A Pastel Baby

It’s really easy to talk about pregnancy and a baby on the way, but though the conversation is growing, I don’t think there’s nearly enough about postpartum care and recovery. There’s no doubt in my mind that no matter how your birth and delivery goes, the postpartum period isn’t going to be easy, and though it’s hard not to pour all of your love and energy into your new babe, it’s important to save some of that love and energy for yourself. It’s the basic airplane mask principle: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, even your own children.

In my mind, postpartum care starts with packing yourself the most indulgent, stocked up hospital bag (bags?) you can dream of, and ends with whenever you personally feel fully healed and ready to take on the world back at home. Many would say the first three months, also known as the “fourth trimester” are the most integral when it comes to postpartum healing and taking care of you. I’m a day shy of 3 months in, and I couldn’t agree more – giving my body, mind and heart extra love, care and tenderness has been so key on my path to becoming the best mother I can be.

Almost everyone these days has some semblance of a birth plan, but I’m all about the post birth plan! It’s not easy to predict what your baby will need from you in those first critical months, but you can absolutely prepare what YOU will need from you. Of course I never could have guessed how trapped and impatient I’d feel with my body and healing post-birth, but those hurdles just made me all the more thankful that I had put extra comfort measures in place to make the difficult days a little bit easier.

Here’s a guide to how I prepped for the postpartum period, and what really worked for me!

Pre-Birth Planning //

When it came to postpartum I was always planning for the worst but hoping for the best. Vaginal or c-section, you never know what state you’ll be in physically or mentally, and I believe it’s best to cover your bases and give yourself as much time and space to heal as possible – if things go better, you can always take on more!

Some of my key services to have set up were:

Birth Boss – my doula Rhiannon (aka Birth Boss) was integral in my postpartum planning, because honestly without her I wouldn’t have planned much! She asked lots of great specific questions about what makes me feel safe and supported, who I might want to visit right away and who should hold off a couple of weeks. Had it not been for her I likely would have had way too many people coming out that first week home, and I’m so glad that instead I took some quiet time to cuddle and fall in love with my baby as she suggested! She also walked me through the need to ask for help and say no, two huge lessons in motherhood, and she even suggested making a list of ways that friends can help out if they come over for a visit and ask for a task! She really gave me the confidence I needed to recognize and ask for what I needed.

I also booked her for a postpartum visit that I ended up using one afternoon when I was SUPER sick with a fever 5 weeks post, and she was such a lifesaver, providing some precious healing hours so I could get back to being a full-force mama.

Meal planning – a bunch of my friends pitched in to make me a whole bunch of frozen meals, and I’m STILL living off of them now when days get too busy for anything else. This is a great way to call on your community when they offer to help! I also use Fresh City Farms constantly because they deliver local, organic groceries, plus pre-made meals in glass jars and meal kits if you have some spare time to cook (not likely, but you never know!)

Mental Health – My mom suffered from really terrible postpartum depression and though I haven’t had any issues postpartum I definitely struggled with a lot of anxiety and depression throughout my pregnancy (especially the second trimester, which funnily enough is supposed to be the best one!)  When I started to feel low I asked my doctor for a referral to the Women’s College Hospital Reproductive Life Stages Program, a really amazing resource here in Toronto. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be seen until the very end of my pregnancy due to wait times, so I suggest getting on this list as early as possible if you think you may need extra mental health support in your pregnancy or postpartum. I have also heard a LOT of amazing things about Healthy Babies Healthy Children, a program that matches you with a public health nurse who makes home visits to help you get the best start possible!

Set up your Sanctuary – I get cabin fever really fast, so the days following birth when it’s best to rest and recover were always daunting to me… and then I had a c-section. In those first few weeks I mainly camped out in my bedroom, the sunniest room in the house, surrounded by plants and colour, on what I liked to call “bed island”. Having all of my creature comforts nearby in a room filled with things that make me feel happy was a total saving grace during those pain-filled days with minimal mobility, and I highly recommend setting up a special space for yourself with candles, books, plants, art – whatever makes you feel happy! I’m sure there’s some science out there proving happy people heal faster.

Other ideas I wish I had set up – A dog walker! Getting Mylk out on the colder winter days was a huge source of stress for me with a new baby, especially after my family had left and I was on my own. I’ve heard great things about Paw Theory and I’m hoping to test them out soon!

Hospital Packing //

I put a lot of time and thought into my hospital packing because I HATE being caught somewhere without something I really need. When we rolled into the hospital it was literally so over the top it was hilarious – bag for me, bag for baby, pillows, blankets, a fancy robe… I really went all out!

Mombox – I ordered my Mombox as soon as I knew I’d likely be having a c-section (they make a special kit for that!) and it arrived just in time. This ADORABLE pink box is stuffed with helpful goodies, covering the less fun items like extra long pads and immune supplements in the cutest way possible. I can safely say I have used every single thing included, and I plan to order one for all of the mamas-to-be in my life for years to come.

And a little TMI note: you may think you don’t need the constipation relief, and resist like I did, but trust me, you do haha.

Ban.do Sippy Cup – a friend recommended Ban.do’s cute cups to me after her beautiful home birth and no matter where you end up birthing your baby I cannot stress the importance of a good sippy cup enough! I used this nonstop at the hospital and I credit my intense hydration for my quick recovery and discharge. I also used it at home nonstop too, and I still do – I got this glittery one for good measure.

Lactation Snacks – I had a lot of fears surrounding breastfeeding because it didn’t work out for my mom with either of her babies. As a way to combat my anxiety I started in on the lactation teas and snacks the whole week leading up to my birth and still continue to use them now. I ended up having my milk come in very quickly, especially for a c-section, and if anything I overproduced! I plan to do a whole post about my breastfeeding experience with an oat milk recipe soon, but for now let me say Booby Boons lactation cookies are a total essential – they actually taste good and come in so many fun flavours. Beer was also a big help for me, but you can’t really pack that for the hospital!

Comfy clothing – This is one situation where comfort is not to be overestimated, and considerations like easy boob access and waist height (for a c-section you don’t want anything that will rub on your incision) are not to be forgotten. My lounge set from Soft Focus was so perfect, especially the robe which I could easily slip on over my hospital gown when I was still too weak to fully change. I do wish I had chosen a darker colour so I wasn’t as worried about getting blood on myself in those early days, but luckily I somehow managed to avoid any stains.

Ban.do Eye Mask – it’s hard to tune out and get some rest at the hospital, but a good eye mask can help.

Dotted travel bag by Logan and Lenora – I love this bag for longer days out with Summer or overnight trips. It’s waterproof, washable, and you can order matching change pads and clutches to help stay organized.

Other items you might want to add:

-pillow

-soft blanket

-peri bottle with a bit of witch hazel to mix with water at the hospital

-herbal tea bags

-diapers for you and baby (pads are just not enough for the first little while)

-many pairs of socks or slippers you don’t mind ruining

-breastfeeding pillow (I swear by my BB Hug Me nursing pillow!)

-NIPPLE CREAM!!!

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The After Birth //

Kensington Midwives – I was so thankful I went with midwifery care my entire pregnancy, but especially in the weeks following Summer’s birth when they came by for home visits to check on the both of us.  It was so comforting to have non-invasive healthcare that took my personal needs and preferences into account, and I really felt like I made only fully informed consensual decisions from start to finish. It was also really special to remain in my safe space in the days after surgery while still having assurance that Summer was healthy and doing well.

Placenta Encapsulation – I have a lot of friends who had positive experiences with ingesting their placenta after birth, and though I wasn’t about to chop it up, freeze it and add it to a smoothie, I was super curious to try encapsulation. I went with placenta specialist Amelia Rebolo for the process and I’m so glad I gave it a shot! Basically you text Amelia when you go into labour/confirm you’ll be giving birth soon, and if you’re giving birth in a hospital let your nurses know you would like to keep the placenta. After the placenta is delivered (vaginally or via c-section) you put it in a zip-lock and the nurses will put it on ice in a cooler bag (YOU need to bring the cooler bag and zip-lock, they provide the ice) until Amelia can come pick it up. The whole transaction was quick and easy, and the hospital staff had no issue facilitating. A few days later she dropped off my placenta pills (each placenta makes a different number depending on how big it is!), plus a tincture, salve, postpartum herbs, and prints of my placenta (SO crazy).

The Placenta is an organ your body builds from scratch just for baby, and it holds a lot of the nutrients and hormones that you lose when your baby is born, so the idea is you’re re-ingesting those nutrients and hormones to balance your body postpartum. I have friends who said the noticed a significant difference in mood on days when they forgot to take the pills!

Now I’m no scientist, but I took my 3 placenta pills every day without fail and I really did notice a lot more stability in my mood than I had expected. I only had one major meltdown the day my milk came in (which happened to be the same day we picked up Honey’s ashes from the vet), but otherwise I felt energetic and positive, a world of difference from the extreme lows I experienced while pregnant. I can’t vouch for what my postpartum experience would have been like without the pills, but I’m really glad I chose to take them and would definitely do it again! Amelia was a dream to work with, and I just loved the little kit of placenta goodies she made up for me.

Woo Woo Lab – I wasn’t able to use much of anything product-wise until my incision was healed up, but after six weeks when the area was a bit less sore I started using Woo Woo lab’s products (they sent me the Mama bundle). I especially love the Womb Stick, which I’ve been using to massage the scar (called scar release, a technique I’m learning more about with an expert next week!)  I highly recommend stocking up on Woo Woo before birth, or gifting them to friends and family with new babies – they will thank you!

Further reading // I highly recommend The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson when shaping your own personal postpartum survival guide!

A Pastel Baby

Getting around on my own with a newborn this winter was no easy task. Summer was born during a long week of constant snowstorms and unbelievably cold temperatures, and save for the odd few warmer Spring days her entire life so far has basically been a winter wonderland. I had to figure out early on how to keep her safe and warm, and a big part of that strategy was our tools to get around!

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew it was time to get serious about investing in a practical car. I’m not great with TTC (and TTC isn’t great for strollers), newborns can’t really ride on bikes, and exclusively walking just wasn’t going to cut it in -30 temperatures. The only car I’ve ever owned was a Mini Cooper, and though it was super cute it definitely wouldn’t have been the best to load up with baby gear and an 80 pound dog.

This time around I decided to go with a Nissan Rogue from Sherway Nissan. After doing a ton of research it seemed like the best and most affordable fit for my growing family – all wheel drive, back up camera and blind spot sensors were just some of the safety features that caught my eye. I was SO overwhelmed by the idea of signing a lease, but the team at Sherway Nissan was so kind and helpful and really sold me on the car’s features. They even have someone to help you install your car seat correctly if needed!

With my ultimate mom ride ready to go, I hit the road!

Next up I had to get the car winter-ready for baby Summer’s arrival. Winter tires are a must in a Canadian city like Toronto where the conditions can go from bad to worse quick! I opted for Bridgestone Blizzak tires, a high performance tire that’s designed to maintain grip in even the coldest of climates. I immediately felt a big difference when they were installed, and they were a total life saver (literally) when I had to get my precious cargo to the midwives or grocery store in the icy weeks following her birth.

The perfect car seat was also really high on my priority list. I knew I needed something really light so I could carry Summer in it easily on my own, and comfort was key because I knew we’d likely spend a lot of time on the road running errands or taking day trips. There are SO many options out there, but I went for the Nuna Pipa Lite carseat – weighing just over 5 pounds, it’s the lightest seat on the market! Summer has loved car rides from day one, and I largely credit it to how comfortable, soft, and well designed this car seat is. The only catch is it cannot be used without the base, so it is a bit heavier to travel on plane rides with, but being able to carry her from shop to shop easily when we’re in town outweighs packing a larger checked bag with the base for me.

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Every city baby needs the perfect city stroller, and the Bugaboo Fox has been totally key for us when it comes to getting around town. The big wheels were amazing in the snow and ice, and have proven themselves in the muddy Spring trails of High Park the past few weeks too! We’re currently using the bassinet because Summer is too small for the upright seat, but with the help of a handy adapter it’s also easy to clip her car seat right onto the base and get rolling.

And of course we never travel anywhere without our beloved Fawn Design Diaper Bag. This bag can be worn as a backpack or shoulder bag, and I got these stroller hooks so it attaches right onto the handle of the stroller for easy access. I literally use it every single day.

I’m not going to get into carriers quite yet because I’m still in the testing phase and want to do a separate post on that subject alone, but at the moment we’re using a Sakura Bloom Scout and I’m a HUGE fan. It has enough structure that it doesn’t hurt my back but it’s still soft and comfy for Summer.

Camel shirt dress (with buttons that make it perfect for nursing on the go!) via Scotch & Soda. Essential mom sunnies from Ollie Quinn.

A Pastel Baby

Almost everyone can agree that shopping for baby and creating registries is one of the most exciting and fun parts of prepping for your little one’s arrival. The only problem? There is almost TOO MUCH to shop for.

I put so many hours into curating the perfect baby registry for my shower back in October, but the problem is I put so much energy into accumulating a collection of cute things, like knit hats with bunny ears and tiny ceramic rainbow wall art, that I didn’t spend any time thinking about the things my baby would actually need. Let’s face it: cute and sparkly is more fun than practical, but the problem is when baby Summer actually arrived earlier this year I was missing so many of the key basics I needed from day one. Believe it or not, tiny fuzzy bunny slippers were not an actual newborn essential!

A couple weeks after Summer was born my mom and I sat down and made a list of practical items that I had failed to predict I’d need, and from there we created a registry on BuyBuy BABY’s website. So many people wanted to bring Summer gifts after she was born, and this registry was both a place to keep track of the items we still needed and an easy link to share if someone asked for gift ideas. But why Buy Buy BABY? For starters, it’s surprisingly hard to find newborn essentials in small local shops – we searched for days around my neighbourhood, but most smaller stores only stock 0-3 months and up, which was way too big for Summer (and still is in some brands!) They also have really affordable pricing, which is crucial when it comes to items that baby might not fit for very long, and they offer a price match promise on registry items in case you see the item you want listed elsewhere for less. BuyBuy BABY also offers free personal shopping appointments with registry consultants, which I honestly wish I did before my shower so I could have had a more realistic list of needs for friends and family to help out with sooner rather than later!

Scroll down to find out what our essentials were in the first three months, and why!

Zipper Footies // I love a onesie with lots of cute buttons as much as the next mama, but they make diaper changes way more complicated, especially in the middle of the night. I quickly learned that sleepers with zippers are much more convenient for bedtime – we love these rainbow and shell designs!

Tiny Socks // It became an obsession for my entire family to find socks that would actually stay on Summer’s tiny toes. We searched everywhere and nothing would work! These little Gerber socks are the only thing that worked for us in the end – they’re crucial in the cold winter months and also help shoes stay on her feet!

Simple Undershirts // I had stocked up on so many cute outfits for Summer before she was born, but when it came time to put them on I realized how key simple layering bases were too. I got a pack of long sleeve onesies and short sleeves onesies and it made a big difference when getting her dressed.

Nail Scissors // Cutting a baby’s nails is a terrifying experience and proper newborn scissors designed for safely cutting their papery nails are key. I love these simple and effective Piyo Piyo scissors to get the job done.

More below!

Snotsucker //  So many moms told me this was a must have but I didn’t get it until I had Summer and needed to help her clear out her nose! I chose this kit because it comes with saline spray and extra filters for the sucker too.

Musical Toys // I fought pretty hard against the idea of any sort of loud or obnoxious toys, but watching how Summer reacts to music made me a believer quick. I love this soft sunny pull toy so much – it’s colourful and fun but also beautifully designed.

A Place to Play // I spent hours setting up Summer’s room as the perfect place for her to play, but I didn’t plan for how much time we would spend together downstairs in the main floor. I wanted to create a safe place for her to hang out with me while I work, but since we have a big dog a traditional play mat setup wasn’t going to work for us. My solution was to order soft play tiles and playpen fencing to create a sectioned off area in my office just for her. For now it’s a secure spot to set up a swing and work on tummy time, but as she grows it will be filled with toys and books for independent play.

Tiny Cloths // My mom insisted I needed as many tiny cloths as possible when I was pregnant and preparing, and she was absolutely right! These cute cloths are great for burping, spit up, and any other little (or big) messes along the way.

More below!

Other items you might need //

Bath Thermometer

Electric Nail File (if safety scissors still scare you)

Forehead Thermometer

A Pastel Baby

*Note – I didn’t get a chance to go live with this post before baby Summer arrived, but I wanted to post it as-is anyway because it’s how I was feeling at the time. In the end I wasn’t able to turn my baby, but that doesn’t mean these tips and tricks won’t work for you as they have for so many others. Happy turning!

If you’ve been following along on my pregnancy journey you’ve probably caught on that I’m obsessed with prep. Patience is not my strong suit, and waiting over 9 months for a delivery date that’s totally unknown to me has been a major life lesson to say the least. I have read so many amazing books (I’ll be posting a recap of all my favourites, along with everything else I did to get ready for baby after my little one arrives! Now live here), I’m even taking an infant CPR class this weekend.

The problem is, just like so many people tried to tell me, birth really isn’t something you can plan.

Breech births run in my family, and after hearing my mom’s treacherous vaginal breech birth story with me (induced labour for 24 hours with no pain relief, a botched episiotomy and forceps, the list goes on) it was definitely a fear in the back of my mind. Multiple midwives and healthcare practitioners confirmed baby was head down early, and I was so received that I bragged to just about everyone I could, “baby is already head down! Can you believe it?”

On Christmas eve I went in for my 34 week checkup and mentioned my own breech birth and how happy I was that baby was head down. As the midwife felt around in my belly for longer and longer, the panic started to rise. She decided to send me for an ultrasound, just to be sure, because the heartbeat wasn’t loudest in the spot it should have been, and the body parts she was feeling were altogether confusing. A couple days later I went in for the ultrasound and all of my fears were confirmed – baby was in the exact same position I myself was born in 28 years ago.

I spent the next 5 weeks frantically trying everything I possibly could to get my baby into the correct birthing position. If you’ve read my birth story you know that in my case, nothing worked, but I have no regrets about trying my absolute hardest to shift Summer in my belly, despite the outcome.

Roughly 3% of babies remain breech to term, but lots of others are breech at an earlier date and need a bit of help making the big flip while there’s still room to do so. Finding out my baby was head up was one of the most stressful, overwhelming and disappointing moments of my pregnancy, and for the weeks to follow until my birthing day it was all I thought about, every second of every day. I wanted to share everything I tried as a way to pass on my newfound knowledge, but also to simply let any breech mamas out there who are struggling with this same situation know that they’re not alone! Whether your baby turns before your due date or not, you will get through this. Until then, keep working on those breech tilts and downward dogs!

Note: I am not a doctor and everything in this post was based purely on my personal experience. Please consult your doctor or midwife if you think your baby might be breech! 

The Upside Down //

There are a lot of great positions and movements you can do to use gravity and create more space in your pelvis for baby to budge. Spinning Babies was a great resource for me and came highly recommended by many of my followers. If you’re confused about what any of the positions are supposed to look like, try searching the specific name on Youtube for a video – I watched so many different versions of “breech tilt” before I felt comfortable trying it (in the end I built a ramp using my couch pillows, because I don’t own an ironing board!)

Moxibustion, Acupuncture and Webster Method Chiropractic appointments at West End Mamas //

Before pregnancy I had never had acupuncture or chiropractic work, and all I knew about Moxibustion was that it was the thing Jane The Virgin tried to turn her baby, which led to her falling asleep and almost burning her house down (that said, her baby turned haha). West End Mamas offers lots of different treatments and support to help with turning baby, like chiropractic hip adjustments to make sure there’s as much space as possible (the Webster technique specifically), and acupuncture to encourage baby to move more. The moxibustion is also meant to get your baby moving, and it’s basically like burning a giant stick of incense by your pinky toe (the hotter/closer the better, but it’s VERY easy to burn yourself!) Dr. Kinga at West End Mamas will burn the moxa stick for you while the acupuncture needle is in the same baby toe point, and I found that the most helpful (I can’t say I’m a huge believer in acupuncture, but Summer moved a lot in those appointments!) If you’re not based in Toronto, many acupuncture practitioners will offer this service, you just might need to shop around a bit. You can also order the moxa sticks online – I used this brand, though my at-home daily sessions ended in a burnt pinky toe and a burn in my favourite area rug. Oops!

Swimming //

If you see a hugely pregnant woman doing flips in the slow lane at your local public pool, she’s probably trying to turn her breech baby! I liked this option because it felt good to be in the pool getting some exercise regardless, and it was a bit less awkward and weightless feeling compared to some of the other upside down positions – downward dog at 38 weeks is no easy feat! 

Bouncy Balls //

Is there anything a birthing ball (aka exercise ball) can’t fix? I ordered mine around month 7 and I seriously wish I had one in my life sooner. It’s great for your pelvis and hips, and even if your baby isn’t breech it can really help with getting them into optimal birthing position. Bouncing on the ball has also proven to be the only thing that calms Summer down outside of the womb this past month, so I can’t speak highly enough of this (very affordable) investment. Lots of women also use them for supported positions during labour too!

Long Walks //

By the end of pregnancy baby’s head is the heaviest part of their body, so naturally they should drift head down, and walking can help gravity do what it does best. I walked my dog as much as I could right up until my c-section date and it really helped me feel strong and healthy, even if it didn’t end up working as a flip method. 

Hot and Cold “treatments” //

I did a lot of sitting in a hot bath to try and encourage my baby to flip towards the warmth, and sometimes I’d even put an ice pack at the top of my belly near baby’s head to try and convince her it was more fun to hang out head down in my pelvis. I read a lot about this one on the internet and though it’s debatable if baby can actually feel the cold in there, it absolutely created a lot of movement with Summer, so I think it was worth a shot (though it felt a bit mean and I was nervous to keep the ice pack on too long in case it caused some sort of brain freeze). 

Music Lessons //

There are many tales online about people shining lights into their vaginas, having their partner talk down there and encourage baby to flip, or playing calming music to their lower pelvis with headphones. I made a recording of myself talking to Summer and played that down low every morning, hoping she’d follow the sound of my voice. I also tried playing really loud obnoxious music where I could feel her head when she was already moving a lot to try and encourage her to flip away from it (my annoying music of choice was Skrillex, but who knows, maybe she’ll grow up to love it now haha!) 

Photos by Scarlet O’Neill

A Pastel Baby

I don’t excel at waiting. Some might use the word impatient, but I prefer something like “exceptionally driven”, and in cases where I do need to wait around, I stay sane by doing whatever I can to work toward that goal in the distance. When I’m waiting to leave for a vacation I painstakingly research and plan every stop I want to see, familiarizing myself with maps and studying what the local bloggers like to get up to. When I’m waiting for a special holiday or event I make mood boards, gather supplies, and create fun ways to countdown the days. But waiting to have a baby, something I already felt like I’d been waiting for years to experience, that was a whole other ball game.

Pregnancy can be a great time to rest, and there were a couple months around the middle of mine where I did just that, but for the most part I used every bit of energy I had left over from growing a tiny human to prep for that tiny human’s arrival. Heading into motherhood as a single parent, I knew my time would be even more limited than the average first time parent, and to combat my anxiety about how I was going to manage, I did what I do best – I planned and prepped.

I was so worried I’d regret not taking it easy during my pregnancy, but in retrospect I’m so glad I kept myself busy and accomplished so much, because as predicted it’s a lot harder to stay on top of pretty much anything other than cuddling, feeding and diaper changes after a new baby arrives (just getting this blog post done has been a nearly two month endeavour with Summer around!) Having a big to-do list kept me active and motivated, and I ended up feeling strong and confident right up until the day I gave birth because of it. The best part is despite none of my birth plans going as, well, planned, I still feel like every single thing on this list was helpful and worth my while. 

It has taken a lot longer than I had originally hoped to get these thoughts written out, and I have more pregnancy content still coming down the line too –  though I’m not pregnant anymore (or planning to be anytime soon!) hopefully some of this wisdom can be helpful to those of you who are newly pregnant or planning to be in the future!

Of course there’s no real way to be prepared as a first time parent, but here’s EVERYTHING I did to get ahead of the curve as best as I could before Summer made her debut:

Reading //

When I did want to take some slower time to myself during my pregnancy, I tried to read as much as possible. Brain power wasn’t at an all time high for me during those nine months, but I found making notes on the pages and bookmarking important bits really helped me keep track of my thoughts and everything I was learning! 

Some of my favourite titles were:

Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen – If there is one single book you buy and read during your pregnancy, make it this one. It was so informative and I still refer to the new baby chapters all the time even now!

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp – If you’ve heard me rave about the Happiest Baby Snoo Bassinet, it was created by the author of this book and designed based on his research!

Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan – This book was a little outdated and not the best for single parents because of all the heteronormative couple-based language, but I read it as part of my Hypnobirthing Course at West End Mamas and the breathing and relaxation techniques definitely came in handy at my birth and beyond.

Body Full of Stars by Molly Caro May – Not a technical book at all, Molly’s personal memoir surrounding having her first child made me feel less alone in my own emotional pregnancy roller coaster. A truly beautiful novel about motherhood!

The Rebel Mama’s Handbook For Cool Moms – This book was a gift and it provided lots of laughs for me on my journey to motherhood. I don’t agree with everything the Rebel Mamas say, but I admire that they have the tits to say it! (tits seemed more appropriate than balls in this context)

The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Anne Johnson – This book is all about self care and taking it slow after baby, and though I didn’t personally follow all of the suggestions within these pages it was such an amazing resource and I learned so much about how other cultures view birth and postpartum too! 

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Health and Wellness //

Dentist //

There’s a common misunderstanding that one should avoid the dentist while pregnant, but it’s actually more important than ever to go in for cleaning and check ups because the hormones are causing so many changed in your mouth! I found Gelinas Dental Studio after many years of switching from dentist to dentist here in Toronto, or avoiding it altogether.

Dental visits make my skin crawl at the best of times, but I knew appointments would be almost impossible on my own with a new baby, so I resentfully went in for a very overdue cleaning early on in my pregnancy. I was so pleasantly surprised by my experience at Gelinas – this all-female team is so knowledgeable and actually took the time to teach me all about my teeth and how the dental system works here in Toronto. They believe you should come in every three months during a pregnancy, especially if you’re suffering from severe gum bleeding (which so many women do). I ended up going in for two cleanings, and had a wisdom tooth removed with just a bit of local freezing (terrifying, but the amazing team at Gelinas made it totally doable). They even sent me a care package after Summer was born! 

Dog Training //

One of my biggest concerns with having a baby on my own was how I would manage all of my pets, specifically Mylk, who’s still just over a year old now! Being a young, high-energy dog with a lot of anxiety from his Husky half, I had a really hard time controlling him when he first joined our family, and I was really nervous about having him around a tiny human.

A friend of mine suggested K9X training and they were seriously unbelievable! It only took a handful of one-on-one sessions for me to get a handle on Mylk’s behaviour, and the tools K9X provided to not only keep his attitude in check, but also to keep him mentally engaged, were invaluable. We even practiced walking alongside the stroller with a training collar ahead of time, and now he’s amazing on walks with the little one! I can’t recommend this route enough if you’re worried about prepping your pup for your family’s new addition. 

The Bump Method Pilates //

Working out has always been a crucial part of my mental health routine and keeping up my self confidence, so giving up being active while pregnant and already working through raging hormones and massive body changes wasn’t an option.

Though I kept up a lot of my regular activities like spin and jogging as long as I could, it was so nice to take The Belle Method‘s pregnancy-specific pilates classes, especially nearing the end of the nine months. I was always a bit nervous I was doing too much when I was working out on my own, but Nikki’s classes always felt super safe (she’s a new mom herself!) while still providing an awesome workout. I also learned a lot about my pelvic floor and core muscles, and connected with lots of other expecting moms. I’m excited to get myself to her baby-friendly postnatal classes now that I’m healed up from my C-section!

West End Mamas //

Let me start by saying overall WEM was a total sanctuary for me my entire pregnancy. It can be overwhelming navigating something as simple as massage therapy when you’re expecting because you body and baby seem so delicate, but WEM provides a one stop shop made just for mamas, so you always know you’re in good hands. 

Hypnobirthing Course – This course is definitely better suited to couples and people with anxiety surrounding birth. I found the breathing techniques and time spent meditating on the idea of birth helpful, but overall I don’t think I was the most ideal audience for the teachings since I felt so confident and positive about birth in the first place! I definitely think it can be a valuable course to invest in if you or your partner is nervous or unsure about what to expect on your birthing day. 

Massage Therapy – A basic when it comes to self-care, this one is pretty self explanatory. I did a lot of massage during my pregnancy and it was the best time to relax and let go. 

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy – We all know about kegels, but did you know there are muscles in your vagina and pelvic bowl that can be way TOO tight? Turns out mine were, and I only found out through pelvic physio. Explained to me as “a deep tissue massage for your vagina”, this was a painful and strange experience to say the least, but I learned a lot about my body and left with the ability to properly release and relax a set of muscles I didn’t even know I had. This one is especially recommended after a vaginal birth and/or if you suffer from incontinence. 

Naturopathic Medicine – I had never been to a naturopath before my pregnancy and I expected the whole thing to be a bit too hippie for me, but in the end it was like a super in depth, informative doctor’s appointment that helped make me aware of all the ways my diet was failing me, and some small easy changes I could make to improve my energy levels. I now never leave the house without a protein dense snack, and what a difference! 

Acupuncture – I had planned to do induction acupuncture because so many friends used it successfully to start labour, but I never got that far. I did use it to try and help baby turn to the proper position, but no luck, and personally I found acupuncture super uncomfortable because I am scared of needles! Definitely not my favourite treatment on the menu, but it works wonders for many. 

Chiropractic Care – Chiropractic appointments at WEM are so much more than adjustments, and I was seriously blown away by all the amazing tools and techniques my chiropractor used on me. I carry a lot of tension in my back and neck, but after this appointment I felt more relaxed and loose than I have in years!

Infant CPR Course – This course was SO valuable and I’d take it 100 times over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt reassured as a new mom that I would know what to do in different emergency scenarios, and that confidence is priceless. 

Self Care //

Self care means different things to different people, and however you define it, it’s so important to make it a priority, especially on the path to motherhood. All of my beauty rituals became all the more important to me as my body and sense of self changed so quickly, even if I had to rework them a bit to be more pregnancy friendly.   

Low Maintenance Hair Colour – I’ve always said I’d grow out my natural hair colour if I became pregnant, so when I got that positive test last Spring I knew it was time. Amanda and Alyson, my hair team at Blyss, helped make a difficult transition (aka massive dark roots) look stylish, and since their salon uses Davines hair colour (some of the most natural, low chemical products on the market) I felt better about the colour work we did to keep the new growth blended with the old blonde.

A super helpful hair tip for pregnancy and new mama hood – ask your colourist for a take-home toner or tinted conditioner that you can use in the shower to keep your colour fresh, in case you aren’t able to get back in for an appointment for longer than planned. 

Negative Space Nail Art – I love having something fun on my nails at all times, and though I kept up my monthly trip to Her Majesty’s Pleasure I found my nails were growing a lot faster than they had before. My trick? A more neutral or negative space mani that makes new growth at the base of the nail look like it’s part of the design! Think half moons, wavy cut outs, or a reverse french! 

Hatch Mama Beauty – I used this collection from day one and I credit their belly oil for my lack of stretch marks (I know that’s not how it works, but it can’t hurt right?) 

Lash Extensions – Lash extensions always make me feel beautiful with minimal effort – no eyeliner or shadow, just big lashes and a swipe of blush, and I’m ready for anything. I’ve tried so many different salons around the city, but N15 Salon is by far the best bang for your buck. These lashes feel and look great, but most importantly they last for ages, which is my top priority since becoming a mama. Having great lashes is also the key to effortlessly gorgeous birth photos if that’s something on your radar.  

Tea for Two – I am a tea addict as is, but I found I was more sensitive than ever to caffeine while expecting, so herbal tea was a constant in my house. Full disclosure: I used to work at Tealish, but that aside they truly have the best selection of all-natural herbal blends in the city. I especially love their dessert teas, like Toasty Almond and Lemon Meringue

Knix Leak Proof Panties – Comfort is key during the 9 months it takes to make a baby, and Knix moisture-wicking bras and underwear were my daily go-to. There’s seriously nothing softer on the market as far as I know, and the built in panty liners are really good for soaking up discharge (TMI? This was the bane of my existence in the third trimester) 

Other things on my list that never came to fruition //

Allergy Testing – Near the end of pregnancy you test for Group B Strep, and if you test positive you will need to be given antibiotics during your birth. If you have a penicillin allergy this can complicate a birth plan, especially for those who hope to give birth at home, as you may need an IV alternative. I wanted to get ahead of the curve and test my allergy to penicillin, something I had never done following a reaction I had as a kid, but unfortunately after being referred I was told pregnant women can’t do the full scope of allergy testing. If this is a concern for you, it’s a good idea to get the testing before baby is already on the way! 

Finding a Paediatrician – I was determined to find my baby a doctor pre-birth, but it’s SUPER hard in this city! In the end I took her in to a local walk in when her baby acne got really bad, and the paediatrician ended up taking her on as an official patient on the spot. I can’t promise this method will work for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a shot! There are also lots of great kid’s drop in clinics around town if you’re having a tough time locking a family doctor down. 

Float – I was told a float can be a great way to feel weightless during the last couple months when the belly feels its heaviest, but because I had Summer a week early I never got the chance to try it out!

What were the best things you did while you were pregnant? I’d love to know some more tips that I missed!

*Note: I am not a doctor and this post is entirely based on my personal experiences while pregnant. 

Bump photos by Scarlet O’Niell