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The One Diaper You Need From Newborn to Toddler

So much has changed in the last 14 months and there have been plenty of transitions. Clothing, sleep cycles and moving from pureed to big girl foods. I feel as though Maxwell went from crawling to full on running in the blink of an eye. Time is moving way too quickly I’m afraid and I am doing my best to savour every single second. There has been one thing that has remained constant since day one. Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes.

Making a decision on the right diaper for your baby is an interesting one because you make that choice usually long before your bundle of joy arrives. I did a lot of research online and turned to my friends who have babies to help me decide, because who better to turn to than your mama tribe, right? My mom also used Huggies with us growing up so I knew it was a brand I could trust.

Let’s face it, every choice you make for your child is an important one but I place diapers and wipes super high on the list simply because they will be in contact with your baby’s skin all day, every single day for years. If you’re an expectant mother, what makes Little Snugglers so amazing for newborns is the GentleAbsorb® Liner that’s made up of these teeny tiny soft pillows that provides a cushiony layer between your kiddo’s skin and the mess. I actually have memories from my childhood watching my mother fold down the top of the diaper when she was changing my brother in an effort to protect his healing belly button but today, Little Snugglers brilliantly integrated an umbilical cord cut out to help facilitate the healing. And trust me, it may not seem like a lot but it means one less thing for a new mom to think about. Our midwives were blown away at how well (and quick may I add) Maxwell’s belly button healed and I credit that to her diapers.

We love the wetness indicator. So helpful when we were new parents and today, it’s so useful when we’re traveling as a family. It remains yellow when the diaper is dry and turns blue when it becomes soiled.
Seems like just yesterday Maxie was in newborn Huggies Little Snugglers. I have kept one diaper from each stage from newborn to size four and look back at how small she used to be.

Over a year later and here we are. One super active baby with a giant personality, who gives me a run for my money every single day. She’s moving, like NON-STOP, so we really rely on her diaper’s pocketed waistband to keep messes trapped inside where they belong while she plays, dances and runs circles around this place. The wetness indicator strip gives me the heads up when it’s time for a diaper change. No need for the sniff test my mom used to do on us, which is the best when we are out and about or traveling. And not only are they functional, they are really darn cute too with adorable Disney and Winnie the Pooh designs.

So here’s the thing about me, I get really attached to products that that work well for me and my family. The brilliant thing about Huggies Little Snugglers is that they come in a wide range of sizes that has transitioned so well with Max from day one until now. There’s no reason to switch diapers (or brands) after every single growth stage. Instead, Huggies will be with our family for years to come.

To learn more about Huggies or to find a diaper and wipes to fit your baby’s needs, visit www.huggies.com/en-ca/

This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. However all views and opinions are my own!

 

The Power of Human Touch For Babies After The Newborn Stage

Since becoming a Huggies Ambassador a year ago, I have become slightly obsessed with discovering the benefits of skin-to-skin and the power of human touch for babies. Huggies actually has some great resources and information on their No Baby Unhugged website above and beyond product info and it’s where I’ve found useful White Paper documents like “The Power of Human Touch for Babies whitepaper and I know it’s legit because they are done in conjunction with the CAPHC (Canadian Association of Paedeiatric Health Centres). I honestly just find the whole topic fascinating and I’ve incorporated it as much as possible over the last year at home as Maxie gets older. In my experience touch at 1 years old has been just as important as it was when she was a newborn.

Ok mamas (to-be and new mamas), I have some information that is going to legit BLOW YOUR MIND. Our babies benefit from the power of our touch way before they are even born.  Research has shown that as early as 8 weeks after conception, a fetus is able to respond to the sensation of touch in utero. I know, crazy right! And guess what? There’s also some amazing benefits of touch for babies past the utero and newborn stages. There are different types of touch; from skin-to-skin, kangaroo care, facilitating tucking (make sure to Google this!), holding/rocking and infant massage. All these have beneficial effects that are actually supported by science. Pain relief, physiological stability, sleep, crying, both infant and parent mental health and increased breastfeeding rates are some of the reasons why I have been such a huge advocate. In the below chart, the ✔ indicates that there is a sufficient amount of research and evidence to claim it’s beneficial. An empty box means it’s neither harmful nor helpful and a question mark simply means there is not enough findings to say whether it has an effect.:

Findings from CAPHC document on The Power of Human Touch for Babies

For some reason most of the messaging on the benefits on touch tends to be around skin-to-skin and focused towards mothers with newborns, while other other forms of touch when babies get older are less frequently shared.  I’ve talked quite a bit about skin-to-skin and hugging during my pregnancy, early on in my motherhood journey and in my recent “Global Hug Your Kid Day” post here on the blog when she was just my teeny tiny newborn, but Maxwell is approaching her 1st birthday and there are still things we do together at home to incorporate touch as much as possible because of the powerful effect it has on her physical (how her body grows), emotional (her mental health), behavioural (how she will control and manage her own behaviour) and social development (interaction with others).

Infant Massage (IM)

If Maxie could talk, I am certain she would tell you this is her most favourite form of touch…selfishly of course. Adults LOVE massages so why would it be any different for a baby? Maxie had her first bath when she was 7 days old and with the help of my doula, I learned  how to ease Max into her first bathing experience and how beneficial IM can be for babies.

It has been apart of our bath time/nighttime routine ever since. It is the time of day I savour the most. That intoxicatingly yummy baby smell after her bath and the way she looks into my eyes while I rub her down is THE cutest thing ever. Perfect way for a parent to bond with baby. It’s super beneficial for sleep in full term babies and can also aid in digestion. I like to rub her down with a bit of lavender essential oil during the massage, which has a calming effect and perfect for sleep, with a carrier oil right after I put her diaper on. Gentle massage along the jawline and cheeks has also helped a ton for her teething pain.

Kangaroo Care (KC)/Baby Wearing

Yes, I am still very much wearing Maxie in a carrier thanks to the encouragement of my midwives and clinical findings outlined here. We have a handful of wraps and carriers that allow me to have Maxwell directly on my body. When we are at home, this form of touch is always done with her in a diaper only and I usually remove my shirt and bra.

Photography by Jess Baumung

I also wear her this way outside of the house. KC (Kangaroo Care) I find is a bit more challenging during the summer months with the heat which means Max is less likely to stay in there for long periods of time, but she does love it and I can tell she feels a sense of security against my chest. I know some of you will probably ask how long I keep her in the wrap when I wear her but to be honest, I just go by her energy and vibes. When she looks like she’s ready to come out, I take it off.

Skin-to-Skin (SCC)

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that we still occasionally do skin-to-skin. I really don’t think there’s a disadvantage to doing it this late in the game but I think most just stop after the first few months. During the first three months we did SCC as much as possible but now that she’s much older, I reserve this for when she is sick or feeling under the weather/uncomfortable from teething as it’s known to help with pain relief and crying. I am unsure of the effectiveness at her age but to be honest, it certainly is comforting…for the both of us and my parenting ethos is “do things that feel good”.

To learn more about Huggies and the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs, visit www.nobabyunhugged.huggies.ca

This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. however all views and opinions are my own!

Global Hug Your Kid Day

Today is Global Hug Your Kid Day! I didn’t actually have a child last year, so this is my first time acknowledging the day. If you’re not already a parent, Hug Your Kid Day may sound a bit frivolous or silly. Maybe even compared to other social content calendar dates like “National Kissing Day” or “National Ice Cream Day” but I promise you this one has depth, meaning and great importance. 

Global Hug Your Kid Day - Huggies - So Sasha

Do you guys remember that old poem that became widely popular in the nineties called, “The Hug“? I know I just really dated myself but in a nutshell, it shows just how much a hug can do. Here’s a little excerpt to jog your memory: 

 

A hug can cheer you when you’re blue.

A hug can say, “I love you so,”

Or, “Gee, I hate to see you go.”

A hug is, “Welcome back again.”

And, “Great to see you! Where’ve you been?”

A hug can soothe a small childs pain,

and bring a rainbow after rain.

The hug! There’s just no doubt about it-

we scarcely could survive without it!

A hug delights and warms and charms.

It must be why God gave us arms.

The poem continues to go on but I really love the part that says hugs can soothe a small child’s pain. As a Huggies Ambassador, I have learned a great deal about the power of hugs and touch and how vital they are to a baby’s well-being. If you think about it, mother’s have been instinctively hugging their babies since the beginning of time and finally these benefits are now backed by science. Hugging our little ones from day one can affect healthy development and even who are children become later in life. 

Huggies Ambassador - So Sasha

The oxytocin that is released in our bodies while we are in an embrace can 100% do magical things. I know during my own low points with my illness or in tough times, being hugged can immediately make me feel better and even safe, if that makes sense. Thanks to the oxytocin and seratonin that’s released in our bodies when we are embraced, hugs create calmness, tranquility and wellness – no matter the age. 

Thanks to the recommendation from our friends at Huggies, Réjean and I were encouraged to create a hug plan while I was still pregnant and we shared it with our midwives and doula a couple months before my due date. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged website is such an amazing resource for parents-to-be and new moms and dads. All of the benefits of hugging can be found there in addition, to the Hug Plan template that was developed by medical experts along with the Huggies team. Straight out of the womb, we both did skin-to-skin with Max as per the plan and in the weeks following I did tons of Kangaroo Care with her only wearing her Huggies Little Snugglers against my bare skin. 

Now I know I am a first time mum so I really don’t have much to compare it to but I would like to think that our commitment to hugs, touch and skin-to-skin has reaped many benefits. Anyone who has been following along on my journey in motherhood can attest that this little girl truly is a really happy baby. My healthcare providers also agree and believe that our hug moments have played an important role in reducing any newborn anxiety/stress, increased my success with breastfeeding, improved Max’s sleep from infancy, and just overall better health. Personally, I would also like to believe that the affection she shows us, in the form of her baby bear hugs and slobbery kisses, can be credited to the affection she has been receiving since day one. And I honestly cannot describe the joy I feel when she wraps her arms around me. 

Photography By David A. Pike for Huggies Canada

Celebrate Global Hug Your Kid Day by giving your mini a squeeze and if you’re expecting you can always give your belly an embrace because it’s never too early to start hugging. To learn more about the benefits of hugging your baby and to sign up for Huggies Rewards, visit NoBabyUnhugged.ca. 

This post is in partnership with Huggies Canada as a Brand Ambassador in exchange for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own. 

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Diaper Rash

As a mother (new or seasoned veteran) we do whatever we can to keep our littles happy and healthy by any means necessary. The idea of our child being in any discomfort disturbs mom’s so much that we often find ourselves seeking out preventative measures for common conditions amongst babies in hopes we never have to encounter them. Funny enough, just when you think all the bases are covered, you can be hit with a little unexpected surprise leading you to spend countless hours reading comment boards and researching online.

We have been pretty lucky with Maxwell so far. I had worried a bit after she started sleeping through the night that being in the same diaper for 12 hours could cause some issues but we have been free and clear. No major concerns or issues however early on we saw the early signs of skin irritation in between her bum one day during a diaper change. My baby’s skin was nearly flawless, so to see this colour of crimson down there literally freaked me out. Terrified she was in any kind of discomfort and to be honest, worried it would soon turn into full blown diaper rash. My mother laughed when I called her on the verge of a diaper rash induced breakdown and quickly assured me that it’s a common condition that can be cleared up within a week once I incorporate a few extra steps into our diapering routine.

So, you’re probably thinking, “what are the causes of diaper rash and how do we prevent it?”  With newborns extra sensitive skin, special care needs be taken to ensure that the area stays as dry as possible and moisture down there is a major culprit. It’s also common amongst babies between the ages of 9-12 months when their bowel movements start to change due to the introduction of solid foods. However, allergic reactions to soap and laundry detergent are not to be overlooked. In order to determine the cause of Maxie’s irritation, I immediately changed her laundry detergent and only used olive oil on her skin until the redness cleared up completely. Once it disappeared, I was able to re-introduce products like gentle wipes. We love using Huggies Natural Care wipes because they are safe for baby’s sensitive skin. They are made with 99% water and filtered 3 times, so we don’t have to worry about putting it on her skin. They are also hypoallergenic, fragrance and alcohol free, with the healing properties of both aloe and vitamin E.

Following these ABCDE’s of diapering can help you prevent diaper rash on your bub’s bum:

Air:

  • Diaper-free time once a day was one of the best thing’s I could have done for Maxie early on and we continue to do it until this day. I typically like to let her air dry in the morning when she is well rested and fed for at least 5 minutes. I find when she is cranky she doesn’t like to lay around without clothes on.
  • I’ve also started having her spend this time inside her activity play centre where the colours and hanging toys keep her preoccupied, allowing her to kick around sans nappies for an extra 5-10 minutes which works wonders.
  • If you have a newborn, chances are you have no time for a blow-out, but you can always use your blow-dryer on a cool, low setting to help expedite the drying process if there is no time for a diaper-free session.

Barrier:

  • Adding a barrier between the diaper and urine (or stool) until the irritation heals is something my doula recommended quite early on. We opted for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). It’s natural and literally found in everyone’s kitchen pantry. I know some mother’s use zinc-oxide diaper cream or petroleum jelly and have had great success with those too.
  • I applied it during every diaper change during her flare-up but now only use it at nighttime or when I think she may be in her diaper a bit longer than usual (i.e. a long car ride or during travel).
  • Cornstarch powder. Baby powder is apparently a no-no these days as they have been proven to be harmful to baby’s skin and lungs, however cornstarch powder is still widely used amongst mother’s, myself included. I put a bit of this powder on the infected area (I also use it in her neck folds where moisture builds up from sweat, saliva and milk residue) 2-3 times a day. Pro Tip – always put cornstarch powder onto your own hands first and then apply on baby’s skin to avoid powder dust getting into the air and your baby’s lungs.

Cleanse:

  • How you clean the area is extremely important. Always wipe gently and pat dry when tackling this area as rubbing can cause extra irritation. When Maxwell was a newborn, we found that putting her bottom under warm running water then using  Huggies Natural Care Wipes was the best way to clean after a bowel movement.

Diaper:

  • Your baby’s diaper is one of the most important elements to this prevention equation. There has been so many advances in protection technology in disposable diapers that choosing Huggies Little Snugglers for Maxwell was a no brainer. They’re designed to feel like a hug and let your baby’s skin breathe, so it helps protect their delicate skin.

Education:

  • Paying attention to your baby’s patterns is one of the first things my midwives told me after giving birth and it applies to everything – even skin health. Take note of how and when your bub gets any skin irritation down there and if you find it continues or worsens, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider.

To help you find the right diapers and wipes for your baby, visit https://www.huggies.com/en-ca/diapers.

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

Huggies No Baby Unhugged Initiative – The Power of Hugs

Children are considered to be a miracle and every day I count my blessings for giving birth to a healthy baby girl. That being said, there are so many Canadian families that are not as fortunate. Sometimes extenuating circumstances, like a newborn baby having to enter the NICU, can prevent a mama from giving her bub all the hugs they so desperately need when they first come out of the womb. This past summer, I watched a friend share her and her husband’s experience dealing with their son in the NICU. For weeks on end they commuted to the hospital a few times a day so she could breastfeed and they would go home at night. Repeating the cycle until their son was finally released. Six weeks later as I watched this all unfold on their IG accounts, the sound of my heart breaking was almost audible. I cannot even fathom the pain they felt. Pregnant during this time, I couldn’t imagine giving birth to Maxwell and not being able to have her at home with us during the first month. This made me wonder how NICU babies get the extra TLC in the form of hugs and cuddles at the hospital, when their parents aren’t there?

No Baby Unhugged - So Sasha
Photography by Nathalia Allen

Not too long before I had Maxie, I discovered Huggies had created the No Baby Unhugged initiative which includes a volunteer hugging program that has been introduced into three Canadian hospitals over the past three years – Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, ON, Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, NS and Victoria General Hospital in Victoria, BC.  The program was started to help ensure that all babies get the hugs they desperately need – even when mom’s and dad’s can’t be there. Heart warming and very necessary, I am sure you will agree.  As part of Huggies continued commitment to the No Baby Unhugged, the brand has recently announced their latest volunteer hugging program launch at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in BC.

The newly launched program will have three dedicated volunteers available for eligible pediatrics infants and will be on hand to cuddle, rock and sing to newborns for extended periods of time. I kid you not, this has to be one of the best jobs in the world and I am patiently waiting for a local Toronto hospital to launch the program so I can get involved in some way. If this wasn’t enough already, Huggies has also come through with an additional $25k to help promote the importance of skin-to-skin and hugging by supplying the hospital with volunteer training, positioning devices, rocking chairs and more.

Want to get on board to help this amazing initiative? Simply pledge your support on nobabyunhugged.ca. By registering on the website, you’ll receive a free package Huggies Little Snugglers and Natural Care Wipes as a token of thanks and in return, they will also donate $5 to hugging programs in Canada. Let’s help spread awareness for this amazing program. Please check out this Facebook video from Huggies Canada. The brand will be donating $1 for every re-share.

This post was created in partnership with Huggies Canada for monetary compensation and/or product, however all views and opinions are my own.

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

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!

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!

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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