12 Memorable Holiday Activities to do this Year

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Even with all the pretty lights and holiday cheer in the air, most of us can’t help but feel the immense pressure that comes with the Christmas season. But who says you need to spend lots of money on gifts, a Christmas tree, ornaments, or home decor? The holidays are meant to make special memories with your loved ones and some where along the way, we’ve forgotten how to do just that.

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

As a child, I remember laying underneath the Christmas tree with my little sister. The giggles we shared underneath those magical lights are my most cherished memories. I don’t think there were any presents underneath the tree at all and to be honest, it made no difference.

Here are some fun holiday activities to share with your loved ones this holiday season:

With so many easy and inspiring ideas on pinterest, there is no reason to spend more money on pricey Christmas ornaments. Gather your little ones, play some fun Christmas music and get crafty.

Get inspired:

Many of us love decorating our homes either for an upcoming holiday party or just to spruce it up for the holiday season. But this doesn’t mean you have to break your bank just to do so. In fact, your party guests will appreciate your unique Christmas decor pieces and your children will have so much fun making them.

Nothing is more touching than receiving a homemade Christmas card in the mail from your loved ones. It’s also a great way to get the family together and spend some quality time getting crafty. Supplies are very inexpensive and can even be purchased from your local dollar store.

Throw on your apron and let’s get baking! My family loves to get together to bake some delicious gingerbread man cookies! Other common holiday recipes include gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, and so much more.

What better way to add a bit of magic and wonder to your holiday season than to get the kids together to write a letter to Santa Clause himself! I’m in love with these templates on pinterest. Give these templates a try or make your own.

We love movie night at our family home. It’s just so nice to make some popcorn, dim the lights and cuddle up on our cozy couch to rewatch some old favourites this season. Our favourite holiday film is Elf staring Will Ferell.

Go one step further and pull out a classic holiday story book to read to your children. I understand nowadays, the kids are glued to their screens and devices but here are some tips to add a bit of fun to story time:

  • Turn on the Christmas tree lights and dim the lights in the room
  • Grab a plate of cookies and milk or hot chocolate
  • Get cozy (Throw blankets, pillows)
  • Make a little teepee tent for the kids to sit in
  • Let the kids take turns and read out loud

I don’t know about you but I love dusting off an old photo album and reliving some old memories with my family. This is a great time to teach your children about old traditions or just to remember loved ones that have passed.

Another fun holiday activity is to go out in the snow with your children and have some fun! This is such a simple activity yet often forgotten in the midst of all the stress and chaos that comes with the holiday season.

Bundle up and take a brisk walk around your neighbourhood to see the christmas lights. Some families go above and beyond when it comes to decorating the exterior of their homes and it would be a shame to miss out on them. You can also take the family out to see Christmas light shows or markets in your neighbourhood.

You can’t go wrong going door to door caroling with your family and friends and singing your heart out! Here are some tips if you plan to go caroling this season:

  • Plan ahead of time (pick out the songs you will sing, print out the lyrics beforehand, decide which route you plan to take)
  • Visit nursing homes (The seniors love this! If you can, give the nursing home staff a call ahead of time)
  • Avoid meal times or knocking on doors too late in the night (You might wake a sleeping baby!)
  • Be merry! (If you’re having fun, why not show it?)

Purge your closets and drawers and give away anything you don’t need to those who truly need it. Not only will you declutter your home for the holiday and new year but you’ll know your doing something good for the community. Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Diabetes Canada are some of many non-profit organizations who are happy to pick up items you don’t need. Check out their website to see when they stop by your town next.

You can also volunteer at nursing homes or homeless shelters to help out your community. However, there are a few things to consider when planning to volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Here’s the deal – these shelters get hundreds of phone calls every year from potential volunteers who just want to spend one day during the holidays to prepare meals for the homeless. But in fact, that’s not helpful to them at all. If preparing meals or wrapping presents all you really want to contribute this holiday season, then make sure to call months ahead of time. The shelters require extra time for proper training and background screenings, plus spots fill up fast. Aside from that, consider long term volunteering rather than just for the day because help is needed at all times of the year, not just during Christmas.

Read more about it on The Star: Want to volunteer at a shelter this Christmas? Think again – do something else

And we can’t forget about the hot cocoa!

In fact, a cup of hot cocoa will bring warmth to any of the holiday activities mentioned above.

Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

My family and I are always trying to make the holiday season special without spending lots and lots of money on gifts. I hope that this post about memorable holiday activities to do this year will inspire you to engage your family in spending quality time together under the lit Christmas tree.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy holidays!

12 Fun & Easy DIY Christmas Ornament Ideas

Thinking of spending more money on Christmas ornaments for your tree this year? Why not make your own? Save some money, run the your local dollar store and let’s get crafty!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Christmas is a great time to get the family together to do some fun craft. Many families engage in this tradition of making their own tree ornaments every year. Each ornament represents and immortalizes the time your family spends together, and that is what Christmas is truly about.

Here are my top 12 fun and easy DIY Christmas ornament favourites from the amazing creators on pinterest:

1. Melted Beads Ornament

2. Mason Jar Lid Tree Ornaments

3. Snowflake Beaded Ornaments

4. Felt Christmas Cookie Ornaments

5. Frosty the Snowman Ornament

6. Candy Cane Ornaments

7. Glitter Ornaments

8. Photo Ornaments

9. Yarn Ornaments

10. Fabric Christmas Ornaments

11. Paper Honey Comb Ornaments

12. Polymer Clay Ornaments

Homemade ornaments specially made by your own family members makes decorating the Christmas tree so much more fun. We hope that these amazing pinterest ideas are just as inspiring to your family as they were to ours.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.

Baking Series: Quick & Easy Apple Galette

Guess what time it is – it’s baking season! The holidays are just around the corner and what better way to spend quality time with your family than to bake a quick, easy, and most importantly delicious apple galette that everyone will enjoy.

Photo by Andy Chilton on Unsplash

This recipe includes a homemade caramel sauce that will be drizzled on top of the apple galette.

Serves: 8 people

Prep time: 40 minutes

Baking time: 25 minutes

Total time to make: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let’s get started:

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

To start, let’s make the pie dough:

1. In a bowl, combine 1 1/4 cup of flour, 1 table spoon brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix with a fork.

2. Add the cubed and chilled butter (8 tablespoons) and work it into the flour mixture with your fork until pea sized lumps remain. (You’ll get an arm work out with this step!)

3. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and start to mix with your hands.

4. In increments, add 1/4 cup of ice cold water into the flour mixture. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together. If the dough is dry, add a bit more water.

Dough should not become sticky or tacky. If it does, this means you have added too much water. Remedy this by adding a bit more flour to the mixture.

Do not work the butter into the flour mixture until it melts. We want pea sized lumps of butter in your flour dough so when the dough is baking in the oven, the lumps of butter bursts and melts, giving the galette it’s flaking texture and butter flavor.

5. Once dough has come together, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While we wait for the dough to chill, let’s make the apple filling:

6. In a large pan over medium heat, combine the 3 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Stir occasionally and cook until apples are soft.

Granny smith apples are the best apples to bake with because they are tart and firm. Fuji apples are also a great alternative.

7. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the soft apples. Stir, remove from heat, and let cool.

8. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

9. Pull out your chilled dough from the fridge and lightly flour your surface.

10. Roll out the dough into a round shape about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick.

11. Transfer the flattened dough to the lined baking sheet.

12. Spoon the apple filling into the center of the flattened dough about 5 cm away from the edges.

13. Fold the edges over the apple filling in the center.

14. Beat 1 egg and use a brush to wash the egg over the top edges of the dough.

15. Sprinkle with coarse sugar on top (optional).

16. Bake the apple galette for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

While the galette is baking, let’s make the caramel sauce:

17. In a small sauce pan, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 table spoon of butter.

18. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and turns into the colour amber.

19. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the dissolved sugar mixture. Stir and remove from heat to cool slightly.

20. Pull out of the oven when done and let the apple galette cool for 10 minutes.

21. Drizzle with your homemade caramel sauce and serve.

Just like apple pie, this apple galette goes great with vanilla ice cream!

I hope your family enjoys this delicious apple galette as much as we did. Thanks so much for reading.

WISH Haul + BONUS Mini Photo shoot With Baby

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Exciting news! I just received all of my orders from wish and I wanted to share my little haul for those who are wondering what’s the deal with this wish app!

Trust me, I was skeptical at first too. For those who don’t know, wish is a mobile shopping app with over a million items at very discounted prices. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, its probably available there on the wish app.

Wish connects shoppers directly to the manufacturers so there is no “middle man.” This is why the products are so affordable. Some products are listed as FREE! But you just have to pay for shipping. The manufacturers are able to mass produce products using low cost materials without having to pay the fees of owning a physical store. From my experience, all the products that I have ordered arrived from China.

Wish claims that despite the low prices, the quality of these products are very high. And with tons of reviews, pictures, and videos from actual shoppers, it almost sounds too good too be true.

For example, when I was writing my Magnetic Eyeliner and Lashes Review, I came across the exact same product that I originally paid $30 for, and it’s available on wish for only $9!

Read more about the Magnetic Eyeliner and Lashes Review here.

So I decided to order a few goodies to found out what the wish hype was all about.

This is my honest review of wish and their products.

Keep reading for a bonus mini photo shoot of baby Ayanna at the end of this post!

Contents:

  1. Geneva Watch Free + $1.31 Shipping
  2. Crystal Key Chains (2) Free + $3 Shipping Each
  3. Glow in the Dark Key Chain $1 + $2 Shipping
  4. Pac-man Heat Sensitive Mug $8 + $7 Shipping
  5. Phone Accessories (2) Free + $2 Shipping; Free + $3 Shipping
  6. Double sided Baby Bibs (2) Free + $4 Shipping Each
  7. Lace Bow Baby Romper $5 + $5 Shipping
  8. Summer Flamingo Baby Romper $6 + $6 Shipping
  9. Summer Cactus Baby Romper $6 + $5 Shipping
  10. Lace Baby Romper $4 + $4 Shipping
  11. Watermelon Baby Romper $4 + $5 Shipping
  12. Floral 2 pc Baby Outfit $5 + $5 Shipping
  13. Yellow Floral Vest & Tutu Shorts $5 + $5 Shipping
  14. Floral Summer Baby Bodysuit $5 + $5 Shipping
  15. Lilac Back-Cross Baby Romper $5 + $5 Shipping

Geneva Watch

When I first downloaded the wish app, i was prompted with this Geneva watch for free as a “welcome gift.” All I had to pay was $1.31 for shipping. I ordered it in the colour gold, and to my surprise, it arrived in the colour black instead (refer to images above). Firstly, this was not the color that I ordered. Secondly, the quality wasn’t great. Well, it’s as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for!

Crystal Key Chains

I came across these cute crystal key chains and wanted to give them a try. I also found a glow in the dark version so I ordered that too. I got two regular key chains in “Green” and “Pink Quartz” both for “free” but I had to pay for shipping which was $3 each. The glow in the dark crystal just came in the one colour and style and it was on sale for $1 and I had to pay $2 for shipping.

This photo above is what I received in the mail and I was very impressed. They were beautiful and the glow in the dark stone really did glow. I think the glow in the dark stone key chain is a great idea for when you ever have to find your keys in the dark for some reason!

Pac-man Heat Sensitive Mug

My hubby and his son, Rowan were addicted to this Pac-man game we have at home so I thought this would be the perfect gift for Rowan. I got this mug for $8 and shipping was $7 (total of $15). This mug is also available on Amazon for $18.20 so we save a couple of bucks ordering it off of wish. Find it here on Amazon: PAC-Man Heat Change Mug.

As you can see in the photo above, the mug works exactly as described and Rowan loves it! Pacman and his little ghosts appeared almost right away when I poured the hot water. The mug definitely had a faint chemical smell so make sure to give it a couple of washes before use!

Rotating Ring Accessory for Phones

I ordered two mobile phone accessories in the images above. The one on the left has a mini mirror and came in rose gold. It was “free” but I paid $2 for shipping. The other phone accessory in the image on the right was also “free” but shipping was $3. The one on the right came in rose gold and has lots of rhinestones.

I was very disappointed in these two items from wish. As you can see, the mirror on the phone ring accessory was so scratched, you couldn’t even see your reflection (refer to image above). The one with the rhinestones also had a few scratches if you looked very closely. And the quality of these two phone accessory rings were very poor. Again, “You get what you pay for.

Double Sided Baby Bibs

Wish has some pretty cute baby stuff such as these reversible cute bibs! When I first ordered them, I was expecting 2 bibs per order because of the images above! I guess I didn’t read the fine print… Anyway despite that, these bibs were super cute and I’m very content with the quality. I got the first one (left image above) in the style “H218” for “free” and paid $4 for shipping. I got the other bib (right image above) in the style “H255” and only paid for shipping as well.

Lace Bow Baby Romper

I was a little skeptical ordering baby clothes from wish but the reviews were too darn good to pass and I’m so glad I ordered them! I got this lace bow romper in the shade blue. and in the size 6-12 month which was a bit big on my baby who is 8 months old. I purchased it for $5 plus $5 for shipping. My only issue with this romper is that the lace on the shoulder area looks like it could come apart at the slightest tug! But other than that, I think this romper is super cute.

Summer Flamingo Baby Romper

This is another cute baby romper in white with little flamingos all around and the cutest ruffle bottom! This was in the size 6-12 months which fit my baby perfectly. I paid $6 plus $6 shipping. No complaints here. This romper was just as described and pictured, and it’s so darn cute on my baby!

Summer Cactus Baby Romper

Here is another cute romper with little red flowers, cacti and a ruffled backside. I got this one for $6 plus $5 shipping. It’s in the size 6-12 months and fits my baby girl perfectly. I love these rompers!

Lace Baby Romper

Here is another cute romper that I ordered in pink as shown in the image below. It was $4 plus $4 shipping. I got it in the size 6-12 months and it fit my baby very nicely. No complaints with this romper!

Watermelon Romper

This one is a watermelon printed romper that comes with a matching head band. I ordered it in a bigger size (12-18 months) so that it would fit my baby for next summer. It was $4 plus $5 shipping. The reviews were great and the quality of this romper was very good. I can’t wait to try this romper next summer!

Floral Two Piece Baby Outfit

This two piece features a blue floral print. It’s in the size 12-18 months and was $5 plus $4 shipping. I ordered it in a bigger size so my baby could wear it next summer. This romper came just as pictured and described.

Yellow Floral Vest & Tutu Shorts

This two piece baby outfit is very cute! I got this for $5 plus $5 shipping. They come in 3 different colours. I got this outfit in the size 6-12 months but the top piece was too big for my baby. The bottom ruffled piece fit well though.

Floral Summer Baby Bodysuit

This green summer body suit was on sale when I ordered it. It was $5 plus $5 for shipping. I got it in the size 6-12 months but was still too big for my 8 month old. The quality was good and the body suit itself was very cute! I hope my baby can still fit into it next summer.

Lilac Back-Cross Baby Romper

This is one of my favourite baby rompers from wish and I highly recommend it! I got this cute piece in purple for $5 plus $5 shipping. The ties go over the shoulder and cross in the back.

That’s it for my wish haul!

Overall, ordering from wish wasn’t so bad at all. The baby clothes were great, just be weary of the sizing. And when you come across a good deal on wish and your thinking about ordering it, remember the saying:

“You get what you pay for!”

BONUS: MINI BABY PHOTO SHOOT

I’ll end this post with a mini photoshoot of baby Ayanna wearing the Lilac Back-cross Romper! Thanks for reading!

The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Hospital Bag: Free Hospital Bag Checklist!

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Your big day is arriving soon and you’re ready to pack your hospital bag! You don’t want to overpack, but you definitely don’t want to underpack either. You see, the problem with my hospital bag was that I packed more for my newborn than I did for myself! There were so many things I wish I had brought with me to make my experience at the hospital more relaxing and stress free.

After learning from my mistakes and doing some research, I’ve created the ultimate guide to packing your hospital bag so that you will have everything you need to make your experience with your newborn baby comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable.

Before we dive in, here are a few things to consider:

1. Underpacking & Overpacking

You will be in the hospital for a maximum of 2 nights or so, considering that you and your baby are generally healthy. Some mothers are discharged on the same day as their delivery! Just pack what you need for those 2-3 nights because you’ll be home with your newborn baby before you know it!

2. Consider the season and weather.

If you will be delivering in the winter, make sure to bring a warm car seat cover and blankets for your baby. The clothes you pack for yourself and your baby should also be chosen according to the weather. Plus, a thermo for a nice hot drink will definitely help too!

3. If you’re unsure of what your hospital provides, just give them a call.

I have read many posts ensuring that hospitals supplied those mesh absorbent briefs so I didn’t bring my own. Turns out, my hospital didn’t supply them at all and they had to search the other units to find one for me! Avoid the trouble and give them a quick call. Better yet, write down a list of questions to ask when you register at your hospital and get a tour of the maternity unit!

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Your hospital should typically provide the following items:

  • Mesh Briefs or Large Absorbent Pads
    • While we are on this topic, I recommend using both! I applied the pads onto the mesh brief for extra security when I was in the hospital. And when I got home, I used the padsicles with the mesh briefs and it made all the difference!
    • If you don’t want to use the mesh briefs, no problem. Make sure to pack stretchy, cotton underwear, possibly a size up, and apply your extra absorbent pads.
    • Cotton material is more breathable, hypoallergenic, and keeps you dry. Try to avoid polyester, and other synthetic materials as they hold onto body odors and prevents air flow.
  • Peri-bottle
    • If you don’t know, these bottles allow you to gently squirt warm water below to help with cleaning and soothing after delivery
  • Sitz Bath
    • Check with your hospital – some moms say they get them from their hospital, but I didn’t get one from mine…
  • Water, Meals & Snacks
  • Hospital Gown
  • Towels
  • Extra Pillows & Blankets (for yourself and your other half, but sometimes, they can run out…)
  • Nipple Balm
  • Disposable single breast pump
  • Medication
    • Advil (anti-inflammatory)
    • Tylenol (for pain)
    • Anusol-HC 2.5% Rectal Cream (Corticosteroid which has anti-inflammatory properties for hemorrhoids)
    • Stool Softener (to prevent hemorrhoids)

Learn more about Postpatum Hemorrhoids here: “Hemorrhoids – There, I Said It!”

Here is a helpful “Hospital Bag Checklist” to guide you in packing all you need for yourself, your new baby, and daddy as well.

Hospital Bag Checklist

 

Below I will further discuss each item on the checklist in greater detail so you don’t miss a thing!

Let’s begin.

☑ Identification & Birth Plan

When entering the hospital, make sure to have all of your identification readily available. As well, if you have a birth plan, make sure to bring those documents as well. Birth plans indicate what pain interventions you want, who is participating in the delivery of your baby, what can and can’t be done with your baby, and so forth.

☑ Lip Balm

This one is at the top of the list for almost every hospital bag checklist I’ve seen out there! Though I do agree, I did not pack any lip balm during my stay at the hospital and honestly, I didn’t miss it. If you forget to bring some lip balm, no biggie, just make sure to drink lots of water and hydrate yourself. The hospital also provides petroleum jelly as well which can also help to relieve those chapped lips.

☑ Skin Care Products & Face Wipes

During my stay, I only brought face wipes which was a huge mistake. I regret not putting more care into packing my skin care products. Even a basic moisturizer would have done me wonders. Also, it would be nice to look decent for family and friends when they come to visit and take photos… I got these sample products from my monthly ipsy glam bags.

Check out my latest ispy Glam Bag products here.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

This is an obvious item. The hospital does provide these items if you forget them though. Along with this, any other toiletries that you often use such as deodorant should also be packed.

Photo by Janita Sumeiko on Unsplash

☑ Basic Make Up

Along with basic skin care products and face wipes, I also placed this item close to the top of the list. You may get lots of family and friends visiting you at the hospital and definitely a lot of photo taking. If you want to look nice for these photos, bringing a few things from your vanity will help. That being said, not everyone wears or needs make up, so skip this step if this doesn’t apply to you.

On other note, you did just give birth to a baby! No one is expecting you to get all glammed up for photos when you don’t want to. Do what works best for you.

Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash

☑ 3-4 Pairs of Comfy Socks with Grips

This is also an important item. If you didn’t pack your slippers (which I highly suggest), these socks will save you when your walking across the cold and slippery hospital floor to use the washroom. It is also a good idea to bring socks that you can dispose of after.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

☑ Slippers or Flip Flops

I didn’t pack this item in my hospital bag and I seriously regret it! Slippers are a must, especially when you’re feet are swollen after birth. Keep them warm, dry, and comfortable. Make sure to get a size up to accommodate for your postpartum swollen feet. Also flip flops are great to bring if you plan on disposing them after.

☑ Comfy Robe

A comfy robe is another item I completely forgot to pack! Comfy robes keep you warm and cozy, and they’re easy to throw over your shoulders when visitors pop up unannounced. It takes a second to cover up when you need to. Also hospital gowns are open in the back so when your pacing the halls with your possibly fussy newborn, a comfortable robe might come in handy. This robe is from Amazon: ShiyiUP Fleece Bath Robe and is perfect for what you need.

☑ Big Water Bottle & Straw

Always remember to hydrate yourself, especially when recovering from the traumas of birth. Water helps your body heal and remove excess fluid building up in your extremities such as your feet. A straw is also a helpful tool.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

☑ 2-3 Nursing Shirts (Darker Colour)

Loose and comfortable nursing shirts is a must if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to pack at least 2-3 just in case. And it also helps if those shirts are in a darker shade to hide any leaks or spills!

☑ 2-3 Stretchy Pants (Darker Colour)

Pack at least 2-3 stretchy, comfortable and if possible, dark coloured pants. In the winter, find something more warm and cozy. In the summer, you could pack some comfy shorts.

☑ 2 Nursing Bras & Breast Pads

Don’t forget to pack at least 2-3 nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to find a nursing bra that fits you well, has no underwires, and is easy to unfasten and access your breasts when you need to. I found some nursing bras from LEMEF online that are great – seamless, soft, and easy to unfasten. As well, absorbent nipples pads definitely come in handy too but this is optional because your milk won’t come in until about the 3 day postpartum.

☑ Nursing Pillow

Sure, the hospital pillows will work but if you’ve already invested in a nursing pillow and plan to breastfeed, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it along with you to the hospital. My Brest Friend Original Pillow on Amazon is amazing. I love how it secures to your waist with a silent velcro strap.

☑ 2-3 Swaddles, Outfits, Mitts, & Socks

Don’t go overboard on packing for your newborn like I did! I packed way too much for my baby and only ended up using 2 sleepers and a swaddle. If you plan on taking some precious photos then sure, bring a few cute bows and swaddles. My recommendation is to bring about 2-3 sleepers with the mitt cuffs. That way, you don’t have to bring any socks or mitts because they’re all built in. I get mine from Amazon: Simple Joys by Carter’s (2 Pack) Cotton Footed Sleep and Play Sleepers.

☑ Baby Shampoo, Body Wash, & Lotion

If you forget to bring these items for your baby, fear not, the hospital should have generic products that you can use for your baby’s first bath. If you do decide to bring your own, try to bring a travel size set to save some room in your bag. I got mine from amazon: Live Clean Baby Soothing Oatmeal Diaper Bag Essentials Gift Set Trail Size.

☑ Newborn Diapers & Wipes

Again, the hospital should provide some of these but always check to make sure. Some babies require larger size diapers instead of the newborn ones depending on their birth weight. I suggest packing just a few newborn diapers and size one diapers as well. My favourite baby wipes are the Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Sensitive Wipes.

☑ Car Seat & Car Base

This item is obviously priority! You can’t drive baby home without a properly installed car seat! As you are being discharged, the nurse will inspect your car seat and make sure that your newborn is properly secured under the seat belts. The stroller and car seat set I got is the Graco Remix Travel System in Keagan. I love that the stroller grows with your baby and has 5 different riding positions.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels

☑ Change of Clothes

If daddy plans to be in the room with you during the delivery, he may get dirty! It is wise to bring a change of clothes, just in case.

☑ Sweater

Especially in the winter, it can get pretty cold in the delivery room. Hospitals tend to keep temperatures on the lower side to prevent bacterial growth.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Daddy should also pack his toiletries if he is staying the night; just in case your little one takes a bit longer to arrive. He will also have all he needs to feel comfortable, refreshed, and ready for family photos and visitors.

☑ Baby Nail Clipper or Nail Filer

Sometimes, babies may be born with long fingernails. It may be helpful to clip or file those fingernails to prevent scratching. Mitts also work to protect your baby’s delicate face but some moms prefer to have their baby’s hands free to touch and experience their new world. Others suggest using your own teeth and gently biting off your baby’s fingernails instead. I got my clippers and filers (in the image above) from my Safety 1st Deluxe Healthcare & Grooming Kit on Amazon.

☑ Long Phone Charger Cord or Portable Charger

Labor and delivery can be a very long process and your phone batteries might die when you need it the most! Bringing a long cord or portable charger allows you to keep your phone charging close to you when you need it. That way, you can stay with your baby and not have to leave your bed.

☑ Breast Pump

The hospital should be able to provide a disposable breast pump for you to use if you need it, but you can also bring one from home if you have space in your hospital bag. It’s great to start increasing your milk supply by pumping in between feedings but honestly, in the early stages of postpartum you will be exhausted. Do what you can but don’t overwhelm yourself if you don’t have to.

☑ Nipple Balm

The hospital should provide a generic nipple balm for you if you need it but colostrum is the best remedy for chapped and sore nipples. Express a bit of colostrum on to your nipple and let it air dry. Colostrum has amazing healing properties! Lanolin ointment or Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter (Lanolin-free) is also great as well. It is safe for your baby to digest so you don’t have to wipe it off.

☑ Thermo for Warm Drinks

In the winter, a nice warm drink can make all the difference! If you want to get a head start on increasing your milk supply, try this Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea during your stay in the hospital. I love the little relatable notes they leave on each tea bag like the one in the picture above: “Living life at 10,000 emotions per second.” Nothing like some quirky humor to get you through postpartum!

☑ Change for Vending Machine or Bring your own Snakes & Drinks

Labor and delivery is exhausting. By the end of it, you will feel famished! Make sure to bring some change for the vending machine, or bring your own healthy snacks from home. You can also try eating galactagogue-rich snacks to jump start lactation. I love BOOBY BOONS Lactation Cookies in Chocolate Chip. The hospital may also provide some snacks and drinks as well like jello or apple sauce.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

☑ Your Own Comfy Pillow

Sometimes, it’s nice to have your own pillow with you in the hospital. Some mothers don’t like this tip because they fear that their favourite pillows will get dirty. This is completely optional and up to you. If bringing a piece of home with you to the hospital makes you feel better, then make sure to pack it.

☑ Postpartum Padsicles

I wish I had these with me at the hospital! If you don’t know, these postpartum padsicles are a simple DIY project that you store in your freezer to use after birth. It provides the most cooling and soothing effect to relieve discomfort from all the swelling and tearing down below. They can also be infused with ingredients to aid in healing such as aloe vera, witch hazel, lavender oil and more. If you plan on packing them, maybe consider a mini cooler or asking your nurse if there is a patient fridge on the maternity unit so the padsicles can stay cool and ready for use.

☑ Dry Shampoo Or Shampoo & Conditioner, Body Wash & Loofah

It depends on your needs and comfort, but most moms prefer to take a shower in the hospital after giving birth. A shower after birth is very refreshing and it gives you some time to reflect on your birth experience experience. Pack travel sized products if you can to save some room. If you don’t want to wash your hair, use dry shampoo to quickly and easily freshen up those roots. Razors, glasses, glasses, contact solution and case can also be packed if this applies to you.

☑ Your own Towel

If is completely up to you if you want to bring your own cozy towel. Hospitals do provide towels for you and although they may not be the softest towels, they will do the job just fine. If you plan on bringing your own towel, anticipate that it may get dirty.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

☑ Extra Hair Ties & Hair Brush

Long hair might get in the way during labor and delivery! Make sure to have extra hair ties just in case yours snaps or falls off somewhere. A hair brush is also helpful to freshen up for photos and what not. Some mothers like to bring their hair dryer too.

☑ Stylish Mom Outfit

If you don’t want to wear your nursing shirts and stretchy pants on the way home, bring a stylish outfit. Not only will you feel better going home, but you will also be ready for photos.

That’s it for my detailed list of what to pack in your hospital bag! Some may consider this list as overpacking but based on my past experience, I’d rather overpack than be left in the hospital without my comfy robe and slippers!

Don’t forget to check off your Hospital Bag Checklist as you go along!

Thanks for reading everyone.

Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

One morning, I was grabbing a coffee at a coffee shop just around the corner from my workplace. I go there sometimes, when I leave my house and arrive early to work. I would spend the extra 15 minutes to drink my coffee and study a bit of my nursing material. At the time, I was preparing for my NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination).

Everyone could see that I was visibly pregnant. Of course, at 32 weeks, I was definitely showing, and you can also tell by all the stares that came my way when I stepped foot into the shop.

No, I didn’t order decaffeinated coffee. I ordered a regular one. And I just have one cup per day, but not every day.

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When the barista took my order, he was hesitant. He looked at my swelling belly, then at my face, and then at his coworker. I was waiting for him to say something, and he did. He simply said,

oh, you know we also have decaffeinated coffee and espresso too.”

I was empathetic and tried to understand that this man’s concern came from a good place. So I kindly declined his offer and asked for a regular coffee. Then I proceeded to say that one cup a day is fine.

And although it looked like he didn’t believe me, he went ahead and poured me a cup of caffeinated coffee anyway.

I will say that this did bother me. I’m sure he thought very little of me to be drinking caffeine while carrying a child. But seriously? Did he think I was drinking alcohol everyday too?

I respect his concern but he didn’t respect the fact, that I did my research and that if he wanted to correct me about something, maybe he should have done his research too.

Obviously, I am not the first pregnant woman to experience this. In fact, my experience was pretty mild compared to others.

Have you heard about the one where a grandmother literally snatched and threw away a pregnant woman’s cold brew coffee?! Mamma-mia…

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Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

Is it safe to drink caffeinated coffee during pregnancy?

After the first trimester, it is safe to drink ONE CUP of caffeinated coffee per day and by one cup, I mean 200 mg of caffeine or a 10-12 ounce cup depending on where you go.

I know, research can make this all very confusing. New studies continue to combat each other. Some say it’s not okay to have a cup a day, and then other studies refute these results and claim that these conventional pregnancy theories are a thing of the past.

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Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

But one fact is true – there is some sort of link between caffeine and miscarriages, stillbirths, and low weight births, especially when consumed in the first trimester.

The problem with this fact is that we cannot apply a quantity of how much caffeine to these risks or determine the true cause and effect relationship between the two.

However, studies do show that consumption of caffeine over the recommended 200 mg per day results in double the risk of miscarriages and low birth weights.

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Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

How does caffeine affect the human body?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. In the brain, caffeine causes alertness which is why many of us consume caffeine.

Basically, the stimulant blocks adenosine from connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain. (Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that causes relaxation and sleepiness.) The chemical structure of caffeine is very similar to the structure of adenosine. Caffeine therefore, binds to the adenosine receptors and blocks adenosine from binding to it. This blocks feelings of sleepiness formerly brought on by adenosine, and the release of other natural stimulants such as dopamine. (Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter released by nerve cells and contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.)

We use caffeine to:

  • manage drowsiness
  • manage headaches
  • increase metabolism
  • enhance exercise performance
  • boost your mood
  • increase concentration
  • increases motivation to work

The peak effect of this stimulant occurs after approximately 30 minutes after consumption.

Consuming too much caffeine can cause:

  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • upset stomach
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • muscle tremors

It is also a diuretic, meaning it increases urination. This causes the body to release more fluids through urine possibly resulting in dehydration.

How is caffeine addictive?

Caffeine can be physically addictive and behaviourally addictive, especially in those who consume caffeine on a regular and sustained basis.

Physical addiction to caffeine occurs when the body produces more adenosine receptors to make up for the ones that are blocked by caffeine. This means that there are now more receptors that caffeine can bind to, requiring you to drink more coffee to “fill” those additional receptors. This also explains how coffee drinkers build up a tolerance and require more coffee over time.

Behavioural addiction occurs through the repetition of drinking the coffee in a social environment and the positive feelings involved in that environment, rather than the caffeine itself.

Withdrawal from caffeine can cause:

  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • drowsiness
  • irritability

How does caffeine affect the growing fetus?

Caffeine can directly and easily pass through the placenta to the fetus. Adults can metabolize caffeine but the fetus cannot, especially in the early phases of development.

As mentioned above, caffeine binds to our receptors altering the chemistry of our brains and effecting our cells, membranes and tissue. This change in chemistry may interfere with proper development of the fetus.

Another theory proposes that the vaso-constricting (constriction of blood vessels) properties of caffeine may cause increased blood pressure in the mother, leading to decreased blood flow to the fetus. The lack of blood flow to the placenta deprives the fetus of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow.

Caffeine not only increases blood pressure but also blood glucose levels as well. And it increases the workload of the liver that is already dealing with the increased hormonal demands of pregnancy.

Is it safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding?

It is safe to drink caffeinated coffee while breastfeeding. Keep in mind that caffeine does pass through to your baby through breast milk, but only in trace amounts (approximately 1% of what you take in).

When breastfeeding, it is recommended that you should consume no more than 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day or no more than 300 mg daily.

If you drink about 3-5 cups of coffee, make sure to spread the consumption throughout the day to prevent high concentrations of caffeine in your breast milk.

If you find that your baby is becoming more restless and cranky after you’ve have coffee and breastfed, it may be time to reassess your intake amount.

How do you cut back on caffeine?

For chronic coffee drinkers who are or will be pregnant, it is important to wean yourself off of caffeine rather than stop cold turkey.

Start by mixing half caffeinated coffee with half decaffeinated coffee at first. Then eventually work towards drinking decaffeinated coffee entirely.

What other foods and drinks contain caffeine?

Besides coffee, caffeine can also be found in the following and should be consumed in moderation:

  • espresso beans
  • tea leaves
  • sodas
  • chocolate (cocoa beans)
  • energy drinks
  • some over the counter medication

As I’ve always mentioned, it is very important that you talk to your doctor about your caffeine consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

We all know that mothers and mothers-to-be must make a lot of sacrifices for their growing babies but luckily, a cup of Joe doesn’t have to be one of them!

Thanks for reading.

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PUPPP: It Began With Stretch Marks…

During my pregnancy, I developed stretch marks all over my body – my thighs, my knees, my butt, and my expanding belly of course. They were even around my chest and arms. I gained more than 40 lbs by the end of it all!

Once I had delivered my baby girl, my stretch marks began to get more intensely red with colour, as well as bumpy and itchy… And then it started to burn and itch even more, to the point where all I could think and do was itch and itch and itch

I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Caring for a newborn, barely sleeping, and dealing with the troubles of breastfeeding and hemorrhoids – and now this!

It was overwhelming to say the least.

Read more about my postpartum hemorrhoid experience here:

“Hemorrhoids – There, I said it!”

What is PUPPP?

I found out that I had developed PUPPPPruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy.

PUPPP may also be known as:

  • Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP)
  • Toxic erythema of pregnancy
  • Bourne’s toxemic rash of pregnancy

Normally, it develops along your stretch marks in the third trimester and disappears after childbirth but in rare cases, the rash develops after childbirth. PUPPP occurs in 1 of every 160 pregnancies and more often to first time mothers or mothers carrying multiple fetuses.

Photo by Kewei Hu on Unsplash

Causes of PUPPP

The cause of this rash is unknown but experts suggest that it may involve a combination of factors listed below:

  • Antigens that belong to the baby enter the mother’s blood circulation and invade her skin causing an immunologic response
  • Excessive and rapid stretching of the skin damages the connective tissue underneath leading to an inflammatory response
  • PUPPP may be passed down genetically and has been shown to trace back to the father’s side
  • 70% of mothers who are expecting boys develop the rash suggesting that the sex of the baby may play a role
  • Cesarean deliveries also have some connection to the development of the rash
  • Hormones related to pregnancy have also been shown to influence the development of the rash
Photo by Ignacio Campo on Unsplash

Prognosis

PUPPP is not dangerous to the mom or baby. And yes, it will go away in a few days to few weeks. Nonetheless, PUPPP contributes to further insomnia and stress of a new mother, and adequate relief is necessary for their well being.

I was struggling with breast feeding at the time of the rash. I felt guilty that I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed my baby and I had to supplement with formula. I felt like a failure already.

Read more about my breastfeeding experiences:

“Breastfeeding – It doesn’t come as naturally as you think…

“Increasing your breast milk supply: What worked and what didn’t for me”

I was desperate to get rid of this rash as soon as possible, so I asked my husband to pick me up some Benadryl from the drugstore. I needed relief, anything. Once he got home with the medicine, I took it right away and later discovered that I wasn’t supposed to breastfeed while taking this drug...

I continued to take the medication anyway because I was in agony. In the meantime, I fed my baby formula while I pumped-and-dumped to maintain my supply. I hoped to be done with the drugs by the end of the week so I could get back into breastfeeding and bonding with my newborn.

Photo by Lisa Hobbs on Unsplash

Treatment and Home Remedies

Although I was better after taking benadryl, the intense itching was still very much present. I still wanted to rip my skin off! So I looked up some home remedies online.

This is what I found:

Antihistamine Medication (Benadryl)

Antihistamines can be taken orally and purchased over the counter without a prescription or even on Amazon. It can also be in the form of a cream which you can directly apply to your inflamed stretch marks. It inhibits histamine receptors to reduce the inflammatory and immune response. In doing so, antihistamines reduce the signs and symptoms related to allergies and pruritus (itching). I used Benadryl (aka diphenhydramine) to help with the itching. Honestly, it did help a little but it wasn’t enough on its own. Also, if you are breastfeeding please make sure to consult your doctor! Some medications can pass through your breast milk to your little one.

Baking Soda or Oatmeal Bath Soaks

You can also try an oatmeal bath or add baking soda to soothe your inflamed and burning skin, aid in healing, and neutralize your pH. On Amazon, you can find the Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment with 100% Natural Oatmeal that worked wonders for me! Adding baking soda to your bath water worked just as well. For the baking soda bath soak, I filled the bath tub with warm water (but the cooler the water, the better). Warm to hot water tends to irritate rashes and make them worse. Then I add about 1/4 cup of baking soda into the water and soak for about 30 minutes. Repeat at least 2-3 times per week. Whenever I had the chance to even take a bath, I made sure to soak myself thoroughly. Not only did it give my relief, but it was also relaxing and calming.

Topical Steroid Cream

Topical creams can be mild to potent and are often used in combination with oral antihistamine medication such as benadryl. They contain corticosteroids which reduces inflammation. I had to get my steroid cream from my doctor with a prescription. My doctor prescribed a very potent one for me because I had stretch marks nearly everywhere on my body. The cream provided some relief in combination with the benadryl.

Ice Packs Or A Cold Compress

This was by far the most effective home remedy for me! The ice packs helped to numb the area for immediate relief, but a nice cold shower worked just as well. Apply the cold compress to your stretch marks for about 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t leave it on the skin too long! Also, don’t apply the cold compress or ice pack directly to the skin. Cover it with a cloth first. I had 2 ice packs in the freezer and alternated the two whenever I needed them.

Moisturize Your Skin

When your skin is dry, it is prone to become itchy. Prevent dry skin by applying moisturizers as often as possible, especially after a bath or shower. There are also itch-relieving body lotions that can be used as well. I used GOLD BOND Medicated Anti-itch Lotion which contains dimethicone (skin protectant) and menthol to relieve itching. The Aveeno Anti-itch Concentrated Lotion worked very well too. Try to avoid moisturizers that contain the following:

  • Salicylic acids – A type of hydroxy acid (BHA) used in acne prevention products. It dissolves debris that clogs pores called keratin plugs and regulates skin cells. It is generally safe to use salicylic acid containing skincare products during pregnancy (once or twice a day) as long as the amount does not exceed 2%.
  • Retinol – made from vitamin A and is often added to skin care products for its anti-aging properties. It boosts the production of collagen in skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, evens out skin tone, improves skin texture, tightens pores, and stimulates blood flow.
  • Vitamin A – an essential nutrient that supports skin, eye and reproductive health and immune function. Often added to skincare products in the form of retinol. During pregnancy, it is recommended that mother avoid high levels of vitamin A intake in food due to the risk of birth defects and liver toxicity. Although the amount of vitamin A added to skin care products is low, doctors still recommend the avoidance of such products.
  • Retinyl-palmitate – composed of palmitic acid (fatty acid) and retinol (vitamin A) and is an effective antioxidant when applied to the skin. Natural enzymes in your skin converts retinyl-palmitate into retinol when applied to the skin producing anti-aging properties.
Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

Other Anti-inflammatory Remedies:

The anti-inflammatory remedies listed below are tips that I heard of but haven’t tried myself. Let me know if these worked for you!

  • Chamomile and/or dandelion root tea – apply the tea directly to the affected areas with a cotton ball. Be careful not to burn yourself! Chamomile and dandelion root contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Peppermint oil – mix a few drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and apply directly to the affected areas. Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve itching
  • The Grandpa’s Company – Pine Tar Soap – antiseptic properties commonly used to treat psoriasis (autoimmune condition where your body rapidly overproduces skin cells causing inflammation and scaling) and eczema. Basically, the soap slows skin cell growth
  • Other cooling agents: menthol, calamine containing lotions
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Don’t Itch!

I’m sure this one is obvious but just to remind you, don’t itch that rash! It will just make it worse. PUPPP should not leave any scars behind once it has healed but you may have some hyperpigmentation or dark spots if you continue to itch. I know I did.

Seek Help

It is so important that you talk to your doctor when you suspect that you may have PUPPP. Sometimes your rash may appear as a PUPPP rash but it could be something much more concerning such as cholestasis of pregnancy or pemphigoid gestationis (PG).

  • Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) – Due to liver disease that occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy and causes severe itching. Basically, pregnancy hormones slow and stop the normal flow of bile needed for the breakdown of fats in digestion. The bile is then backed up in the liver causing seepage into the blood stream.
  • Pemphigoid gestationis – (pemphigus means blister of pustule) A rare condition that affects 1 in 50,000 pregnancies and is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking your own skin.

Unfortunately my PUPPP rash lasted more than a few weeks but with the help of benadryl and the other home remedies, I was able to pull through. Today, the rash is completely gone with very minimal scaring. Of course, only the stretch marks remain.

Have you experienced this rash during your pregnancy? How did you cope with it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

xoxo

Hemorrhoids – There, I said it!

I never thought I would ever experience hemorrhoids in my life, not even during pregnancy. I mean, I’m young, active, and fairly healthy.  I knew that it was a common occurrence for mothers postpartum but I still thought, “Nope, not me.”

But I’ve since flushed all those naïve thoughts down the toilet… (hah)

You see, I remember my first time pooping after I had given birth. I was bleeding from my butt hole. And if you couldn’t tell, I was mortified.

After many panic-stricken thoughts on the toilet, I flashed back to my pregnant self laying on the hospital bed, pushing so god damn hard that I defecated all over myself while my dear husband watched (front row seats I should mention), and then I knew right then and there, yup, hemorrhoids. Oh yea, definitely.

So there you go. If you didn’t think it could happen to you, well think again momma!

I had to deal with hemorrhoids after birth, along with other postpartum troubles – PUPPP, breast feeding, sleep deprivation, anxiety… You know, the usual.

Read my post about “PUPPP: It Began With Stretch Marks…”

For those who don’t know, hemorrhoids are where the veins around the rectum swell with blood and fluids. This is due to increased pressure in that area such as when you are constipated or in this case, pushing out a tiny human from your vajayjay (aka vaginal delivery)! This increased pressure pushes against the vein walls in the rectum causing it to weaken. Over time blood will collect in pockets where the vein walls are weak and voila – the birth of a hemorrhoid. The weak vein walls can also burst and bleed! It can develop inside the rectum and/or outside around the anus. And fun (not so fun) fact, you can have multiple hemorrhoids inside and outside of your butt hole all at the same time!

Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with my hemorrhoids for too long. They lasted for about 2 months postpartum which is more than I can say for the other moms out there (my thoughts and prayers are with you). Hemorrhoids can develop anytime during pregnancy, pre- and postpartum! During pregnancy your uterus expands for your growing baby. This applies pressure on the veins in your rectum causing them to weaken and swell. They should go away once you’ve given birth. For those who have hemorrhoids after birth, they can last for a couple of days. If they last longer and you can’t find relief, please speak to your doctor!

Oh, and did I mention they were painful?

There were times where I was literally afraid to use the washroom. I would use any excuse to avoid sitting on the toilet but oh, was I so wrong! You see, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. It was like I was literally passing razor blades through my anus! Oh, how lovely motherhood is!

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

But it’s the truth and it’s all too common. So let’s talk about it. Let’s raise awareness about the glorious hemorrhoids of pregnancy and let’s remind each other that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

There were many home remedies along with a topical drug prescription that I used to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. But my one and only saving grace was WATER. I can’t stress enough how important water is, especially postpartum when your body is out of whack and trying to heal. Water is absolutely essential. Not only is it good for hemorrhoids, but it helps with your milk supply, to reduce the swelling in your feet (edema) and so much more.

In my case, increasing my water intake helped soften my stool so it was waaaay easier to pass and I didn’t have to strain as much. Especially for those suffering from constipation after birth, drink lots of water.

When you’re sitting on the toilet and biting down on a towel, you’ll remember this and thank me.

In combination with increased water intake, here are some other very helpful tips to relieve your poor, poor butt hole:

Our family loves Bragg’s organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I know what you’re thinking because I thought the exact same thing! You would think that applying an acid to your already burning anus would make it worse, right? Well apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties and many have suggested that it provides immediate pain relief! It’s true, it really works! Apply the apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball or dilute it in your warm (not hot) bath water or your sitz bath. Doctors do warn that excessive use can lead to further irritation and burning so make sure to apply it sparingly and only as needed.

Sitz bath

Soak your bottom in a sitz bath for about 15 minutes! Usually, upon discharge from the hospital, you should have received a sitz bath tub that you can use to soak your bottom in. If not, they are available at your local pharmacy or online.

If you don’t have a sitz bath tub, no worries. A bath tub works just as well. I like to mix in lots of epsom salt into my warm bath water. Epsom salts dissolve into magnesium and sulfate in water which will be absorbed into the skin to soothe the area. You can also use baking soda, or even dilute some apple cider vinegar as well!

Hemorrhoid Ointment

Your doctor may prescribe some hemorrhoid cream which you can apply with an applicator directly in your rectum and around your anus. This cream is a corticosteroid which reduces inflammation such as redness, itching and swelling. The ointment that I was prescribed is called Anodan-HC. It contains 0.5% hydrocortisone acetate (which is the corticosteroid that reduces inflammation) and 0.5% zinc sulfate (which forms a barrier and protects skin from moisture).

Relieving pressure off of your bottom

Sit on a pillow or cushion, rocking chair or recliner that shifts your weight off of your bottom to another part of your body. This decreases pressure off of your bottom.

When duty calls, don’t avoid it!

I’m so guilty for this! I was literally scared sh*tless (hah) to poop because of the pain so I postponed it for as long as I could. Worst decision ever! If you need to go, go right away. Don’t wait! Delaying it will cause your feces to harden which makes it so much more painful to pass. This is because your body is reabsorbing the water from your stool when it sits in your rectum. Trust me, I know it hurts, but it will hurt so much more if you avoid it. Get it over and done with. You will feel so much better.

I hope this post provides help and support to those going through the same troubles I did when I had hemorrhoids!

You’re not alone and remember, it will pass!

Please feel free to share your stories, struggles, or advice in the comments below. We love hearing from our readers! Thanks for reading everyone!

5 Reasons Why You Need A Crib Mobile

Are crib mobiles really necessary? Or are they just a decorative piece to add to your nursery?

I always thought that new parents spent way too much money on baby items that they really don’t need, and this included the crib mobile.

But one night as I was putting my baby to bed, I noticed her toy bear sitting on the shelf. I held the toy bear in front of her face and instantly, her eyes lit up, she began to smile, and her arms and legs flailed and kicked like I had never seen before! And I thought, “oh my goodness, maybe crib mobiles really are necessary!…” So I decided to do my research and this is what I found.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you need a crib mobile!

1. Visual Stimulation and Eye/vision Development

Babies start to learn and take in information from their environment right from birth. Therefore visual stimulation is very important in the development of your baby’s eyes and vision. Your baby will track and follow the rotating toys on the mobile improving eye movement, vision, and strengthening eye muscles. From 0-3 months, your baby will see contrasts of black and white at first. As they grow, they will begin to see bold colors such as red, blue, yellow, and green. Colourful toys that rotate and encourage eye movement is definitely something to consider when purchasing or making a crib mobile. Even better, some crib mobiles come with lights that project stars and other images on the walls to help soothe your baby to sleep.

2. Sound Stimulation and Hearing Development

Some baby mobiles play soft lullabies to help soothe baby to sleep. These songs helps keep baby stimulated, contributing to their hearing development, and aids in preparing your baby for bedtime.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

3. Motor Skills Development

When your baby watches the mobile toys dancing above them, they get excited! They will kick and move, strengthening their neck, arms and leg muscles. Pretty soon, they will start to reach for the toys which contributes to hand-eye coordination and their comprehension of depth, distance, and spatial awareness.

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

4. Bedtime Routine

Babies as well as their parents, love routine! And turning on the baby mobile as you settle your little one into their crib or bassinet for the night can help to soothe your little one and let them know that its time to sleep. Adding this step into our bedtime routine really helped. The key is to be consistent (easier said than done!) After a warm bath, I give my baby a calming lotion massage while the mobile plays its lullaby music. Then I put her into her crib, dim the lights, and let the mobile do its magic.

5. …Extra Sleep for Mommy and Daddy!

Last but arguably most important, the baby mobiles lets mom and dad sleep in for that extra half hour when your baby wakes up early. Your baby will keep themselves busy and entertained while you catch those last few precious z’s. Even if it’s 5 more minutes, I’ll take it!

Some things to Consider…

Crib mobiles can be very beneficial in your baby’s development but there are some things to consider when thinking about adding a mobile to your nursery.

It really depends on your baby! Sometimes, crib mobiles can be overstimulating which could hinder your baby’s sleeping habits. Also, some moms believe that toys in the crib will make the crib more of a playground rather than a place to sleep.

There are also hazards to consider as well. Make sure that your mobile is securely attached to the crib and that it is position far enough that baby cannot reach and grab it! Toys that can be detached from the mobile can possibly fall off causing a choking or suffocation hazard. Store bought mobiles are usually up to code but if you’re making your own, make sure the strings aren’t too long for baby to grab and pull.

As well, crib mobiles can be pricey! They can range from $30 to over $100 especially if the mobile has a music box, projects lights or is custom and handmade (like the ones you can find on Etsy). However they can be very inexpensive if you decide to make your own!

Check out my DIY Unicorn and Rainbows Crib Mobile coming soon!

All in all, I believe that the benefits of baby mobiles far outweigh the cons listed above. I believe that making your own gives the nursery a personal touch. It also makes a great keepsake or special gift! Our homemade mobile doesn’t play lullabies or project pretty lights on the walls at night, but our baby still gets excited whenever I put her in her crib for the night.

But my most valuable advice to my readers is to learn and understand your baby’s sleep behaviours and patterns. Understanding what helps your baby (and you!) go to sleep at night will assist in deciding whether a baby mobile is right for you and your family.

I hope this post helps. Thanks for reading everyone!

3 Easy steps to prevent and treat flat head syndrome

What is flat head syndrome?

Flat head syndrome is also known as plagiocephaly. (“plagio-” means slanted or oblique and “-cephaly” means head) It is also known as positional or deformational plagiocephaly.

It is where the back or the side of the baby’s head becomes flat, asymmetrical or slanted. Sometimes, the baby’s head may also widen and the forehead bulges out in more severe cases. This is due to prolonged external pressure on one spot of the newborn’s soft and malleable skull.

It is more common today because of the Safe to Sleep® campaign recommending that babies sleep on their backs in the first few months of life to prevent SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).

Other causes of flat head syndrome include the following:

  • Medical problems or delayed development which makes it harder for babies to move and change positions
  • Stiff or tight neck muscles limiting neck movement (Torticollis)
  • Premature babies have softer skulls than full term babies and also move their heads less
  • Plagiocephaly can also occur in the womb such as overcrowding with twins or the mothers womb has an unusual shape

SIDS

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the death of a healthy baby who is less than a year old during sleep (also known as crib death). The cause of death is unknown even after a complete investigation but is believed to be linked to defects in the baby’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep. It is also said to be a combination of physical and environmental factors in the baby’s sleeping environment such as in the crib, however research is still ongoing.

I highly recommend mothers to visit this website, Safe to Sleep® campaign to learn about SIDS and how to reduce the risks.

Should I be concerned about plagiocephaly?

Experts have dismissed plagiocephaly as an aesthetic issue because not everyone has a perfectly round shaped head. Also, it is also believed that asymmetrical heads should resolve itself over time as the baby grows.

Because flat head syndrome is a fairly new concern, there is limited studies on the matter. There is a 2010 study from Seattle Children’s hospital that has found an association between flat head syndrome and developmental delays, specifically motor, language and cognitive delays. This means there is no actual cause and effect between flat heads and child development but there is some link between the two.  In fact, the study suggests that a flat head may be a marker to identify children who are at risk for developmental delays, not that flat heads actually cause such delays. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer at this time and research is still ongoing…

Learn more about this study at Seattle Children’s Hospital website here.

Plagiocephaly may also be mistaken with craniocynostosis which is very different! Craniocyntosis  is where the baby’s skull fuses too early preventing normal development of brain growth. Babies with craniocyntosis will have uneven head shapes and this may also look like flat head syndrome. Check with your doctor to make sure!

Treatment & Management

Treatment depends on your health care provider, the age of your baby, the potential cause and so forth. It is very important that you seek professional medical help if you are concerned!

Your baby’s soft skull will start to fuse together and harden at about 9 to 18 months.

If the cause of your baby’s flat head syndrome is due to how they sleep, nap and lay, treatment may include positioning your baby’s head in different ways and avoiding pressure on the flat spot. It is also important to limit the time your baby spends in their bouncers, car seat or anything that applies pressure to certain parts of their head.

If your baby is diagnosed with stiff neck muscles (torticollis), your doctor may recommend special exercises or refer you to a physiotherapist.

If after 6 months, there is no improvement after trying to reposition your baby’s head first, your doctor may recommend helmet therapy. The plastic helmet, lined with foam fits snugly on the round parts of your baby’s head, and loosely on the flat spots to allow the flat spot to expand and even out as your baby grows. Generally they are worn for about 23 hours every day from about 1 to 6 months but it depends on your child’s age and case. Also, helmets can be very pricey!…

Learn more about plagiocephaly at Seattle children’s hospital website here.

How we fixed our baby’s flat spot with 3 easy steps

A few months ago my baby started to develop a flat spot on the back of her head and I freaked out! I always put her down on her back for naps and at night (especially after reading about SIDS!) And I will admit that I put her in her bouncer when I’m busy around the house, and I let her finish her nap when she falls asleep in the car seat on our way home. I realized that all of these habits had contributed to her flat head syndrome!

I had spoken to my doctor about her flat spot and she said that I shouldn’t be too concerned because naturally, no one has a perfectly round head. Also, preventing SIDS far outweighs the concerns that comes with flat head syndrome. I mentioned that I had done some research about flat head syndrome and developmental delays but she assured me that more research is needed to conclude this hypothesis. After much discussion, she provided me with simple, at home measures that I could take to gradually mold my baby’s head naturally without a pricey helmet.

Today she is 6 months old and her head is as “naturally” round as can be.

With 3 simple steps, this is how we did it.
 

1. Repositioning

The first tip to try is to reposition your baby when he or she sleeps and naps. There are a couple of ways to reposition your baby without having to put them on their sides or stomach. Remember to always place your baby on their backs and for peace of mind, turn on that baby camera when your not in the room!

First, use interesting objects or toys that catch your baby’s attention such as a baby mobile. Position the mobile where you want your baby to turn his or her head when they lay on their backs.

Check out our post about the Top 5 Reasons why You Need a Crib Mobile.

Another tip is to place your baby the other way in the crib. For example, if your baby’s feet is towards to door of the room, instead place your baby’s head towards the door.

Lastly, you can also try rearranging your nursery in the room. Moving the crib to a different area in the room can help to move your baby’s head in a different direction.

2. Lots of Supervised Tummy Time

Tummy time is vital, not only for relieving the pressure off of baby’s head but also to help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles for crawling and sitting up. It also improves your baby’s motor skills.

Babies should be on their tummies for at least 2-3 times per day for short periods of time right from birth. As they get older, allow them to spend more time on their tummies with each session. Try not to leave your baby unsupervised when on tummy time! Also, never leave your baby on tummy time (or in any position) on a high area such as the bed or changing table. They may roll over and fall!

Tips for tummy time:

Lay out a blanket on the floor

Place their favourite toy within baby’s reach and help them learn to play and interact with their surroundings

Tummy time after a nap and diaper change is ideal

Avoid tummy time right after a feed, they may spit it all up!

Never leave baby unattended during tummy time

3. Head Molding Pillows

Right now, I’m using Babymoov Lovenest baby head support pillow when my baby sleeps or naps. She sleeps through the night for about 9 hours straight which applies a lot of pressure on the back of her head!

It is so important to put your baby down on their backs but this is probably one of the reasons why my baby developed a flat spot on the back of her head. So I did some research and found the Babymoov Lovenest pillow on Amazon for $19.99 CDN and had to give it a try. This pillow significantly relieve the pressure off of my baby’s head and I truly recommend it. I use this pillow every time I lay her down. It comes in a variety of colors. The fabric is soft, breathable and machine washable. If you don’t believe me, check out their reviews on amazon!

With these 3 simple tips, we saw a difference in just one month! Today, our baby is 6 months old and we continue to implement these steps when she sleeps. Her flat spot has evened out and we are very happy with the results!

Does you baby have a flat spot? Share your story in the comments below! We love to hear from you.