next year and a half. Thank you Huggies® Canada for arming us with the necessary tools to kill it in the diaper changing game and Rejean’s New Father Starter Kit. This Lekebaby Diaper Backpack (shop a similar one below) could not be more perfect for him because it doesn’t look like a diaper bag at all and even packed with Bean’s stuff, it still will have room for his laptop and comes with stroller straps. To make sure he has everything he needs on his solo days out with the baby, our friends at Huggies graciously filled it with diapers, wipes, backup battery charger for his iPhone, Moleskin notepads, a change pad, men’s skincare products easy to carry on-the-go from Jack Black and even his favourite summer time treats from Häagen Dazs.

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador
Photos by JessBaumung.com

SHOP SOME OF RÉJEAN’S FAVES HERE

 

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

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!

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