6 Holiday Gifts for the Expecting Person

It’s the time of the year for gift-giving! I can’t be the only one who gets butterflies when I know I have found the perfect little something for someone special. The lightbulb goes off and then watching them unwrap makes time stop. I may be romanticizing gifts but I just LOVE it.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

That being said, gifts do not always have to be material items. Think outside of the box store and look for handmade goods, food items, secondhand wonders, and experiences. Things are really what make life memorable, moments are.

I’ve picked the items below because they could be of help or comfort to someone expecting, or holding a new bundle, this season. They are also all local businesses (plus one non for profit) that could use extra love and support this year!

Holiday Gifts for Your Expecting Person

  1. Onderbroeks Robe 

Postpartum magic lives inside of these STUNNING pieces. Not only are they the perfect thing to wear during the lay-in time post-birth, but they also make a great accent piece later on.

  1. All The Rave Cloth Pads

Save the planet one period (or a lot of postpartum bleeding) at a time with these handmade reusable cloth pads. They come in different sizes and quirky patterns!

  1. Purebalanxed 

I didn’t place a product here because as far as I’m concerned, Pure Balanxed is as comfortable as it gets. You really can’t go wrong with a crew or joggers though. Pure Balanxed clothes are made in Canada from ethically sourced fabrics.

Me wearing one of many of my Pure Balanxed pieces, a ridiculously comfy top!
Photo Courtesy of Kendra Deen
  1. Whitney Haynes Jewelry 

Whitney’s pieces all feel like they have a beautiful story behind them. Gifting her pieces to someone special is simply sweet. If your expecting person has let you in on the name of baby you should check out her hand stamped pieces. I have one and I adore sporting my girls’ initials. Follow the link above for gifts under $100!

  1. LadyBug Cleaners

Stick with me because house cleaning may seem like a boring gift, but I assure you, it is not. Many, if not every, new parent struggles with keeping it all up after birth. The truth is, no one should care. But the reality is that most of us like to see our house clean. Gifting a couple of weeks or months of cleaning service would be a gift that’s not soon forgotten!

  1. Childbirth Courses by Doula Support Foundation

If your expecting loved one hasn’t already signed up for a childbirth course, there is a ton of value in doing so through the Doula Support Foundation. You will be funding their learning experience and therefore gifting them confidence and empowerment. How special is that?

This season, spread gifts of kindness and love, we all know we need it! 

With love, laughter, and holiday magic,

Mama (Lauren) Miller

Feature Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

How to Get Help (Without Asking)

Something many people know about me is my history of knee surgeries. I have had four pretty serious surgeries (two on each leg) and I could talk to you for hours about them all, but that’s not why I am here writing to you today.

I have seen first hand what people do after surgeries. I was always lucky enough to receive care from family members. Meals cooked, hair washed over the side of the couch when I couldn’t stand up without searing pain, activities given and mailed to me, and so much more. My village of family and friends were a huge part of my recoveries and they did things for me that I will never forget. 

I was also fortunate in this way after giving birth, family cooked meals for us, travelled to visit us, and were a source of love and support. However, what I didn’t know at the time was that we needed (I needed) so much more. Of course, they asked how they could help but that question is uncomfortable to answer. I never felt like I wanted to say “can you heat up some food for me?”, or “I would love a shower”. Instead, I did most of the things or my husband did the things while I was nursing. 

In a dream world, he and I would have spent days in bed snuggling our newborn. So, the question is, how can I help YOU get the dream scenario?

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Obviously, I want to shout from the rooftops to hire someone like me who can come in and wrap you with loving support, but that doesn’t work for all families or all situations.

So, here are 5 ways you can get the help you need, without asking for it!

  1. Dress the Part

I preach this all the time, check out my TikTok about dressing the part! If you want your guests to come in after birth and be helpful instead of waited on, look like you need help. Stay in your comfy clothes, keep the robe on, don’t style your hair, and forget about make-up. If people see you looking vulnerable and real about the state you’re in, they will be more likely to offer help, even if it’s snuggling baby so you can get some rest. 

  1. Leave the Laundry Out

If you’ve had the time to wash it all, but it’s needs folding, leave baskets of laundry on or near where people would sit when they come to see you. Some (I hope most) people will fold the laundry as they visit. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you like it done!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels
  1. Visible To-Do Lists

Leave a list on the counter or coffee table with nice big writing of what needs to be done. Empty checkboxes, of course! Along the same lines as the laundry, if an obvious to-do list is out, visitors will be more likely to say something  “I see you need the dishwasher emptied – can I do that for you”.

  1. Pre-plan The Tasks

Before giving birth there are two ways you can plan for the help of others. Seeing as we’re currently in a pandemic, ask for house cleaning services for your baby shower. This way you won’t need visitors to get stuff done! Even without a pandemic happening, this is a smart idea and will go more appreciated than an expensive diaper genie!

Another tip for planning ahead is to ask anyone who plans to visit or be around more if you can send them your chore schedule. Create an email group or family group chat, and send them the days garbage and recycling goes out, laundry schedule, and anything else you like done on certain days or times. The more people know without asking, the more they will do without asking!

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
  1. Meal Train

If you haven’t heard of a meal train, sit down because I am about to blow your mind. First of all, no actual train is involved (although now my wheels are turning!) There is an actual Meal Train service where you can have people in your area deliver meals to you based on your preferred schedule and tastes. Choo-choo!

If working through an app isn’t your thing, consider placing a cooler outside your door and via email/group chat organize family and friends to drop you off meals for the first few weeks after birth. Not having to worry about meals is truly magnificent.

There needs to be a shift in society so that people pay more supportive attention to the birthing person after birth than the sweet baby. Until that happens, use these tips and tricks to get the most village out of your visitors!

With Love and Laughter,

Mama (Lauren) Miller

Feature image: Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

What About Me?

A guide to your baby’s older sibling(s)

The very moment a baby is brought into the world of an older sibling, their environment shifts forever. This transition is often a difficult one for a child. Rest assured, there is plenty you can do to assure your child(ren) feel safe, loved, and like the important member of the family they are.

Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

In our household, despite following all the tips and tricks I knew from life as an Early Childhood Educator, our three year old struggled with some OCD tendencies after we had our second baby.

At bedtime specifically, if things were not done according to the plan in her head, she would have us repeat it until it was perfect. It was a stressful situation for all of us, elongating bedtime, as well as concerning us about the state of her mental health. With time it passed and to this day we continue to find ways to make her feel helpful, understood, and supported as our family grows together. 

When incorporating the tips below, it is important to understand that instant success is not likely, but time and consistency will help nurture the bond between older sibling(s) and baby.

Tips for Sibling Adjustment

First and foremost, every family setup is different and each child is unique. You know your child best and what their individual needs are. That being said, all children need to feel safe, loved, and understood. Here are a few ways you can help maintain those feelings:

Quality One on One Time

Photo by Nicholas Githiri from Pexels 

The key to successful one on one time isn’t what you’re doing with your child(ren), it’s how present you are.

Put away all distractions and try your best to give them an allotment of one-on-one time every day. 10-15 minutes is all it takes to make a huge difference in their day.

During newborn days I would read stories to my toddler while the baby was asleep on my chest. On weekends when my husband went to the grocery store, I had him take her with him so that she got a one-on-one time slot and an outing with dad. Win-win errand-running win! 

The grocery store trips lead me to tip number two…

Feelings of Importance & Inclusion

Focus shifts to the baby during this time and it’s easy to send off older siblings to play on their own, but most of the time they would like to feel included and important.

Luckily, having your child pitch in a little is easy to do. Have them bring you clean diapers/burp cloths/bum cream while you’re tending to baby. Make sure you express your gratitude for their help!

Remember that every child can help with household chores too, just keep your expectations low and be fully prepared to re-do their hard work (when they aren’t around!!). 

Assuring that your child feels like a valued member of the family helps to reduce their feelings of resentment toward their fresh sibling. 

Routine, Routine, Routine

I can’t stress the importance of a steady routine and children enough, but especially through tough transitions like welcoming a baby into the home, routines are KEY!

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Of course, life is shifting and things have to change to accomodate baby. Maybe you can’t do older sibling bedtime anymore and your partner has to step in and do it. Perhaps instead of eating with your child for every snack and meal, now you have to hold the baby or nurse. It happens, but keeping things the same as much as possible is really important.

If your child has the language to answer, try asking them how new changes are making them feel and what you can do to help. 

Bedtime is a particularly sensitive time in our daily routine as I mentioned above. I always did bedtime with our girl so when we had baby I tried hard to keep it the same. What it looked like for us was both doing bedtime together. My husband did the washroom bit while I held/nursed the baby. Then I tucked our toddler in while he rocked baby. He would sit on the stairs (our comfort compromise) until our toddler was asleep while I bounced the baby asleep on an exercise ball. It was a balancing act and a half, but we made it work!

The Doula Bonus

One HUGE perk of hiring a Postpartum Doula is having that extra set of hands. If there is a part of your day that you can just tell is going to be a struggle, have a doula there to help.

We are great with older siblings and often come prepared to spend ample time one on one with them. Personally, I love to bring age appropriate stories with me for some quality reading time.

On the flip side, we are also stocked with all of the tips and tricks for snuggling a baby so that you can spend that one on one time bonding with your other child(ren).

Living in the Kingston Ontario area and Interested in booking your free consultation? Book one below!

Wishing you all the happiness,

Lauren (Mama) Miller

10 Random Questions

Fact: This heart flutters hardest when I have a chance to share what really drives me. Talking about the things that light my fire —like postpartum nutrition, healing, and baby basics— makes me buzz to life!

Here are some other completely random facts about me in question format, because who doesn’t love a good question and answer blog?

What’s your favourite article of clothing and why?

Hands down, my absolute fav right now is a long sleeve dark green top with tiny black pin stripes. It’s comfy, flattering, and the back is long… so no cold drafts! Did I age myself with this answer? Yikes.

What’s your favourite drink?

This is tough. Coffee and water are both delicious. I drink more water, but savour every drop of coffee. I choose both!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Why?

Trick Question! I haven’t been everywhere so how can I choose? Of the places I have been, I would live in Barbados for the sun, beaches, and the Friday night fish fry in Oistins!

What is the best way to start the day?

I mentioned my love for coffee, right? Good. Add on an early morning stroll through neighborhoods in Toronto —alone or with company. Out before the hustle of the city day, to admire architecture and watch squirrels dance about the trees, all while sipping a giant latte. Even writing this is relaxing.

I can barely remember what it felt like to be exploring those quiet streets now that I have two children and we live in the burbs. Pure bliss is all that comes to mind.

What website do you visit most often?

We have a three way tie here. Because I’ve been designing my own… this website, Doula Training Canada, and Reddit is an informative guilty pleasure!

Which of your scars has the best story behind it?

I have an interesting collection of scars, but the S shape scars on my knees have a funny story with them. The scars themselves are from a double knee surgery when I was a kid. I was put in fiberglass straight leg casts for recovery. I know this doesn’t sound very funny but just wait…

I have the most thoughtful caring aunt (Hi Aunt Laurie!) who sent me a care package with all kinds of crafts in it. Everything that would appeal to an immobile kid during recovery! One item of interest was a bag of multicoloured popsicle sticks. If you’ve ever had a cast you know the itch is UNREAL. Times that by two and imagine both of your entire legs covered with that itch. That was me… and itchy me had a genius idea.

I glued those popsicle sticks together and created a scratching device that only the great creative mastermind, Dr. Seuss would be able to name appropriately. Did it ever work… until it didn’t. One of the popsicle sticks fell of the end of the scratching contraption into the abyss of my cast!

When you have something pressed into your skin for a long time, do you know what happens? Your body tries to consume it. That’s right, skin starts to grow right over it! Luckily for me, my legs shrunk so much that my cast needed to be swapped a week or so later. Now it is a “remember that time you get a popsicle stick stuck in your cast” family tale. Stay tuned for “remember that time you put the cat in a stroller” and other embarrassing moments by Lauren.

What makes a good life?

Challenges + Generosity + Self Care + Unconditional Love = Happiness

Happiness = A good life. 

What do you strongly suspect, but have no proof of?

Before having M, I thought my water broke in a slow leak kind of way. I went to Labour and Deliver and was seen by a resident who chose to use a speculum to check for amniotic fluid. I strongly suspect that she punctured the amniotic sac and M’s head put pressure down on my cervix, sealing the hole.

Why do I suspect this? I didn’t lie down again until a few hours later and almost immediately my water broke! I didn’t go into labour when it broke and was later induced. I always wonder what would have happened had I declined that speculum check. It is one of many reasons I want to educate women on birth empowerment and knowledge about your choice.

What’s the last adventure you went on?

I took our 4 month old with me for a week in Jamaica. If that’s not an adventure I don’t know what is!!

If you could make a 20 second phone call to yourself at any point in your life present or future, when would you call and what would you say?

I would call myself while pregnant with my first baby and say:

“I know you think you’ve got this and that is truly amazing. You are meant to be a mother and you will get through birth. But, take the time to research birth affirmations, breathing, comfort measures, and postpartum care —as well as take the time to teach these things to your sister and your husband, or hire a Doula! Then, not only will you get through your birth… you will own it. You’re powerful, and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. P.S. Future you could really use a new car, so start saving!”

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for taking the time to learn some random information about me. If you have further questions or comments, please feel free to email me.

Lauren (Mama) Miller

Feature image by rawpixel.com from Pexels.
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Planning for Postpartum

Have you thought about day to day life after giving birth?

Photo Courtesy of Kendra Deen

Most people consider and chat about birth plans. I’m the first to admit that I wish I had made a birth plan, or at least made an effort to be more informed about birth. But you know what less people plan for?

The realities of postpartum. Postpartum is the time from after you give birth until always. But for our purposes, we will talk mainly about the first 6 weeks post birth.

Are you familiar with juggling? Holding several balls in the air at the same time will acting like its all easy-peasy.

That is a lot like postpartum days in our western culture. We are shaped by society to act like we have everything under control and we are loving life meanwhile, we are:

– Greiving the loss of a baby or the loss of life before baby (yes both forms of grieving are normal and valid)

– Bleeding… enough to wear or consider wearing adult diapers. But really, they work!

– Learning how to care for a super tiny, wildly dependant HUMAN BEING Sometimes. Or trying to move forward in life without a tiny dependant human.

– Healing with a dinner plate sized wound in our uterus. No exaggeration.

– Dealing with hormones, Baby Blues, or Postpartum Mood Disorders.

– Feeling unsexy.

– Wondering when we loose this “I’m still pregnant” look.

– Trying to find time to shower or sitz bath.

– Feeling anxious, worried, and unlike a good parent.

– Feelings of joy and overwhelm

And so much more.

It’s okay not to be okay during this time. It’s okay (and historically normal) to need extra care and support.

Setting expectations for this time in your life is important. Planning for things as simple as how you will get meals and snacks, who will take care of house chores, and how can you get the most sleep are all things that will make postpartum easier.

As well, in depth conversations with your partner or loved ones about what you may need is excellent. Keep in mind not to take every piece of advice as evidence-based knowledge and consult with professionals when it comes to healing and infant care.

If you are ready to make your Postpartum a success, start with my Plan Your Postpartum Virtual Workshop. It consists of 3 online live videos posted weekly (each saved for anyone who can’t be live), handy snack recipes for after birth, handouts and worksheets to help you thrive, and lots of supported discussion with yours truly.

Cost for this workshop is a sliding scale – Pay what you can between $20 – $40 CAD. It will be held in a private Facebook group. If you would like to join, register below!

Wishing you and yours an informed, planned birth and postpartum experience.

Lauren (Mama) Miller

Becoming a Doula

The long story

Other titles for this post were “My Birth Stories” and “That Time I Ate a Whole Box of Halloween Candy”, but neither title really works to describe what the following story is really about. The following words best describe my personal journey toward becoming a Doula.

My career history is overflowing in experiences with young children and families. Like many of my peers, I grew up babysitting and accommodating the needs of unique family units. I took a year and a half off after high school to work and I stumbled across the Early Childhood Education program one day at my call centre desk and decided soon after to enroll in the two year program.

Fast forward two years and I was working as a registered ECE in an infant room in Kingston, Ontario. I LOVED my time in that room. That was also the year I met baby L. She was three months old when she started in our room. So young for an infant room in Canada, but both of L’s parents were University students and her older brother was already a child in our centre.

She was so tiny that I often carried her on my chest during outside times and two major things happened to me during my short time with her. One, I knew I was meant to be a mom. I know I said this before but she really solidified it —just ask my ovaries! The second thing she did was make me consider the struggle of motherhood. I couldn’t wrap my head around how hard her mom must have struggled with sending her to a centre and how difficult her daily life was between caring for two children, going to university, and pumping. Yet, as so many mothers do, she pushed through. I was in awe and as a mom of two, I still am!

Down the road I also worked as a nanny which was my closest trip to mom life before motherhood. Goodness, I love those kids to this day. But in the moment, I seriously wondered how I could love my own children even more than I loved them?!

… And then she had kids. *narrator voice activated*

That’s right. Now I get it. I get how fiercely you love them, what you’d do to protect them, and how much you are willing to go through or give up just to keep them happy and healthy.

M, my first, was born on Halloween day. The day after I binge ate all the Halloween candy in sight (totally worth it). The exact day we tried to avoid having a baby… of course. She was two days on the other side of her due date, and no labour came naturally after my water broke. I was introduced to Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) to kick start contractions and it did the trick! 3 hours of difficult contractions while I waited teary-eyed for an epidural.

Once the epidural took hold, I was in heaven. I was happy again, less stressed, and ready to have a baby. I felt just enough to push her into this world in about an hour. Her birth didn’t go without its complications. The OB noticed her heart rate drop on the fetal monitoring system and advised for getting out the vacuum tool. I asked for three more pushes and welcomed our girl into this world. She also had to see a pediatrician because she was born 18 hours and 5 minutes after my water broke which meant she required a second pediatrician visit. Other than that, she was a healthy, screaming baby. Loudest baby in Labour and Delivery if you ask my family.

N came into the world a whole lot later and faster. She was 9 days on the other side of her due date. At 41 weeks and 2 days I was induced with Cervidil and then had my water ruptured by the OB on call. From the point of having my water break to holding her was two hours. TWO HOURS!

I had two failed epidurals, three failed IV’s and so much anger. Not anger for giving birth naturally. I had anger for being in the hospital. If I had chosen a home birth I could have avoided hearing the other mama’s screams that made me ask for the epidural, all of the failed pokes, and the added stress. Hindsight is sharp, my friends!

She was my calm baby at birth, which was probably a good thing because I was in shock. My body just did that! I was proud-meets-disbelief. I have my midwives and husband to thank for coaching me through it all. After some cuddle time, we all got to go home… not even four hours later.

Although both of our girls came into this world in hospital settings, both events were quite different. Prenatal care with M was with an OB at a busy Toronto hospital and ended with an OB on call (and her team of residents) delivering her. While N was delivered at a smaller hospital outside the city. My prenatal care with her was a team of midwives and I can safely say that if I was to do it again, I would choose a midwife. They were amazing at making sure I was well informed and never rushed.

With both of my experiences, where I really felt unequipped was in the postnatal phase. With our first, I went out and got active far too soon. I walked to and from a mom group once a week and around the neighborhood more. I didn’t realize that my body needed to heal. I mean really heal. With our second, I didn’t nourish my body, I didn’t ask for enough help and on top of it all, I went on a long walk a few weeks in and threw my back out (and still didn’t ask for help!!). Again, I didn’t honour the healing process. Throughout both postpartum experiences, I didn’t focus on my own nutrition beyond feeding my hunger anything and everything in my path. I lacked serious postpartum nutrition know-how.

Originally my lack of birth and postpartum knowledge had me look into becoming a birth worker. I came across an ad for Doula Training Canada and while researching their Labour and Birth Doula program, out jumped the words “Postpartum Doula”. That was my “Ah-Ha” moment.

I started talking about this program non-stop. When DTC ran their scholarship program – this mama applied right away. While I waited to hear back I continued to talk to anyone about it who would listen. And you know what? Most people I told responded with love, support, and so much excitement for me. My stars were aligning and once I was approved and registered —My path was lit. Hello Doulahood!

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image courtesy of Kendra Deen