No truer words have ever been said, to me
'Don't waste your money on getting a counselor - just hire a house cleaner'
In the midst of raising 3 kids, being a wife, a homemaker and business owner - I was stretched thin. I was trying to juggle our lives and was failing. Realizing this during a meeting at my sons school, his teacher said those exact words to me. Instantly, I felt a sigh of relief. Hiring a house cleaner doesn't make me a bad mom? Nope. This was not the kind of mom I was. I had never had a problem prior, cleaning my own home - not to mention the dungeon basement suite we lived in. Nor was it really in our budget at the time - those hours add up.
We have now had one for 1.5 years and I some days don't know what we would do without her. Now, more than ever. She has gone on maternity leave to welcome her own babe, into this world, and three weeks in I am feeling the sting. As mothers we are expected to do it all, always. I cannot possibly do it all - and that is okay. Having something as simple as a house cleaner took a huge stress off my shoulders. It meant my husband and I could sit, in the evenings, and enjoy one another. It meant weekends were spent doing family activities more. It meant I was happier. I no longer was debating, during nap time 'Should I work on my certifications, or clean the bathroom?'.
We all have those few things we do to make our lives easier.
Crock pots? Heck yeah. Take out - Yes! Starbucks - oh god...please! Pour me another. A roomba - who needs to vacuum!
It is okay to do and have these things, if it means we get an extra 5 or 40 minutes in our day to ourselves - it's worth it. Being less stressed and less busy will lead to making a happier you. And a happier you, is a happier family. No one wants a stressed out mama - no one! I also really liked that our cleaner, was a newly married young woman who was working on a family of her own. I felt good about supporting her business, knowing what she was about and trying to build her self up, being new to our town. My boys learned to know who she was, and we all developed a soft spot in our hearts for her. She was so calm, friendly, and did her job really well. I am proud to have developed a great relationship, with her, and will be her doula in the coming weeks to help her family welcome their first child. She has become more than just someone who hired out for help, when we needed it.
There is no better time to think about hiring a house cleaner than in the weeks following having a new baby, too! Maybe this is your second or third and you don't need any gifts - a gift card for a house cleaner is the perfect gift! Heck - it's a good gift for anyone at any point in their life. Who doesn't love a break from cleaning every once in a while. Bringing one in can give you that extra time to snuggle your new one, rest your healing postpartum body and get the rest you so desperately deserve.
I will tell everyone who asks - don't knock a house cleaner till you try one. Not in the budget? Try and make some room. Cut back a few other things in your lives and see if there is wiggle room - even if they only come once a month. You deserve a break! A few small ways to not break the bank and save, for one:
Swap your daily coffee at Starbucks for a home brew
Meal plan and ingredient share to cut back your grocery bill - and coupon!
Walk to the store/for activities when possible
Do a house purge and sell any items that you have no need for anymore
Swap your cable for Netflix or an Apple TV/Android box
Another great option is to trade with other moms in your area. It takes a village - and there are many avenues to support one another. Childcare, meal trains, house keeping to carpooling - the options are endless! We all need a little help, from time to time, and we should all know we have the support systems we need when those times arise.
World Doula Week - Thank you!
As World Doula Week comes to a close, we want to thank you.
Without you, we wouldn't have the business we do, to back up our passion for this work. It is thanks to the continuous support of you, our clients, that we get to keep being apart of such beautiful moments in your lives.
With that being said - we have one major and final giveaway happening!
(We had an emergency trip and too much sickness, to keep up with out daily
ones - sorry!)
Enter here for your chance to win one (1) of six (6) prizes!
One (1) - SleepBelt
One (1) - 20$ Gift Card to Wildwood Flower Emporium (Salmon Arm)
One (1) - 50$ Gift Card to EO Healing Essentials oils (Anything on their website)
One (1) - 50$ off Gift Card for Amber Elizabeth Photography
One (1) - One (1) hour float from Okanagan Float (Vernon)
One (1) - Covered Goods Gift Card for $34.99 (Online)
Bonus entries: Tag your friends on Facebook who may want to win
One name tag per comment, please
Share the Facebook post, and tag us in it (or let us know if you are unable to tag)
x5 extra entries per comment/share
One winner per prize, per person.
Winner must pay shipping, if needed
*Canadian residents only, please
*Contest closes in 48 hours
A major thanks to all our awesome vendors for donating prizes, all week, and for this one!
Wildwood Flower Emporium
EO Healing Essentials Oils
Amber Elizabeth Photography
Okanagan Float (Vernon)
Hayden Fitness Studios (Vernon)
My lil Buttercup
Little Zen One
Again, from our Maternal Oak family, to you, thank you for the love
Day 3 - Fitness Friday!
Today brings an awesome prize, for those mamas who want to stay relaxed during pregnancy and get some fresh air and socializing postpartum.
Hayden Fitness Studio, in Vernon, has four (4) passes up for grabs! That's right - there will be four (4) winners today!
Enter here: https://goo.gl/forms/PbremONC2lKNN4Q83
They also offer a variety of other fitness programs for all levels
Check out their schedule, here.
They are located at: #201 - 2500 53rd Ave in Vernon
Make sure to head on over to out pages, Maternal Oak Doula and Hayden Fitness Studio, on Facebook, and tag your friends for bonus entries!
This contest will close in 24 hours and a winner will be drawn shortly there after.
Today brings us another fantastic prize - donated by Heena at My lil Buttercup, in Penticton. Heena carries an array of babywearing carriers, accessories, and other assorted items for parenthood!
She has amazingly gifted one lucky winner a set of Tula blankets! Valued at $100
*Winner to pay shipping
Keep an eye on her page, My lil Buttercup, for an upcoming sale on many items!
Enter here: https://goo.gl/forms/6G7H54OBsfaFJWiv1
Make sure to head on over to out pages, Maternal Oak Doula and My lil Buttercup, on Facebook, and tag your friends for bonus entries!
This contest will close in 24 hours and a winner will be drawn shortly there after.
It's World Doula Week!
The purpose of World Doula Week is to empower doulas all over the world to improve physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns and families in birth and in the postpartum period. The World Doula Week events will take place all over the world during the same week, stating the benefits of the presence of doulas in birth and in the postpartum period:
Here at Maternal Oak, we decided to add in some fun giveaways to go along with World Doula Week.
Up first, is Little Zen One.
Owner Allie Dennis, resides in Toronto and runs her company along side her beautiful family of 4. Allie takes great pride in educating parents & caregivers and selling beautiful wraps, buckle carriers, ring slings and Asian style carriers as well!
She has graciously offered up a Gift Certificate, for one lucky winner!
One winner - $30 gift card. Also, anyone who uses Maternal Oak Doula's code will get 10% off orders over $100. (http://rwrd.io/mik4ctk)
Little Zen One sell's incredible baby carriers. They're functional, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?
Get great advice and message us at m.me/littlezenone
Thank you, Allie, for all that you do for the Babywearing Community in Canada and abroad!
Earn extra entries by tagging your friends over on the the Facebook post!
It all started, when a recent client had a Facebook post up, in search for newborn photo props. I remember I had a bag of adorable headbands....somewhere.
This is a topic, that is rarely spoken upon. It is almost taboo - because how could you be disappointed about your own child's gender, when they are healthy. I wonder, though, how many other mothers, or even fathers, having this tugging feeling on their hearts. I know I do - and I never ever talk about it. Are you wondering, yet, what the topic is?
It is real, yes. Haven't heard of such a thing? I don't doubt that. Not many people have. Why would someone openly and honestly just state 'No, actually, I wish I had a girl instead'? How shallow, does it sound, and unloving as a parent? I know what most people are thinking - how could anyone ever think such things? I have, for years, and will continue to battle with it for potentially the rest of my life. Opening up and being raw and honest, is putting me in a very vulnerable state - but I needed to get it off my chest not knowing if other families are experiencing this. Actually, I know they are. I have been approached on multiple occasions, asking me about Gender Disappointment and if I had ever experienced it.
Being a mom to 3 boys - the comments almost always are:
'Are you going to keep trying, till you get that girl?'
'Aww man - another one?!'
'Don't you wish you had a girl?'
'No - we aren't. But thank you for being concerned about our sex life'
'Yes - another one. It's like somehow you think we can control our child's gender'
'Yes - I do. I desperately with all my heart and soul wish I had a daughter to call my own'
Of course, all everyone wants is to be able to, first of all - get pregnant. Second of all - carry a healthy baby to term. Of course. But that does not take away from the sting. One of the biggest questions asked, to pregnant woman is, 'Do you want a girl or a boy?' Often times, women will say they do not care, yes, but just as often you will hear a choice. And instantly - the judgement starts.
'Well you should just be happy that you got pregnant'
'It doesn't matter, right? As long as they are healthy'
When I got pregnant, with my first, I wanted a boy, and when we found out he in fact was, a boy - I was over the moon. When the second, came along, I had my boy so naturally was more drawn towards wanting a girl - who doesn't want that million dollar family? Being in Canada, you had to wait till your 20 week ultrasound to find out. We just so happened to be in Las Vegas, on vacation, around 16 weeks. We found a place down there to get a 3D ultrasound, to find out earlier. I remember waking up, that morning, and feeling sick to my stomach. I already knew what they were going to tell me. After the appointment, and out of sight of the tech, I broke down. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was devastated. I felt robbed and cheated, at my chance of having a daughter in that moment. As time went on, I grew to like the idea of two sons, and the fun bond they would have growing up. And, to this day, I love that boy with all of my heart and always will.
The twang, though, has never gone away. I do not wish I did not have that son - do not get those two confused. I would not give him up for any daughter. I don't think any parent wants to trade a gender for a gender. The big misconception, with Gender Disappointment is the what if's.
'What would my life look like, if I had a daughter?'
'Would she want to dance? Or play football, like her brothers?'
'Have long brown hair like me? Her dads beautiful hazel eyes?'
When we started trying, for another, I still had that hope in my heart that maybe one day I would have a girl. I got pregnant, and within days had a miscarriage and lost that baby - 2 weeks before our wedding. I woke up, that morning, knowing something was wrong. As soon as it set in, what was happening - my gut and heart instantly went to - 'it's a girl and this was my only chance at a daughter'. To this day, I cannot shake that feeling. Be it a coping mechanism, or not - my gut was right the other times.
Along came child number 4 - and can you take a guess at what that sweet baby was? I went into that ultrasound, already knowing what he was. I told the tech and, shocked, he confirmed it. I didn't feel anything. Maybe numb, was the right feeling? I knew, with each consecutive pregnancy, my chances were getting slimmer and slimmer. Statistic wise, and - well my husband came from 3 boys. As did his dad. And his dad before him. It would have to be a major fluke, with nature greatly on my side, to get that daughter I always dreamed of.
I try my best, not to feel guilty over my feelings that surround this. As I already said, it is not my children themselves, that bring on the Gender Disappointment feelings - it is the mourning of something that will never be. I believe that all feelings are valid, and it is up to ourselves to process those as best we can. Sometimes, it takes days, other times - years. I am not ungrateful for being fortunate enough to carry healthy, term, thriving children - so please, do not think that.
As women, from an early age, we all (mostly) envision how our life will look. Our prince charming of a husband, the wedding, our children - the white picket fence home. We play to these roles, and let our imaginations run as wild and free as they can. But, the truth is, life is not like that. Our imaginations, needs and wants are not always correct and going to work out how we want. Disappointment, in life, happens on many levels and it not just on what our child's gender may be. It is an emotion and feeling, that sometimes feels gross, and uncomfortable.
And it is okay, to feel that.
It is okay, to wish you had something you didn't - because let's face, everyone wishes they had something others have. It's human nature.
It's okay to love your current children, while mourning the child you will never have.
Do not let anyone ever tell you that your feelings are not valid. Ever. Whatever it is you are feeling, is okay and normal, and you will work through those feelings at your own pace. If you find you are struggling - reach out. You are not alone. There is always someone out there going through something similar to you.
Please, when you see someone with all one gender - actually any children at all - do not assume what they want. Maybe we are trying for that other gender, maybe we aren't - but that is our families choice.
Most care providers, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggest and encourage women to breastfeed. You and your baby are unique, and the decision is up to you. This insight into breastfeeding can help give you the information you may need, to make a decision that will benefit you and your baby.
There is something so intimate and beautiful in those quiet moments of breastfeeding, with your new babe. Developing a feeding relationship, with your newborn, can be full of emotional and physical ups and downs in the early days, especially as a first time mom. Seeking out and advocating for the proper supports, though, can make a difference between success or struggle.
There are so many benefits, for mother and child, when it comes to breastfeeding. Not only can your body provide nourishment and protection, for your baby, it can for you as well. There have been several studies that have shown it reduces ovarian and breast cancer. Post delivery, the oxytocin that is released when nursing will help your uterus contract and shrink back down to size quicker than those mothers who do not breastfeed. Exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) shows there has been success in being able to naturally space your children, due to the natural birth control you body experiences. Psychologically, it gives mothers a greater sense of empowerment in being able to sustain their child's needs.
For babies, breastfeeding provides immune support, which is crucial in their early days when they have not yet developed one. It reduces their risk of SIDS, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Breastfeeding also helps babies learn to self regulate their food intake, which has been shown to reduce childhood obesity. The skin to skin bond, you create, also helps your child feel more secure and confident in you as their care provider and reduces stress for you both.
The link between breastfeeding and society, is also large. Not only do breastfed babies tend to be sick less often, thus minimizing the health care system, parents are also able to take less sick days to tend to their ill children. It also helps reduce waste and pollution by not requiring packaging, shipping and disposal of bottles, liners, and cans of formula. Financially, the formula industry in sales and marketing of their products, is a multi billion dollar industry. With breastfeeding, we can substantially cut that number down and create more WHO compliant locations.
Don't delaying that bond and connection, with your babe. As soon as possible, post delivery, start skin to skin and practicing your latching with baby. Give yourself patience and space, while you learn to work with one another. Breastfeeding is like a dance - you both need to learn the steps to success. As you head home, make sure you have items in your home to encourage this. Be it a cozy corner with snacks, a water bottle and Netflix or your bed. Having quick and close access to items so you are able to sit, and nurse, is important.
Breastfeeding might seem lonely and individual, but it is not and you do not have to go about it alone. In the past, women learned proper techniques from their mothers, grandmothers, and sisters. They had a support system to lean on, to help them succeed. Reach out to your friends and family, who have children and have gone through this journey, and ask for guidance should you need it. Social media is also full of many amazing support groups, for women, to ask questions and connect with like minded mothers. Locally, we have Vernon Breastfeeding Cafe and Breastfeeding Mothers of the Shuswap.
Making sure you are adapting your diet, to your breastfeeding needs, is also crucial. You will be burning 200-500 calories, while nursing, so making sure your nutrition intake reflects that will help with your supply. Don't fill your calorie gap with empty foods - stock your pantry and fridge with wholesome and healthy foods to snack on while sitting in your nursing chair. Preparing freezer meals, can also help with this, and make for easy and quick meals in the early postpartum days.
If you find you are struggling with breastfeeding - reach out. Do not give into the fear that you are not doing a good enough job, or not producing enough milk. If your baby is outputting the appropriate amount of diapers for their age, you are giving them enough. There are many supports available for women, and many ways to go about making sure your child gets breast milk. Be it a SNS sytem, pumping and bottles, or doner milk - insuring your child has that 'liquid gold' is possible with some hard work and support.
We must increase awareness and education in order to support a healthier future for the good of humanity to ensure that all children, irrespective of their gender, whether they are from a rich country or a poor one, can get the best possible start in life and start from a very even basis. It is everyone's responsibility to create and educate our population as a whole. Acceptance is key, knowledge is power. Together we can create a safe and educational environment so that all mothers who choose to breastfeed, can with success.
In conjunction with the Shuswap Children's Association, we are pleased to be hosting MILK: The Film in the Spring of 2017. Stayed tuned to our Facebook, for an announcement of a date and time.
Resources for support, information and help:
International Lacation Consultant Association
Le Leche League International
Benaroch, Roy MD. (2015, December 13) Breastfeeding Benefits. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics#5
Filmblanc (2017) MILK Educational Program. Retrieved from: http://www.milkhood.com/programs
Rusch, Elizabeth (2017) 5 Simple Steps to Breastfeeding Success. Retrieved from: https://www.fitpregnancy.com/baby/breastfeeding/five-simple-steps-breastfeeding-success
Unknown (2016, June 16) Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Enviroment and Society. Retrieved from: http://www.tensteps.org/benefits-of-breastfeeding-for-the-environment-society.shtml
After my last blog post, I was asked by a few women '...but what do you do for childcare?'
I find myself lucky to have the support system in place, that I do. I am surrounded by loving family and friends, and a husband who is continually at my back, catching me when I fall and pushing me forwards. With these people - I would have another path to walk down. I have a very near and dear friend, who is responsible for a lot of my childcare when I have prenatal appointments, or get called into a birth. She does this, every time, selflessly and lovingly. And did I mention - with 4 kids of her own & for free? It took me 28 years, to find a friend like her, and I hold her close in my heart. Without her, my business would not be flourishing as much as it is. Find your tribe, and love them hard. They will catch you when you have fallen, lift you when you do not think you can go on.
Another great path I am exploring, in terms of childcare and being an entrepreneur - is trading. Being able to find a doula, within your community, and work with each other to provide support - be in as a back up, swapping childcare, or idea bouncing. Having that steady hand to fall on, is so beneficial for all involved. Regardless if you are a solo doula, like I am, there are avenues to explore to find what suits your family best. The great thing about the birth and parenting biz, is that everyone has a different idea of what they want and need for their business. I myself have the flexibility to weave work into my life, not work my life into my work.
So how can you build yourself a solid support system?
Seek and you shall find
Don't be scared of networking and reaching our to your community. Find like minded mothers, doulas, and caregivers. This is essential to building that trust you will need, to leave your children with someone for when you need to go to work. And should you become back ups, for one another, having the same business ideals and philosophies will make it possible for you to have the potential for client sharing.
Make sure your partner has your back.
Do they support you? Do they want to see you succeed? Are they willing to make sacrifices, for you, so you will be as successful as you can be? Having these conversations, before and during your journey, is crucial. We all like to think that our spouse wants us to succeed, but with success comes a lot of work on both partners parts. Everyone will have to step up their game, in the home, to make the smooth running's of every day life work.
Ask your friends for support. Ask your parents in-laws for support. Don't be scared of what they will say - because the worst it can be is, no. But what if it is yes? We continuously worry and avoid conversations because the fear of the what if scares us. But being scared, could be hiding the answer you have had all along but not known.
What if you have no family close by?
Again, this is where seeking your community and friends is majorly beneficial. We are not all so lucky to have our families close by, as nice as it would be. It is not always possible. Reaching out and creating friendships, bonds, and networking in your town or city can create beautiful relationships. I have made some of best of friends, when I stepped out of my comfort zone and allowed myself to be open to new people.
What if you have to pay someone, for childcare?
When you start your business, accounting for childcare into your fees - whatever the amount may be - will help you cover the costs if ever the need should arise. Setting prices accordingly not only provides you the income you require to cover basic living expenses (child care included), but puts you on an equal playing field with those doulas around you. Doing this, keeps doulas valued on all levels. Accounting for childcare costs can mean a small amount accumulates over several clients so you have funds set aside for if and when your typical care is unavailable or, building in a standard amount as you would with any other expense with each contract is an option too so that you know your covered regardless. As you build your business and become better known in your area, both success and a steady income will become a given, making paying for your childcare expenses a breeze.
I have always said to myself - if not now, when? Will next week, month or year be better? Will I have more supports in place to better help me succeed? Maybe - but maybe I won't. Maybe jumping in with two feet will force me to face my fears, head on, and push my limits. When you set your standards above the bar, and reach them there is nothing quite as satisfying. I have pushed every limit I have given myself, thus far, and plan to continue. I truly believe that if we are not pushing ourselves harder than we believe we can, we won't get where we want to be. Be it 1, 2 or 40 years. Always strive for more than you think you can do; you will surprise yourself.
'How do you do it?', is a question that I get asked, almost every week. By friends, relatives, clients, and fellow doulas alike. The answer - I have no idea most days!
Before I started Maternal Oak, I had not worked in almost 4 years. I had been very fortunate to be able to stay at home and be with my children, while my husband was the sole provider. And before that, I was a university student. When my business, was born, I didn't have the first clue about what it meant to run one, let alone do it with 3 kids running at my feet (all...the...time). In came bebo mia, and their Maternal Support Practitioner program. I left their training, feeling like I could conquer the world. The in depth programs bebo offers have left me feeling confident, well rounded in my knowledge, and I was ready to run my own business. A huge part of that is because of bebo mia's programs. The undying and constant support from my mentors and classmates alike have helped me achieve all that I have done.
Juggling being a mom to 3 very busy boys and an entrepreneur is tough; really tough. To me, there is no such thing as the perfect balance, and week by week - hell, day by day, it changes. I find working smarter, not harder, has really helped. I work very hard on prioritizing certain tasks, and uni tasking. Something bebo mia taught me. I used to have a million lists and try and do 87 different tasks in a day. I was always exhausted (and my husband would probably say cranky, too). Uni tasking, is doing one task at a time, be it per day or hour. I was running around trying to do laundry, website building, phone calls, and make lunch all the same time. It was chaos! Now, I set aside time and lump together tasks that make sense to get done at the same time. I won't make phone calls, when it is not nap time or my husband is not home, will work on my Instagram and Facebook at the same time, and food prep like crazy to save the dinner time scramble that always happens.
It's extremely important to be realistic, and know your own limits. Thankfully, my husband and boys have been patient and kind, with me, as I navigate these new waters. There has been more than one occasion, where I have caught myself staring at my laptop at 2am, wondering what I had actually got done. Knowing my boundaries, has helped, with the cranky mom my kids get when I have put so many works house into the day.
I have also learned that, it is okay. It is okay if my kids sit in their pj's all day. It is okay we order take out twice a week if that means I was able to work on my certifications or book another client. It's okay to hire a house cleaner, so I have one less task to think about at the end of the day. It is okay to put myself, first. My children's entire lives, have been about them and their wants and needs. It was a long time in the making and hard to realize that my life besides being a mother, desires and passions do matter. I matter. Me making a difference in the world and women's lives, matters. Being able to take the financial strain off my husbands shoulders, matters. Working a career that I am passionate about, matters.
I am extremely proud of how far I have come in the short 7 months I have been doing this. I have managed to partake in 4 bebo mia courses, start up a mother to mother group at my local Children's Association - a casual group to get together with like minded mothers and caregivers to discuss all things pregnancy, birth and postpartum, to breastfeeding, babywearing and all things that come with parenting a newborn through into toddler hood. The near future brings CPSAC (Child Passenger Association of Canada) and placenta courses, as well as expanding Maternal Oak by 2 doulas. My future is very bright and my hard work and the ever constant balancing act is beyond worth it.
Don't drive yourself crazy trying to find a balance between being an entrepreneur and a 'super mom'. No one has the perfect answer for managing a business along side raising children. Achieving success, as a mother and entrepreneur won't come easy, but both will have a spot in your heart that will fill you with pride, joy, and everlasting love. Parenting children and building a business both take time and patience, and as the days and years go by, you will witness them both grow into amazing parts of your life - and your children will be able to have a constant appreciation for hard work and dedication watching their mother achieve all her dreams and goals.
Pre-Pregnancy (diet, lifestyle & supplementation)
The diet and lifestyle you follow prior to getting pregnant is just as important as that that you follow during your pregnancy. Not only do they get your body prepared to support a healthy pregnancy, they help you to practice for the diet and lifestyle that is necessary to nourish your growing baby and encourage a smooth transition into the journey of motherhood!
It is recommended that one begins proper dietary patterns and supplementation 6 months prior to conception. Proper nutrient stores aren’t replenished with just one meal or vitamin. Depending on your pre-pregnancy nutritional status, it could take quite some time to get your vitamin and mineral stores to the optimal level at which they can support you plus your developing baby. Allowing yourself 6 months of proper diet and supplementation should be adequate time to get your body into healthy, baby-growing mode!
No increased nutritional needs are required prior to pregnancy but a balanced, healthy diet is highly recommended. Canada’s Food Guide provides a general guideline in terms of food groups, choices and portion sizes and is a good place to start. In addition, maintaining regular activity/fitness levels helps to prepare the musculoskeletal systems for the additional strains of pregnancy and helps keep the body in shape for the demands of labour.
A prenatal vitamin is highly recommended as it is formulated with the proper amounts of certain critical nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy plus provides general vitamin/mineral support for you. Specific nutrients that are of significant increased need during pregnancy include vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins (folate in particular), iron and omega 3 fatty acids. A prenatal vitamin should provide the required amount for the first 4 key nutrients plus other vitamins and minerals so that you are getting what you need with some extra to spare for your growing baby. An omega 3 supplement is separate from your prenatal vitamin but is highly recommended for proper brain development in your baby.
Folate is of extreme importance as inadequate amounts increases the risk of the development of neural tube defects in the growing embryo. Neural tube defects can affect the brain, spine or spinal chord and happen within the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. The two most common forms of neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. In cases of spina bifida, the spinal column doesn’t close completely which often leads to nerve damage and potential paralysis in the lower extremities. With anencephaly, the brain and skull don’t develop properly which usually leads to a stillbirth or a very poor prognosis once born. Adequate folate to help prevent the development of neural tube defects is 400micrograms prior to pregnancy. Most prenatal vitamins will provide this amount but it’s good to double check when choosing your supplement.
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy
Appropriate weight gain during pregnancy is depending on your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a classification of your weight dependent on your height. To calculate your BMI enter your info into the following formula:
BMI = pre-pregnancy weight(kg)
(height in metres)2
Once you’ve determined your pre-pregnancy BMI, use the below table and chart to determine the recommended overall weight gain and 2 week weight gain breakdown over a 40 week gestation period. If you’re already in your first trimester and don’t know what your pre-pregnancy weight was, just use your current weight in the calculation above.
Optimal diet for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding causes a significant increase in maternal caloric requirement due to the energy required to produce the breast milk and the calories within the breast milk itself that is being passed to your baby. The act of breastfeeding requires approximately an additional 500 calories per day thus your diet must reflect as such. In order to ensure you and baby are getting the appropriate nutrition, a healthy balanced diet (as recommended during the pre-pregnancy period – Canada’s Food Guide) plus an additional 500 calories daily should be followed while exclusively breastfeeding. It is also recommended that moms continue with their prenatal vitamin and omega 3 fatty acid supplement (or a combination of a multivitamin with other vitamin/mineral supplements) while breastfeeding.
The increased requirements while breastfeeding are greater than at any stage during pregnancy itself because YOU are supporting an entire, functioning, fully developed being. Although it may seem intimidating to eat an additional 500 calories while all you’re thinking about is losing the ‘baby’ weight, ensuring you get the appropriate nutrition during this stage is critical for the health of you and your baby. In order to appropriately provide complete nutrition to your baby while exclusively breastfeeding, you need to ensure you are taking care of yourself as well. This is of much importance nutritionally, emotionally and psychologically.
Safe postpartum weight loss
Postpartum weight loss is a touchy subject. Although we’d all like to return to our pre-pregnancy weight ASAP, we need to consider how this may affect our baby. While exclusively breastfeeding, especially when your body is adapting to the supply and demand of breast milk, it is advised that women don’t practice any dieting techniques. Calorie restriction may compromise the nutritional quality of your breast milk thus affecting the nourishment your baby receives. When the body is producing breast milk, it prioritizes the calories you consume to make up the breast milk then leaves anything remaining for you. Restricting calories during this period can be very unsafe and unhealthy for you and for baby so ensure you eat a wholesome, healthy, balanced diet and consider the extra calories required for breastfeeding.
Of course, weight loss will occur after your baby is born and that is OK. Much of the weight gained during pregnancy (if within a healthy range) can be attributed to more than just fat stores so an immediate weight loss following delivery is often seen:
Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, weight loss beyond this is also safe. A good guideline to follow is to not exceed more than a 2.5lb loss per week.
Every situation is different and it’s strongly depending on one’s pre-pregnancy weight and their weight gain during pregnancy.
Kayla is a mom to three sons, wife, and doula. She works within the Shuswap/Okanagan Region providing mothers and their families with a whealth of knowledge and support in all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and beyond.