Guest Post from a Dad: Your Partner is Pregnant! Here’s What You Should Know.

Thanks to my friend James for this insightful and humorous piece! James is a father of three and I’m excited to bring a new voice to the blog. 

Congratulations, you’re pregnant!  Wait, not you… your spouse!  Please forgive me, Mila Kunis.

Your spouse is pregnant. You might be wondering, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW and the good news is you have time to figure it out. Pregnancy books! Pregnancy websites! Birth classes? Or… none of the above. Your baby will most likely grow and be born no matter what you do. Is that at all comforting?

You might be wondering, what colour are we going to paint the nursery?  Is my kid going to look like me? Is my kid going to like me? How many strollers are too many?  Why is baby stuff so expensive?  Will I need a second job to pay for all the strollers?

Although most of the focus is on your partner and your mini-me growing inside (as it should be…just do whatever she wants, she deserves it), it’s okay to have your own stuff going on too. Talk with a friend or a counselor if you’re feeling stressed about the unknown. You need to be in top physical and mental shape to support your partner to the finish line of pregnancy and beyond.


Once the initial shock has subsided, what’s going on with your partner? Based on my experience, pregnancy can be broken down into three phases. The doctors call them the first, second and third trimesters but I call them “Sleepy”, “Okay” and “Uncomfortable”. Here’s a summary:


The Sleepy Phase

In all three of my wife’s pregnancies, the first couple of months were spent working, falling asleep, and falling asleep while working. That’s it. She literally couldn’t manage anything else because she was so tired. I spent the same couple of months worried that something was wrong. Why is she so sleepy?  Is this baby sucking the life out of her?

Answers:  the fatigue is probably normal (her doctor or midwife will fill her in) and YES the baby is sucking the life out of her but it’s only temporary. I’m not a scientist but it helps me to picture what’s happening inside: she’s creating a baby out of nothing. NOTHING! I made a desk once, out of wood.  I got the materials from Home Depot and I worked on it on and off for about a month. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Your partner took a tiny piece of your DNA and is making a PERSON out of it.  24/7, no breaks. Just take care of everything and let her sleep.

I’ve heard from friends that for some women, The Sleepy Phase is replaced by The Sick Phase; regardless, your job is the same. Just do everything for both of you while she builds a human.


The Okay Phase

This is the fun part.

Generally, this phase is full of excitement as by now you’re probably sharing baby news with family and friends and doing some preliminary planning. Your partner may or may not be bombarding you with baby information on everything from the size of the baby, which during pregnancy is based on comparable produce (I still don’t know what a papaya looks like, for the record) all the way up to where the baby will go to kindergarten. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, just support and show interest in whatever she likes.

Oh, and also kicks!  Those are fun too, the first sign of baby saying HI!

Any lingering sickness, food aversions or fatigue should be accommodated. She’ll start putting on some weight as the baby grows; keep the comments to a minimum and don’t answer any questions directly related to clothes that no longer fit. Side note: watch your eating habits to avoid a baby belly of your own. Take it from me, sympathy weight gain is REAL.


The Uncomfortable Phase

So close, yet so far. All you have left to prepare are last minute additions in the nursery, the quickly expanding baby wardrobe and the arsenal of baby gear. You can’t picture it now, but all of those beautiful items and places will soon be desecrated by your new bundle of joy and alllll the flying puke and poop.

Your partner might start to feel like – please note these are her words, not mine – “a geriatric elephant”.   Although she looks as beautiful as ever to you, the glow and wonder of pregnancy that began in The Sleepy Phase and continued into The Okay Phase has likely faded. She’s carrying around a watermelon under her shirt and may or may not be bumping it into things like doors, countertops and small children.

In the last few weeks, people will ask constantly if the baby has arrived yet.  Count how many times your family, friends, and awkward co-workers tell you something like, “You know what you can do to get the baby out? The same thing you did to get the baby in” . . .followed by *wink wink*. I shudder. But seriously, count how many times. Maybe you can make a drinking game out of it. No wait scratch that, no drinking games…you should definitely be sober when your spouse goes into labour. This is perhaps the most important piece of information I’ve shared with you today.


There you have it, the three phases. Simple, right?  Before you know it, you’ll get the call that labour has started and baby is on the way and unlock a whole new level: CHILDBIRTH.

Pregnancy “Red Flags”

Signs and symptoms, aches and pains, questions and concerns…this might sound familiar. Pregnant bodies do things most people don’t even know are possible. Basically, you’re amazing.

No two pregnancies are exactly alike. Pregnancy-related discomforts are quite manageable for some, while others are not so fortunate. In any case, the signs and symptoms below should not be ignored.

Many of these can be normal; some are common in pregnancy and some are typical signs of labour. Still, all of these *can* be signs that you or your baby are unwell and if you’re the slightest bit unsure, it’s always better to get a professional opinion than to worry at home or – even worse – consult Dr. Google.

You might be thinking, “I already call my doctor too much! I don’t want to be *that* patient.”

Here’s the thing: they’ve seen it all many times before and they can appreciate your uncertainty. Your care provider would rather take a proactive approach. And remember, doctors and midwives are trained to ask the right questions when you call so they can make a recommendation about whether or not you need to be seen in person. Doesn’t it feel good sometimes to hand the decision over to someone else?

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Don’t let your symptoms stress you out. Check in with your care provider.

Call your care provider (your doctor or midwife) if you experience any of the following:

  • Swelling in your eyes, face, or hands
  • Rapid weight gain (more than four pounds in a week)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back pain or pressure that cannot be soothed
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular cramps or contractions before 37 weeks
  • Itching, especially on your hands and feet
  • Your baby is less active than usual
  • One leg more swollen than the other
  • Throbbing pain in one leg
  • High fever
  • Leak or gush of fluid from your vagina

Your care provider will be looking out for conditions such as:

  • Pre-eclampsia (pregnancy hypertension)
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy (buildup of bile, a digestive fluid, in the liver)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Infection (bacterial or viral)
  • Ectopic pregnancy (implantation of a pregnancy outside of the uterus)
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm labour (labour before 37 weeks)
  • Deep venous thrombosis (blood clot)
  • Placenta previa (placenta blocking the cervix)
  • Placental abruption (placenta detaching from the uterus)
  • Signs that your water has broken
  • Signs that your baby is in distress

Your care provider might respond in one or more of the following ways:

  • Order tests (a urine test or blood test, ultrasound, blood pressure monitoring, fetal heart rate monitoring, or some combination of those)
  • Conduct a pelvic exam
  • Schedule an appointment in their office
  • Advise you to go to the hospital

Aside from the potential inconvenience, you can’t lose: if it turns out to be “nothing”, you’ll be able to get back to normal without needless worrying and if there is reason for concern, you’ll be glad you reached out and got the care you and your baby needed.

Wishing you a wonderful, happy, enjoyable and red flag-free pregnancy!

Locally Handmade Baby Items

‘Tis the season for handmade holiday shopping!  

You don’t have to look far to find beautiful, unique and high quality items for babies and kids. I’ve rounded up some incredible local shops from around the Halton and Hamilton area. Here’s just a taste of what our local handmade artists are offering; click on the shop names to explore each collection.

Clothes, accessories, nursery decor…there’s something special for the special little ones in your life. Remember, if you want to get in on the handmade gift game, the time to order is now! Happy shopping 🙂

Loops for Littles

Oakville-based Loops for Littles is a must-see for all things crochet. Chunky knit scarves, beanies, bonnets, collars and more in the most gorgeous neutrals and muted jewel tones…I think I’m in love.

A Precious Thread

A Precious Thread is a large and diverse shop filled with incredible hand sewn pieces ranging from slippers and footed pants to stylish change pad and nursing pillow covers.

Don’t miss out on the gallery of custom crib bedding. Eye catching, one of a kind bedding makes a great starting point when you’re designing your nursery!

Elemenopee Design

Elemenopee Design is based in Burlington. Here you’ll find sweet and hilarious printables that are perfect for baby and kid rooms or anywhere else in your home. Digital printables are also incredibly affordable: for less than $4 you can download files instantly and print at home. Alternatively, you can have them printed on high quality linen paper and shipped to your home or send the files to your favourite local printer.

Sweet Sofia Bows

To no one’s surprise, Sweet Sofia Bows is hugely popular locally. Headbands, crowns, bows and clips all stylishly adorned with rhinestones, felt flowers, faux leather bows…the entire shop is just precious! These would make great props for newborn photos, special occasions and many items are appropriate for every day wear.

Sweet Sofia Bows are also stocked at Simply Green Baby at 67 Bronte Road in Oakville.


Chewlicious is the go-to local shop for beautiful and fun teething accessories. Food-grade silicone and natural wood are combined in style to create necklaces for mom and soother clips and hand-held teethers for baby.  Take my word for it: a great teething accessory is worth its weight in gold.

Little Navy

I recently discovered Little Navy through Instagram and it was love at first sight. There’s something so special about personalized pieces. As the owner of a name with an uncommon spelling, I know as a child I would have been thrilled to receive one of these blankets, bedding sets or stockings. Oh, who am I kidding…I’d still love it and I hope Santa reads my blog.

Hoot and Holly

Hoot and Holly offers a huge range of modern accessories for babies, toddlers and kids. It’s hard to pick a favourite section but the slouchy scarves really call my name with their sophisticated urban vibe. There’s something so darling about plaid flannel on a baby!

Hoot and Holly is also stocked at Hawthorne Cafe in Milton.

Paint and Paper Craft

These 3-dimensional paper art pieces, beautifully encased in crisp white shadow boxes, are stunning as pictured in the Paint and Paper Craft online shop. I can only imagine how much better they look in real life! Here’s another opportunity to add a personalized touch to your baby’s nursery with baby name pieces that you can customize to include the meaning of your baby’s name, a special quote or simply a motif from your nursery design.

Sweetee Handmade

My little one was lucky enough to receive a legging and headband set from Sweetee Handmade so I can vouch for the quality of these adorable items. This Hamilton-based shop offers stylish car seat and grocery cart covers too…you need to check them out!

Elle & Kay Design

Elle & Kay Design was another great Instagram find. This Burlington-based shop is filled with bright and textured modern art that would add a unexpected and stunning pop of colour in a baby or kid room. Both originals and prints are available.

Mockingbird Knits 

Mockingbird Knits caught my eye with its hand knit toys. Is that not the sweetest elephant you’ve ever seen? I could see any of these soft knit and crocheted animals or blankets becoming a baby’s treasured favourite lovey or toy.

There you have it! Gorgeous and unique baby items, handmade in a neighbourhood near you. Only the best for your one of a kind baby. 

What I mean when I say “unbiased”

I mean I don’t value one kind of birth over another.

I mean I respect your prerogative to change your mind.

I mean I’m not attached to a “birth philosophy”. My philosophy is “Your body, your baby, your birth.”

I mean I won’t automatically assume you’re a tragic victim of your care provider if you experienced unplanned medical interventions. You’re a grown woman; maybe you decided on a new plan and you were totally cool with it.

I mean I won’t advocate for you. Because grown woman.

I mean I sympathize with you if your memories of your birth are painful and I will sit with you in that pain rather than talk you out of your feelings.

I mean I understand that sometimes pregnancy and birth trigger past trauma that we didn’t know we were carrying and it is so real.

I mean it’s okay that you sometimes have no idea what you’re doing.

I mean I’m aware of what’s beyond my scope as a doula and I will redirect you to a professional if need be.

I mean I won’t assume you’re planning to breastfeed.

I mean I don’t expect you to want a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).

I mean I don’t need you to share everything with me. I’m here for you when you want me to be here for you.

I mean I know how to support you if you choose an epidural.

I mean I don’t care if you’re crunchier than kale chips. I can do that too.

I mean I don’t pity you because you’re scared.

I mean nothing you do or say could disappoint me.

I mean I already know that you are capable, tough, and amazing.

I mean I’m not emotionally invested in your choices because I’m a professional and I consider that my job.

I mean I am right there behind you no matter what happens. And you will feel loved and supported – unconditionally – right from the very first time we meet. I mean that I will do everything I can to see that when you look back on your birth you will feel strong and proud.

Because that’s what doulas do.


Simply The Best: Private Prenatal Classes in Oakville, Burlington and Milton

I can’t say enough good things about private childbirth education. 

Picture this: you select from a menu of topics to create a customized curriculum based on your needs and interests. We arrange a time that works with your schedule. I bring everything I need to deliver an engaging and useful class in the comfort of your home. You pour yourself a cup of tea and nestle into your sofa while we learn together about pregnancy, birth, recovery and baby care. You and your partner try out positions for labour and practice comfort measures such as massages and relaxation techniques. When we’re finished, you feel good knowing you’ve given yourself the knowledge and practical tools to feel informed, prepared and confident about your baby’s birth.

Informed, prepared and confident. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Do you have friends who are expecting? How fun would it be to put together a group class in your home? Just you and your closest friends, bonding over cervical changes and timing contractions. Let’s make it happen!

Oakville Family Birth prenatal classes are fun, friendly, realistic, practical and always judgement-free.

This looks like a great place to learn about birth.

Here are just some of the topics you can choose to include in your customized curriculum:

How to prepare a birth plan or wish list

Healthy pregnancy (nutrition, exercise, weight gain)

Coping with common pregnancy symptoms and challenges

Navigating standard prenatal testing and other milestones

The real deal on fetal positioning

What to do when you’re “overdue”

How to communicate with your care providers and get your medical questions answered

Your choice of birth place

Signs of labour

Labour and birth: what’s happening and why?

VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)

Natural and medical pain relief, comfort measures and interventions

Birth partners: how to provide hands-on support

Positions for labour and birth

It’s a baby! The first hour after birth

Standard newborn interventions and tests

Recovering from birth

Newborn care (“I’ve never done this before!”)

It’s all about YOU. We’ll go over everything you want to know and you’ll never wonder if your questions are silly or demanding.

You’ll receive an information packet filled to the brim with useful resources that you can use throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.

This cat is really enjoying her private prenatal class!

If you want to learn more about private or semi-private prenatal classes, get in touch today:

“I wish I would have had a doula!” and other things I hear all the time

I talk to a lot of moms, in both my professional life and my personal life. I’ve noticed some patterns worth discussing and some myths worth busting.

“Oh, I wanted to have a doula! But I couldn’t get a midwife.”

This doula loves midwives! However, I pride myself on providing equal support to all families for all births, under all kinds of professional care. I respect doctors and nurses and I work well with everyone.

As your doula I offer many things to you as you birth with your medical team. First, a birth doula can support you in your home through the earlier parts of labour, before you make the trip to the hospital. Next, a doula provides continuous support in your birthing suite until well after your baby is born. No matter what happens and no matter who comes in and out of the room, I’ll be there to comfort and pamper you and to help you focus.

“I kind of wanted a doula but I’m all about that epidural!”

Doulas aren’t just for unmedicated births. It’s a pity to think that this misunderstanding is so widespread that many people who might have loved working with a doula must have decided not to pursue it. I hate to think that anyone has felt indirectly shamed by the idea that doula services apply exclusively to certain types of births.

A doula is not simply a substitute for pain medicine. My goal is to support you in every way I can, no matter how your story unfolds. If your goal is an unmedicated birth I will do everything I can to help you thrive! I’m trained to support clients in any situation and if you use epidural pain medication I’ll be your best friend with all the tips and tricks I have up my sleeve to make you feel calm, confident, and comfortable.

“Ahh you’re a doula, so you had your kids all natural?”

Becoming a doula wasn’t about my own births. At all. It’s not about making sure everyone has the same blissful deliveries I had (for some doulas, this is true) nor is it about avenging my horrible birth experiences (for some doulas, this is true). I’m happy to share with anyone that I  hired a doula for both of my births and both times, it was the best decision I made. Through my experiences I saw the breadth of a doula’s work and the impact a doula has on her clients. I became a doula because I’m passionate about supporting families. I’m good at it, too.

Supporting families as they ride the waves.

“Oh you’re a doula? I WISH I would have had a doula!”

If I only had a dollar for every time I heard this. All. The. Time.

It’s not lost on me that all of those people had their babies without a doula and I’m sure they rocked their births! I don’t think women *need* doulas to birth their babies; I know women and their birth partners love having a doula on their team and that birthing women who have doulas feel strong, confident, relaxed and supported through and through.

When I ask moms why they wish they would have had a doula, they usually say one of the following things:

  • “We wanted to know what to expect at every step”
  • “We wanted someone to stay in the room with us the entire time”
  • “I wanted someone to give my husband breaks when he was tired and overwhelmed”
  • “I wanted constant pressure on my back during contractions but I wanted my partner in my sight, for emotional support”

…these are all things I can do for you as your birth doula. Let’s do this, together.


Pregnant in Halton Region: What Do I Do Now?

You took the test. Positive! What now?

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But seriously. What do I do now?

If you live in Halton (Oakville, Milton, Burlington, Georgetown, Halton Hills), here are some things to consider.

Who will provide care for me and my baby?

Throughout most of Ontario you can be followed by an obstetrician (OB-GYN), a midwife, or a family doctor depending on what’s available in your community as well as your medical history and your personal preferences. OHIP fully covers your care in all three of these scenarios but you can only have one prenatal care provider. If you choose to be cared for by a family doctor or a midwife and it turns out you need more specialized care, you’ll be referred to an obstetrician or another specialist.

If you have questions or concerns in early pregnancy, make an appointment with your family doctor. You can discuss your options and if you choose to seek the care of an obstetrician, you’ll need a referral from your doctor.

If you opt for a midwife, you don’t need a referral; you can apply through the midwives’ website. Midwifery care is in high demand in Halton Region and throughout the GTHA so apply as early as possible! You’ll need to apply to the midwives group that serves your area:

All three types of care providers can order the necessary ultrasounds and tests. Your tests will be conducted in either a hospital or a community clinic.

Where will I give birth?

Your choice of care provider will determine your options for where you can deliver your baby. Care providers (i.e. doctors and midwives) have hospital privileges (i.e. they are allowed to attend births) at specific facilities so if you would like your baby to be born at a certain hospital in your area, consider this when you choose a care provider.

Oakville is home to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Milton has Milton District Hospital, and Georgetown has Georgetown Hospital. Depending on which doctor or midwife cares for you during your pregnancy, Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington and Credit Valley Hospital or Trillium Hospital in Mississauga might be options for you as well.

Ontario midwives also attend home births for those who are eligible candidates. If you’re interested in home birth, speak with a midwife.

What else should I be doing?

Get your folate. If you’re not already eating folate-rich foods (dark green vegetables, corn, or legumes) or taking a folate supplement, Health Canada recommends supplementing with 0.4 mg of folate per day to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Neural tube defects are formed in the first four weeks of pregnancy so supplementing as early as possible, ideally before getting pregnant, is recommended. Speak with a doctor or a pharmacist about this for more information.

Probably more kale than a person could eat…even if they’re eating for two.

Get ready for the roller coaster of the first trimester! Fatigue, nausea,  breast tenderness, food aversions, constipation…you’ve heard it all. Whatever the first trimester looks like for you, just know that it won’t last forever. And hey…not everyone experiences a barrage of symptoms and you could be one of the lucky ones.

Consider seeking the support of a birth doula. It’s never too early to hire a doula. Although birth doulas tend to work more with you in the later stages of pregnancy, you’re more likely to get your first choice if you book early.

Fun/cutesy pregnancy stuff that you don’t *need* to do but you might want to for funsies. You know what I mean…you don’t *need* to brainstorm names, choose colours for the nursery or buy maternity clothes just yet but you do you, boo, if it makes you happy.

Finally, join this Facebook group

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Pregnancy and Parenting in Halton Region is a supportive and non-spammy Facebook group for expectant and new moms.

Pregnancy and Parenting in Halton Region is an online community for mothers and mothers-to-be in Oakville, Milton, Burlington and Halton Hills and the surrounding areas who are expecting and/or parenting little ones. It’s a judgement-free zone for sharing experiences, tips and recommendations and supporting each other on our paths. Pregnancy and motherhood can be isolating and stressful but but it doesn’t have to be like that. Join us!

The Pregnant Commuter

In our area we have a lot of commuters. Every morning, thousands of people take the GO train from Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Mississauga to get to their Toronto offices. Some even hop on the subway or streetcar at Union Station for the second leg of the trip.

Compared to driving, many people say that commuting is more enjoyable because of the freedom to rest, work or socialize along the way. There are some special challenges for the pregnant commuter but with some consideration, you’ll be just fine. Here are some tips:

Give yourself extra time.

Give yourself a little extra time to shuffle around the station, climb the stairs, and find a seat. Round ligament pain and shortness of breath are no joke when you’re dashing for a train and they’re likely to bog you down as early as the first trimester, probably before you “look pregnant” so you can’t even outwardly blame the baby while you cry out in pain and gasp for air.

If someone offers you a seat, take it.

For so many reasons. To acknowledge the good deed. To prevent falls (as the subway approaches Union, for example, there’s a lot of swaying). To avoid the awkward and potentially painful experience of a stranger rubbing up against your belly as the train fills up. To get a few minutes of rest (this probably mostly applies to the GO train)…especially important if you have older children! Commuting moms know that at the end of their marathon work day, their second job begins. Picking up the kids from child care and then getting them home, fed, bathed and in bed can be a monumental task when you’re tired and possibly even sick. Rest when you can.

If you really don’t want a seat, give a firm but gracious no: “Thanks for offering, I really appreciate it. I need to stretch my back out after a long day of sitting at my desk but I’ll hit you up next time.”

Don’t be offended if no one offers you a seat.

Some people will be so afraid to offend you that they just won’t ask. We always think we’re bigger and more pregnant looking than we are. If you really want to make sure you get a seat shoot for either the very first or last cars, which tend to be less full, or the accessibility car in the middle of the train where you can speak with a customer service rep who can make sure a seat is made available.

People will stare.

It’s just a fact of life! People are drawn to baby bumps and the train is kind of boring. If you hate it, stare right back at their bellies and give them a taste of how uncomfortable it is for you. Works like a charm.

If you’re experiencing a lot of sickness, carry a sick bag.

Even if you get a great seat close to a bathroom or waste bin, during rush hour the train is likely to fill to standing room only so there could be dozens of people between you and the bin. No one wants to vomit in public but you’d probably prefer to use a sick bag than to hurl on your train neighbour’s Macbook.

Know your snack options.

Happily, Union Station offers just about any kind of food and drink you could be craving. Ice cream? Yes. Carbs? Yes. Smoothies? Oh yes. Plan your route accordingly.

Wait for the crowds to clear.

By and large, people are nice. Friendly, courteous, accommodating. Still, rush hour on the TTC and GO platforms can feel a bit like Mufasa and the wildebeests when you’re pregnant. If it makes you feel more comfortable, let the crowds subside a little before you get on or off the train. If you really need to be at the front of the platform, stiffen your arms slightly to create a protective bubble around your baby, widen your stance and hold your ground. The platform’s not quite the mosh pit I’m making it out to be but it’s better to be extra protective than to be accidentally elbowed or pushed.

Are you commuting during your pregnancy? Any tips to share? 

Prenatal Prep: Combined prenatal yoga and childbirth education in Milton

Post update: Check out current prenatal class offerings HERE

Big news!

So happy to announce that Oakville Family Birth has teamed up with Moksha Yoga Milton to bring you Prenatal Prep Class! Prepare your mind and body for pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period through combined prenatal yoga and education.

I’m honoured to be teaching alongside Ashlie Burns. You won’t find a better prenatal yoga instructor! Together we’re bringing you the best of our worlds: everything you’d want from an excellent, modern, evidence-based and judgement-free prenatal class PLUS the incredible and lasting benefits of yoga.

In this 6 weeks series, you’ll learn the following:

  • Pregnancy, labour and birth: stages, positions, coping strategies
  • Tips and tricks for birth partners
  • Postpartum care for mom and baby
  • YOGA for optimal physical and mental wellness, relief from aches and pains and strength for labour and delivery

The series will be offered on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 11:00 am beginning October 16th at Moksha Yoga at 775 Main Street East in Milton.

We’ve designed some classes just for the moms and some classes for moms and their birth partners. We think you’ll LOVE it.

Preregistration is required and spots are limited. GO AHEAD and sign up at or contact me for more information and please share with friends! Thank you 🙂


Postpartum Depression and other Perinatal Mood Disorders

Talking about prenatal and perinatal mood disorders like depression and anxiety is important. For starters, it is much more common to experience postpartum depression than it is to seek help for postpartum depression. As we talk more and more about mood disorders, the odds increase that women who experience depression and anxiety will get help and improve their well-being and their quality of life. Let’s talk about postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is generally thought to occur within a year of having a baby. Women who experience postpartum depression say they have some or all of the following signs and symptoms, most of the time, for a while:

  • Feeling overwhelmed. “I’ll never be able to handle being a mother
  • Feeling guilty. “My baby deserves better”
  • Feeling hopeless. “I’m a failure”
  • Feeling detached from their baby. “I don’t know if I love her”
  • Feeling angry, irritated or annoyed. “WHY won’t you stop crying?!”
  • Feeling confused. “Why is this happening?”
  • Feeling sad. “I don’t even know why I’m crying, but I can’t stop”
  • Feeling empty. “I’m just going through the motions every day”
  • Thinking about quitting or running away. “I quit, I need to get out of here”
  • Thinking about harming themselves. “If I was gone, my baby would be better off”
  • Feeling afraid of judgement or punishment if they reach out for help
  • Not being able to focus
  • Sleeping very little or sleeping too much
  • Eating very little or eating too much

Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous. If you’re experiencing some or all of these signs and symptoms, speak to your care provider or another person you trust. Although it might feel hopeless right now, there are many safe and effective treatment options.

Other Perinatal Mood Disorders You Should Know About

Postpartum Anxiety often co-occurs with depression but sometimes it occurs on its own. Some research is even pointing to the possibility that postpartum anxiety is more common than postpartum depression. Women who experience postpartum anxiety say they have some or all of the following:

  • Worrying constantly; fixating on the worst-case scenario
  • Having intense fear
  • Avoiding certain places, situations or people
  • Physical symptoms: rapid heart rate, dizziness, nausea, sore stomach, muscle tension

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is often associated with postpartum anxiety. Women who experience postpartum OCD typically develop rituals or compulsions to help them cope with their constant feelings of being worried or afraid or having racing thoughts.

Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy

It is thought to be just as common to have depression and anxiety during pregnancy as it is to have them during the postpartum period. If you’re pregnant and experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, you are not alone. Speak with your care provider. If you want to read more about anxiety during pregnancy, check out this post I wrote.

It Is Not Your Fault.

If you suffer from a mood disorder during or after your pregnancy, it can feel like you’ve done something wrong. It can feel like everyone else is handling things better than you are. It can feel like you don’t love your baby enough to “snap out of it”. It can also feel like you shouldn’t talk about what’s going on; this is because depression and anxiety are dirty liars. They tell you that you that you don’t need help or, even worse, that you aren’t worthy of help. It is NOT your fault. It is not because you don’t love your baby.

Check out these beautiful, strong and inspiring mothers who fought back against their depression and anxiety and participated in a video project to spread the word.

Local Resources in Halton, Hamilton and Peel Regions

If you live in or are planning to deliver your baby in Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills or Mississauga, you can receive care at the Women’s Reproductive Mental Health Program at Trillium Health Partners. Speak to your care provider (your family doctor, obstetrician or midwife) if you’re interested; referrals to this program need to come from a health care professional.

In Burlington, Joseph Brant Hospital provides support through Community Mental Health Services. A doctor or counselor’s referral is required.

If you’re in Hamilton or Burlington, you can get help from the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. You don’t need a professional’s referral to this program; you can refer yourself by contacting the clinic.

Free walk-in counseling is also available through the Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Region Branch and Halton Region offers free drop-in Adjusting to Parenthood groups in Burlington and Oakville locations.