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The Power of Human Touch For Babies After The Newborn Stage

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

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

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

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

Infant Massage (IM)

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

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

Kangaroo Care (KC)/Baby Wearing

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

Photography by Jess Baumung

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

Skin-to-Skin (SCC)

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

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

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

How To Make The Most of Your Summer Road Trip With An Infant

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.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

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.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

    Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha
    Video by Shawn Pinnock & Images by Jess Baumung
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

    Rear View Mirror Camera on the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
  7. 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

Huggies No Baby Unhugged Initiative – The Power of Hugs

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

No Baby Unhugged - So Sasha
Photography by Nathalia Allen

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

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

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

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

Tips & Tricks for New Moms On The Go

Whether you’re a first-time mom like me or a someone who has been blessed to be a mother more than once, I am sure you can all agree that EVERYONE thinks they are an expert when it comes to parenting. I have never in my life received more advice from friends and strangers alike until I gave birth to Maxwell. While some has been solicited, the majority has been unsolicited and I can’t say that it all works for us because let’s be honest, every baby is different. But as Maxwell and I near the end of what I like to call the “fourth trimester” I feel like I am slowly starting to get into my groove and things are feeling less chaotic. So many of you that follow me on social media have been super supportive and your “You’ve got this!” messages and comments really helped me on the days I wanted to throw in the towel. So, here’s the deal…I have taken some tips from my inner circle and have developed some of my own along the way during the last three months that has helped me navigate this new world of motherhood. Having a newborn by no means makes me an expert either but I wanted to share a few things that has worked so far with us and has kept both mama and baby happy and healthy.

Supplements for Newborns

Giving your bub supplements can significantly help ensure that they get what they need for healthy development. We have been giving Maxie a probiotic formulated for babies in addition to vitamin D3 drops since the day she was born. While probiotics are helpful to maintain balanced gut flora in your little one and to help with tummy troubles, vitamin D3 drops help their bodies absorb and use calcium plus phosphorus for strong bones and teeth.

At home we use PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops for Maxwell and love it. It contains no sugar/sweeteners, corn, starch, gluten, wheat, yeast, artificial flavours or preservatives. PediaVit Vitamin D3 Drops also come in a gravity bottle specifically designed to release the appropriate dose of 400 IU (10 mcg) every single time, which is just one drop. This makes things super easy as there is no measuring. And as fussy as babies can be in regards to administering pretty much anything into their mouth that’s not breastmilk or formula, the drop can easily be taken during their feeding by placing it on your breast (or bottle) nipple and they don’t notice a thing!

Diaper Bag Prep Like A Boss

So here’s the thing, in the first of couple weeks I got so accustomed to just staying inside with my little squish, not having to worry about having to prepare for the outside world, that I felt extremely overwhelmed when it was time for us to leave the house. I have a few diaper bag options and of course had all the necessary items that I would need on the go however I just got so stressed out trying to leave the house. It takes so much longer to get two people ready. I worried that I may leave something important behind. But the absolute worst part was that by the time I thought I got all our things together so we could leave the house, she would want to eat again which would be followed by another diaper/clothing change. I kid you not, the first handful of times it took me over two hours to leave and once I got so fed up I just decided it wasn’t worth going anymore.

But now all is good and we can be out of the house in an hour or less which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. For the expecting mom’s – here’s how you can make this process a bit more seamless:

  1. Start Small. Instead of packing up for a whole day out on the town, try just going for a long walk or a trip to the local coffee shop. This requires much less for you to have  on hand. Once you have nailed the short outings, then you will have the confidence for longer ones.
  2. Pack The Night Before. This is a gamechanger and saved my life. It totally eliminates the stress of accidentally forgetting something important. I had actually left the house twice without extra diapers and a change of clothes earlier on and just take a guess who had a poo explosion. When you’re not rushed to be anywhere you can take your time which significantly lowers your stress level.
  3. Keep Separate Bags From Your Partner. Sounds selfish but trust me, it’s worth it. I had to learn the hard way. Réjean would often take my bag and when it was time for me to use it, I would open it up to find that he had not replaced the diapers he used or worse, I would find a soiled diaper hidden in there from when he was out and didn’t have a place to dispose of it. Not cool!
  4. Do Weekly Inventory Checks. Babies grow FAST. If you like to keep extra changes of clothes in the bag, make sure to take look at the onesies and pants in there. You would be surprised, not swapping out these items for just two weeks can leave you stranded with clothes that no longer fit if you’re out and need to change your kid.
  5. Simplify Bottle Making On-The-Go. If you are exclusive formula feeding your bub or use it occasionally for supplemental feedings, find one of those pre-portioned formula containers so you can easily make bottles on the go.

Swaddle for Non-Swaddlers

Some babies love to be swaddled and some HATE it. There are so many benefits to swaddling your child, and I was very keen to find any way to promote sleep because this mama needed her sleep too. But Maxie hated it. There was something about her arms being held down that drove her nuts. Apparently she’s not the only one. So many babies prefer to sleep with their hands up that there are now swaddle/sleep sacks that allow you to swaddle your baby with their hands up in their favourite position making them more comfortable at night which promotes sleep.

Car Travel Without Meltdowns

It is not uncommon for babies to have a meltdown when they are put in the car. I have assumed it has to do with the car seat as babies generally love motion. I knew Max would have to go with me to work and I wanted her accustomed to the car seat as soon as possible. We are now at the point where she is either so relaxed she’s sleeping or cooing away in the back.

photography by Elaine Fancy
  • What I would do is put her in the car seat at home for short periods of time, even if we had no plans of going anywhere. Started with 5 minutes, then 10 and then worked our way up to 15 minutes without crying.
  • A fed and changed baby will be able to tolerate a car ride much better than a hungry one with a soiled diaper. Try to time your departure so that your baby has already been fed and changed before leaving. Also, important to note the way babies are positioned in car seats actually promotes bowel movements. It took me a bit to figure it out but she would have massive poo explosions by the time we reached our destination on several occasions. Having them in the car seat earlier before leaving and then taking them out to help get those bowels moving is also a great idea…so hopefully you both can avoid any diaper disasters while on the road
  • We never put Maxwell into the car if she is crying. The meltdown will only increase once she’s in there and feels restricted by the car seat. I like to put the car seat bucket into her stroller and walk her around the condo or push the stroller back and forth gently. That motion tends to settle her down and by the time we get her wheeled to the car, she is good to go!
  • During the car ride we play soothing music or no music at all and little accessories like a mirror over her car seat also helps to keep her entertained. What can I say, the kid loves to look at herself and can do so for hours.

The learning curve with a newborn is steep and each week there are learnings as we discover new tricks. Products like PediaVit take the guess work out of keeping our littles healthy and happy. To learn more about Vitamin D3 Drops and the rest of their supplement family head to PediaVit.ca Make sure this product is right for your baby. Always read and follow label instructions.

Stay tuned for more of my newborn and baby tips and tricks by following the hashtag #YouveGotThis

This post was sponsored by PediaVit but all opinions are my own!

Must-Have Baby Registry Essentials

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

So Sasha - Huggies

So Sasha - Huggies

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

So Sasha - Huggies

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

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

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

Photography by Elaine Fancy Photography

 

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

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

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

BabyBjörn Cradle of Comfort & Style

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

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

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn

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

Sasha Exeter - BabyBjörn Canada

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

 

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

Advice for Expectant Mothers From Mom’s Who Get It

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

Photo by Jess Baumung for Huggies Canada

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


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

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

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

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

Suzanne Cohon – President, ASC PR; Mommy to Parker

Suzanne Cohon - ASC Public Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sasha Exeter - Huggies Mom Ambassador

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

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

 

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


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

How To Choose The Right Prenatal Vitamin During Your Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements
Photo by Bettina Bogar

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

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements

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

“Workin Mom’s” The Revolutionary Show You Should Be Watching Right Now

Like most other baby crazed women in their thirties, I’ve long fantasized about the joy of learning that I am expecting, the day I bring a healthy baby into this world and the phenomenal bonding experience with the little bundle of joy in the year after his or her birth. But what the hell happens after mat leave? Nobody ever talks blissfully about what it’s like to return to their old life before baby at the office. To be quite honest, when it comes to how I would handle my return to work, I have literally given it little to no thought at all. Until now!

Cast (L – R) Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim), Anne (Dani Kind), Kate (Catherine Reitman), Frankie (June Rinaldi)

Well my friends, for those who are new mothers, soon-to-be mothers or dreaming of becoming mothers one day – you need to be carving some time out of your busy schedules on Tuesday night’s to watching Workin’ Moms. Hilarious, honest, refreshing and totally unfiltered, Workin’ Moms, which debuted on January 10th and incited a cult following almost instantaneously, has managed to pull people away from the Netflix vortex, back into cable television-sphere. Really, a huge feat in itself! I knew by very early on in the second episode that this series had me; hook, line and sinker when I laughed so hard snot literally came spewing out of my nose. In the scene Reitman’s character, a frustrated first time mum, has a mini meltdown trying to get her stroller into the back of her Lincoln MKX SUV screaming, “You have be work for NASA to get this shit folded down!” before launching the still erected pram into the trunk with the girth of an elite athlete. Kate’s lack of patience for the Mommy basics like strollers and breast pumps, telling other judging mom’s to ‘eat a bag of dicks’ and her willingness to fight to have it all in every aspect of her life is exactly how I see myself transitioning into a Workin’ Mom.

Nailed it. Watch a new episode of #WorkinMomsCBC tonight on @cbc, 9:30/10pmNT. #momlife #babygear #stroller

A video posted by Workin' Moms (@workinmoms) on

Created by the über talented Catherine Reitman, who is also an executive producer, writer, and plays the lead character Kate Foster, pulls up the curtain on taboo issues that are barely even discussed within the Mommy Community; postpartum depression, workplace insecurities resulting in not feeling like you can keep up or still have what it takes to get the job done, resentment, nanny stress and of course the identity crisis that apparently most women suffer post delivery but very rarely open up about. According to Reitman:

“I went back to work after six weeks. I was surrounded by very important people.  I had just realized I missed my first Mother’s Day. I kept going and was trying to laugh, but I don’t know what happened. I just started bawling. It was so awkward for everyone. But, at those moments, it’s real and it’s true pain.”

Each character’s storyline is based on real life events – art imitating her life if you will. Meticulously thought out and well played by Reitman, making the show’s four leading ladies just as relatable as the women we grew to know and love in Sex and the City and Girls:

The series follows the lives of Kate and her Mommy Group acquaintances as they desperately attempt to juggle parenthood, careers, sex, marriage, and PPD and trust me – the struggle is real! But after binge watching the first four episodes, I’m amazed at how Reitman has managed to keep shit real with just the right amount of comedic elements and touching moments which no doubt reassures new mom’s that they are not alone, even though it can seem so isolating. And although I can’t entirely relate to everything just yet, it’s super fun and entertaining to watch others navigate their way through their newly found Motherhood.

Workin’ Moms airs on CBC on Tuesday night’s at 9:30pm. Catch up on missed episodes here.

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