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.

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!

Becoming a mom: The gist of it anyway…

I knew I always wanted to be a mother since I was young. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up baby sitting my siblings and baby cousins, or maybe it’s just in our DNA – our womanly nature to want to procreate and care for something so small, delicate and defenseless. It’s definitely a combination of nature and nurture for sure.

Since I was in high school even! – I wanted to have a big family because I came from a big family myself. I have three other siblings, my grandparents lived with us during the majority of my childhood and our cousins and extended family members would spend lots of time at our home. I just grew up with lots of loved ones all around me and I knew that I wanted my children to grow up in the same environment.

An image of myself as a new mother, our baby girl, Ayanna and her loving daddy. One of my favourite family photos.

Today, I am a mother of one 5 month old girl and trying to be someone special to my partner’s 11 year old son. I am very thankful.

My wonderful partner is a notable Chef, with more than 20 years of experience in the culinary world. I was just your regular food server when we met about two years ago. We instantly felt a connection back then and today, we have a baby together.

When we found out we were pregnant with Ayanna, we were ecstatic! At that time in our lives we were definitely not ready for a baby but deep down, we had so much love for each other that we were secretly trying to conceive anyway! It was stressful and exciting at the same time.

During my pregnancy, my family lived quite far from us, so when Ayanna finally came into this world, I had to figure out how to be a mom on my own. I was fortunate that my other half had taken a few weeks off to stay home with me. He really is a good man – I’m very lucky.

To those of you who are or will be first time moms, were you ready for what’s to come? To be responsible for a life? I thought I was, but when the time finally came, I realized how much I didn’t know.

The struggle is real! From the traumas of birth to coming home with your newborn, it’s all so exhausting yet exciting! Though I was fortunate enough to have minor consequences from the actual birth, the reality of caring for my newborn was another story… I had the worst time with breastfeeding and latching. My little one just wouldn’t latch, and when she did, it was so painful! She would scream and scream and scream and there were many, many sleepless, inconsolable, and desperate nights…

People have told me many things like what to do, what not to do, this and that…. and yet there were so many other things that they didn’t tell me. So I decided to write a blog for first time moms (all moms really), who have, and are struggling with pregnancy and postpartum, and for those who lived far from their families and support systems and had to learn how to be a mom on their own.

I hope this blog will provide strength, reassurance, and guidance to those who feel lost, hopelessness and despair. I want to remind all first time mothers that yes, immediately postpartum, it can feel like the toughest moments of your entire life, but it doesn’t have to be. Even in those darkest moments, motherhood is a still a beautiful thing.

I want to remind mothers that everything is going to be okay, and that there will always be someone to help – and that you are doing a great job, and you are a great mom.

Thanks for reading. xoxo

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

Immediately postpartum, I was determined to breastfeed my newborn baby because breast milk is the most natural and beneficial food to feed your infant. Unfortunately, I struggled with breastfeeding and latching to the point where I was miserable. I wasn’t able to focus on what truly mattered – enjoying those precious early moments with my newborn baby. I tried a couple of tips to increase my milk supply but my other postpartum issues got the best of me and I switched to formula. For those who want to breastfeed and increase their milk supply, I have listed some tips and strategies that worked and didn’t for me below. But before we begin, you need to understand the basics of breastfeeding!

Breast milk is the most natural way to feed your baby.

…contains vitamins, protein, fats, and antibodies to meet your infants growing needs.

Colostrum is the first milk substance that your breasts produce for your newborn baby.

…is concentrated breast milk that is expelled from a mother’s breast in the early stages of postpartum. It is antibody and laxative rich. Colostrum is thicker and more yellowish in color. Eventually, colostrum will develop into regular breast milk which is lighter in color and not as thick.

Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. The more you breastfeed, the more your body will produce milk.

As your baby nurses, the amount of milk that the baby takes in notifies your body to produce more. Therefore, the most important advice I can give is to frequently breastfeed and pump, even at night! In the early stages of postpartum, it is important to breastfeed or pump at least every 2-4 hours to increase the demand and supply. The more you demand from your body, the more your body will supply. Of course this won’t happen over night. It is draining and you already have so much on your plate, but keep at it and your milk supply will increase with time and dedication.

It is also important to consider how your baby latches onto your nipple.

Sometimes, improper latching can prevent the infant from getting enough milk, and this may also contribute to pain when breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should not be painful. Seek help from a lactation consultant at your hospital or reach out to your doctor if you are unsure about how to latch your baby properly or how to hold them when breastfeeding. There are various ways and methods to hold your infant that is most comfortable for you, your body and your baby.

Before considering if your breasts are producing enough milk, consider how your baby is latching on to you.

Firstly, hold your baby tummy to tummy with the baby’s mouth positioned in front of your nipple.

The baby’s head should be facing forward and his or her body should be aligned with yours. Don’t make your baby turn his or her head to reach. This is uncomfortable for them if they have to feed for long periods of time like this.

The infant needs to grasp both the nipple and part of your areola. The areola is the ring of pigment surrounding your nipple. It will cause pain if only the nipple is grasped due to pinching.

Rubbing your nipple to your baby’s nose and brushing along his or her mouth will stimulate the baby to open their mouths wide. This is called the “rooting reflex.” At the widest point of opening, insert your breast as deep as possible to avoid only latching the nipple.

If the infant latches on incorrectly (and you will know cause it’s painful!), break the suction by inserting your finger into the baby’s mouth. Do not try to pull the baby away as this can cause nipple soreness and trauma.

Feeding holds for all mothers
  • Cradle
  • Cross cradle or cross over
  • Football hold
  • Back lying
  • Australian hold
  • Side lying cradle
Breastfeeding positions for every day use and comfort.
http://www.mummymadness.com.au
Get comfy when breastfeeding. Prevent back aches and improper body mechanics that may worsen in the future.

At first, I thought I could live without a rocking chair or a breastfeeding pillow but honestly, when your sitting there holding your baby and breastfeeding so so so frequently, your back and neck will start to ache

If you can, invest in a comfy rocking chair! This will make all the difference especially for those late nights when you’re up with a fussy baby. As well, a feeding pillow (U-shaped pillow) will help when you’re on the go or if you’re unable to sit in the rocking chair.

Here are some tips I used to help increase my milk supply.

Make sure to drink lots of water!

I can’t stress how important it is to keep hydrated, breastfeeding or not. Drink plenty of water. About two liters per day is enough for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers. I heard that it is a myth that breastfeeding mothers need more water than their non-breastfeeding counterparts… Also, don’t force yourself to chug water! This can be very dangerous and can lead to fluid overload! An adequate amount of enough to help with your milk supply.

Herbal supplements are a great and natural way to increase breast milk supply.

I have used the following herbs below to help increase my milk supply:

  • Fenugreek (along with fennel and milk thistle)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
Fenugreek, along with fennel, milk thistle and other milk stimulating ingredients are infused into Mearthmama's organic milkmaid tea.
Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea has great reviews! Mothers have worn by it.

It contains fenugreek, as well as fennel, milk thistle and other milk stimulating herbs. I purchased a set of 3 boxes of tea from Amazon. Each box contains 16 tea bags for a total of 48 bags and I had 3 cups of tea per day. So it took me a total of 16 days to use up the entire 3 boxes and honestly, as much as I really wanted this super tea to work, I didn’t do much for my milk supply. I read amazing reviews from other moms and hoped that this would be the perfect solution but unfortunately it did very little. At least the flavor of the tea was pleasant! There is a moderate licorice fragrance and flavor to the tea which I didn’t mind at all.

Who knows, this tea might work for you. Other mothers seem to swear b\y it! I got mine at Amazon for $19.50 CDN. Let me know in the comments about how the tea has worked for you!

I tried using teas that contained these ingredients because not only do I love tea but it was easy to consume and enjoy with a newborn baby schedule. But you can take these ingredients in other forms such as in capsules or liquid drops.

Ginger helps with healing after birth and also adds to bleeding risks.

On the day my baby came, my mom arrived to the hospital with a big tub of rice and sauteed ginger! She swore that ginger helped with healing and increased her milk supply when she was nursing me. So it worked for my mom way back when but for me, I saw a very mild difference. Keep in mind I didn’t take in as much ginger as I wanted – say once per week. But I love cooking with ginger, and wished I had put more effort into eating more of it when I was breastfeeding. I was also told that eating too much of ginger can change the flavor of your breast milk and I don’t know if a baby’s flavor profile is ready for that spicy, peppery taste… (this goes for spicy foods too!) If anyone has found ginger to be helpful in increasing milk supply, please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts. Ginger is also used for nausea and vomiting but has been shown to increase bleeding.

Garlic is an antioxidant but increases bleeding risk.

Studies show that garlic also plays a role in milk production. It is also an antioxidant used to lower cholesterol levels. A side effect of garlic is increased bleeding, just like ginger.

I love garlic, and I use garlic in almost all of my cooking, pre- and postpartum. I didn’t really increase my intake of garlic when I was trying to increase my milk so I can’t say for sure if it helped or not. Let me know in the comments if you increased your garlic intake and it made a difference!

Barley is a great galactogogue to help increase breast milk supply.

Beer contains barley and the polysaccharides in barley stimulates prolactin (PRL), a hormone produced in the pituitary gland which facilitates milk production.

I found this tip really worked! I recommend drinking non-alcoholic beer of course as alcohol does pass through your breast milk to your baby, but in much smaller concentrations.

Or you can just eat barley. My mother in-law made me a wonderful barley soup where the galactagogue goodness (a substance that promotes lactation) infuses into the broth of the soup – the best part! Yum, it was such a delicious soup.

When I did drink non-alcoholic beer, literally in about 3 hours, I could feel my breasts tighten and engorgement with milk!

I really recommend eating or drinking more barely when breastfeeding. The results appeared quickly and substantially.

Lactation consultants at hospitals and clinics are here to help with breastfeeding mothers who are struggle.

Seek help from your doctor or hospital! The next day after I gave birth, a lactation consultant visited me and we had a one on one session on proper latching and the different ways to hold a baby (refer to latching above). It really helped! At my hospital, there is also a breastfeeding clinic where mothers can return with their baby as many times as they need to if they’re still having trouble latching or breastfeeding.

Breast massages and warm compresses

Stimulating milk supply can occur through increasing blood flow and warmth to the breast. Massaging the breast and expressing some milk before feeding your newborn leads to “let down” reflex where your milk flow is greatest. It makes it easier for your baby to feed adequately. Taking a nice warm shower or applying a warm compress will also help achieve to the let down reflex. This is a great tip and has worked wonders.

Skin to skin contact is the most important step after birth.

Skin to skin contact between you and your baby is the very first thing you do after delivery. Benefits of skin to skin contact include:

  • stimulates rooting reflex (sucking)
  • warmth and stabilization of body temperature
  • bonding
  • regulation of blood sugar, heart rate, breathing
  • comfort and relief for the baby (decreased crying)
  • eases the transition from the womb to the outside word

Those are all the tips I tried to improve my milk supply. But really the best way to do so as naturally as possible is to…

Pump every 2-4 hours to increase your breast milk supply.

or…

breastfeed as frequently as possible!

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

Throughout my pregnancy, I was determined to be as natural as possible. This meant many things: a natural (painful) birth and breastfeeding – because natural is always best, right? Even though it may be the scariest, most painful moments in your life, it’s what’s expected of us as mothers. It’s the self sacrifice and unconditional love for our offspring that makes us push our humanly limits to do what’s best.

You would think that breastfeeding comes naturally – and it does. Breastfeeding is natural and is a naturally occurring phenomenon, but the process doesn’t occur as flawlessly as you would think – especially for first time mothers like myself.

When I gave birth to my baby girl in January, I had the worst time with latching and expelling my colostrum. It was the most painful sensation I have ever felt! Mind you, I had just given birth to her and was dealing with the aftermath of 3 tears and an agonizing 34 hours of labor, and I still believed that the sensation of my baby sucking at my breasts and the entire process of latching was worse than birth itself… I just had extremely sensitive breasts that just weren’t used to that sucking sensation – and I have to say, my newborns sucking strength was very strong! (Well, all newborn’s sucking should generally be strong…)

It took me 3 months to finally get my breasts used to my newborns sucking strength and by that time, I felt it was too late. (Or is it?…) Today, my baby is on formula and that’s ok.

To mothers and parents who feed their child formula, let me just say, you’re doing what’s right for you and your baby. I have no judgement for mothers who breastfeed, or use formula, or both. I say…

There is this immense pressure from society to breastfeed your child exclusively because that’s what’s best and most natural. Breastfeeding has benefits not only for baby but for mom too. It has all the vitamins, proteins, fat and antibodies that the newborn needs to grow. For mom, breastfeeding helps burn calories faster to lose all that baby weight, and it triggers the release of oxytocin to contract your uterus to return it back it its normal size. (Of course your uterus will never really be the same again after pregnancy, along with many other things…) But sometimes and for some families, breastfeeding really isn’t what’s best at all. I remember talking to my OBGYN about how I badly wanted to continue breastfeeding but how painful it was to not only to latch but to watch my baby “starve” and not get enough from me. I had tried everything from lactation consultants to breast massages and warm compresses and so forth… (Check out my post about breastfeeding tips here.) I felt that I had already failed as a mother, and she was only just a few weeks old. She assured me that breastfeeding isn’t always the right decision for every family and I had to do what was right for mine. She also said that I would be surprised by how many of us were formula fed, herself included!

Along with PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) and other conflicting postpartum issues, I had to set aside my unrealistic goals in order to do what was truly best for my baby, and that was to switch to formula feeds. Today, she is a vibrant and cheerful little 5 month old baby and honestly, if she were on my breast milk, she would still be just as vibrant and cheerful.

I had spoken to another mom about my failures of breastfeeding, and she reassured me that I was doing just fine. She said she had breastfed her first child exclusively because she wanted to be as natural as possible. And then, she had a second child who she tried to breastfeed exclusively as well. And then unexpectedly, a third child came. At this point, she couldn’t keep up with the crazy demand so she switched to formula for her last two children. She said to me, “…my oldest son who had my breast milk is just as weird as my youngest who is on formula…And I hope this makes you feel much better, because I know I did.

So to those who truly do want to breastfeed exclusively, here are a few tips I wish I had known while I was pregnant:

If you are going to be a first time mom and are currently pregnant, feel your breasts and try massaging them. If they feel tender or painful upon moderate pressure, then you may have a tough time with breastfeeding like I did. Of course, not everyone is the same and breastfeeding may come about more easily for some mothers compared to others. And if the pain is that excruciating, you may be experiencing breast engorgement or duct blockage. Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure. Massaging the breasts is the most important tip I can give to new mothers like myself who have no idea what they’re doing! I had to push through the pain of massaging and rubbing my breasts to “let down” the milk all while trying to make sure my newborn baby was getting enough. It was draining. Massaging those breasts helps them get used to movement and pressure so start early, even before baby arrives! And when it comes time to latch on your newborn, these sensations shouldn’t be so new to your breasts. Of course, it may still be painful at first but not as excruciating. That way, you’ll be able to better enjoy those precious moments of your first feeding with your newborn baby instead of focusing on the “why can’t I feed my newborn like other mothers do so naturally?! I have failed as a mother already…Nope, none of that!

Of course, drink plenty of water. This not only helps with your milk supply, but it also helps to reduce the pedal edema (swelling in the feet) by flushing out all the excess fluid that has developed in your body. (During pregnancy, our bodies produce and retains fluid to meet the needs for your developing fetus.)

Always try to minimize stress! That is a given. Stress contributes to so many health conditions in every aspect of life. Be kind to yourself! You are creating a new life and that’s pretty darn amazing! Take some deep breaths, think happy thoughts, and surround yourself with good vibes.

Also, continue to exercise! Avoid strenuous training but continue with those stretches or even take a scenic walk. Ask your doctor what is right for you but if your condition doesn’t warrant otherwise, then continue to be active throughout your pregnancy. Remember to rest when you are tired. Being active is great but don’t push it. Trust your instinct. Move when you want to, rest when you need to.

Lastly, ask for help. It’s ok to admit you have no idea what you’re doing. I mean, do we really know what were doing? I know I didn’t and everything turned out just fine. Another piece of advise to new moms is, no matter how bad you think it gets, it will always pass. It won’t last forever. Talk to someone – your partner, a family member, a friend, your doctor. Reassure yourself that everything is ok, and that you are doing great and you’re a good mom. Hopefully they will reassure you too.

To those having a tough time with breastfeeding and are considering formula feeds, that’s ok too. Modern science has created some amazing inventions, and now mothers struggling with breastfeeding don’t have to feel so defeated and alone anymore. Formula will not make your child any less of a person than those fed with breast milk. You have not failed as a mother. You are not a bad mom.