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. 

Bridgestone Blizzak Winter Tires //

Being on the road with baby, especially during the winter was one of my biggest concerns. One of the safety measures I took to make sure my car was ready for all conditions that Canadian life might throw at me was putting Bridgestone’s Blizzak winter tires on my vehicle. They have amazing grip in ice and snow and gave me a confidence boost on the road. 

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 

Dear Diary

First off, apologies for the late gift guide posting – growing a human in my body has really impacted my time management as of late!

The good news is, you so do not need a big excuse like Christmas to treat the moms-to-be and new moms in your life. Whether someone you know has just announced, is waddling through their third trimester and getting a little bit impatient (hem… me), or basking in newborn bliss these people in your life are working hard, and it’s so important not to forget about treating them! Of course baby clothes and cute felted rattles are always appreciated, but a gift that says “I see you and I’m here for you” specifically for the moms in your circle? That’s a special gift that isn’t as often received.

This guide includes some of my very favourite purchases from the past 8 months, plus the top items on my wishlist right now. I’ll be doing a more practical guide to dressing the bump and the essentials I couldn’t live without while expecting, but this guide is more about those special surprises that remind a new mom you still care about the her that’s hiding behind that bump or baby.

And remember, when in doubt, bring FOOD!

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The Goods //

1. Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen
2. Love Wellness Do it All wipes
3. Woodlot Palo & Rose everyday mist
4.‘Mama’ gold necklace
5.Love Wellness Good Girl probiotics
6. Moodbeli Bliss Booster
7. Hatch Nipple + Lip balm
8. Hatch Belly Oil
9. Moonbath bath tea
10. The Every Bodysuit by Knix
11. Woodlot essential oils
12. Hatch cashmere sock bundle
13. BBhugme Pregnancy Pillow

A few more of my personal favourites //

Blanqi maternity and postpartum supportwear
Maternity teas by New Moon Tea co.
Mama bird t-shirt

Services and Instant Gifts //

Mom Box or The Womb Box – Who doesn’t love a good curated gift box?
A West End Mamas Gift card – prenatal yoga, massages, acupuncture; if you can name it, they do it!
At home beauty services from Wink and Wave – send some pampering direct to mama.
Postpartum visits from an awesome Doula (like Birth Boss!) – good support is priceless.
Sprout Collection Subscription – the best way to look cute and save on maternity wear when expecting!

And you can find so many more great ideas at Mother Mother shop!

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