There is something special about slowing down in the summer months and being out in the great outdoors with the fresh air and bright sun beaming on you after a day at the beach, followed by a cool evening breeze and campfire with your family.
If you have a little ones, the task of preparing to go camping can seem daunting. Plan and prepare and this will be less of a hair pulling experiencing for everyone.
If this is your FIRST venture away from home with a baby/toddler consider not venturing too far away from home those first few experiences. Here is a list of camp sites around Edmonton which might be a good start.
Photo credit: Lorraine Marie Fotography, to see more of her fabulous work check her out at www.lorraine-marie.com, Instagram@thislorrainemarie
Preparing for your camp experience
Although camping can be a cheap way to make lasting memories with your family and is good for the soul to get out and connect with nature.
We have discovered a few items for little ones that will make it easier.
Portable High Chair
Screen tent for sleeping
Outdoor toys, must have sand pail and shovel and other items that will make playing at the beach fun.
Photo: Sonya's stepfather with three month old Elise
Baby care and supply are a huge market. It is very easy as an expecting parent to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of products available, and by the differing recommendations your friends and family may have provided. Then, while you and your partner are buried chest deep in the crib and dresser section of your nearest Babies R Us, you realize just how expensive all of these products can be. So, what do you do? How do you have a baby on a budget?
Having a baby on a budget is simple. But, there are two fundamental questions you need to ask yourself in order to succeed. First, what can you purchase new and what is safe to purchase second hand. And second, what do you actually need for a newborn?
Newborns are simple creatures. They don't truly require many things. However, there are a few things that they do need.
- A safe space to sleep
- A way to eat
- A way to be transported
- To be clothed
- A way to keep them clean.
In order to lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) there are recommendations and guidelines to follow as to where your infant can and should sleep.
The safest sleep space is considered one that has:
- A firm mattress
- No soft bedding, pillows, blankets or bumper pads
- Non-smoking parents.
- No drugs or alcohol.
- Breastfeeding Mother
- Baby is healthy and was born at full-term
- Baby sleeps on their back
- No swaddling
- No soft mattresses, extra pillows, toys, heavy covers
- Clear of strings, cords, cracks and crevices
If you are not comfortable bed-sharing with your baby, other options include the use of a baby box, side-car (co-sleeper), bassinet or crib. All side-cars, bassinets and cribs sold in-store in Canada today must meet safe sleep recommendations.
Baby Box University Is a non-profit organization that provides baby boxes at no cost to families and expecting parents within Alberta (and other countries and provinces). A baby box is a moderate sized rectangular box, inlayed with a thin, firm mattress that can be used as a safe sleeping space for a newborn.
In order to receive a baby box, you must visit the Baby Box University website and watch a series of educational videos on newborn care. After you have completed the videos, and downloaded and printed your own 'Baby Box University Certificate' you can schedule a pick-up time with a pick-up location near you.
Baby boxes often come with added accessories and goodies. Including diapers, wipes, clothing, muslin blankets or toys.
Health Canada and WHO (World Health Organization) recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby for a minimum of six months, but recommend the same practice for at least one year. Taking this recommendation into consideration can impact what your choices and options are, depending on your immediate budget and the space you have available in your home and bedroom.
Bassinets are similar to cribs in a sense, different mainly in that they are smaller, lighter and more portable. While cheaper in price than a standard crib, bassinets have a lower weight limit and can no longer be safely used when your infant is able to pull themselves up or roll around.
While cribs may carry a larger overhead cost, you can save money in the long run by purchasing a convertible crib which can be used for years down the road.
The main concern in buying a used crib or bassinet is that you will more than likely be unaware of the objects history. If you are unaware of the history of the sleep space, you cannot be sure that it was used in a safe manner. The crib or bassinet could have internal damages or damages that are difficult to see upon immediate inspection.
As well, there is a potential that the crib or bassinet you would be purchasing no longer meets Canada's health and safety requirements.
For example, drop side cribs are now banned for sale, import and advertisement within Canada due to injuries and death in children.
For these reasons it is recommended that you purchase your sleep space new.
Feeding your new baby can be a hot and controversial topic amongst both new and experienced parents. Some families do not have the luxury of pursuing their preferred feeding method, but because of medical or personal reasons must choose one option over another. In the end, ensuring your baby is fed and healthy and that you are healthy as well, is the most important thing.
Exclusively breastfeeding is the most inexpensive feeding option. Accessories, such as breastfeeding pillows, and nursing bras or covers, although nice to have, are not necessities. Breastfeeding can be done with only your breasts and a baby. Contrary to popular belief, a hospital grade pump is not necessary if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. If you would like to have a pump on hand for occasional use, you can save money by either purchasing a manual breast pump (available at most drug stores) or learning to hand express. Both of these options should work just as well for a person who does not plan to actively or frequently pump.
If you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, it is recommend to put aside a portion of money for the event that a lactation consult is needed following birth.
Pumping breastmilk is another way you can choose to feed your baby. This method is more expensive than exclusively breastfeeding only because it requires more supplies. If you plan to exclusively or almost-exclusively feed your baby pumped breastmilk, you will need:
- A hospital grade breast pump
- Bottles with nipples
- A way to store your pumped breastmilk
Formula feeding is another feeding option available to expecting families. Formula feeding is the most expensive feeding option. This is because you must purchase the formula as you use it. Try to keep in mind that different babies prefer different formula and have different needs. Do not be discouraged if you need to shop around to find a formula that best suits your baby. If you plan to exclusively formula feed, you will need:
- Bottles with nipples
There are numerous supplies and accessories targeted towards families who plan to use a bottle in their feedings. Objects such as bottle sterilizers, bottle drying racks and bottle brushes, while helpful, are not true necessities.
Bottles can be boiled to sterilize them instead of put into an automatic sterilizer. For most families, washing bottles rather than completely sterilizing them is a safe option as well. Bottles can be dried on a regular drying rack and cleaned by hand to save money.
There are many methods of transporting your newborn from place to place. If you own a vehicle or plan to have your baby accompany you in a vehicle at any point, you are required by law to have your infant in an appropriate car seat.
In Alberta, it is required by law to rear face any child under the age of 1. However, safe car seat practices state that in order to keep your baby as safe as possible, you should rear face for as long as your seat allows.
Infant car seats, also sometimes known as bucket seats, are rear facing only car seats which can be removed from the vehicle base and attached to a corresponding stroller for easy travel between car and foot. An infant seat may be a requirement if you are expecting a small or premature newborn, as some convertibles may not be appropriate for newborns who are under a certain weight. However, infant seats also have a lower weight limit, meaning your baby will grow out of one more quickly than a convertible seat, and require a stroller to be purchased if you wish to utilize the travel system.
Convertible car seats are car seats that can convert from rear facing to front facing as your child grows. Convertible seats also generally have a higher weight limit and therefore can be used for much longer than an infant seat.
While convertible car seats can carry a larger overheard cost, you can save money in the long run by purchasing a convertible car seat, rather than having to purchase an infant seat and then a convertible car seat as your child grows. However, keep in mind the weight limits and recommendations. If you child will be too small to fit safely within a convertible seat, an infant seat should be used.
Can I purchase my car seat used?
It is not recommended to purchase a used car seat. Many car seats are deemed unsafe for use by the manufacturer after they have been in a collision. Some car seats are still considered safe for use after minor collisions (one in which the airbags did not deploy, the vehicle was able to be driven from the scene, and nobody was injured), whereas other car seats are required to be replaced after any collision.
Even if you are aware of the car seats collision history, the car seat may not have been used appropriately or in the safest manner. Water damage, internal damage, rust, as well as expiry can all impact the safety of the seat.
If you do not plan to transport your baby in a vehicle or you wish to have another method of transportation for use on foot, you can consider purchasing either a stroller or a baby carrier.
Strollers are a great option for long walks and trips. One benefit to a stroller is that most strollers come with built in storage compartments or space, this can make trips where you need to transport other objects (such as library books or groceries) easier on you. It is generally considered safe to purchase a used stroller, as long as that stroller still meets up-to-date safety requirements. When buying a used stroller, you should take care in inspecting it for any damaged or missing parts. Used strollers can be purchased from online sites such or through social media swap groups.
Baby Carriers are another wonderful option for transporting your baby. There are numerous different types of baby carriers and each carrier has its own set of considerations. One benefit to baby carriers is that they are small and easily transportable, meaning you are not required to cart a large and heavy object around with your child. However, unlike strollers, baby carriers do not have any built in storage. Meaning, although your hands are free, this may mean carrying your groceries home rather than being able to place them in the bottom of your stroller. Used baby carriers are also generally safe to purchase. You can find them in good condition on many Facebook pages and swap sites. Be sure to inspect a used baby carrier for any damage and expiry dates.
Dressing a newborn can be tricky. If you are expecting a larger baby, you may plan to skip newborn sized clothing and move directly onto 0-3m. However, for parents expecting smaller infants, newborn clothes may be a necessity. Newborns grow quickly and many people purchase more than necessary in terms of outfits and clothing.
Baby Centre offers a helpful guide to clothing necessities from newborn to 3 months of age.
- 4-7 one piece outfits
- 2-3 stretchy pants
- 3-6 snap-crotch t-shirts
- 4-5 shirts
- 2-3 sweaters or jackets
- 5 fitted sleepers
- 2 nightgowns
- 2-3 hats
- 4-7 socks or booties
You may find that you need additional clothing depending on what season your baby is going to be born in. If you are expecting a baby in the wintertime, your child will need a winter hat, warm mittens and a car seat safe snow suit to ensure that they are comfortable. A child born in the summer may require a bathing suit and sun hats to protect them from the sun.
Buying baby clothes on a budget is extremely easy. Babies outgrow their clothing very quickly and is it generally very easy to find newborn and infant clothing in good or almost new condition in thrift shops, garage sales and online swap groups.
Cloth Diapering is, in the long run, the most inexpensive method of diapering your baby. However, cloth diapering, like almost everything else baby related, can be overwhelming in the amount of information and options available. There are many different types of cloth diapers and some are more suitable for a family on a budget than others. Pre-folds and PUL diaper covers are the most economical form of cloth diapering. Unfortunately, some day-cares will not accept children who are cloth diapered in pre-folds, and some parents may find the learning curve of folding their diapers difficult and inconvenient.
Purchasing cloth diapers can be made even more affordable by purchasing used. Cloth diapers are generally safe to buy used and can be bleached to sanitize them. Be sure to inspect used cloth diapers thoroughly before purchasing, look for signs that the elastics are worn or that PUL coating has delaminated.
Disposable diapering Is your other option for keeping your child clean. In the long run, disposable diapering tends to be more expensive. Newborns can go through as many as 8-12 diapers per day and the expense of purchasing diapers can add up quickly. However, disposable diapers can sometimes be a better option for your family.
As you can see, having a baby on a budget is entirely possible. You may need to evaluate your priorities. What is important to you? Are there certain things you can compromise on to make things easier financially, or certain things you are unwilling or unable to compromise on? In the end, the right decision is the one that works best for your family, your personal situation and your budget.
- Bed-sharing, baby box, side-car, bassinet, or crib
- Breastfeeding, pumped milk, or formula feeding
- A car seat, stroller or baby carrier (or combination)
- Cloth or disposable diapers
Other objects and accessories can helpful in making certain tasks and activities easier. However, they are generally not necessities. It may be nice to own a change table with a change pad and cover, but a family on a budget can easily change their newborn on the floor or on a portable change pad or blanket.
**Disclaimer: Bed-sharing is not recommended by Health Canada because of an increased risk of SIDS and suffocation. We at Full Circle Birth Collective do not promote one way of sleep over another. We only promote that regardless of which sleep method you choose for your family, that you follow the safe sleep recommendations to the best of your ability.
Two of My Favourite YEG Swap Groups:
Strawberries & Strollers
Natural Parents Marketplace
Now, if we've ever chatted about social media before, then you know how I wish the whole world used only instagram and that everyone was required to post twice a day... and every month, at least 3 of your posts would need to be unfiltered and real (like your kids crying or your burnt toast all scraped off because it was the last piece of bread and you didn't pick up the groceries yet). I love Instagram. My feed consists of tattoo artists, crazy hair, National Geographic and shark pictures, some celebrities, my friends, and perhaps most importantly, local mamas who reach out to other mamas in a variety of different ways.
If you're new to the Edmonton area, if you're a new parent, or if you just want some cool, inspiring, interesting new people to follow, then this is the post for you!
@edmontonmama – Lori used to be Frugal Edmonton Mama... she would clip coupons and search for deals and share her knowledge with the world. If you head over to her page (Facebook, instagram, and website), you'll see that she's not about that anymore. She's about adventure and experiences, not “stuff”. I love this. Also, her instagram stories help us all feel normal with regards to parenting... meltdowns in the car, ordering from Skip the Dishes... again, being awake at 4am with a little one who just decided to be awake.
@raisingedmonton – This is my go-to for finding out about different playgrounds, things going on around the city, new restaurants to take kids to, weekend adventure ideas, etc. Right now, these guys are posting videos of different playgrounds in and around Edmonton... such a cool idea!
@albertamamas – Alberta Mamas has just recently been launched and it is a group of local ladies who have gotten together to share their experiences and ideas for travelling... with kiddos! Great blogs so far and I'm so excited for more from these lovelies.
@edmontonschild – This is a very well know magazine that is published a few times a year but their website is always up to date with the kid-friendly goings on in Edmonton. Again, Instagram love for this one... memes and local event information.
@deanneferguson – Miss Deanne is responsible for all of those fun things you see happening in malls and sometimes at the Callingwood Farmers Market... Box Social Events are monthly pop-up activities for kids and families (and sometimes even just mamas). Her instagram profile has a link to the Box Social website where you'll find a calendar of all of her events. So fun! She also posts photos for “cocktail Monday” with her hubby and their creations always look super tasty.
@bitchinhousewife – Yoga instructor, kambutcha-makin', healthy eating mama. Jen is all kinds of inspiring and uplifting. She has made me want to eat (and even sometimes drink) green things. Now that is powerful.
Most of these I've listed are also on Facebook under the same names... some you may need to do a google search for their websites. Like I've said, big fan of Instagram so that's always my go-to, but Facebook is great for letting me know when there are new blog posts and such.
How did anyone ever know what to do before the internet?!?!
Massage will empower the connection you already have with your baby.
TOUCH – this is the simplest form of communication. "Massaging your baby communicates love, releases tension and helps you better understand your baby’s needs,” Vimala McClure, Infant Massage
The first communication a baby receives and the first language of its development, is through the skin.
How does it work? What happens when you massage a baby?
Massage involves 2 types of responses:
Mechanical response – the result of pressure and movement as soft tissues are manipulated
Reflex response – occurs when the nerves respond to stimulation
There are 4 main categories massage effects on the human body – in this case for infants:
Stimulation, Relief, Interaction and Development, and Relaxation
Nervous System and Brain Development – The sensory stimulation of massage may speed up the rate of myelination of the brain and nervous system. This process is incomplete at birth. Skin stimulation (massage) can speed this up “enhancing rapid neural-cell firing” thereby improving brain/body communication (McClure).
Immune System – massage stimulates nerves in the brain that facilitate nutrient absorption and lower stress hormones. This results in improved immune system functioning.
Respiration – The rate of breathing can be regulated or enhanced with massage. This happens as the massage calms and relaxes the baby and the surrounding musculature. The parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated to respond and release calming hormones, such as oxytocin and dopamine, into the blood.
Circulation – Massage moves things including blood and lymph. Certain strokes can warm up the feet and increase overall circulation, which leads to a better functioning immune system. It can decrease blood pressure due to the dilatation of capillaries and decrease heart rate simply due to relaxation.
Digestion and Excretion – Specific strokes can create movement in the large intestine by increasing peristalsis. Massage will help the baby to relax and experience a decrease in pain, all of which, allow for more effective digestion.
regular massage can help to relieve pain or discomfort from:
o Emotional stress
INTERACTION AND DEVELOPMENT
Massage can help to increase bonding between any parent or caregiver and the child. This is very intimate, one on one time spent with the baby. Parents learn to read their baby’s cues and to respect them. It teaches them how to stop, observe, and then proceed as opposed to a quick reaction. A new parent gains confidence as they understand their baby and trust their instincts.
The most obvious response to massage is relaxation. Touch can settle a fussy baby, calm an outraged toddler or calm and overstimulated child. Regular massage seems to help babies become more tolerant to stressful situations. While stress is a natural part of our lives, infants are not always able to benefit from it as much as they could. There is growing evidence that cortisol levels in babies who are massaged on a regular basis, with a predictable pattern of massage strokes, are lower than babies who are not massaged. As well, the positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin increase.
There have also been studies showing the mother’s hormone levels are positively affected by massaging her baby. These include increased levels of the “love” hormones oxytocin and prolactin. This, in turn, may have an influence on her feelings of success as a mother, breastfeeding and even post-partum depression.
We hope you found this post informative!
These recipes are a few of my favourites for various reasons. I am very conscious of what my kids consume, especially after a few potty training regressions with my almost 5 years old!!!! She was sooooo difficult to poop train and the challenges return at almost 5 years old when she decides to turn super picky and only eat what she likes (cheese, pasta, bread, cheerios). So….here are some of my attempts to get more fibre into our diet and throw together last minute meals when we're so busy making memories.
· 2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini (if I don’t have these veggies, I use others. I’ve used mushrooms, carrots, celery in the past)
· 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
· 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
· 1 pound extra lean ground turkey (I use beef if I don’t have turkey!)
· 1/2 cup uncooked couscous (I use oatmeal if I don’t have couscous)
· 2 eggs
· 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 20 muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Finely chop vegetables. Place the vegetables into a bowl, and mix in ground turkey, couscous, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard until thoroughly combined. Fill each prepared muffin cup about 3/4 full.
- Bake in the preheated oven until juices run clear, about 25 minutes. Internal temperature of a muffin measured by an instant-read meat thermometer should be at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Okay, so this next recipe is a complete favourite in our house, but it doesn’t have the nutrition I’d like. We’ve made pancakes for supper before when I just don’t know what else to make. I know they will eat these though!
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 Tbsp canola/grapeseed oil
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Butter or oil for frying
- Add ons: grated pear, blueberries, chocolate chips or walnut bits
- Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk, oil and maple syrup.
- In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and just stir until the ingredients are wet. The batter should be lumpy.
- Gently stir in the add-ins of choice. Don’t stir too much!
- I often add a bit more milk to thin out the batter slightly or it is very thick.
- Add butter/oil to pan and pour ¼ cup of batter into a heated pan.
- When pancakes are a bit bubbly, flip them and cook until golden brown. Serve with butter and maple syrup or toppings of your choice!
I keep little tart shells in my freezer for those lunch time rushes that I’m not sure what to make!
- 2-3 Eggs
- 1 cup Milk
- Small tart shells
- Salt & pepper
- Veggies (peppers, broccoli, spinach work well)
- Ham (optional)
- Heat oven to 375. Place ready-made tart shells on a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, add eggs, milk, salt & pepper. Mix with a mixer or whisk.
- Place ingredients of choice in the tart shells
- Pour egg mixture into tart shells.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until egg is fully cooked.
- Let cool and enjoy warm or cold!
I like this recipe for breakfast because I find it so filling. It’s also great for “dessert” or snack!
- 3/4 cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
- ½ ripe banana, mashed with a fork
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp chia seeds or hemp seeds (optional)
Directions: Combine all ingredients and mix well. If I add chia seeds I let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before eating. If you want “ice cream”, place your mixture in the freezer for 5-20 minutes to get the desired consistency.
This recipe is super easy and delicious. We used to use rib rub but found the littles were hyper sensitive to the “spice”. Now I was salt & herbs!
- Pork Back ribs
- Heat oven to 325 Degrees F.
- Season rack of ribs with herbs and seasoning of your choice. I like to use basil oregano, and seasoning salt or Herbamare (herb salt)
- Wrap ribs completely in tinfoil and place on baking sheet.
- Cook for 3 hours or until they “fall apart”
- Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.
But for me, my phone usage started to take on a darker side, too. Once my daughter got a little older, aware, and mobile, I began to realize that I was missing out on some of the new, cute things she was doing because I was still attached to my phone. Now I didn’t just find it a handy distraction for marathon nursing sessions, I needed it, craved it, in my hand before we could sit down and start. As she started walking and talking, I was distracted at the park, and even at play dates. Here are some things I’ve been doing to try to kick my phone habit:
Step 1: Start My Day Off Right
I try not to touch my phone for the first hour after waking up. I feel this helps set the tone for my day, and if I can get involved in the cooking, housework, work, and my daughter’s play right from the beginning of the day, I'm less apt to want to check my phone multiple times. It helps if I keep it plugged in for the night out of reach of my bed. If it’s too close, it’s too easy to roll over and grab it as soon as my eyes open, and once I see I have a few texts, I get sucked in! I also try to end my day right by plugging it in and putting it away for the night at least an hour before I want to go to bed.
Step 2: Keep it Quiet
I usually first spend some time on my phone after I've cleaned up from breakfast, and am sipping on my tea. I return texts or calls, and catch up on Facebook and emails. After my “morning break”, I try to put it out of sight (a drawer or separate room works best for me), and make sure the sound is turned off. If I hear a text come in while I'm playing with my kiddo or doing the dishes, curiosity usually gets the best of me and I interrupt our play or work to go see who it's from. I can’t do this step when I'm on call as a doula for a birth, or expecting an important call, of course, but overall, keeping my phone on silent when possible has helped me the most.
Step 3: Control the Content
When it became second nature to unlock my phone screen and click on the Facebook app, sometimes without even realizing what I was doing or why I was on my phone, I knew something needed to change. So I started deleting apps that were too distracting or that I used too frequently. The never-ending scrolling of some apps is just too tempting! I can still access most things from my phone’s browser, and since it takes a few more clicks to do, it makes me consider for a moment whether I really need to be checking it right then. I also turn off notifications for almost all apps.
My main reason for taking my phone with me when we went on nature walks or to the park was always that I wanted my camera in case we found something really neat. But then I’d also be tempted to check ‘just one more thing’ while my daughter was exploring or playing. Leaving it at home while we go out and taking our nice camera instead has been a great way to stay connected with nature and my family. And as a bonus, I’ve gotten some really great shots with our “real” camera!
Step 5: Schedule Some Me Time
One of the strongest correlations I found with my phone usage is that it skyrockets when my proverbial cup is empty. When I’m low on sleep, alone time, healthy food, energy and patience (which, let’s face it, as the parent of a toddler is a lot of the time!), I just want to turn off my brain, veg on the couch, and do nothing for a while. While I certainly think I deserve to do that for a little bit each day, for me it’s way too easy to lose track of how long I’m zoning out for, and I end up saying a few too many, “wait just a minute”s and “I’m almost done”s to my toddler. If I can do some things to fill my cup - even a bath, or a tea for myself while we’re running errands - I feel like I have more of myself to dedicate to my family. I also make sure to schedule some zone-out time with my phone for myself every day, too. My morning tea, nap time, and bedtime work well here.
Since I still need to occupy my brain with something during the day, I’ve found reading (either actual paper books or on my Kindle) to be a great substitute. For some reason, it’s easier for me to put down a book and come back to it than it is my phone. I’ve found that keeping a notebook and pen nearby as I’m sitting and playing with my daughter allows me to jot down notes and make observations that I might have otherwise written on my phone (or missed while I was on my phone). And if it’s your thing you could always try some meditation.
I have found some personal success with these steps, but I am certainly not perfect! If I can do 2 or 3 of them in a day, I give myself a pat on the back and consider it a win. There are days where I’m totally disconnected from technology and in tune with my family, work and house, and then there are days where we all spend way too much time staring at various screens. I also know that I’m able to do most of these things because I work mostly from home. If you’re wanting to cut back on your phone usage because it’s interfering with your family life or work but these steps don’t work for you, here are some apps that might help you on your journey (since you’re on your phone already ;) ).
Break-Free (manages and tracks your phone usage, and notes that the average adult checks their phone 110 times a day!)
Moment (automatically tracks your phone usage and helps you set limits)
Forest (motivates you to put down your phone and focus on what’s important to you by growing trees for the time you spend offline)
Simple. That was it. Your body is doing exactly what it needs to do. So how 'bout them Oilers? Did you get that Costco trip done yet?
My midwife taught me this as a new-to-be-mother, and now as a doula it's one of the essential things I try to teach my clients. Early labour? Ignore it ☺️
Now by no means do we mean, "Don't pay attention to your body." But what we are saying is don't hyper-focus on all the things. I find this is especially hard to tell a first time mama. It's a common question for them, "But how will I know if I'm in labour," "How will I know when it's time?" ... My sweet girl, I promise you, when things are active... you will know.
Early labour can take a long time. For some women a couple hours, for many women even longer, I'll even go as far to say as a couple days. It's all beautiful, it ALL counts. Every surge, every wave of pressure, every cramp and uncomfortable sensation.. whether it's a Braxton Hicks or a "real" contraction, I don't care, it all counts.
The trick is: don't count it. Don't count it until you can't not count it. I promise you, it will eventually turn in to that. The more you can convince yourself that you're not in labour, the shorter your labour will seem. You'll cope better, truly.
The way I explain it to women is as if you're about to get your period. You're a day or so away, PMS is creeping in, you start to get sore breasts, and a little crampy. Do you go home, refuse to go out, sort out all your tampons and pads on your bathroom counter and wait? Do you cancel your dinner plans or say "screw it!" to your grocery list because you're period will be here in a few days? I mean, that would be nice to retreat in and shut out the world, haha! but nope. You take note of your body, you might swing by the store and pick up a box of pads or Motrin for later... but otherwise you go about your day, grumpy and all!
So do this when you're going to have your baby. This is a process your body is designed to do. It knows exactly what it needs to do, and when to do it. Your job is to find the balance between keeping your brain busy and out of the way, and your body moving but also well rested.
Collect some projects for yourself to do for when early labour starts. I've had clients save their wedding photos to scrapbook, dog park trips, a list of baking to do, book yourself a pedicure, go to the movies. Get out! Because the way you stub your toe at home in front of your partner is not the same way you stub your toe in the middle of the line at Starbucks.
You are strong, you are capable. Your body is wise, your baby is cute and has their perfect timing planned. The more we have you "just rolling with it" ... the easier it's going to roll out.
For more information regarding herbal use in pregnancy and postpartum, check out these resources:
DIY Postpartum/Baby Products
Having been previously directed to the wellnessmama.com website by a friend of family, I decided to spend my free afternoon creating a few of the recommended DIY projects in preparation of my birth.
While the natural ingredients can be more expensive to purchase in the beginning, you tend to end up saving money in the long run by creating your own products at home, because they are usually more versatile and last for quite a long time.
We decided to start with the Postpartum Sitz Bath. Overall, I found the recipe very easy to follow. It required only mixing together the blend of recommend herbs to help promote healing after childbirth.
In a mason jar, I combined:
¼ cup Comfrey Leaf
½ cup Lavender Flowers (mmm, my favourite scent!)
¼ cup Plantain Leaf
½ cup Red Raspberry Leaf (this makes great tea as well)
¼ cup Yarrow Flower
¼ cup Calendula Flowers
¼ cup Shepherd’s Purse
¼ cup Ova Ursi Leaf
¼ cup Epsom Salts or Sea Salt
After all ingredients were added I sealed the mason jar and put it in my handy, ‘After Childbirth Healing’ bin in my bathroom. I made sure to put some Muslin Bags in the bin as well so that I could skip straining the herbs from the bathtub and instead just soak with them.
With how simple the Sitz Bath recipe was, we then decided to try our hands making some Baby Oil as well.
Link: This link lists several natural baby care items you can make! I will eventually be trying my hands at almost all (if not all) of them. Today, I will only be making the baby oil.
Warning: As always, before the first application of ANY kind of oil on your baby’s skin, put a drop on their arm to make sure your baby is not allergic to the oil. If you choose to use an oil other than one listed below, please research to make sure that the oil you have chosen is safe for your baby’s skin. Again, please check with your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns about what may or may not be unsafe for your baby.
1 cup Olive Oil or Apricot Oil
2 tablespoons Calendula Flowers
2 tablespoons Chamomile Flowers
For this recipe I decided to use Sweet Almond Oil instead of Olive or Apricot Oil. Sweet Almond Oil is highly nourishing and contains high level of Vitamins A, B2, B6 and Vitamin E. Mostly because I already had it in my pantry.
There are two methods of creating the oil that are recommended by Wellness Mama. One is a fast infusion, which involves heating the oil with the Calendula and Chamomile Flowers mixed in.
I am only 17 weeks pregnant and I have some time to kill before my baby gets here, so I opted to try the slow infusion method. This involves putting the oil and flowers in a mason jar and sealing it, shaking daily, for 6-8 weeks prior to use.
I plan to create quite a few DIY postpartum and baby products. This is going to be a great money saving endeavor, and I find it very comforting knowing exactly what ingredients are in the things I will be putting on my body and on my baby.
Over the next few months I will be sharing more DIY recipes that you may want to try for yourself and your baby. You can follow along with my posts to see the recipes as I create them, or feel free to visit the Wellness Mama website and do it on your own!
check out her website for more great DIY recipes!
Whether it’s our species’ genes celebrating their eternal life through another generation; our mammalian compulsion to care for the helpless young; or simply that a baby is pure love incarnate,
there’s no denying the magic of birth – we humans are natural-born baby-worshippers! Their newly-forged spirits shine brightly, and we sense something so special about this new being.
The ancient Celts talked of thin places – places where the barrier is thin between heaven and earth. Samhain is a time when the veil is thin between the worlds. Birthing time is one of those special, thin times, too – the veil is thin as baby crosses over into this world.
Poet William Wordsworth describes newborns: “trailing clouds of glory do we come… Heaven lies about us in our infancy“
It’s hard to believe! A year ago, I was cuddling my tiny, fragile-seeming newborn, still just days old.
 I came across this idea in a blog post and love it – it has become incorporated into my own spiritual philosophy. I regret I cannot credit the woman who introduced me to the idea – her blog post is lost to me in a long trail of cyberspace history…
All Creation Waits, (c) Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com
Advent and the Universal Child
Then as an adult I learned that midwinter has long been associated with birth and birth legend, complete with deities and celestial wonders – in fact, because of this, in some cultures, solstice has been called Mother’s Night.
What a beautiful season for my own birthing time!
I realized that one of the reasons for the mass emotional resonance Christmas has, is that, perhaps, deep down we are recognizing the specialness of every child born when we celebrate this sacred birth - a celebration of the inherent worth and dignity of each of us.
 Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials: Yule: Rituals, Recipes, and Lore for the Winter Solstice, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN, 2015.
Mary and the Universal Mother
I wrestled with the contrast between the cherished, celebrated newborn and the isolation and hardship the human journey can lead through:
because of my decision to have a baby, 50 years from now there could be a homeless man, perhaps mentally ill and estranged from his family. Or 80 years down the road, an isolated woman lying in a hospital bed…
It can break a new mom’s heart to think that I won’t always be there to help my child in her times of need. But that’s as it should be – every child needs their village, all through their life. But there are things I can do…
- I can give her the loving foundation that will help her all her life.
- I can help create the world that I want my child to be born into –
- I am surrounded by other mothers’ children (of all ages) everywhere I go – I can treat them with
I can honour the essential spirit in each of us, that shines so clearly at our births.
Through my fears, I met the comfort and practical love of the universal mother.
Anne Lamott writes, in her book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, “it helps me beyond words to look at myself through the eyes of Mary, totally adoring and gentle, instead of through the critical eyes of the men at the Belvedere Tennis Club, which is how I’ve looked at myself nearly all my life. I don’t think the men at the Belvedere Tennis Club would look at this big exhausted, weepy, baggy, mentally-ill, cellulite unit we call Anne Lamott and see a beautiful, precious, heroic, child. But Mary does.”
Longest Night, (c) Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com
It’s amazing how the process just flows along, beyond my own volition, like watching a garden grow through the summer.
It was amazing to experience my body and hers spiral apart, in that ancient dance our bodies naturally knew so well.
Nature is the foundation of my spirituality, so it was very special to experience myself as part of nature in this new way.
While I was pregnant, for the first time I noticed how strange it is to call newborns “the new arrival.” I mean, who are we kidding? They’ve been here all along! (pats belly) It’s not as if they had to pack a bag for the flight (as sweet as the “stork” idea is).
I preferred to think of birth as a baby’s transformation from water creature to earth creature – taking its first breath.
But the idea of a journey turned out to be a powerful metaphor for me in birth. I saw a sea before me, with a distant shore, which I crossed over to in a little personal sized boat - to return together with the baby. The birthing waves carried us onward, along with a fair bit of rowing by me! It was archetypal – a hero’s journey, with no guarantee of a safe return for either of us.
It was an identity-transforming journey, in which I started to identify with the role of Mother - I learned new depths of my determination and resolve, and new heights of gratitude for the grace
that allowed me to bring my baby safely home.
Does it seem strange to you that I speak in such epic, legendary terms of an ordinary event that happens every day? But this is one of life’s beautiful mysteries – each of our lives, from birth to death – is ordinary… and legendary!
was a theme song for me during my approach to motherhood – it fit so well with the spirit of the advent season!
I couldn’t get to sleep, maybe this was the real thing (maybe it was the coffee I indulged in at 6:00pm - bad idea) So I began a night by myself, rocking back and forth on the ball and feeling each wave come and go. I didn’t want to wake my husband because we’d already had one or two false alarms. After a couple of hours, I was convinced, this was it. I pulled out my “what to do in labor list” and began checking of the things. Music. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” Rest.
Around 3am I woke up my husband and called our doula Vanessa. “Try to sleep” She said. So I lay there, unable to rest, but excited at what was finally happening. With appointments scheduled the next morning, I began excitedly packing only to be told not to come to see my doctor if I was truly in labor, but to wait and go to the hospital when it was time.
So, we waited. I tried to take a nap after a sleepless night and as I “napped” it seemed my contractions got further and further apart. Feeling defeated again, maybe this wasn’t it.
So we turned to the humor of old TV episodes and continued to hope that the baby would be coming today.
They continued past lunch, we tried everything to get them closer together but they stayed 5 minutes apart all afternoon. Around 4:00pm we decided they were close enough to leave before rush hour. It became so exciting; we were going to have our baby!
When we arrived I insisted on the stairs. So I climbed up, so I could have my baby. Once there, things were still going strong, but only to find out.. 2cm, still (after a month) the nurse left and I burst into tears, we had to go back home. No baby tonight.
So we made our way back, now already 8:00pm, stopped for a burger and back to sitting and waiting. It was time to try and sleep again. In and out with contractions, by 3 or 4am, I was up again.
In the darkness, Vanessa and I talked. (She truly was our life saver, finding random blankets from our house and staying the night with us.) Day 2.5 of labor was upon us. I just continued to ride each contraction, still 5-6 minutes apart.
We continued to labour on after he left. And this is where time stopped. I truly believe I was finally in active labor. I was completely mindless and remember very little about what happened from here on out, all I know was each wave and each contraction was intense but bringing me closer to baby.
By the time he got back, I no longer wanted to make a cake (and for months after the birth I wondered why there was a box of cake mix in the cupboard, completely forgetting about this) He sat with me for hours, and nothing except for music filled our bedroom.
I am told for over an hour I repeated the same thing, all I remember is the motions, sway, hands and knees, chest down, repeat. I don’t remember anything except those motions and hearing Vanessa say at one point “You are going to have the baby here, if we don’t leave”
2 cm… again.
I had never felt more defeated in my life. I was sure I was in active labor. “Come back when they are closer together” the nurse said.
Although on my perfectly crafted birth plan was to have no augmentation to my labor this was getting into day 3 (I didn’t ask for that in my plan either) I asked for my membrane sweep. There was no one who could do this at the hospital, so they told me I could go to my doctor to have one done or go home.
A much needed stop in the Lois Hole Healing Gardens, to cry and labor outside on the most beautiful day of the fall, and decide.
Doctor Mayo, my OB, had an office across the street; it was approaching 5pm so I needed to make my decision. Off we went, and even though it was only across the street it took us a half hour to get there, contracting in the parkades and the streets.
Luckily, he would see me. I tried to keep my contractions minimal in the waiting room, people quietly whispering around me and speculating whether or not I was in labour.
When he walks in to see me, he stops, looks and says “you’re in labor!” He tells me I should go back to the hospital and have this baby. I don’t want the Pitocin he suggests, but with a phone call we are on our way back to the hospital to be admitted. He wishes me luck as he wasn’t on call that evening and tells me I will have the baby tonight! We begin the “long” trek back across the street and up those stairs. I resist the stairs but Vanessa cheers me on and up we go.
Back in assessment, the nurses say that I will not be going across the hall like I’d thought, I was asked again to get Pitocin and I declined, so I am tucked in the farthest bed and I continue to labor. Was I not being moved because there is no room? Or was it because I will not accept pitocin? We will never know. “Fine!” I said “I will get to 10 cm and have this baby here!”
Clearly the sweep with the doctor had worked; I was now 1 minute apart and so intense. I moaned into my pillow for a few hours. “Why are you using the pillow?” Vanessa said, “They will get rid of your faster if you just let it out!” So she took it away and I’m sure I traumatized every pregnant woman in there, but I didn’t care. My natural birth was going great, even though we were officially more than 3 days in.
I started to make a mess of things, so they finally sent me to the other side. I had always heard you had to go from assessment to L&D in a wheelchair, many women protest this, but I was welcoming it with open arms. The nurse came to get me… no wheel chair and she was a very fast walker. It felt like the longest walk of my life, even though it was only down the hall, but I remember walking through the contractions, just to get to my room.
Finally there, I don’t remember much of the room, except being very excited it had a Lois Hole Garden view. This is where I would have my baby. It was already after 7:00pm on October 1st. Nurse Laura was the one who would be with me and she was instantly amazing. She so carefully reviewed my birth plan, let me know everything I could expect to be done or pressured to be done, and asked questions. She was very deserving of my nurse treat bag!
I continued my many positions for hours before we met our sweet doctor for the night. It was time to think about breaking my water. Another augmentation I didn’t want, but had to be done. I was 5-6cm by now and yes, it was time to break my waters!
For hours water poured out! (I had a condition in pregnancy called polyhydramnios) My stomach halved in size and the nurses were obsessing over each contraction and how you could see the body shape of the baby perfectly in my belly.
Ball, bed, toilet, shower, repeat.
I remember very little from the night, only reminding myself at each contraction “we must be close, only 1 minute long, one more closer.”
Another check and I was only 7cm… why! So we continued into the early hours of the morning.
Only to find out upon every check, 9.5cm… 9.5 cm for over 8 hours. What was going on?
“I am pushing him out!” I cry out and the nurses tell me to hold back, it’s not time. How could it not be time, each contraction he was being pushed without my control. Here is the only part of my labor I recall saying “I cannot do this” and Vanessa looking me dead in the eyes, telling me that I can. Hunched over the bed, not truly believing I could and the room a blur I continued on.
At another check and another 9.5cm, it was found that my baby was stuck.
“I can turn him without an epidural” the doctor told me “but I won’t because it’s inhumane and it will hurt.”
The decision I never wanted to make was on my plate. I never wanted to face this moment and here it was. I’m 9.5cm, yet feeling so far away. Darting my gaze frantically between Vanessa and my husband, Brant, throughout contractions, I was searching their eyes for my answer. I knew what I had to do but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Even nurse Laura, who had now been with me her entire shift, getting ready to leave, sat at my bedside and assured me I was doing an amazing job and I would have that baby soon.
She offered her congrats before heading out and with the strength of my team; it was time for the epidural. Besides all the negatives associated with the epidural for baby, I was also just downright scared to get one. How would I stay still? My contractions were too strong and close, but I just remember staring at Brant through the tears as it was quickly completed.
Reprieve and sleep. My head cleared and I could see the time it was. 6am… Friday? This all started on Tuesday! I counted the hours in my head; we were now 56 hours in. Now that I have the epidural and they told me that it’ll relax me enough for that last 0.5 cm, it MUST be soon.
Doctor Mayo checked in and told me he was going to be there for the next two days. “I WILL deliver your baby” he said as he left me still at 9.5cm.
Later on, still at 9.5 and contractions slowing, it was time for Pitocin. So we played the up and down game of Pitocin and epidural for a few hours. By noon, it was time to push. I remember looking up at the clock as soon as they said I was 10cm, 12:00pm. “Most people push for 2 hours” I thought, “I will have this baby 1:00pm then!” I was so happy.
Pushing, pushing, pushing… another look at the clock and it was 1:00pm “Okay, by 2:00pm” More pushing, more hope since he was coming down and the heartbeat was great. After we passed 2:00pm time just didn’t exist anymore. I didn’t care, I just wanted to meet our baby now.
Sitting crunched up, pushing every minute for 5 hours, Doctor Mayo was back to check in after 5:00pm he asked “Can you keep going?” I again searched the faces of Brant and Vanessa, all of us exhausted after almost 4 days of labor, but I said “No I can’t, I’m too tired” He asked me if I wanted the vacuum (a horror a terrible nurse from earlier told me about) Yes, it was time, I wanted to meet our baby.
Once I had confirmed this everything became a flurry. Lights blasted on, more nurses showed up, a resident introduced himself in between my legs, as I was pushing. It was like it was show time! And it was.
Doctor Mayo pulled our little baby out so slowly and carefully. “Touch the head!” someone said, when I did I just looked back and Brant and wept. This baby was real and almost here! At some point during all this in burst Nurse Laura “YOU’RE STILL HERE!?” she cried out, 14 hours later she was starting her next shift and finished off what she started with us. After a few more pulls, Doctor Mayo took off the vacuum and said “you push the rest of the way” So I did and I had the ultimate satisfaction of pushing my baby into this world.
No one yelled out the gender like I always imagined, I searched for what it might be and I said “a boy!” we were right all along.
No skin to skin or cord clamping, because well… after 5.5 long hours, he pooped. In some of my prenatal talks, I remembered someone saying that when they take them to heating table it’s only 10 feet away but it will feel like over 100. And it did. I continued to cry, not just because I wanted to see my baby but also from joy, accomplishment and just knowing he was finally here.
Doctor Mayo quickly explained why we couldn’t do any other things from my birth plan before rushing to another birth. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember he was fantastic.
When they brought him to me, I got my skin to skin and we sat and cried and stared at him, our beautiful boy. I don’t even know how much time passed during those moments, the three of us so close together; it was the most special moment of my life.
Oliver Gray was born on October 2nd, 2015 after over 72 hours of labor at 5:22pm. And he was worth it all.
I didn’t get everything I wanted in my birth, in fact I pretty much got everything I didn’t want in regards to my birth plan. But I don’t look back on it with any regret. If I hadn’t taken those steps, Oliver may have taken even longer to arrive. Something could have gone terribly wrong and happened to me, or worse to him.
I planned one thing no one really knew about, knowing I needed to be flexible no matter what. My flexibility is what got him here and I’m so proud of this birth story. These were some of the most intense moments of my life and he stayed my little champion the whole time, just like he is now. I would do it all again for him and wouldn’t change a thing.
Past Full Circle client, Liz Driedger whose doula was Vanessa.
Trust In Your Body