A Healthy Baby is NOT All That Matters.

Have you heard this one before? “All that matters is a healthy baby.”


Whether it’s said about pregnancy or birth, this is not all that matters. How mothers/fathers/parents feel about their experience, both physically and emotionally, it MATTERS! When we overlook this, we’re saying that so many things don’t matter….just a few examples:

• Hyperemesis gravidarum
• Prenatal mood disorders
• Family-centred health care
• Birth support
• Informed consent
• Birth trauma
• Maternal health
• Postpartum recovery
• Postpartum mood disorders

…I could go on. As doulas, most of us came to this career because we care about all of these things. We *know* that supported parents are the key to everything else. We love babies! But when we’re by your side, we’re looking at you. We’re checking in with you, holding you up, asking how you’re doing (for real). Unfortunately, so many people *including some family members* shift all of their focus to the baby, particularly after the birth, leaving moms and dads to navigate their feelings and take care of themselves, alone.

I’ll be honest…many of our clients hire us for birth and/or postpartum doula support even though they have the option of their mother, sister or friend because they want to know that there is someone there just for them, who also just so happens to have all the wisdom and expertise. AND I LOVE IT because we’re all about you getting your needs met.

You matter. So much.

Collecting Colostrum Before Your Birth

Have You Heard About Collecting Colostrum Before Birth?

First, what is colostrum anyway? Colostrum is the first form of milk that the body makes for a new baby. Production happens throughout the second half of pregnancy, ready to rock when baby arrives. It’s full of sugar, antibodies, protein….the optimal first food. Stable blood sugar levels are vital in the hours and days after birth, which is one of the reasons newborns feed so frequently.

Collecting colostrum before birth isn’t necessary for most babies. It can be helpful, though, if there are any anticipated reasons why baby might have some trouble feeding and/or regulating their blood sugars in the critical first few days. Here are some examples:

✨Maternal conditions: endocrine disorders such as diabetes or PCOS *can* (but do not always) affect the development of breast tissue and the hormone that influence milk supply. Another example is if there is a known issue of flat or inverted nipples (again, this isn’t always a challenge but it can be)

✨In baby: known anatomy issues such as cleft lip/palate, some genetic conditions, or another anticipated reason why baby will need to be in special care/NICU and away from the breast

✨Especially small and especially large babies have a harder time regulating their sugars, so if you know your baby will be born pre-term or that they’re estimated to be small/large-for-dates, this isn’t a bad idea.

*Please do talk with your health care provider before collecting colostrum. There is a chance that stimulating the breasts this way could cause uterine contractions, so typically this is left to the last couple weeks before birth and there are some cases when harvesting colostrum is not recommended.*

How to Collect Colostrum

It’s usually best to hand express colostrum into a spoon or medicine cup, then draw it into a syringe. A pump is not appropriate here, as the colostrum comes out in such small quantities and it’s thick and sticky. I purchased syringes from Origins Pharmacy in the Oakville Hospital (their other locations would probably have them too), and I’ve seen lots online. 1 mL, 3 mL or 5 mL syringes are good (these are 3 mL). Have ready a sterilized spoon/cup, and of course wash your hands.

Start by applying a warm compress (see my rice bag-in-bra technique 😃), then some gentle massage (first video). This helps to get things flowing.

A warm compress on the chest before collecting colostrum can stimulate flow

To hand express, use a C-shaped hand on the breast tissue (not the nipple/areola). Gently press back into the chest, compress a little, then release forward. Repeat several times, emphasis on gentle until you figure out how much pressure you need. Since there are multiple ducts all around the breast, you can change the angle throughout.

The colostrum will likely come out in drops, but once you get your bearings and after a few sessions, it might increase to a slow flow. Try a few minutes on each side, maybe a couple times on each side in one sitting, once a day. Even if it takes you a couple days to fill a syringe, this is okay!

3 mL of liquid gold, ready to freeze

Once you’ve filled a syringe, you can store it in the freezer in a sealed bag or container. Bring this to the hospital when you’re in labour (it should be kept frozen until used), and if/when it’s needed you can thaw under warm running water and use within several hours.

Maternal Mental Health Matters: 5 Ways to *Actually* Support New Moms

Today, May 2nd, is world Maternal Mental Health Day.

Why do we need Maternal Mental Health Day?

Because at least 1 in 5 mothers will go through some kind of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). Because 70% of women hide or downplay their symptoms (last year I put together this piece to share women’s perspectives on how they felt and what held them back).

Because even after reaching out, many mothers have ended up in a worse place.  I personally have listened to the stories of mothers in the Halton area reaching out earnestly to care providers and community organizations for help and not finding it, or reaching out only to end up feeling further stigmatized and more confused. Wait times, red tape, service gaps, the list goes on….this type of health care is desperately underfunded.

It’s a complex issue requiring complex solutions, but here are five ideas to keep in mind to *actually* support new mothers:


Ask her directly about her mood. 

The less we tip toe around depression and anxiety, choosing in stead to acknowledge and accommodate mood disorders, the more likely it is that women who need help will get help. Normalize it! The same way you might ask, “How are you feeling?” or “How’s breastfeeding going?” you can also ask, “How are you coping with all of this?” or “What’s it like being a new mom?” or “What’s been the hardest part so far?”

This is especially relevant if she’s had a tough birth/recovery/breastfeeding journey but ultimately, all new mothers go through a massive physical and emotional roller coaster ride in the early postpartum period. Yes, even if she has the “perfect” birth and recovery with no obvious setbacks, she is still vulnerable to depression and anxiety. So, ask.

New mother maternal mental health matters


Actually help her.

If you visit a  new mom, you BETTER bring food! Next, help with something around the house; even a five minute task leaves more time for her to rest. Empty the dishwasher, fold some laundry, or take out the trash. Bonus points: lead with “Can I ———- the ———-?” rather than “Is there anything I can do to help?” This normalizes the helping gesture and makes her more likely to accept it.

Above all, encourage her to use your visit however she likes. This could look like any of the following:

  • She might want to shower and blow dry her hair, *just because*
  • She might want to talk, to air out her thoughts about birth or motherhood or something totally unrelated
  • She might want to go out for an hour on her own
  • She might just want to nap (hell yes, rest!)


Remember who she was before all of this.

Babies are cool. We all love babies! Now that she has one (or two, or four) though, she’s some combination of her old self and her new self and it’s a huge shift to navigate. Be interested in her, not just her baby or her birth.

She might want to talk about work, or hobbies, or Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. Embrace and love all of her.


Avoid the tendency to fix, to give advice, and to minimize. 

Many of us are uncomfortable with others’ anguish. This is human! Where we tend to go next is to downplay/rationalize/minimize the problem or to “should” (HATE THAT WORD!). If you’re not asked for advice, don’t give it. Other traps: “At least you have a healthy baby” / “All mothers go through this” / “Maybe you just need to sleep.”

You also don’t have to relate. If you haven’t been through it yourself, that’s okay. You can still support her by listening with complete compassion and non-judgment. It’s never wrong to say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this” or “You can talk to me about anything.”

Remind her that it’s okay to not be okay.

…and that she has a right to support. Perinatal mood disorders are common, and they are treatable with professional help. Ask her if she’s considered reaching out for help. Tell her that anxiety and depression are tricky; when you’re in them, you can become convinced that you don’t need support, or that you don’t deserve support.

Talking to a trusted care provider (doctor or midwife) is a great first step.  Click here for an overview of maternal mental health resources in the Halton, Hamilton and Peel regions. Offer to go with her to an appointment or to stay close by while she makes a call.

Finally, check in with her. Don’t wait for her to reach out. “I’m here if you need anything” is great, but “How are you doing this week?” is even better.

Women supporting women

Today and every day, maternal mental health matters. 

New Series: Postpartum Doula ABCs! A is for After the Baby Arrives

Question of the day: have you planned for your postpartum recovery?

Introducing a fun new blog series:

The Postpartum Doula ABCs.

We’re going to dig in to 26 different topics over the series, all from the perspective of a postpartum doula (and mom of two).

Let’s get started with A for After the Baby Arrives.

You’re About to Have a Baby…Then What?!

You’ve probably given a lot of though to your birth. Maybe you’ve read books or taken prenatal classes, followed every pregnancy account on Instagram, googled everything from “How will I know I’m in labour” to “Baby born on the QEW” (I PROMISE, this hardly ever happens!). Maybe you’ve even prepared a birth plan (I like to call them “strategies”) with your doula.

Have you considered planning for the postpartum period? Some call it recovery; some call it the fourth trimester. It’s a time in your life when you’re recovering from birth, caring for a brand new baby, and figuring out your family’s new normal. It’s equal parts magical and terrible, and that’s totally normal.

I’ve blogged before about how unmet expectations for the postpartum period can challenge new parents. We’re going to learn more throughout this ABC series about specific topics including breastfeeding, mental health, sex after baby and “two under two” but I love that we’re starting with the basics – a postpartum plan will help you to have the smoothest transition possible. I can’t tell you how often new parents say they wish they would have thought through some of their options (I’ve been there too!). We just don’t talk about this enough.

A is for After the Baby Arrives
Party’s here…now what?

What is a Postpartum Plan?

There’s no specific template you need to follow to put together a plan for after your baby arrives. Your postpartum plan could include any aspect of life for the first few weeks after birth and speak to anything that will help you to get your needs met, to care for yourself and for your baby.

This. Is. So. Important! One of the most powerful keys to caring for your baby and coping well in the postpartum period is being cared for and caring for YOURSELF. Being a new mom is hard! Your well being should come first; everything else tends to fall into place  – or, problems are more likely to get resolved – when you have great support.

Questions to Ask Yourself as you Plan for the First Few Weeks with Your Newborn

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Who will visit your home in the first few days? What kind of boundaries do you want to draw around visiting? Will you block off certain times when you would prefer to be on your own rather than entertaining? Are you comfortable asking your visitors to bring food, or help out around the house when they visit? Remember, you’re the boss here. In a perfect world, the only visitors for the first little while would be the ones who genuinely help you when they’re over.
  • How will you feed your baby? Who will you reach out to if you need extra support with this? Have numbers and resources on hand before your baby arrives so you can intervene quickly if you’re having trouble without having to turn to Google at 3 a.m.
  • What will *you* eat in the first few weeks? Can you cook and freeze some meals and snacks in the weeks before birth? Will someone take over some of these household duties? Can you arrange for meal delivery or organize a meal train with friends and family?
  • Who will care for your baby after he/she arrives? If you’re under the care of a midwife, the midwife will be the baby’s main care provider for the first 6 weeks. Otherwise, you will need to arrange for your baby to be seen by your family doctor or possibly a pediatrician.
  • How will you get rest? What’s your plan for where your baby will sleep and how you will get rest? Sleep deprivation is no joke, people. We have evidence to say that mothers who get more rest in the postpartum period are less susceptible to perinatal mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.). So, think through the logistics of sharing responsibilities between partners and other helpers in the home. This goes for after one partner returns to full-time work, by the way; infant sleep is an ever-evolving adventure.
  • If you have other children and/or pets, how will their needs be met? Is anyone available to help out with their care? How can you set up your home to accommodate the new baby while still involving and nurturing older siblings?
  • Who’s in your “village?” Who can you call on a bad day when you just need to talk? If you’re taking a lengthy parental leave, what’s your plan for getting out of the house? Babies are awesome, but one of the most common surprises of maternity leave is that it can be VERY isolating. You might not be planning to join a bunch of mom and baby classes or communal stroller walks in the first couple months (no rush!), but give some thought to the importance of getting out of the house and spending time with other grown ups.

A is for After the Baby Arrives 2
We know one thing for sure: the baby’s not going to feed you.

How does that sound?

What comes to mind when you think about the postpartum period? How are you planning for after the baby arrives? What’s the most important part for you?

Of course, we’re here for you. If you’re interested in learning about Postpartum Doula Support, be in touch and we’ll set up a time to chat over tea to find out how a professional extra set of hands in your home can help you to have a smooth recovery and transition into the next chapter with your baby.

If there are any specific topics you think we should cover in this Postpartum ABC series, leave a comment and we’ll get down to business!

Five Things You Don’t Have To Share About Your Pregnancy / Birth / Baby

Sharing is caring, content is king, pics or it didn’t happen. How do new parents navigate what to share about their pregnancies, births, and parenting choices?

Are you an open book when it comes to your favourite baby names, your birth plan and your due date or do you prefer to keep things mostly between you and your partner? Will you let everyone know when you’re in labour, or will you surprise them with an “FYI we had a baby” text message?

Make no mistake about it, you call all the shots here. In case you’re wondering though, here’s a list of things you don’t *have to* share:


Your due date.

Don’t want people calling and texting as soon as you hit 38 weeks? Be a little aloof with the exact due date. Think, “baby is due in May” or “arriving sometime around Christmas.” Due dates are tricky. The first time you give birth, you’re quite likely to deliver after your due date. Nonetheless, women in their last month of pregnancy are bombarded with questions and comments like “Haven’t you had that baby yet?!” and “Do you think you’ll go into labour soon?” and “My friend’s cousin’s girlfriend ran a 5K and had the baby the next day, you should try that!”

Well-meaning or not, the barrage of messages and calls is an express ticket to anxiety town. They’re called “estimated due dates” for a reason, and you can keep yours a secret if you think it’ll help you to cope.


The sex of the baby.

You want to know, but you don’t want to share? Go for it! You’re grown ups now (you’re about to have a baby, so…), do whatever you want and don’t feel bad. More and more I see parents-to-be finding out the sex of the baby but keeping it to themselves. Maybe it’s because they love having their own little secret. Maybe it’s because they prefer to avoid the slew of pink bows or blue trucks that tends to follow a big gender reveal. Either way, if it’s what you want then you should go for it.


The name(s) you’ve picked out.

Don’t want opinions about your shortlist of baby names? Don’t share them. Many a favourite name has been ruined by uninvited comments from friends and loved ones. Again, these might fall into the camp of “well-meaning” or constructive criticism, but ultimately you don’t need anyone’s approval.

Because it’s so common to find out and share the sex of the baby, it’s nice to save the baby’s name for the birth announcement. A grand introduction! Plus, at that point you’d have to be a real jerk to say something negative about it. Who could say something bad about a beautiful brand new baby?

img_4691When you’re in labour.

Now. This one really divides people. For some, the thought of a bustling delivery room with half a dozen loved ones ooooohing and ahhhhing and Instagramming their way through each contraction is exactly what they want. Others would rather live broadcast their swollen vagina on the internet than have extra family members in the room for their birth, and they make that clear from the get go. Then there are the ones who are stuck in the middle: even though they don’t want an audience, they have family members who insist on being there (some even say it’s their “right” to be there!). To that I say…oh, hell no.

Allow me to insert my opinion for just a second, as a professional doula who witnesses and supports birth on a regular basis: comfort is GOOD for birth. Above all, the name of the game is creating an environment in which you feel as relaxed and uninhibited as possible. Having people in the labour suite who do not calm you, with whom you do not feel comfortable being both literally and metaphorically naked, tends to make giving birth even more challenging. Who needs that?

Here’s where it gets more controversial. The same thing goes for family in the waiting room. For some, this feels great! Just knowing that your baby is about to be welcomed by a troupe of loved ones is great motivation and comfort. For so many others though, it can cause anxiety and stress. A constant rotation of people in and out of the room, the sense that everyone is waiting and “Why is it taking so long? We’ve been here for hours!”…it’s just too much. You might start to feel like the watched pot that never boils when really, sometimes birth just takes a while and it’s all good.

It’s okay if you don’t want this.

Bottom line: your comfort and happiness matter so much more than anyone else’s so don’t let ANYONE guilt you into inviting them in or even telling them you’re in labour if you’d rather not. You’re about to have a baby….for one more day, please go ahead and make it all about YOU.


Your birth and parenting choices.

“You’re not going to get an EPIDURAL, are you?”
“You’re going to circumcise him, right?”
“You’re not going to be one of those moms who breastfeeds in the middle of a RESTAURANT, are you?”

Let the games begin! It’s just a fact: people are going to ask about and comment on the choices you make for your pregnancy, your birth, and the way you parent your kids. Some of the people in your inner circle will feel entitled to an opinion on these things. Occasionally, strangers in the grocery store will feel entitled to an opinion on these things. Here are some suggested responses for when you don’t feel like listening or sharing:

“That’s going to be my/our decision and we’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
“We’re going to talk with our doctor about that.”
“I’m just going to go with the flow and do whatever works best for us.”
“Thanks, we’ll think about that.”

And so on, and so forth (and sometimes you have to be a little more…firm). Shake those unwanted comments and questions off because you don’t have to care what anyone thinks. Again, this is all about YOU and your family and ultimately, you don’t have to share.

It’s all about you!

What do you think? Which parts of your journey did you want to share with others, and which parts did you keep to yourselves?

What Do Postpartum Doulas Do?|Doula Support in Halton, Hamilton, Mississauga

Postpartum doula services have arrived!

We’re accepting Postpartum Doula Support clients (HOORAY!). Postpartum doula…what does that even mean?

Postpartum doulas are also referred to as postnatal doulas or infant care doulas. They’re sometimes mixed up with nannies and baby nurses, too. Confused yet? Me too. Let’s clear this up.

Postpartum doulas are like magic. There, I said it. 

I know it’s cheesy but hear me out. The doula is a calm presence, a ball of bright-yet-soft energy that washes over your home and makes everything better. You’ll have less on your plate, you’ll get more rest, you’ll get to ask your many (many!) questions about what to expect, about normal recovery, about breastfeeding, about newborn behaviour, about how to do all the things you need to do now that you’re a parent. You’ll feel like you’re not alone. You’ll have a professional second set of hands to take care of the things you don’t have time for because you’re too busy relaxing and enjoying the ride.

Pospartum doula 4
Take a nap with your first (fur!) baby while the doula is handling everything else.

Need a little break? Step out for a bit. Go for a walk, go get your nails done, go do anything all by yourself if that’s what you need. The heaviness of never being alone is something many new mothers find surprising.

Need company? I’ve heard from more than one client who just wanted someone to come along for the ride as they left the house with the baby for the very first time. It’s overwhelming! So much gear, such precious cargo. I’ve been there…let’s do it together.

Back to the magic. Your doula will keep you hydrated and fed so that you can recover well from birth. No matter what kind of birth you had, you worked HARD and you deserve to re-fuel. Maybe it’s tea and toast, maybe it’s a protein shake, maybe it’s a hearty soup…whatever floats your boat.

Pospartum doula 5.jpg
This cutie is feeling the magic.

We can’t forget about non-judgement. This is what professional doulas do best. I’m not invested in your choices; I offer support and for whatever suits your family and I have lots of evidence-based information to share, but only if you ask for it. However you want to feed your baby, however you want to trim their little nails, however you want to structure your day, your postpartum doula is there to help.

You have questions; we have answers.

“What makes a postpartum doula different from a nanny or a baby nurse?”

Expertise: postpartum doulas are trained specifically to provide guidance and support to new parents and to care for infants and women undergoing postpartum recovery. Although postpartum doulas are not yet regulated in Ontario, at Oakville Family Birth we have high standards and our doulas take their work and their businesses seriously. This means they’ve taken a thorough in-person training workshop, belong to the Association of Ontario Doulas, are certified or working toward postpartum doula certification, hold current CPR certification, have registered businesses and hold professional and commercial general liability insurance. Only the absolute BEST for your family.

Versatilitypostpartum doulas work with families that are undergoing a major life transition (this is true whether you’re welcoming your first, second, or fifth baby). The doula cares for the whole family: the mother, the partner, the baby, the siblings, even the pets! The doula also cares for the household: baby laundry, tidying, sanitizing baby gear, preparing light meals and snacks. The doula provides a calming and comforting presence in your home by taking care of things so you don’t need to. This makes for less anxious, more rested parents with an extra set of hands around to help out with the baby.

“When do I need to arrange postpartum support?”

The ideal time to arrange support is during your pregnancy. This makes sure there is availability when you want it. You’ll find that having professional in-home support in the first few days after birth (when you’re recovering and going through the many “firsts” with your new baby) can have a huge impact on how you feel, physically and mentally.

Of course, we never really know when baby/babies will arrive so we have to be flexible!

Sometimes we don’t know what kind of support we need until we need it. If you’ve already had your baby and you decide you want doula support, definitely reach out.

Pospartum doula 2
So, so many tiny items of clothing. Who knew?

“Is a postpartum doula only for mothers who are suffering with postpartum depression?”

Definitely not. That’s kind of the trouble, isn’t it, of when we abbreviate “postpartum depression” to “postpartum?” Now, postpartum mood disorders (PPMD) such as depression and anxiety is a topic I’m passionate about (check out my posts here, here, and here). A postpartum doula is certainly trained to look out for signs of mood issues and can be a confidante and a resource to you if you’re feeling like you want more support but don’t know where to look. The support of a postpartum doula will certainly give you more opportunities to rest and recover, which might improve your mood and help you to cope better with what you’re experiencing. Still, doula support is for all families.

Pospartum doula 1
Nourishment for your body and your soul. Postpartum doulas do that.

If you’re in the Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Mississauga or Hamilton areas and you want to learn more about this postpartum doula magic, let’s chat.

Oh, and one more thing….GIFT CERTIFICATES are available! I honestly can’t think of a greater baby shower gift than the gift of professional baby and parent support.

Kindergarten Eve

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be a kindergarten mom. 

Just like they said it would, time has flown by in spite of my best efforts and my first baby is off to school.

Eight months ago when we registered for kindergarten it was such a distant thought that it didn’t seem real. To me, he was still such a baby: loved his naps, had pudgy toddler fingers, and gleefully told us he was “free and a half!” years old. I didn’t have the emotional response that some others did, I think because it felt so far away.

I hereby admit that I totally underestimated what a massive shift in our life this whole kindergarten thing would be. My intention, to be honest, has been to resist talking about it constantly. My little guy, just like me, has some anxious tendencies and my mama instinct told me that the bigger we made it out to be, the bigger it would seem to him and that just wasn’t how I wanted him to feel the first time that yellow bus came chugging toward him. “This is the end of my childhood, goodbye.” Nope, nope, nope.

kindergarten eve 2.jpeg

So, I put off the emotional stuff. I channeled it into boosting his (my?) confidence in every way I could think of: I got him an awesomely obnoxious Paw Patrol lunch bag, stuffed it with chocolate chip chia seed energy balls (I only Pinterest when I’m nervous, anyone else?) and set his first day outfit of choice (green shirt, green pants, green socks and green underwear – I kid you not) on his dresser before bed.

Tonight though, as I tucked him in, all sorts of thoughts and emotions bubbled to the surface. I listened to this breaths in the dark as I doodled on his back (he gives us specific instructions: “Can you draw we’re on a boat and we have strawberries and Aquaman is riding a Sea-Doo?”) and thought about all the ways in which I’ve changed since becoming his mother. He made me a mother, for starters. So…in some ways I feel like everything about me has changed. Our birth experience sent me down a life-changing path that lead to becoming a doula (!) and I’m immensely grateful for that. He changed me in other ways too, though. At least in the beginning, motherhood made me less sure of myself, less decisive. It prompted constant inner dialogue about what was “best” and if I was good enough, mom enough. All of that is BS, I know, but it’s real and it’s hard to ignore.

kindergarten eve

I cuddled up a little closer than usual and then, as if we were the stars of every 90s teen drama, it began to rain. Hard. The sky burst into tears as I felt the pangs of self-doubt, of mom guilt, of I’M NOT READY FOR THIS.

Did I show him enough kindness? 
Did I teach him enough?
Was I patient enough?

Lost in my mega vulnerable crocodile tears/Joey Potter Dawson’s Creek daydream, I really didn’t know the answers. I know what I would say to a friend though: yes, yes, and yes.

Should I have taken him on more play dates?
Should I have stayed home full time?
Should I have breastfed longer?
Should I have done more of those Pinterest baby sensory things? 

Should I have pushed him harder?
Should I have been less strict?  

kindergarten eve 4Again, I know what I would say to a friend: you did all the right things, you made the perfect choices for your family, you are SO enough that you have no idea how enough you are, please go look in the mirror and scream I AM AWESOME AND MY KID IS PERFECT!!!

New and soon-to-be parents of the world: you most likely will not ever stop questioning your own parenting. Notice that I’m not giving you advice; just keeping it real. New and soon-to-be kindergarten parents of the world: we’re going to survive this, just like we we’ve survived every other major milestone so far. I don’t know all of you so I can’t assume that like me, your strategies have mostly involved wine and kettle chips…that’s what’s been working for me, though.

Parent friends who know me in real life: I’ll bring the wine, you bring the chips, come over for a cry on the porch and we’ll do it all again the next day until it feels normal. My left brain knows we’re all going to be fine but my heart is Joey Potter, crying awkwardly in the rain.


Pregnant at the Office: The First Trimester

If you’ve worked in an office during the first trimester of a pregnancy, you know it has its challenges.

You’re going through SO much, both physically and emotionally. Maybe you feel like crap, maybe you’re bursting at the seams with excitement; in any case, you’re probably not quite ready to share the news. What little energy you can muster up is devoted to keeping all of this under wraps at work.

Here’s a day in the #pregnantlife, office job style. Does any of this sound familiar?

8:15 a.m.
– First I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and then I couldn’t find clothes to disguise my bloated abdomen so now I’m rushing toward the train. Why am I so out of breath? My #fitpregnancy dreams have officially flown out the window and I’m only 7 weeks along.

train station
Whyyyyy so many stairs?

 8:30 a.m. – AHHHHH WHAT IS THAT GROIN STABBING FEELING…does pregnancy cause appendicitis? *Consults Dr. Google*…what the hell is round ligament pain?

9:30 a.m. – I’m scared to drink coffee because of what my Aunt Jill said but I don’t think I can survive the work day without it. Oh screw it, my doctor told me two cups a day is fine. And I’m so, so tired.

drinking coffee
Please forgive me, my blueberry-sized fetus…mama needs her coffee.

10:30 a.m. – In the middle of an office conversation, along comes the urge to barf. Oh John from three cubicles over, I can’t chat about that project right now. FOCUS…you can do this. Grab a saltine cracker from your desk. Chew, chew, swallow..keep it together. Are people starting to notice that I snack on saltines all day, every day?

Oh, glorious soda crackers. You bore my tastebuds in the best ways possible.

12:15 p.m. – Nervously shifting away from the microwave in the lunch room because I’m afraid it’ll cook my baby. Yes, I *know* this is impossible but pregnancy does weird things to your imagination.

1:30  p.m. – Got a call from the lab, they need me to come in for an additional bit of bloodwork later this week. Weekday appointments only, of course. What kind of excuse am I going to come up with this time? So many appointments. I’m starting to look like a seriously shady employee.

2:30 p.m. – The dreaded afternoon lull. Yep, there’s absolutely no way I’m going to make it through the rest of this day. Looks like it’s time for an afternoon power nap in the washroom. Sitting on the toilet, slumped over the toilet paper dispenser is when I feel most like a feminine goddess.

This looks like as good a place as any to take a nap.

5:30 pm. – After work cocktails, okay let’s do this. I’ll arrive early and talk to the server about my “situation,” ask him to bring me a sparkling water when I order a gin and tonic. It’s really too bad that I still feel like barfing. And let’s be honest, the conversation is dull and I’d prefer the gin.

“Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke”

7:30 p.m. – Why isn’t anyone on this subway offering me a seat? Don’t they know I’m with child? Oh right, I don’t look pregnant at all yet. This kind of sucks. My long day and empty stomach are catching up to me now. Everything hurts and I’m all out of saltines. This is so hard. I’m so glad I’m going to get a baby out of all of this. *Cue eruption of emotions* My BABY! I’m not crying, you’re crying. *Blinks through tears while baby brainstorming baby names and browsing tiny bowties on Etsy for the rest of the ride home*

There you have it. It’s not glamorous, but it is awesome. Did your first trimester at the office sound a little like this?


Becky’s Birth Story

(Feature image credit: Four Bees Photography)

Thank you Becky for sharing the story of your two births. Each story is unique and beautiful in its own way and it’s an honour to hear about both of your experiences.

Becky is also a Sleep Educator located in Oakville who can be found at Well Nested

Two very different home births

In preparation for my first baby I researched about the more natural side of birth, took many prenatal classes including Hypnobirthing, had a doula and midwives as my birth team, and planned a home birth with the comfort of knowing we were close to a hospital if it was needed.

We were two hours from home at my parents’ house when I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with contractions and decided to drive back to the city. It was an uncomfortable drive; my contractions were 4 to 5 minutes apart and strong enough that I was concentrating to breathe through them. Once we were settled at home though, labour slowed down. Our doula spent most of the day with us and I spent most of it on my hands and knees, lying on a yoga ball, or curled up in bed trying to rest. In hindsight, I wish I had moved around more and eaten more to maintain my energy. Labour progressed slowly.

Around 8:00 p.m. my contractions were close enough together to call the midwife. She arrived and assessed me; I was 5 cm dilated. This was great news as I’d been weighing options in my head and thought that if I was less than 5 cm at that point I would consider going to the hospital. My contractions became stronger and closer together but I decided not to get in the birth tub we set up because I was afraid it would slow labour down again. In hindsight, I really wish I’d used the tub to relax.

Around 11:15 p.m. my water broke and the contractions became very intense. My midwife checked and I was fully dilated other than the anterior cervical lip, which is commonly the last part to dilate. She told me not to push but the strong urge had kicked in and my body was on auto pilot. I wish I’d had the confidence to go with my body, but instead I focused on fighting my instincts and trying not to push. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and it was dangerously low. She then had me change positions, checked again and it had gone back up. A repeat check a few minutes later showed a very low heart rate again which created a bit of panic. The midwife called EMS and told me I would need to push as hard as I could to get the baby out…NOW.

All of our plans and Hypnobirthing techniques went out the window. There was no “breathing baby down”…it was knees to chest, hold your breath and PUSH. I pushed so hard that I broke blood vessels in my face. My midwives had me try the birth stool but with the change in position I came close to passing out. They gave me IV fluids which I’m sure kept me conscious enough to keep pushing.

Running on almost no sleep and no food and after 22 hours of labour, I’m amazed my body was able to do what it did. After 30 minutes of pushing and with paramedics waiting in the doorway, my son was born. My midwives cut the cord immediately and began resuscitation. I was on the bed and couldn’t see any of this. He had a heartbeat but was not breathing on his own. After 10 minutes of resuscitation, his breathing improved enough for him to be transferred to hospital by ambulance. I still hadn’t laid eyes on him.

My midwife went with my son in the ambulance and cared for him throughout. The paramedics assisted with the transport to hospital but were not involved with his care. This is something I always mention when telling my birth story; midwives have the knowledge, expertise and equipment necessary to handle emergencies.

My dad and my husband followed the ambulance to the hospital while my secondary midwife as well as my mom and my doula stayed with me. I still had to deliver the placenta, have a few small stitches, and make sure I could empty my bladder before I was able to go to the hospital.

It was like an out of body experience to have just given birth but not be with my baby. I felt numb. About 2.5 hours after his birth, my mom drove me to the hospital to meet my son. He was perfectly fine and breathing on his own but he’d been given antibiotics and fluids and hooked up to monitors. I had to wait another hour before I was allowed to hold him.


Having him in my arms for the first time was pure bliss. The second his cheek touched my chest he relaxed and fell asleep. Later that day, at about 15 hours old, I was able to try breastfeeding. I’m so fortunate that breastfeeding went smoothly as it helped us bond after missing out on all that initial bonding time after his birth. The 48 hours we had to spend in the hospital for monitoring were especially tough because I was not admitted as a patient so we were in the pediatric wing, sleeping in fold-out chairs. Not great for a newly postpartum mother!

I’m so grateful that my son and I were healthy in the end but I still had a lot of emotions following his birth. My midwife told me that they think he was an asynclitic presentation, meaning he was descending with his head tipped to one side. I’m so grateful for the care the midwives provided but I wish I had the chance to work with my body, to start gently pushing with some coaching when I felt the urge, and maybe that could have lessened the stress on my baby. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that I didn’t get the birth I was hoping for and heartbroken because I missed out on touching or even seeing my son as he was born. Then, of course, I dealt with feeling guilty because of my disappointed feelings. People say a healthy mom and baby is what matters most but a mother’s feelings about her birth do matter. It’s okay to feel the range of emotions that come with the experience of birth.

The Second Time

My second birth two years later was an absolute dream. I was lucky to have had a great pregnancy and felt well up until the end. We’d moved to a new house in a new city and planned another home birth with midwives. I discussed my previous experience and concerns with my midwives so we all planned to err on the side of caution and were open to transferring to hospital if there were any concerns.

A week before my second’s due date I started feeling a bit crampy and asked my husband to stay home from work. The day went on as usual; I just felt crampy and tired. I took a nap that afternoon and woke up around 4:00 to some stronger cramping and felt a big kick from baby and almost felt a “pop”. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be funny if the baby just broke my water. Then I sat up and felt a gush of water. I burst into the office where my husband was working from home and told him my water had broken so he quickly finished up his conference call! Our midwife came by for a quick check of baby’s heart rate, which I really appreciated, and then we called my parents who were coming to look after my son.

I had no contractions after my water broke, very different from my first birth. At about 8:00 p.m., my doula arrived and my contractions started picking up, becoming more regular at about 4 minutes apart. In the next hour, the intensity increased but they still weren’t becoming more regular or more frequent. I rested and listened to Hypnobirthing affirmations, the first time I had done so in the entire pregnancy! At around 9:20, I went to the bathroom and had a few really strong contractions very close together.  My husband called the midwife and she said she would be there in 20 to 30 minutes. I laid back down in bed and suddenly felt the baby shift way down. I told my mom and doula, “The baby is coming, RIGHT NOW!”

Image credit: Four Bees Photography

I was quite calm;  I recited birthing affirmations, moaned a lot through contractions and breathed through each urge to push. I didn’t fight the urge to push or push forcefully; I just went with my body and what it was doing. With each surge, I could feel baby moving further down the birth canal. My midwife arrived at 9:50 and checked the heartbeat; it was nice and strong! Having my midwife there was a huge relief and I was able to relax and have her coach me through crowning. My beautiful and healthy baby was out in two small pushes at 9:59 p.m. I’ll never forget the moment she was placed on my stomach. I reached down to adjust her, and lifted her up just enough to see that she was a girl! Everything checked out and we blissfully cherished our skin to skin time, bonding, breastfeeding and introducing our daughter to my parents and her big brother. Her birth was everything I’d hoped for, and truly the most incredible and empowering experience of my life.

Sincere thanks, Becky, for sharing your story!

If you’re reading this and you’re interested in sharing your experience with others, check out our #REALTALK Birth Stories main page.