6 Things to Know Before Breastfeeding

Before giving birth to my son, I had visions of holding him in my arms, his little fist wrapped around my finger, gazing down at him in adoration and loving every moment… HA! Little did I know, my first few weeks nursing were among the most challenging of my life. I had taken a breastfeeding class, I had read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding from front to cover, and I thought I was well prepared for this new experience. Well – I was prepared, but there are still things I wish I had known. 

Here are 10 things I wished I knew before starting to breastfeed my baby.

  1. It hurts a lot. I don’t want to scare you – you, pregnant mama-to-be reading this, but for me, breastfeeding was far more painful than childbirth. Experts say nursing shouldn’t hurt – a proper latch is painless – and they are not wrong. But achieving this proper latch doesn’t come easily to every baby or every mom. The first two weeks were filled with absolutely toe-curling pain every time I nursed. My midwives tried their best to teach me, and I consulted a lactation consultant: they were helpful and gave me great tips, but nothing would change the fact that my little 6 pound 10 onces baby had a tiny, dainty mouth, and for him a “wide open mouth” wasn’t quite “wide enough”. Looking back, I think the reason childbirth seemed less painful to me than breastfeeding was that I was mentally prepared for the pain of childbirth, but didn’t quite expect breastfeeding to be so painful. So remember: it hurts at first- be ready.
  2. The mental stress can be tremendous: I was induced at 39 weeks for high blood pressure (though I wasn’t preeclamptic) because my son had essentially stopped growing. He was born in the 10th percentile, just one ounce over the minimum required by the hospital to be clear of any prolonged tests. Needless to say, he had to gain weight – fast. Since in the first few days, babies lose a bit of their weight, my midwives encouraged me to nurse my son every two hours, and force him to drink. I was so worried – because I wasn’t feeding him with a bottle, I wasn’t sure how much he was taking in, and wet diapers were encouraging but didn’t completely put my mind at ease. For the first two weeks, my mind was constantly moving. In the end, he had gained two pounds those first two weeks (apparently I made cream instead of milk!), but I remember the worry vividly. If I had to do it over, I would have invested in a digital scale to worry less.
  3. Invest in nursing tanks and a good robe: For the first few weeks, I lived in my nursing tanks and robe. It was the most comfortable way to deal with my huge, hard breasts – I could stuff the tanks with breast pads and cabbage leaves, they were easily accessible for my son, and I was able to cover up quickly if someone was stopping by to say hello. I bought a couple of tanks from Bravado! and I absolutely loved them – they were flattering for the postpartum body, and offered a nice neckline. I still wear them with a long cardigan a lot of the time! As for my robe, I bought a nice cotton one that was machine washable – a must, as you will most definitely need to wash it eventually.
  4. Your breasts might leak for months: I knew that in the first few days after your milk comes in, your breasts might leak a bit of milk. A bit is an understatement: in my case, for months after giving birth, anytime I would bend forward to dry off after a shower, I would leave a trail of milk drops on the bathroom floor. I stuffed my nursing bras with breast pads for the first 4 months, and still sleep with them  at night now since my son sometimes sleeps through the night. Here’s a tip: I initially tried two brands of disposable breast pads, but found that they irritated my already-sensitive nipples, so I replaced them with bamboo nursing pads. They were among my best postpartum purchases!
  5. Laid-back breastfeeding is a Godsend: As you may have guessed from the information above, I struggled with breastfeeding, in part because I had an oversupply, a quick letdown and a strong milk flow. My son was spitting up more than the average baby, and would moan the entire time he was nursing. After a while, I decided to give laid-back breastfeeding a try: I laid down on my back, with my son on me (belly to belly) and let him drink. Almost instantly, the pain I was experiencing diminished, my son’s spit-up improved, and the entire ordeal was a lot less messy: I used gravity to my advantage instead! Even if that might not be your situation, laid back breastfeeding allowed me to relax my whole body, and feel closer to the breastfeeding-goddess I thought I would be. Fun fact: my son is 10 months old, and still nurses this way 99% of the time!
  6. It’s worth it: A fed baby is the best kind of baby, let’s make that clear. I was ready to supplement with Formula if I had needed to. That said, nursing really is very special – once you get through the hard part of baby and mama learning how to do it, it’s magical. Guaranteed cuddles, convenient, free, sweet, and another way in which the woman’s body is amazing. Even though it was difficult getting started, and I wanted to quit more than once, it was 100% worth it for us. So – if you want to quit, know that in most cases, it gets better. SO much better. 

 

Well there you have it! The 6 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding. I hope this was helpful, and if so, please pin it or share it!

 

Going back to work

It’s 6am and I can’t sleep. Sam woke up at about 4:45 to nurse, and I’ve been tossing and turning since I put him back down.

With about a month and a half left to my Maternity leave, I’m getting increasingly anxious about going back to work. In Canada, we are very fortunate to have 12 months of maternity leave, which is awesome and I try really hard to be thankful for that and think of all the women who are not so lucky.

That said – I am very apprehensive about my return. I like my job – my team of 20 year olds is great, and I love working with young adults. I like the projects I’m given, the difference we’re making in the students lives, the meetings, etc. But deep down, I know I’m never, ever going to feel as completely happy as I am raising my son, and that scares me. I don’t want to spend my time doing something I don’t love. Don’t get me wrong- being at home with S isn’t always easy – it’s challenging and sometimes long, even. But each day I am with him I feel so fulfilled. All I was ever really sure of was that I wanted to be a mom – so maybe that’s all I should be doing?

Thinking of not working is exciting for about 3 minutes, because the excitement and joy at the thought is soon replaced by worry. How would we make ends meet without my income? Of course, we could cut down our expenses, get a smaller home, budget more. But then what about S? I want him to be able to sign up for sports, to visit his cousin in the Yukon, to go away to Summer Camp, and have a nice yard where he could play. And don’t even get me started on retirement!

My husband is a very hardworking entrepreneur, and his startup is doing well. The stability, though, just isn’t there – so is it a good idea to depend on him financially?

I just want my son to have everything, and keep going over the scenarios in my head, the thoughts bouncing around like a pingpong ball and going back and forth, with every “maybe I…” followed by “but then…”

How did you decide to work or stay home? I need perspective.

Baby Gadget Review – Fox & Finn Teething Necklace

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ave you found yourself walking at BuyBuyBaby, Babies R Us, Target or Walmart in the baby aisle, looking at all the colourful, bright, objects, wondering “How can such a tiny baby need so many things!? Clearly, these are just inventions and gadgets you don’t need”.

I did. I wanted to be somewhat of a minimalist when it came to our stuff for S. We don’t have a lot of space in our town home, and I do think kids have too many toys and that this doesn’t help foster their creativity. So when I heard about Teething necklaces, I thought “Here’s another thing we don’t need”. Then, Sam hit 8 months, and all hell broke loose.

My son is now 10 months, and has 8 teeth. He is like a little shark, with rows of pointy teeth ready to piece just about anything (read: fingers. scarves. shirts. tops. cheeks. nipples. books. the couch). At around 8 months, his fourth incisor was coming through and he was just so miserable. Cuddles were a dangerous affair, as he would try to bite anything he could get his teeth on. So, after trying the usual teething relief strategies, I sucked it up and ordered a teething necklace off Amazon. I picked the Avery Necklace, made by Fox and Finn in Australia.

The necklace is made of FDA approved food grade silicone beads that are 100% BPA free. I picked it mostly because it was safe, but also because it’s pretty cute. Not I’m-going-to-purposely-wear-it-out-to-drinks cute, but cute enough that if I forget it’s hanging around my neck before leaving the house, it’s really not terrible.

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The necklace is sturdy and well made – the beads are attached with safety knots on either side, and the rope is made of silk, so it’s soft for baby’s gums. Because of how it’s made, it doesn’t pull at your hair when you wear it around your neck, which is a huge bonus (especially if you have very thick hair like mine)!

The biggest pro, though, is as follows: you get so many sweet, quiet cuddles. It’s SO nice to be able to sit quietly, with your baby on your lap, looking into your eyes, and for once not have him pulling at everything that’s attached to you. It gives you good quality time, and occupies baby’s hands and mouth while you talk to him. I liked to give Sam the necklace while reading books before his naps, because it calmed him down.

The teething necklace was especially handy when I flew from Ottawa to Florida to visit my family down there. Flying with an older baby can be challenging, and I knew my back was going to get sore from trying to keep my son on my lap and interested during the almost 3 hour flight. Whenever he started getting antsy, I put on the necklace, and Sam would sit quietly on my lap and be still for a while, all the while being perfectly content.

If you are planning on travelling with a teething baby, or are just looking for another option to help your baby teeth, I recommend finding a teething necklace you like, and keep it in your diaper bag. It’s a handy, easy solution that takes up little room and can soothe even the sorest of gums.

Have you tried using a teething necklace with your babies? What did you think?

I didn’t expect parenthood to be so sweet

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t sounds crazy, right? You toss and turn thinking about this new baby who will soon be born. You think of everything you need to do, read, plan and prepare for their arrival.

You picture the closeness of nursing and cuddling, the cuteness of the first smile,  the amazement at their first words. You picture a lifetime of pride, of growth, of Christmas’ and Halloweens and Birthdays. You picture dirty diapers and laughs. I did expect me to adore my child. But I didn’t expect, exactly, for it to be so, so sweet.

Yesterday, at around 10pm, Sam woke up crying in his crib. He’s been swatting at his ears a lot lately, and is sticking his thumb way back in his mouth – we think his first molars are bothering him. Anyway, Jay and I were just about to go to bed so we quickly finished getting ready and I went to get him. The minute I picked him up he stopped crying, and started nuzzling in my neck. As I sat in the glider, he did the strangest thing: he tried to lay down on top of me. He tried several times since as he couldn’t get comfortable – I wasn’t exactly horizontal. I was trying so hard not to laugh, but it was clear he was just treating me like his crib mattress. After a while of him getting more and more antsy, I decided to bring him to bed with us for a bit. He cuddled with me for a minute, and then moved completely away from me and positioned himself face down in our bed (as he does in his crib) and fell asleep. His little feet were rubbing together, on my stomach. The sweetness of that moment – of his little feet moving, of his chest rising and falling – I didn’t expect the immensity of it. The sheer vastness of the sweetness, of the love inside my heart. It’s just, indescribable.

It happens often, too. When he laughs because I pretend his feet are smelly. When he puts his head down, focused, before crawling as fast as he can towards something he knows I’ll take away from him if I get there first. When he tries to stick his teethers in my mouth because, well, he loves me. When he opens his mouth wide, and just kinda presses it on our cheeks to give us kisses. When he sleeps with his bum way up in the air. In all those precious small moments, I can’t help but think to myself that I never, ever imagined parenthood would be so sweet. The love this big.

I am smitten. 

My Picks: Winter with a Newborn

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t is finally above 0 degrees celcius again – I’m not even being sarcastic. This is exciting! We just suffered a cold spell in my corner of the world, and it has NOT been fun. Not only do I feel like I need to moisturize my skin a million times a day, drink tea to warm up from the inside out and wear the thickest socks I can muster in the house, but on top of worrying about me I’m super concerned about Sam getting cold.

Sam was born in January, and it was super important at the time to keep him safe from illness, his skin soft, and his little toes, hands and nose toasty. I remember looking up what was recommended for a winter baby, and it was hard finding information.

This is the list of the top 5 things I’ve found most useful with a Winter baby. I recommend them fully for newborns – the toddler list is coming up next!

1. A good, warm car seat cover

Remember all those cute, down-filled one-piece snowsuits displayed in our favourite baby stores? Well, it turns out dressing your baby in one before putting him in the carseat goes against the safety guidelines. Anything too thick can keep the seatbelt from being properly fastened on your baby, risking injury or death in the case of collisions. This is why bunting bags for carseats were invented. These bunting bags attach to the outside of your bucket seat, and are perfectly safe to use for baby.

There are many out there, but our favourite one is the Petit Coulou – a Canadian company – so they know cold! This bunting bag requires you to put only a hat on your baby before setting him in the carseat. Your baby is in nothing more than a onesie over a diaper? No problem! They are still super warm and your baby will feel very toasty in it. I put Sam in his car seat in a sleeper in -40 weather and he was STILL cozy in there. Get it on Amazon!

2. A cool-air mist humidifier

A humidifier is a worthwhile purchase for the nursery. The cold Winter air can dry out our skin, and all the furnace heating doesn’t help. Humidity levels drop in our homes in Winter. Not only is this uncomfortable (dry boogers, anyone?): it’s downright bad for your health. The recommended humidity levels for our homes is between 40-50%, and closer to 40% in winter. Outside of these ranges, the air becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, fungi, mites, and even chemical interactions.

Though there are different types of humidifiers, it’s best to chose a cool-air system, as hot-air systems emit vapour that can be quite hot. As your baby gets older, he will undoubtedly get curious and try to catch the steam. So, better to go with something that has 0 chance of burning him.

We pick the Honeywell Ultrasonic Humidifier

3. A natural bath-oil

Bath time can be stressful the first few months: you are learning how to manipulate a tiny baby underwater (so slippery!), and you are worried about drying your baby’s scalp and skin. Sam suffered from Eczema and Keratosis Pilaris early on. We introduced bath oil to his routine, and it cleared his skin issues right up.

We use Mustela’s Stelatopia Bath Oil. It’s made with Natural Avocado Oil, smells wonderful and is super gentle on baby’s skin and eyes.

4. A Winter weight sleep sack

After bringing Sam home from the hospital, Jay and I thought we lucked out and had a perfect baby who went right to sleep without needing any sleep aids. Well, not quite. Day 3 kicked our ass, and after texting my Mom-friend Kayla that I was at my wits end, she graciously dropped off swaddling bags for Sam. Well. 3 minutes later he was asleep and slept very well for pretty much the rest of his life (so far).

Halo makes wonderful sleepsacks that are orthopedist approved for hip and shoulder health. They come in a variety of weights, but for Canadian winters (and anywhere with similar weather), we recommend their Microfleece Halo Sleepsack Swaddle.

5. A snot-sucker

Yep. It’s gross. Like, really gross. Never would have I thought that sucking my baby’s snot would make me happy. That said, it’s honestly an amazing invention. Babies get snotty noses for all kinds of reasons: dry air (hello, heating!), crying (hello… teething, seperation anxiety, gas, colic, tiredness, discomfort, hunger, soiled diaper, did I say teething?!), and of course, from getting a cold or flu. My son hates the process, but is actually so much more comfortable the instant it’s done.

There are several kinds out there, but we like the tried and true HydraSense Nasal Aspirator Starter kit, which comes with saline solution to soften those dried boogers and a few filters.

There you have it – our picks for a safe, cozy winter with a newborn!

And so it begins

I‘ll tell you what. When I pictured myself starting this blog, I had a whole lot of ideas on what I would write about. Product reviews. Personal experience. Tips & tricks. Lists- lots of lists! Easy and quick recipes. Breastfeeding advice.. basically, a little bit of everything a Mama could need.

What I DIDN’T consider was how to begin this first post. Over the years, I have seen and read countless blogs, but by the time I discover them, they are always well-established: finding the first post is just about impossible, so I’m going in blind.

I guess I’ll start with the basics. My name is Catherine, but most people call me Cat. I am a 29 year old from Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. In 2012, I met my husband, Jay, at work. We got married 4 years later, and in May of 2017, we found out we were expecting.

I’ve wanted to be a mom for about as long as I can remember. Some people have great big career aspirations – me, I just wanted to have a family. So we have been over the moon. My husband Jay is a business owner and entrepreneur, which means he is really busy. He is, however, a wonderful partner and father and I’m so lucky to be sharing this life with him.

I have been incredibly fortunate to spend the last 10 months or so at home with my son, Samuel, being completely amazed by him and very smitten. Every day, I try my best to consolidate all my roles: wife. mother. daughter. friend. employee. supervisor. sister. I guess all these roles are part of me, and always have been and always will be, but now it’s a matter of juggling them. Wearing different hats. Being ME, while also being everything else. It isn’t easy.. but it’s so damn beautiful.