Seriously, you guys rock. There has been such an overwhelming response to my activewear campaign with Joe Fresh and the pieces itself, I am blown away. The support you all have given me and the brand has been next level and trust me when I saw it has not gone unnoticed. So to thank you, we’re giving you 25% off your online purchases when you use the code “Sasha25“.
This ain’t no one time offer either. This is good for the rest of 2019 and that is actually the best news because the rest of the collections dropping this year just get better and better. Here’s a look at some of my favourite looks from the first summer collection…part two will hit stores and online in June.
Ohhhhh and guess what, I have my own little section on www.joefresh.com/ca that houses all my favourite pieces from the active collection each season. So much easier to quickly find the pieces you see me wearing in the gym.
From the homepage, hover over the “Active” tab
Select “Sasha Exeter”
Click on the “Shop Now” tab
Here are the terms to the promo you need to be aware of. The “Sasha25” promo code is valid online only at www.joefresh.com/ca. Save 25% off regular priced items only. It is only available to Canadian residents only at this time….but hoping that may change in the future. To redeem online, enter the promotional code in your shopping bag. The offer excludes Baby Gift Boxes and clearance items. Cannot be combined with any other coupons or promotional offers, is not redeemable for cash and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Offer valid from May 6, 2019 at 12:01AM EST to December 31, 2019 at 4AM EST. Joe Fresh reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized, altered, or ineligible use of discount and to modify or cancel these promotions.
This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh, however all views and opinions are my own and not of the brands I have collaborated with.
Wearing a full face of make-up to the gym just really isn’t my jam but I would be lying if I said I was always 100% make-up free during my workouts. I usually don’t get a chance to re-do my makeup throughout the work week and so whatever products I put on my face when I leave in the morning, is pretty what stays on until the end of the day. This means, I need high performing products that can keep up with my active lifestyle.
Videography by Shawn Pinnock of Cultivate
You know that go-to ice breaker question people love to ask, “What are 5 things you can’t live without?” My answer always includes a long wear mascara and tinted moisturizer. I can’t leave home without them. Most seem to work fine for me when my makeup is done for evening events or for daytime meetings but trouble arises when it’s time for a midday workout or run. I’ve wondered for years why no beauty brands had thought to create a makeup collection for women with active lifestyles, designed to withstand sweat and humidity. I mean, I couldn’t possibly be the only woman out there craving lightweight, long wearing makeup that allows her to look flawless for anything the day happens to throw at them..
Clearly not, which is why Clinique stepped up to the plate and recently launched CliniqueFit; a collection of high performance makeup and skincare essentials for women with a highly active life. YAS! What you’ll find in the range is 7 phenomenal products that every fitness obsessed girl should have in both their makeup and gym bags to help them look more alive after that 6am Barry’s Bootcamp class before work. Post workout cleansing wipes, a mattifying moisturizer, a light-weight foundation, a hydrating face spray, a lip + cheek flush that I love to apply post workout, plus their hero product; the Workout 24 hour Mascara. The line is super affordable – thank goodness because I don’t think I could live without it and available for sale now in Canada at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations nationwide and Clinique.com in the U.S.
When I think of summer, BBQ’s, patio hangs, and ice cream immediately comes to mind. If you’re a Canadian, I think you may also agree that summer is also about road trips and going to the cottage. I’ve surely done my fair share of road trips over the years and they can be fun, with the right company and music (I can’t drive anywhere without XM Satellite radio now), but I think a lot of first time parents or families with young kids legitimately fear the potential of endless cries, screams and hearing the ever so famous phrase, “Are we there yet?” I sooooo get that traveling with little ones can be stressful but trust me, it really doesn’t have to be.
We’ve done a few trips in our Buick Enclave Avenir so far, albeit short ones, and you know what? The car has really been a game changer for extended driving. It has given us the confidence to take Maxwell on a cross country adventure to New Brunswick and P.E.I. this month. I know a lot of you guys are going to think we are nuts but it’s too late. We’ve committed and it’s happening. To be honest, we would have 100% traveled by plane if it wasn’t for the Enclave but I think having a car that makes us feel safe on the road, has tons of space and allows for wireless entertainment powered by 4G LTE wireless can actually make this experience enjoyable instead of stressful. There’s a full suite of technology that has our back while we are on the road. OnStar totally puts our mind at ease. We have roadside assistance, automatic crash response and emergency services right at the press of the blue button. If we are in a bind with reception service on our phones and need assistance with directions, we can always rely on the a representative sending turn by turn directions to the car.
A luxury crossover this large for a family of three plus a dog probably seems like a bit of overkill. We may not require passenger seating for 7 all the time, but we can most definitely utilize the rear for additional cargo space especially on road trips. We looooooove that we have options with the configuration back there. My go-to is using the power fold third row to turn the bench seat into a 60/40 split. Guys, it collapses the back seat in seconds and it makes it easy to accommodate our luggage, Maxie’s stroller, travel crib and even larger toys. One of our best road trip strategy’s that has been fail proof is always having one of us sitting in the back with the baby. I speak more about this in my road trip hacks below, but it helps that our middle row has extra large captain seats with SO. MUCH. LEG ROOM. It’s unreal! You kinda don’t feel like you’re missing out not riding shotgun.
And have you ever been trapped in a car for hours having to take turns charging wireless devices, not having adequate cup holders for the all the road trip bevies or feeling like you’re just drowning in stuff piling up around you…? As in the stuff that couldn’t all fit in the trunk! Well, there’s a spot to house everyone’s cup of coffee and baby bottles plus we can literally charge every single devise we bring along in the Enclave – all at the same damn time may I add. With access to 6 USB outlets and a 120V power outlet. The new spacious designs means there’s way more room for storage in the doors plus the new available compartment located conveniently under the middle console in the front row, where Réjean stores his stash of snacks.
This upcoming trip to New Brunswick will be the longest we’ve ever driven as a family, so I will loop back in with you guys and share the experience when we are back. If you’re considering hitting the road with your mini(s) this summer for the first time, here’s some tips to take note of that will actually make the experience fun:
Plan Frequent Breaks. I learned this one the hard way on our last drive to Montreal. We may be able to drive five or six hours without stopping to use the bathroom or eat, but babies cannot. I have discovered that for daytime driving I need to plan for stops ever 2-3 hours and when traveling at night, every 3-6 hours to do diaper changes, feed, stretch legs and change clothes if necessary. That being said, when you have an extra spacious vehicle like the Enclave, you can actually save time not going into a rest stop or restaurant by doing the quick changes and feeds in the parking lot.
Tag team. This is probably the most crucial – if you are not making the journey alone. While one of you is driving, the other should sit in the back with the baby. Believe me, it makes a world of a difference and that backseat caretaker can keep them occupied, prepare bottles, attend to spit-up, and play Peek-a-Boo like I have to do for Maxwell for hours (see below). It totally takes the stress of the driver too and can minimize stops. And when the baby sleeps, whoever is in the back better get some shut eye too!
Manage Your Expectations. Do yourself a favour and don’t expect that road trip to Montreal is going to take as long as it did when you were childless and single because that is just not realistic. There’s a number of things that can go wrong; inclement weather, teething pain, long weekend traffic or construction causing lane closures. Having a sense of humour about it all can ease the tension.
Keep All The Necessities Close By. You will probably want to pack everything and the kitchen sink on your road trip which is fine, especially when you have the room for it but you’re not going to want to pull over and rummage through your luggage every single time your baby needs something like a diaper change, snack or toy. These things are inevitable so it makes sense to pack these essentials in a smaller, easy to access bag in the backseat. Things like; a portable changing pad, wipes, diapers, infant Advil, an extra blanket, pre-portioned bottles of formula or breast milk in a cooler bag, a couple small toys should do the trick for your little one. Don’t forget to pack one for the adults too with chargers, iPads, high protein snacks, sleep-aids, eye masks and earphones.
Drive At Night. I wouldn’t normally suggest this if it’s just one parent doing the drive with kids tagging along but if you have a partner with you, driving at night is a really brilliant idea. Driving at night means your baby will spend much more time sleeping and less time crying, being hungry and wanting a diaper change. It’s not the most ideal switch for the driver because night driving can be difficult and more tiring but it’s marginally better than dealing with a screaming baby with no exit in sight. There’s some amazing features in our car that provides extra safety during night drives like Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert that keeps the car safely in the designated lane and warning you of a potential crash aheadBest the driver is probably caffeinated and pulls over to rest or switch drivers because safety is the most important thing. Your best bet is to have your partner pack up the car while the other does the baby’s bedtime routine but instead of putting the baby in their crib, you put them into their car seat.
Baby Massage. You know that stiff feeling we get in our legs and back when we have been sitting in a car for hours on end? Well babies can actually become uncomfortable too after sitting too long in her car seats. Infant massage works well on long drives so read up on some techniques and be sure the implement them during the ride or while at rest stops. I like to massage Maxie’s legs, feet and arms while when I am in the back with her and often times it calms her down and can actually put her to sleep.
Take Proper Precautions. I am nuts about double checking everything before going on a road trip – with or without infant. Our Buick Enclave makes it super simple for me to check the oil level and tire pressure throughout the trip on the auxiliary panel and when fuel is getting low, I can see exactly how many km’s I have until the tank is empty. Also, it’s super important when packing to not obstruct the driver’s view, especially the rear view mirror. Buick understands the need for extra safety and had the clever idea to create a rear view mirror that turns into a rear camera in those rare occasions where the trunk is packed full. It used to sound like a “nice-to-have” feature but after a few road trips I have discovered that it’s actually more of a “need-to-have” feature.
You can follow along on our upcoming cross country adventure on my social channels and I will be doing a little recap of the trip here on the blog. To learn more about Buick’s luxurious crossover, head over to Buick.ca
Traveling can induce anxiety but throw a baby into the mix, and it takes it to a whole new level. I was a hot mess a week before we left for Spain, trying to convince myself that packing up Maxwell’s entire room was a logical idea. Thank god I had two good friends who advised me it wasn’t and made me ditch half the items I planned on bringing along. And you know what? It all worked out just fine. We are so over this cold here in Toronto, we actually just booked our next family vacation to Mexico for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Here’s a few tips for infant travel I learned when Maxie was a newborn that will be sure to help you when you’re ready to take your first adventure with your baby.
HOW AND WHAT TO PACK
Babies don’t really need as much as we think they do so don’t even think about paying extra to pack an additional suitcase for them. Everything should be able to fit in you and your partner’s suitcases and carry on; you just need to be strategic. To make sure all the babies belongings stay clean and uncontaminated, I suggest roll fold everything and put them into zip lock bags. These bags also can come in handy for the trip back home for any items that get soiled with spit up or poop.
When it comes to diapers and wipes, just like any other mum I am attached to a particular brand. Max has been wearing Huggies Little Snugglers since she was born and on a 9-hour flight to Barcelona and long days of sight seeing, these diapers provided extra protection that gave us the confidence we needed as new parents traveling as a family of three for the first time. While changes may be less frequent during travel, it’s important to have a diaper that provides a gentle layer between your baby’s skin and the mess. When your baby is still in the stages of poo explosions, Huggies Little Snugglers pocketed waistband and proven leak lock system helps to keep messes inside where they belong. While in transit though, it’s the wetness indicator that was the real MVP. There was no guessing game when it came figuring out if Maxie needed to be changed. The minute she got a bit fussy, we immediately checked the diaper’s wetness indicator for the blue line and made a beeline to the bathroom to change her.
As an infant, babies can go through approximately 12 diapers a day and to be honest, they can take up a considerable amount of room in your luggage. We packed the daily amount of diapers plus a travel pack of Huggies Natural Care wipes inside our carry-on luggage, just in case we got delayed or something and an additional 12 with another travel pack of wipes in our checked baggage for the return flight back. We stayed in an AirB&B in Barça so we actually shipped a pack of Max’s Snugglers down to the owner of the property so they were waiting upon our arrival. I know this is not realistic in every situation. You can also always check ahead of time to see if the diapers you use are sold in the city you are traveling to so you can buy them there.
Here’s a Sample Packing List For You To Use As a Guide
Navigating Through the Airport and Getting Through Security
While most airports have a separate security for those traveling with young children, I still advise to arrive a bit early to avoid any unnecessary stress. To be honest, we have been whisked through separate security when we’ve had Maxwell in tow and it’s like traveling VIP style so I no longer get stressed about her getting fussy waiting in line ups. There’s always the dilemma amongst new parents in regards to whether or not to check the stroller when traveling. We choose to gate check ours instead of checking it in with our luggage for convenience. If this is the route you go, just ensure to bring along a stroller that can fold down in one piece. Trust me! If your stroller has to be broken down into two separate pieces, you run the risk of something going missing while in transit. Some people fear that their stroller may get damaged if it’s gate checked but I would much prefer to know I have the stroller with me and available as soon as we deplane, than running the chance of it getting lost or delayed. It also makes getting around the airport until boarding time easier. That being said, it will have to go through the X-Ray machine when you go through security. Our goal is always to travel lean, with as little as possible. If a car seat isn’t going to be necessary during your travels, leave it at home. Renting a car seat at your destination is the best way to go if you’re going to need it.
The last time we traveled I was breastfeeding exclusively but Max is now eating solids, drinking pumped milk and formula. Regulations that limit the amount of liquids you can bring through do not apply to breast milk or formula. Let the TSA Agents know you have breastmilk, and be careful of packing gel coolers they aren’t allowed through. A great suggestion that we were given is to pack your breastmilk in frozen peas for security when you travel. Don’t let them send your breastmilk through the x-ray machine.
Boarding and In-Flight
Boarding: Most airlines let families who are traveling with young kids board first, but this is a courtesy not a right. Check with the agent beforehand to let them know you are traveling with a young child and when you should board. As nice as it sounds to get situated early before everyone else gets on and not standing in line behind all the other passengers, once you are on that plane you don’t have anywhere to hide or much room to move around if they decide to start screaming. The best option is if you are traveling with your partner, have them go on early with your bags and get a seat, and then you can meet them on closer to take off.
Seat Selection: A baby under the age of 2 doesn’t require a seat, which means they travel for free – yay! We plan to travel as much as we can during this time. However, this means your little one will have to be in your arms or wrapped to you throughout the flight if you choose not to purchase an extra seat. A useful tip when booking your flight and selecting your seats, if you’re choosing two seats in a row of three, select the two end seats leaving the middle one empty. Chances are, if it’s not a full flight, nobody is going to willfully choose to sit in between two people, which will leave the middle seat empty. Huge win. On our flight down to Barcelona, we were seated in a bulk head row so I was able to request a Baby Bassinet (or Sky Cot). This was brilliant. A bassinet is secured to the wall panel for babies under 8 months in front of you so they can sleep peacefully and parents can rest, eat and drink with extra leg room. I also elected Réjean to be the designated diaper changer during the flight so I made sure he was the one sitting in the aisle seat.
Feeding: You can relieve pressure on your baby’s ears during takeoff and landing by feeding feeding them. It worked for us like a charm. However, I also advise that you have a bottle on hand as they may reject the boob on the plane. I don’t know why but it happens and I’ve heard it from plenty of other mom’s. I like to also book our flights during Maxie’s nap time so feeding during takeoff means she usually falls asleep shortly after.
Consider The Season
Before flying with your newborn or infant make sure to consider the season. You might want to avoid taking a young baby on a plane during flu season. If you must take them on a plane, bring sanitizer wipes to clean the hand rest and other areas around the seat that the baby will put their mouth on… because we all know babies will touch everything and somehow it will end up in their mouth!
If you’re headed somewhere warm, make sure to bring along a sun hat, child safe sunscreen, baby sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun and swimming diapers for the pool or beach – we have been using Huggies Little Swimmers for Max’s pool and beach time.
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t be afraid of anything. If you need help, especially if you’re a mama traveling alone…ask a flight attendant for assistance. Also, forget the fear of what other passengers will say if your baby cries or gets fussy. You will always have your one grumpy passenger who is incredulous that babies cry and angry that it is ruining his business trip. Ignore him. Babies cry, and many people on the flight are parents and grandparents and they understand. So before you go apologizing to everyone on the plane, relax and don’t let a crying baby stop you from future travel!
A “Little Black Dress” is the one item every woman is encouraged to always have in their closet. Perfect for every single occasion I am sure we would all agree. A few months ago I started thinking it was time that I add another kind of LBD into my wardrobe. A long black dress! It’s always good to have options for any type of ever that can be thrown your way. My closet is chock full of options for semi-formal stuff but if I had to go to a red carpet thing or formal shindig last minute and couldn’t pull a dress from a designer in time, I would be S.O.L. In anticipation of a few weddings we had coming up, I decided to step outside my normal ‘few inches above the knee’ bodycon box, because let’s be honest I am still rocking a bit of a mum tummy, and start shopping for full length dress options. Before baby I would spent oodles of time going store to store – trying on options until I found the one. However since Maxwell, I don’t really have that luxury. Funny enough, I have spent a considerable amount of time online shopping while breastfeeding so it took no time at all full length dress options that are perfect wedding season, the holiday season and any other formal event in between.
This one shoulder dress I scooped from Lulus.com looked like it could have cost $1000 but believe it or not, it was under $100. Literally a steal! With all these dresses under $200, it’s guilt free shopping at it’s best.
More “Long Black Dresses” That Won’t Break The Bank
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”.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
4. Make Bath Time a Fun, Bonding Experience (Your baby will sleep better too!)
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!
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
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. Mind, Body & Spirit
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
Once we have passed our twenties, we usually start to take skincare a little more serious. Then something interesting happens once we have past the hump of our early thirties and have settled into that mid range of the next decade, like yours truly. A slight panic, if you will, wondering if there is something more we could have done earlier on to preserve our once youthful looking skin. If this sounds like you – you’re going to want to continue reading!
Earlier this spring while I was still pregnant, I discovered Canadian beauty brand Lise Watier was set to release a revolutionary line of anti-aging correctors that use cosmetic drones to target problem areas. Drone technology doesn’t sound like something that would be related to skincare in the least but I discovered that these “drones” in the Perfexion line are simply more of a vanguard delivery system for active ingredients. So basically, the products seek out your skin’s problem areas and then releases their active ingredients precisely where you need it; correcting your skin by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, pore size and wretched fine lines, while also bringing back your skin’s natural radiance that may seem to have faded over the years.
So what are my thoughts on skincare’s latest topical technology? To be completely honest, I may not have seen much improvement with the eye cream (perhaps I wasn’t patient enough), but I quickly became obsessed with the serum, day and night cream corrector after using them for only two weeks. I would apply the powerful serum twice daily that contains caviar lime extract, a gentle AHA that improves cell renewal and sea buckthorn, a natural anti-oxidant that nourishes the skin, immediately after cleansing. I would then follow with either the day or night cream. Why the super fast results? Ingredients like Kakadu Plum Extract; the world’s richest source of Vitamin C said to boost your skin’s natural luminosity and p-Refinyl®; a lentil extract to tighten pores and refine skin texture, are the keys to a more even and smoother skin texture. I was skeptical at first but not only has my pore size reduced but the dark marks I’ve had for ages on my left cheek from picking blemishes has faded significantly over the last six weeks. A beauty blogger I am clearly not, or else I would have had sufficient “before and after” photo documentation to prove my claims, but believe me when I say I have become more confident with the way my skin looks sans makeup and concealer. Suffice to say, these products will remain as mainstays in my beauty regimen moving forward.
The Perfexion line is available now online and at Lise Watier counters across Canada
Cooking a baby in your belly for nine months doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your style. I decided very early on to not lose a sense of my personal style and actually have fun dressing my bump. Finding a little black dress before getting pregnant was a simple task that I could do with my eye clothes but the further I got into my third trimester, I started to find it a bit more challenging to find “LBD” options that not only did I love but wouldn’t break the bank.
Black is an easy colour and always flattering for pregnant women (or any woman for that matter) but the key to finding one that is perfect for you is understanding your new body shape. There may be some newly acquired assets you have grown to like more since your body has changed — hello new boobs and rounded bum, so why not take the opportunity to flaunt them? I found the perfect maternity little black dress from Boohoo.com for a recent event that had enough give in the fabric to make me comfortable but also had enough elasticity to give my belly and breasts support throughout the evening. I only wish I could say the heels were as comfy but we can’t win them all I guess. You can however score my off-the-shoulder bodycon dress from Boohoo.com on sale for under $30 right now if you act fast.
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!
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: “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?”
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”
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?”
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”
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?”
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.
SHOP SOME OF RÉJEAN’S FAVES HERE
This post was sponsored by Huggies® Canada, however all opinions and reviews are our own!