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Our First Family Vacation to Barcelona

Some of my favourite memories as a child are from my travels with my family. My mother had us on a plane traveling all over the world before the age of one. By the time I was 10, I had more stamps in my passport than someone three times my age. Being exposed to different cultures, food and language helped to make me the rounded individual I am today. I knew very early on, if I was lucky enough to have a child, I would do the same thing for them.

I’ve been an Aeroplan member since 2003. For years I had only been accumulating miles through booked airline travel and gas purchase. What a rookie mistake! When I was pregnant with Maxie I discovered there are endless opportunities to earn more miles to help get me one step closer to my goal – taking my family on our first vacation abroad.  If you were following my pregnancy earlier on this year, you may remember my nursery tour which was brought to life by purchases from Aeroplan’s retail partners on their eStore.  An online hub where you an shop from so many of your favourite retailers and earn miles on all your purchases. Believe it or not, I actually earned miles on all the big purchases and decor items for Maxie’s room. As an added bonus, we racked up extra miles over the last two years on groceries, date night dinners and just about everything in between using Réjean’s TD Aeroplan Visa Card.

The Destination – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Choosing a destination for our first family trip was no easy feat. With wanderlust permeating through my veins ever since I had to stop traveling after 34 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of destinations we had to choose from. A wise person once told me, “A vacation with a baby is not a vacation. It’s a change of scenery!” Hearing that deterred me from a beach vacay this time around, knowing that I wouldn’t able to spend countless hours on the beach in a half induced piña colada coma. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to visit a city in Europe neither one of us had traveled to before. While most new parents think about a potential language barrier, time changes and travel time being an issue; we made that the least of our worries. We only wanted to make sure our destination had a great ‘walk-score’ because we wanted to explore the area mostly by foot. After much deliberation, we finally decided on Barcelona, Spain. It’s a baby friendly European city known for their food, art, historical sites and shopping. The winter time, although mild, is considered low season for this tourist friendly city, so traveling during December meant we were able to avoid crowds and line-ups while sightseeing.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

La Pedrera Cafe

How We Traveled – Life As A New Family of Three

Traveling with a newborn for the first time is one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever experienced. I was stressed throughout the entire planning process but my anxiety reached a whole new level about a week from our departure. Questions like; “Will I be that person who has a baby that screams and cries during the flight?”. “Should we bring a car seat along?“. “Is our stroller going to be suitable for travel?“. “What about her diapers? Should we bring them along or purchase when we arrive?”. “Can we travel with pre-pumped breastmilk?” “Will the restaurants we want to go to be child and stroller friendly?”. I am telling you, the list of questions were endless and at one point I got so overwhelmed, I wanted to cry and cancel the whole thing. Thankfully, my circle of savvy traveling friends with kids got me to settle down and ensured me that everything would be alright. Our game plan was to travel as lean as possible. Pack only the essentials and anything else we felt we absolutely needed, we would just get it while we were there. I’m thinking about doing a separate post where I share what worked and didn’t in regards to traveling with Maxie, in hopes to give other new mums the confidence to board a plane early with their littles.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona With Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Barcelona Cathedral – Gothic Quarter

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Casa Batillo – designed by Antoni Gaudi at night

Cable car ride up to Parc Montujïc

Olympic Stadium – 1992 Games
Park Montjuic Magic Fountain
Park Montjuïc Magic Fountain
La Boquiera Market of La Rambla. Home to tons of food stalls with fresh seafood, meat, fruit, veggies, spices and candies all made locally

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Our Barça Accommodations in Dreta D’Eixample

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Without a doubt, we knew that the only way this trip was going to happen was if we stayed in an AirB&B. Having an apartment that gave us access to some of the things we have at home; laundry, kitchen etc just made me feel more comfortable. We were even able to query for properties that are “baby/child friendly”, and those properties were willing to provide a crib upon request. Plus, Euro hotel rooms are notoriously small and claustrophobic, so the AirB&B option gave us the space we needed. The challenging part was determine which area of the city to stay in. If we were traveling sans baby, I would have wanted to stay in the Gothic Quarter or El Borne but the amount of noise and foot traffic late at night was a slight concern. Consequently, we chose to stay in the Dreta d’Eixample (Right Extension) area, which was recommended by my dear friend Diala. The neighbourhood is home to Barcelona’s high end shopping streets, wide open plaza and footpaths, tons of Gaudi’s work and popular areas like Passieg de Gràcia, Casa Mila and Casa Calvet. We couldn’t have chosen a better hood to call home for the week. Personally, I would recommend the area to anyone and actually have to a couple friends and followers looking to travel there in the new year. Clean, trendy, easy access to taxis/public transportation plus close to amazing restaurants, galleries and some of the best shopping Barcelona has to offer – all within walking distance may I add. Here’s a sneak peek inside our humble abode on a quiet side street called Carrer de Diptacio in Dreta d’Eixample:

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

What To See & Do in Barcelona With a Baby (or Without)

I truly thought eight days in Barça would be more than enough, leaving us with a couple days off just to rest but turns out, we actually ran out of time and didn’t get to cross everything off our list. When I put a request out for Barcelona recommendations on my IG stories before we left, we received an outpour of messages of every nook and cranny we should explore. After day one we quickly realized that having Maxwell along with us was not going to cramp our style at all. There are babies EVERYWHERE in Barça. I’m pretty sure 1 in 3 adult pedestrians were pushing a stroller. And that’s not all. In North America, we have a tendency to say our lives revolve around our kids schedule but in Europe it is the other way around. They believe their lifestyle should not have to change just because you have children. So it is very typical to see parents with young babies dining at restaurants past 10pm, shopping on Passieg de Gràcia late on a weekday evening and hitting up art galleries and museums. We decided to follow suit and take Maxwell to the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Parc Montjucïc, countless museums, galleries, rests etc and she did a lot of her napping on the go. This easy going lifestyle meant that almost everywhere was stroller accessible and baby friendly, so we never felt like we were missing out on anything while we were there. However, there are a lot of stairs in this city for some reason at a couple of historic sites so if you’re traveling with a baby, you may want to think about bringing a baby carrier.

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Flax and Kale Barcelona

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Flax & Kale – seriously look at all the colours in their food

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Gothic Quarter – 8:30am

Barcelona with Aeroplan

Barcelona with Aeroplan
Photos shot by myself and Olya Lisova

Must See

  • Gothic Quarter – You cannot go to Barça and miss this historic area so full of character. The narrow streets, the Barcelona Cathedral, tiny shops, cafes and museums, it is one of the most popular spots in the city. That being said, if you are looking to take photos, you better make sure you have an early start before the tourists all come flocking in around 9/10am.
  • Arc de Triomf
  • La Boquiera Market – I was obsessed with this marche and went three times during our visit. Arguably the best market in the world with rows upon rows of controlled stalls selling everything from the tastiest meats, seafood, chocolates, candies, seasonings, fruit, veggies, fresh juices and the infamous jamón in a cone – all locally made.
  • Christopher Columbus Monument
  • La Ramblas – a 1.2km pedestrian street lined with restaurants, cafes and shops starting at Plaça de Catalunya and ending at Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
  • The Sagrada Familia – The largest Roman Catholic Church in the world designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. If you decide go, make sure to book your tickets advance and show up on time as they are strict. Also, the rooftop views are spectacular and worth the extra $.
  • Parc Güell – an expansive park composed of gardens and architectural elements created and designed by Antoni Gaudi. Built between 1900 and 1914, the park was officially open to the public 26 years later. In 1984, it was declared a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi”.
  • Picasso Museum 
  • Parc Montjuïc – home to the 1992 Olympic Games in addition to museums, art galleries, Poble Espanyol (artisans’ village), and The ‘Magic Fountain’ that famously has a spectacular light show at night. You can get to Montjuïc by taxi, foot if your fit and adventurous, which Maxie and I attempted during a cab strike. Not easy as the hills are quite steep or by the cable car, our mode of transport on our second attempt to the top.
  • Passeig de Gràcia – One of the major avenues and known for the best shopping in Barcelona. Also, has some of Barcelona’s most celebrated pieces of architecture; such as Casa Baillo and Casa Milá (La Pedrera).

Where to Eat & Drink

  • 7 Portes – arguably has the best paella in the city. Cool trivia, this spot opened back in 1836 and got its name from the seven doors that leads into the restaurant. Pablo Picasso also used to eat here in his day.
  • Firebug  – Just on the outskirts of Eixample, we stumbled on this spot on our very last night and was not disappointed. A small space that serves large size tapas and sharing plates that are so delicious not matter how full you are, you will be hard pressed to order more. Plus the drinks are amazing, even the virgin cocktails.
  • Flax & Kale – perfect for lunch and brunch. The superfood bowl and cold pressed juices I would recommend but pancakes and pasta dishes are also fantastic.
  • Bar del Pla
  • Gallito
  • The Green Spot
  • El National – Ok, so this may be somewhat of a tourist spot and located just off Passieg de Gràcia but the set-up is pretty cool and something you should experience once. It appears to look like a flea market from the outside but once you’re through the doors you step inside a large gallery space that contains 4 bars and 4 restaurants comprising a very unique gastronomical Barcelona experience.
  • The W Hotel – Even if you’re not staying at this hotel during your time in the city, you MUST eat and drink in one of their restaurants. The property is located on the beach and the views are phenomenal.
  • Granja Petitbo
  • Bar Cañete
  • EL Passatge del Mur Muri – One of the best squid paella’s I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant doesn’t open until after 8pm for dinner but the hotel also has a cozy lobby bar with great drinks and you can also order the full dinner menu from there if 8pm is too late for your dinner start time.

With the new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what destination you would like to check off your bucket list next. Whatever your travel plans are, with Aeroplan you can get there. Pro Tip #1: Think outside the box when it comes to earning your miles. As an Aeroplan member you can accumulate miles on hotel stays, car rentals, retail purchases, insurance, banking (credit cards), even online when you shop your favourite retailers like Sephora, Apple, Indigo, Hudson’s Bay, and so much more on the eStore. Need help devising a plan on how to make your travel dreams a reality? Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles. Pro Tip #2:  Tell Aeroplan what your plan is for your miles and they will help you get there. All you have to do is enter a few details pertaining to your goals here and you will be provided with a detailed plan.

I couldn’t think of a more better way to close out such a big year for us than this trip to Spain. I am so proud that we are exposing Maxwell to travel at such an early age and I do hope that she adopts our love of seeing the world. Thank you Aeroplan for being apart of this very special moment. I am already planning our next #TravelWithMaxie adventure. In the meantime, stay tuned for a forthcoming post with tips on how to travel stress free with your baby!

This post is sponsored by Aeroplan however all views and opinions are my own.

Welcome to the Family Buick Envision

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

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter

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

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

Heavy on Safety and Tech Features

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

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

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

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

What has me hooked…

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

Size & Design

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

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

2017 Buick Envision

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

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

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

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

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

What has me hooked…

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

More Bang For Your Buck

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

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter
Photography by Elaine Fancy

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

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

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

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Huggies Mom Ambassador

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

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

1. The Importance of Skin to Skin

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

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

2. The Truth About Diapers

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

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

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

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

3. Midwifery and Doula Post Natal Support

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

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

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

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

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

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

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - So Sasha

5. Sleep Deprivation is REAL!!!!!

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

6. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

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

7. Breastfeeding vs Formula

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

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

8 Things You Should Know Post Pregnancy - Sasha Exeter

8. Mind, Body & Spirit

Photography by Jess Baumung + my personal iPhone 7Plus

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

 

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

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

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

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