Top 5 Tips for Sleep Survival after Halloween

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children, but the late night trick-or-treating, massive amounts of sugar, and excitement can throw a wrench into even the best sleeper’s patterns.

Not to mention that we have the fall daylight savings time change on the very same night!

For new parents, you may be surprised at how busy the evening is around your neighbourhood and how hard it is to maintain bedtime with dogs and doorbells.

If your children are older, managing the excitement, the candy and encouraging sleep all in the same night can be challenging but there is hope.

No matter how old your child is, these tips can help you and your child survive Halloween highs and hopefully avoid early morning struggles.

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1. Be Prepared
Try to avoid letting your child become over-tired or overstimulated before bedtime on Halloween night. This is especially true if you have small children. The sights and sounds of Halloween are new and exciting, so consider starting your Halloween rituals early. If you are on good terms with your neighbors, consider pre-arranging an early time for your child’s Halloween experience. This ensures that they can show off their cool costumes before dark (what a great way to be seen!).

2. Keep The Bedtime Routine
Once your children are done examining their spoils, you need to start the bedtime routine. Make sure that you turn off all the lights in the front of your house, cover your doorbell with a note saying “children sleeping, please do not ring bell,” and you may even want to put a bowl of candy out for the later trick-or-treaters. This will ensure that any kids out after dark can help themselves without disturbing your sleep routine.

3. Limit Sugar
If you are concerned about the amount of sugar that your child may consume, consider providing your neighbors with a fun healthier snack or even a small toy, so that the holiday is not all about candy. Make sure that you start your Hallowed Eve with an early meal before all the excitement starts. Focus on balanced choices so that your children have enough “fuel” to make it through the night.

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4. Control the Chaos
If your child is interested in raiding their loot when they get home from trick or treating, here are two options that may help:
• Allow them to have all they want once you arrive home. Some parents find that keeping the treats from their children will only make them want it more. You can encourage them to eat some less sweet treats, such as chips and gum if it was offered.
• Try to save the sugary snacks and chocolate treats for the next day, and perhaps allow a set number of pieces on Halloween night.
• If you are opposed to your child consuming all of their candy, have some toys or special healthier treats on hand for them to ‘trade in’ their candy for something even better. In some areas, local dentist offices also do a “candy buy” and provide children with a special reward in exchange for their loot.
In the spirit of the holiday, you can even do your bedtime routine by flashlight, which would be fun and a little different for your children. Additionally, turning the overhead lights off in the house will encourage the release of melatonin in your children, which will help them to feel sleepy.

AndreaAndrea Strang is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula with over 14 years of sleep consulting experience working with adults, babies, and children up to 6 years of age.

Hey Birth Partner! Why you don't need to be a Superhero...

So I’d like to get right to the point….Birth Partner, you are important!

Often times with all the excitement and preparation for labour and birth, the role of the birth partner is taken for granted. Society has placed unrealistic expectations on partners to be the hero for the day but without enough sleep, food and some simple items, it’s hard for partners to hold it together for the birth let alone help mom. But the birthing mom will notice if you aren’t meeting your own needs and this can make her more anxious. The more anxious she is the more pain she feels. So by looking after your own basic needs, mom can relax without worrying that you’re ok. You are not a superhero but a human being about to share in one of the most exhilarating yet exhausting times of your life. Here are some things that a birth partner can do to prepare and feel ready for the big day.

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Pack a bag – for a hospital birth bring a change of clothing, sweater, flip flops, bathing suit, mints, phone charger, lip balm for mom, and your toiletries. You’ll be staying more than 24 hours and you’ll want to freshen up too! Having fresh breath is so important when your face to face for so long! You’ll definitely feel like a hero if you casually pull lip balm out of your pocket when mom complains that her lips are dry.

Pillow for mom and a pillow for you – hospitals usually aren’t generous with pillows, so if you do get a chance to rest, it’ll be so much better with a pillow.

Eat and stay hydrated – I can’t count the number of times as a doula that I’ve looked over at a partner and begged them to take a break and eat something. I think that there can be some guilt when they can’t take discomfort away from mom so sacrificing eating can alleviate that feeling of guilt. However, this is the one discomfort that has purpose and that needs to be there for baby to be born, so feed yourselves!! Energy bars are a great item to bring and are easy to bring in any bag, so you’re not away from mom for a long amount of time. Every time mom has some water, so should you! Dehydration symptoms are pretty harsh and you need to be on your game. Hospitals are notoriously dry and coffee is also dehydrating so be good to yourself and balance everything with some H20.
and last but definitely not least….

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Emotions – you will be going through some crazy emotions that may take you by surprise. It’s ok, your feelings count too. Let yourself feel them and share them with your partner. Watching your partner birth your baby and then meeting your baby for the first time is an amazing, life changing experience – enjoy it… feel it… live it.

Sincerely,
The Doula

For more information on Doulas attend one of our Ask A Doula Nights or contact the WOMB at 905-842-2434…

DanielaSimone

Daniela Simone is a Certified Childbirth Doula and Postpartum Doula at The WOMB.  Daniela’s goal is to help women find their labour style, find strength in their choices and appreciate the amazing experience of giving birth in awareness. She loves being a wife to her supportive husband and mother to her two wonderful children.

Skills Every Child Should Know.

Hi! I’m Breanne.

Being a mommy is the most rewarding job ever, but it’s also one of the most challenging. Since becoming a mom I’ve learned that if I’m not intentional about taking time for myself, it just doesn’t happen. 

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In order to be the best moms we can be, I’m a strong believer that we need to carve out time to prioritize our well being. My blog is full of real life stories and realities to encourage moms who are in the thick of it. I spend lots of time encouraging moms to prioritize self-care. When our cup runs over, we have more to give the people we love the most.

In addition to my blog, I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@bkallonen) and on Facebook (Breanne Kallonen Naturopathic Intern).

Life skills have recently been lost in exchange for iPads, computers and social media. In a culture that is always on the go and never has enough time, being able to do simple life skills is advantageous. Providing your children with these abilities will allow them the independence of doing things on their own. In addition they will have skills that over time could save them money by not having to hire out help. Empowering your children with this knowledge creates memories and traditions that have the potential to be passed down through generations. Most importantly, your children will express pride and a sense of accomplishment that they are able to do and create things on their own.

1) Cooking:
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Helping out in the kitchen can be modified to get a child of any age involved. This is an amazing opportunity to educate your family on the importance of consuming a healthy diet. Get things started in the grocery store by allowing your kids to choose what fruits, vegetables, or protein source they want for the meal. Having them involved in this step also makes them more likely to actually eat it. Don't worry too much if you have a unique looking fruit in your cart, the Internet is a great resource for explaining how to cut pretty much anything!

As they grow, they should learn how to follow a basic recipe. It is quite simple to create your own ingredients list and step-by-step instructions. If you add photos to each of those steps it will make it even easier. Here is an opportunity to learn about following instructions, numbers, fractions, and much more.
Lastly, kitchen safety should also be discussed. Talk about how to safely use kitchen equipment and what you would do if there were a fire.

2) Foraging:
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Just playing in Mother Nature, going barefoot, and breathing in fresh air are habits we ought to start teaching our children. Children spend so much time indoors these days that they are forgetting how to play, discover and be deal with being bored. We are surrounded by free, healthy foods in our forests and possibly backyards and yet the art of wildcrafting botanicals has been lost. Why not learn as a family how to take advantage of the wild edibles. Some of the wild foods around Ontario are:
● Wild leeks, Fiddleheads, Dandelion, Wild Asparagus, Wild Ginger, Wild Mint
● Fruits; Crab Apples, Blackberries, Mulberries, Raspberries, Elderberries
Mushrooms: seek professional guidance as some safe varieties are easily confused with the similarly appearing poisonous species.
● Medicinals: Plantain leaf, Nettles, Joe Pye Weed, Burdock
Check out your local library or an online resource to help discover the plants. Involve the entire family in seasonal harvesting for items that can be found in your area. Always be safe rather than sorry and never eat anything you cannot properly identify.

3) Gardening:

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Gardening skills show how caring for something living and watching it grow from seeds can be rewarding for children. This is an opportunity to provide your family with local and the absolute freshest food possible. It also exposes your family to important soil microbes that are found locally in your unique environment. Plants that will easily start from seeds indoors include; peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots.

As kids grow they can take on more responsibilities such as watering, compost, pulling weeds, raking and using the lawn mower. The more your children grow, the more you can pass along information such as natural pest control, fertilizing, watering times, seed starting, plant protection, and harvesting times.

4) Preserving & Fermenting:
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Even young kids can help prepare food for storage. Allow children to help wash, cut, and learn about the importance of sterilization techniques in preserving foods. Educate them about the various ways to preserve foods such as drying, canning, and freezing. You can teach them about reducing waste by freezing unconsumed foods before they go bad. Not only does this open the conversation about sustainable living, it also teaches them about being kind to the environment. By preserving foods, you teach your children to rely less on our precious environmental resources.

The research supporting the health benefits of consuming fermented foods is growing. Kombucha, Kefir, Sauerkraut, and Ginger Bugs are all fun home projects that kids can enjoy with the added health benefits. Take a class in your community, research reputable online resources, or ask family and friends to teach you so you can learn these skills if you don't know them already.

5) Sewing & Carpentry:
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Everyone should know the basics of sewing. I cannot believe the number of items that are 50% off just because they are missing a button. All kids should know how to thread a needle, sew on a button, mend a tear and use a sewing machine. Knowing how to shorten clothing items can save time and money. Learning these skills may open a window of opportunity for children who take a special interest in it.

Next time you are setting up any type of furniture get the kids involved. Call the tools by their proper names and model how to use them. Verbally explain what you are doing and why. As they grow, provide them with building materials and tools and give them the task of building something.

6) Sustainable Living:

In a materialistic, economically unstable world one of the more important life lessons is how to live creatively on less money. There are so many free community activities out there that kids should be encouraged to take advantage of. Model to your children how to value what you have and take care of your items to ensure they last. Focus on purchasing quality over quantity. Purchase used when appropriate, fix things yourself, live within your means, budget and practice sustainable energy and environment conservation (recycle/compost, use a clothes line, carpool or bike on short errands).

7) Housekeeping & Chores:
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Kids need to understand how to clean and care for themselves. Knowing these skills will set them up for success in the future. Children are often capable of more than we give them credit for and should be allowed to learn through their mistakes.
These are skills children can easily learn;
● Laundry
● Dishes (by hand + dishwasher)
● Organization
● Vacuuming
● Cleaning Windows
● Create your own cleaning products using basic vinegar & baking soda
● Cleaning surfaces; table, sinks, mirrors etc.

8) First Aid:
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Kids should be equipped with the basic skills of caring for wounds, and treating common ailments with natural remedies. Young kids can learn the importance of cleaning a wound and learn the acronym R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compress & elevate). Teach your kids about natural anti-microbials such as garlic, clove, elderberries, and honey. Herbal teas (such as ginger for nausea and chamomile for anxiety) are natural as well as budget friendly.

If you have mastered foraging show your kids how to make a plantain poultice for bug bites and wounds. Other easy at-home first aid includes proper hand washing, hydration and herbal baths (oatmeal for rashes, mustard for colds/flus, lavender to promote rest).

As they grow, empower them to take charge of their health, ask questions about the medical advice they are receiving and request second opinions. They should understand the concept of informed consent and know they are in control of their bodies.

9) Basic Automotive:
Everyone should learn the basics of how to maintain cars and machines. How to open the hood, check fluid levels, change windshield wipers and tires are all important basic skills. By getting to know machines children are able to discover an understanding of how things work. It is good to know how to troubleshoot and when/who to call if you need assistance. If this is an area you'd like some brushing up on check out Youtube or WikiHow.com for tutorials.

10) Relaxing & Nature:
In a world where “busyness” is valued more than presence, children are losing the ability to relax and unplug. Children need to be bored as boredom fosters creativity and complex thought. Children should be encouraged to fantasize, daydream and sit with their thoughts and emotions. I relax with my children because it makes them feel calm and it gives them my undivided attention.
In order for children to grow they need input and feedback from their environments. We are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to experience the natural beauty of our world. When children are encouraged to relax in a natural setting they are more aware of their environment.

Feeling Inspired? Reconnect with your family's wellness by booking an appointment at The WOMB with Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Amy Dobbie, and Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Wellness Coach, Anne Pichora.

What everyone should know about Caesarean birth

The following is written by Dr. Sinéad Dufour, PT PhD, our a pelvic health physiotherapist at The WOMB and professor at McMaster University. She is also the proud mom of twins and gave birth by Caesarean birth under the advisement of her obstetrician. Since then, Dr. Sinéad has come to understand the health implications of caesarean birth and has an important message to share with women: one that she wishes she had known 5 years ago when she gave birth to her twins.

I first met my Obstetrician when I was 15 weeks pregnant. Since I was pregnant with twins it was suggested that my perinatal care be provided by the “high risk” OB in town. In this first (very brief) meeting, I was reassured that so far things looked good, but given I had not yet had children it would be in my babies’ best interest, particularly that of baby B, to be delivered via Caesarean section.

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At this time in my life, I was over half way through my PhD, so my inquisitive mind needed to know, “what is the evidence to substantiate a C- section? Is it in the BEST interest of baby B”? 

In response, I was given a somewhat detailed answer pertaining to a recent five-year research trial that determined consistently poor outcomes for baby B when delivered vaginally. I accepted this, agreed to the recommendation and as I left my appointment, I was given a card with my scheduled Caesarean section date indicated. In a way, it was a bit of a relief. My trust in our health care system at the time translated to me not giving much thought to the type of birth I would have.

However, I am most grateful (especially now!) that my naturopathic doctor did. In addition to helping me conceive, she ensured that “despite my impending Caesarean section”, I would be armed with the best possible health strategies for my future children.

What did she mean? She was talking about the microbiome. Birth through the vaginal canal is the time when a baby ingests some of the first bacteria that will colonise its gut. But babies born by caesarean birth miss out on this process, and end up with a different set of bugs – including some from the hospital environment.

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Tons of studies have found evidence that this C-section microbiome could make the child more vulnerable to problems later in life, such as asthma, food allergies and even obesity. We are finally coming to understand how important the collection of bacteria in our guts is for our health.

It is only now that I understand how important certain aspects of her plan were – probiotics!! My children are now five years old and it’s only in the last two years that I’ve given more thought to how they were brought into the world, and how I was duped by the very care system in which I work. In retrospect, I was not given accurate information on what was in my babies’ best interest. Rather, I was offered a recommendation based on a biased perspective, one that medicalizes birth, disrupting our precious evolutionary fabric in the process.

My increasing knowledge and understanding of the microbiome has stemmed from one of the many hats I wear – a professor of pathophysiology at McMaster University. Simply put, the scientific evidence is now very clear: a well-functioning microbiome is the key to health – it represents the foundation and the evolutionary matrix that allows us to exist. This important new research SHOULD be transforming our health care approach, especially as it relates to perinatal care. Almost one third of babies born in North America are now birthed by caesarean. These babies can still receive the microbes they’re missing — and hopefully some of the health benefits — by being swabbed with their mother’s vaginal fluid shortly after birth.

The microbiome (gut microbiota of humans – formerly known as gut flora) represents a diverse set of bacterial species (approximately 1000-1150). These micro-organisms control our immune system as well as metabolism – they are everything! Here’s a video explaining how the microbiome is the future of medicine. Colonization of the intestine with important bacteria begins at birth, mainly due to transfer of bacteria from the mother, but also from the environment – to which the influences are many. Mode of birth, place of birth, breastfeeding and antibiotic use have been clearly demonstrated to influence the composition of the microbiota.

So, what exactly are the implications regarding Cesarean birth? We still don’t have all the answers. What we do know, is that when your baby’s gut is colonized by the micro-organisms in the hospital operating room rather than from you, it doesn’t bode well for the long term health of your child. More disturbing is the fact that this is now understood to have a multi-generational effect.

So, what can we do with all of this information? Our conventional practices that medicalize birth require a major upheaval. It is not to say we never need medicalization – of course there are times when medical intervention saves lives. This is where our current systems approach shines. However, the pattern of routine unnecessary intervention is a big issue and frankly the health of our population is suffering as a result.

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Regardless of where you fit in the perinatal care process, you need to be informed. Beyond being informed, you need to be supported and empowered to make the best decisions. Thankfully our bodies are designed to adapt towards a state of wellness. We do however need the correct guidance on how to get there in a world of conventional practices that are hazardous to our health. I am so grateful to now be working with an incredible team in a one of a kind centre called The World of my Baby (the WOMB), who can provide this much needed help.

Why You Might Want to Try Acupuncture During Pregnancy

By Dr. Amy Dobbie, Naturopath

acupuncture and pregnancyWith all the testing, poking and prodding, therapies and preparation, it seems like there are so many things "to do" or try in pregnancy. What about acupuncture? Clients have experienced the most amazing results just from those wee needles we use! Here are the most common questions I am asked in my practice as a naturopathic doctor.

“I’ve heard acupuncture helps in pregnancy – is this true? Is it safe?” 

My answer is always YES! Acupuncture is completely safe during pregnancy, and is proven to be extremely beneficial and effective. In the first trimester it helps to maintain a pregnancy, nourish the body and alleviates early symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and heartburn. Later, the aches, pains, constipation and swelling that go along with pregnancy can be greatly alleviated by acupuncture treatment as well.

One of the most important times to have acupuncture during pregnancy is the third trimester, to help prepare the body for labour. Routinely, I recommend a set of pre-birth acupuncture points, and add in specific points based on individual needs.

How does it work?

Pre-birth acupuncture prepares a woman’s body for labour by tonifying and nourishing the body. The acupuncture points help to relax and soften uterine ligaments and bring blood flow to the pelvis. This encourages the baby to descend into the birth canal in the proper position, while preparing the cervix to soften and dilate and the uterine muscles to effectively contract when needed.

What are the benefits?

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o Increased likelihood of spontaneous labour around due date, meaning reduced likelihood of induction
o Reduced risk of medical intervention (C-section, forceps, epidural, etc.)
o Faster, easier birth (on average, 1.5 hours shorter)
o When acupuncture has been done routinely, there is an increased effectiveness of natural “induction” acupuncture.

When should a woman begin pre-birth acupuncture?

She should start weekly 30 minute treatments, beginning at 36 weeks, and continuing until her due date.

If I am overdue, will acupuncture help induce me?

Yes, additional acupuncture points can be added if you are past your due date to: help your baby engage into the birth canal, gently promote cervical softening and dilation, and strengthen birth sensations (contractions). These treatments can be done more frequently (every 1-3 days) until labour begins.

Acupuncture also helps to build energy and calm anxieties and frustrations, which often arise when a woman is past her due date.

Does acupuncture help with turning breech babies?

Yes. Often I will combine acupuncture with moxa (herbs heated over specific acupuncture points) to encourage babies to move to the proper position.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Typically no. Most people find acupuncture relaxing, and often fall asleep during the treatment. It is normal to feel some heaviness or warmth around points, but generally acupuncture is quite painless.

Does acupuncture cause pre-term labour?

No. Specific points are avoided until your due date, as they are known to promote labour. The points used for pre-birth acupuncture will not bring on early labour.

Why should I see a Naturopathic Doctor for this treatment?

Aside from acupuncture, I help women prepare for labour using other therapies such as homeopathics, herbs, supplements, hydrotherapy and hands on techniques. I always teach women how to apply acupressure at home and how to use these points as comfort measures during labour. Diet and lifestyle will also be discussed to ensure you are healthy throughout the remainder of your pregnancy and the post-partum period.

The other major benefit of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor is all of my treatment plans are tailored to your specific needs. We will discuss your questions about labour and birth, post-partum, breastfeeding, vaccinations, etc. and review your family history to make sure that your baby has the best possible start to life! I can even become your baby's primary health care provider!

Dr. Amy Dobbie is the Naturopathic Doctor at The WOMB - The World of My Baby. Dr. Amy works with all members of the family but holds pregnancy, women's health and paediatrics close to her heart.

Visual Development in Infants

What can my baby really see?

Parents often ask "What can my baby see?". The truth is, we are not born with eagle eyes. In fact, we are all born with our eyes slightly out of focus. Through a process called emmetropization, our eyes strive to become perfectly focussed over the first few years of life (of course, this process often goes astray and even infants and toddlers can end up needing glasses!). Babies also need to learn how to coordinate their eyes together and how to interpret visual cues from the wonderful and interesting world around them.

babyglasses2Here is a brief guide on what you can expect from your child's visual system in the first year of life!

Birth to 3 months
Your baby can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face. So don't go making googly eyes at your baby from across the room! High contrast objects are the most interesting at this stage so be sure to your show baby objects with lots of contrasting colours and shapes. Your baby may be especially drawn to stripes!
Your baby is still figuring out how to coordinate their two eyes together so don't be surprised if once in a while they look cross eyed. This should correct itself within the first few months after birth. However, if your baby's eyes look misaligned constantly or very frequently, a visit to your eye doctor is warranted.

3 to 6 months
Hand-eye coordination is starting to develop. By 3 months, your baby should be able to follow a moving object and reach for an interesting toy. By 5 months, it is believed that infants have developed colour vision similar to an adult. Visual acuity is rapidly developing and by six months your baby should be better at seeing objects and faces from a distance. Six months is also the perfect time for your baby to have their first eye exam! Don't worry, the optometrist will not be asking your baby "Which is better '1' or '2'?". The doctor will check to make sure your baby's eyes are aligned properly, that there are no significant refractive errors and that the eyes are healthy. A problem with any of the above could prevent your baby's visual system from developing normally.

7 to 12 months
Your baby is becoming mobile which further helps to develop hand-eye-body coordination. Depth perception is developed and your baby is becoming better at judging distances. Your baby can also firmly grasp and throw objects. Another important milestone is the pincer grasp which involves fine motor control and careful hand-eye coordination. Give your baby some cheerios to practice!

Your baby's visual system undergoes rapid developments and changes in the first year; much like your baby is quickly learning, growing and changing. Cherish every moment you have staring into your baby's big, beautiful eyes, even if it's in the middle of the night.

Dr. Kelly Gallagher, OD
Optometry On Bronte
www.miltonvision.ca

Feeling Angry At Your Baby?

You are not alone!

“He’s fast asleep after rocking & wakes up when I put him down. The process can literally last hours…rock, sleep, move to bed, wake…and most often when I have a list of 100 things to do before I go to bed”

angrybabyWhen I had my first baby, I thought I would never be “one of those moms who got angry”. It didn’t take long before I was startled by the intense frustration that comes from trying to be a mom to an unpredictable, often difficult to understand, little human. I felt guilty & embarrassed. How could I be angry? This isn’t the mom I thought I would be!

Most people are told to expect to feel tired, maybe a little lost, even frustrated, but there seems to be a taboo around admitting that sometimes, moms feel downright angry towards their babies! Yes, we all know that it’s not “logical” and baby isn’t doing it on purpose, but the reality remains that sometimes moms are pushed to their limits, and they feel angry!

I compiled this list from previous clients and moms from my Emerging Mothers group to help other moms, feel less isolated. I asked moms, “ Which situations make you well up with anger and frustration?” Here it is, in their words !

“Mama needs 30 seconds to pee, talking to you the whole time, calm the heck down”

“I am angry when baby is angry with a “not-so-obvious-reason”. For ex 45 minutes after sleep, scream and kick…holding her or rocking is no use… Makes me angry but two angry people usually make the situation worse… Trying to stay calm”

“Very early morning wake ups and short naps!

“Throwing food on the floor (repeatedly)”

“Poopy diaper just as we are heading out the door”

“Pooping the second his butt hits the mattress after being nursed/rocked to sleep for what is supposed to be a long nap, after a long (long) night of sleep training, when mama was going to try to sleep.”

“When he falls asleep on your shoulder after 20 min of rocking and as soon as you put him down in crib he wakes up and is smiling”

“When he’s extremely tired but just fights going to sleep even though he’s yawning and rubbing eyes tons”

“When things start improving in a certain area (whatever it may be) and then all of a sudden, bam, it’s back to being craptastic. Mmhmm. Yep. False hope/ teasers make me an angry mama.”

As a coach for new moms, I talk to lots of moms who feel angry. Moms want help coping with frustration in ways that help them feel more in control. I help moms find ways to cope, that they might not have thought of! Sometimes, it’s hard to find that gentle acceptance or to think clearly about a particular situation. Having someone to talk though your feelings with, and coming up with a plan, can make all the difference. If you are tired of feeling like you are often at the end of your rope, let’s connect! We will find ways for you to feel more self-compassion, and gain insight into why you are feeling this way. Book a time or call me, Nelia. No judgment here – I promise 

Nelia DeAmaral, CLD, HBsc, YNC., has been a Personal Coach, Yoga/Mindfulness teacher & Certified Doula for over 20 years. Her approach is a creative and personalized blend of mindfulness practices, mind-body awareness, and concrete solution-focused coaching.

Nelia is a Certified member of CAPPA Canada and a published author (Bearing Witness, Joyful Birth, Lamaze: Giving Birth With Confidence& Sage Magazine). She has a degree in Psychology and specialized training in solution-focused counseling, perinatal depression, anxiety, birth trauma healing, and perinatal bereavement. She is also a trainer offering professional development locally & internationally on utilizing mindfulness-based strategies to help facilitate change. Book a session with Nelia by booking online or calling The WOMB at 905.842.2434. 

Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamin

vitamins during pregnancyPregnancy is an exciting, but often overwhelming time for new moms like you. There is so much to learn about your changing body, growing baby, birth and labour, not to mention preparing for parenthood. It is also a time where moms are more conscious about making healthy food choices to be strong and healthy to support the new life growing within. One of the most crucial parts of having a healthy baby and body during pregnancy is making sure you are getting the most out of your prenatal multivitamin.

When choosing your prenatal look for the following 3 criteria:
1. Adequate Nutrient Levels: AKA how much of each nutrient is found in the daily dose.
2. Excellent Absorbability: Different forms of vitamins are better absorbed than others. This is especially important for moms with digestive issues or food sensitivities, who may have difficulty breaking down and absorbing nutrients. Read below for which forms are best.
3. Few Fillers & Additives: Found under “non-medicinal ingredients”. Choose a prenatal with as few additives as possible to prevent passing on these harmful ingredients to baby.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for the immune system, skin health and development of vision, however, high levels of vitamin A (over 10, 000IU) are known to be harmful during pregnancy. Choose a multi with low or moderate amounts of Vitamin A. Synthetic vitamin A is very poorly absorbed, so look for animal (retinol) or vegetable (beta-carotene) based sources. If you were or are a smoker, beta carotene supplements are best avoided entirely as they can increase a smoker’s risk for lung cancer.

Folic Acid vs. Activated Folate
Folic acid/folate is one of the most important parts of a prenatal multi to prevent neural tube defects (NTD). Since adding this to all prenatal vitamins, there has been a large decline in NTDs. However, over 50% of our population has a defect, ranging from mild to severe, in the MTHFR gene, which is responsible for activating folic acid into it useable form of methylfolate. When this gene isn’t working at its best, folic acid cannot be activated and used by the body. Methylfolate is essential for methylation – a process used to promote detoxification, produce neurotransmitters and hormones, create energy, repair cells, etc. MTFHR defects are common in women with recurrent miscarriages and infertility and are linked to mood disorders, pre-eclampsia, Autism, Down Syndrome, heavy metal toxicity and cardiovascular disease. Testing for the MTFHR gene is an option, but another great choice is to always opt for activated folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) when choosing a prenatal.

B Vitamins
Our B-vitamins are essential in methylation, much like methylfolate, and assist in development of baby’s nervous system while supporting your own energy and stress levels during pregnancy. Choosing activated forms of B12 (methylcobalamin) and B6 (pyridoxal-5’-phosphate) ensures your body absorbs and uses these B vitamins effectively.

Vitamin D
D3 (cholecalciferol) is your best-absorbed form of vitamin D and is an important part of a prenatal multi for Canadian women. It is difficult to get enough of this important nutrient through the sun during Canadian winters, so ensuring your prenatal has at least 1000 IU will protect you and baby. Building adequate vitamin D stores before breastfeeding is also important, as we know breast milk is commonly deficient.

Calcium & Magnesium
These minerals are important for bone, teeth, musle and nervous system development. Citrate, malate and glycinate forms are better absorbed than carbonates, sulphates or oxides.

Iron
Constipation is a common complaint in pregnancy, and iron supplementation can make constipation worse. If this is true for you, choosing an iron glycinate or heme iron tends to cause less digestive upset and is better absorbed.

Still feeling overwhelmed about choosing your multi? Use this easy chart to compare common brands, or consult with one of the Naturopathic Doctors at The WOMB to help choose which is best for you and your baby.

Prenatal Comparison Chart

What the heck is the hype about Kombucha?

Kombucha 72981pp w751 h494Kombucha is a fermented tea with its origins in Asia over 2000 years ago. It is only recently gaining popularity in North America. Kombucha is made by adding black tea and sugar to a SCOBY or "Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Fission Yeast." The SCOBY is similar to the Mother found in vinegar. The SCOBY proceeds to ferment the caffeine and sugar into a fermented beverage rich in B vitamins, probiotics, and glucaric acid, a compound which has been shown to have anti-cancer activity; as well as other beneficial compounds like antioxidants. 
 
Kombucha contains glucosamines, which increase hyalaouronic acid production in our joints. This leads to the building of more cartilage and as a result, people with arthritis have anecdotally noticed improved joint symptoms. 
 
Because of the probiotics and beneficial yeast present in kombucha, it leads to improved digestion, protecting against candida (a harmful yeast one excess), mental clarity and mood stability. Probiotics also support the immune system, and along with other antioxidant compounds found in kombucha, this beverage is believed to be very immune-supportive.
 
Kombucha is fairly simple to make and each batch causes a doubling of the SCOBY, so if you have a friend that makes kombucha, they likely have a SCOBY they can give you. The initial batch of tea takes roughly 10 days to brew based on moisture and heat conditions in your home, and some people choose to then do a second ferment where they bottle the kombucha with fruits or herbs to add a flavour to it. The second fermentation also results in carbonation similar to pop, making it an appealing beverage to children. 
 
Your local health or grocery store likely contains several kombucha flavours worth trying; or get adventurous and attend a kombucha workshop to learn how to make your own. (Coming up November 28th, 2015! Call us to reserve your spot!)
 
By Erica Robinson, Naturopathic Doctor at The WOMB
 
 

The Passage of Time After a Loss

My experience of loss and love

Day 1.

A woman screams. Not from the physical ache of birth but from the emotional pain of being told that her baby has died. And I am so, so, sorry for her pain. The tears begin to spring from my eyes and I realize that the woman I am looking down upon is me.

I lay upon a hospital triage bed while my midwife and nurses try to find my baby’s heart beat with what I falsely believe is faulty equipment. My hopes rise as the OB asks Troy, my husband and partner to come stand behind the ultrasound screen to watch. But then she asks if I’ve been drinking alcohol or taking street drugs. I am nervous at what this line of questioning is getting to. Of course I haven’t been doing either! But regardless of my squeaky clean record, the ultrasound machine declares “fetal demise”.

I beg to be put out under general anaesthetic so that the baby can be taken from me and I can pretend that this has never happened. Wouldn’t it be easier if I could erase the last eight months?! But…but…The wise, kind women who surround and support me, begin to bring life to images of my child that I will give birth to. They remind me that my baby will be stillborn but my baby will still be born

In that moment, I feel hope. Who is this little one that stirred inside me? What will we name him or her? Will my baby look like me or Troy or both of us? Love, love, love grows and grows and grows inside me until I feel like I will explode.

babyfeet bwAt 7:50pm on a Monday evening, I meet my little girl for the first time and I am so in awe of her. We name her Kierin Alexis and hold her, dress her and take photos so we can remember every single fleeting moment. Family comes and shares tears and smiles with us. And time passes until we have to let her go and say goodbye.

1 year.

I’ve missed a year of your life. I have imagined you in my dreams, the beautiful little girl you would be. No longer an infant but a toddler – standing, walking, giggling. It breaks my heart over and over to know I’ve missed these things. A woman once said to me, “At least you didn’t have to hear her laugh or see her smile and lose all that.” And my response, if I had had the strength, would have been, “At least you got to hear her laugh and see her smile and experience all that.” Is there a good time for loss? No. It hurts at 6 weeks gestation, it hurts at 32 weeks gestation and it hurts at 5 months old.

Sometimes I feel like a yo-yo going up and down, side to side, and all around with emotions. It’s September again, your birth month, and all those desperate emotions I had in the beginning have come flooding back. I can feel it in the air – the news, the television premieres, the Indian summer and the way the sun sets. It is an all too painful reminder of our loss and a reminder that this pain will never go away. And that is okay because then I will never forget you.

A year ago when I eulogized you, I was in shock. I should be grateful for that because I could not allow myself to feel that depth of sorrow all at once. Over time, the Universe, God, has given me a little more and a little more to handle. Sometimes, like at 6 months, that little bit seemed too much though. Life didn’t exist without you in my every waking thought. There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by without tears. The ifs, the whys, the hows!!! And then slowly over the next six months again, I began to discern some of these - even sometimes realizing that there really is no reason at all.

Time went by and before I knew it, I really could smile and laugh again. I could remember you, my daughter and not cry at the very mention of your name. I could delight in your memory – the tons of hair adorning your head, the big hands that proved to us somehow that you wouldn’t always be so little, and most of all, the immense love you brought us.

“The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears,
If you are really my friend,
Let me hear the beautiful music of her name,
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.”– author unknown

2 years.

There is another baby growing in my tummy! I can’t help but compare every little thing about this pregnancy with my pregnancy with you. How much nausea I feel, how tight my pants fit right from the beginning, how much my breasts have grown. I asked your daddy the other day, “Are we going really going to get a baby out of this?” He could only reply, “I don’t know.”

I have dreams of blood and miscarriage and forgetting to take care of my baby. No one helps me when I scream for help. At first I was on cloud 9 and so happy to be out of the “trying to conceive” hell that I forgot everything else – I even “forgot” about you. I want to cry and scream at myself for the neglect I feel for you not being in my every thought but people tell me that you are happy for me, that my little angel is giving me a big hug and exclaiming, “Yay Mommy!” Twenty three weeks to go. This is going to take forever.

We knew right from the beginning that this was going to be your brother. The ultrasound technician confirmed it for me though because I need to bond with this little one before he is born. You know, “just in case”.

Daddy had often said in our hurry and haste to get pregnant again, “Kierin is looking for the perfect sibling to send us.” Well I am glad that he is on his way! This little boy kicks A LOT and that is the most reassuring feeling in the world. I am going to do this. I am going to have a baby. Just because my belly has dropped at 37 weeks doesn’t mean low amniotic fluid, right? Oh man, I’ve become one neurotic mama! Please God, just keep my son safe.

DadMom bw4800And he was. Born safely and strong early on a Saturday morning – our Roan David Griffin.

 

 

 

 

14 years.

14. The number of years it has been since I gave birth to you.

14. The number of years I’ve looked at my clock at 9:17 (the month and day of your birth) and said in my head or whispered aloud, “Hi Kierin"

14. The number of years I have never forgotten you, and the number of years I have had to ponder and understand your passing.

I have reached out to wise women, shaman, counsellors and groups. I’ve read articles and studies about loss in detail that could make me a forensic scientist. I’ve talked to you as an angel and as a gravestone and sat in meditation, listening to my deep intuition. All to get answers to the whys. But the one consistent message that I keep getting is that you stayed with me as long as you could. There was an agreement between our souls. Maybe it was in order for me to go on and have 4 other children in my life. Maybe there was no fucking reason at all.

But it is not just me and Daddy now remembering you. Your 3 brothers and 1 sister talk about you all the time, as if you are here – because you ARE a part of our family. From the moment they were each born, they knew about you and we celebrate your birthday every year with cupcakes and a family picture at the place you are laid to rest. Your siblings also often ponder what it would be like to have their older sister here on earth. The boys say that you would be an annoying teenager that only wants to talk to her friends and play on her iPad. Your sister says that you would play dress up and barbies with her. I think they are all right.

I think your intention was love. People are often puzzled when I say that the day you were born was the worst and the best day of my life. It was as if I gave birth to my heart that day. You were my past, my present and my future and in the beginning I felt like I lost them all. But I realize now that I didn’t lose any part of them – they were all a part of me. They wrote my story - one so rich in love and hope that it inspired a career change in me to become a doula. One that inspired a friend who previously didn’t want children to open her heart and feel it grow so enormously that she birthed two beautiful children at home. One that inspired me to support other women experiencing loss. One that inspired me to look into my own spirit and embrace my own weaknesses.

Kierin taught me love. She taught me life. She taught me family. She taught me forgiveness

I didn’t just experience loss. I experienced love.

IMG 4821 2 smAngie Stenback, is the mother to Kierin, Roan, Gavin, Kale and Neive. She is also a birth doula, childbirth educator, fitness trainer and co-founder of The WOMB.


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