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August 7, 2015

Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work

I returned to work part-time when my babies were only 6 months old.  I did lots of pumping during coffee breaks and made quick trips to the babysitter’s at lunch hour to breastfeed. Fortunately, I had a supportive workplace. My manager made sure I knew that my union had negotiated an extra 15 minute break for breastfeeding moms. Not all working moms have such an understanding manager!   — Jana

 

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action would like every employed mother to have this kind of support. They are using World Breastfeeding Week to call for global action in supporting women to combine breastfeeding and work.

“Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed.” (Read the document in full here.)

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Learn about the government policies already in place in Canada and the USA:

Pregnancy Parenting and the Workplace (Canada)

Support for Breastfeeding in the Workplace (USA)

Breastfeeding Laws (USA)

As World Breastfeeding Week draws to a close, take a few minutes to tell us how you combined breastfeeding and work.

 


 

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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

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July 16, 2015

 

We support the right of women to breastfeed anytime, anywhere! Unfortunately, widely publicized cases of discrimination such this one at a restaurant and this one on an airplane can lead women to feel that discrimination against public breastfeeding is widespread.

 

We were excited to learn about a new initiative in our home province, Saskatchewan. The Yorkton Baby Friendly Initiative Working Group has introduced a Baby Friendly Business program. Participating businesses agree to:

  • Post a sticker on their window or door stating “Breastfeeding Welcome Here”.
  • Ensure all staff are made aware that breastfeeding moms are welcomed and supported.
  • Offer a place to sit to breastfeed if needed.

 

Way to go Yorkton! Thank you for supporting breastfeeding moms.

 

Yorkton supports breastfeeding in public with Baby Friendly Business program.

 

 

P.S. This hardworking group has also begun to fundraise for a human milk depot at the Yorkton Regional Health Centre.

 

If you would like more information about Yorkton’s initiative, contact Heidi at (306) 786-0886 or Danielle at (306) 782-8130 ext. 227.

 

Other suggested reading: What Does Baby Friendly Mean?

 


 

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About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

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July 9, 2015

7 Reasons You will Love Camping with Your Baby

If you have a baby under 6 months, you may think you have to forgo your camping trip this year. Wrong! This may very well be the BEST time to camp. Here’s why.

 

If you have a baby under 6 months old, this may be the very best time to camp.

 

 

1. It will never be easier to camp with your child. Little ones under 6 months, are not yet mobile. They sit (or lay) where you put them. Next summer they will be crawling or running at full speed toward the campfire.

 

2. Babies are happiest when they have lots of your time. When you camp, you are forced to leave the housework and the ‘to-do’ list behind. This leaves more time for giving baby your undivided attention. Happy baby = happy parents.

 

3. Babies are portable. There are many comfortable carriers or wraps you can use for hikes. The toddler years will be much more challenging when they insist on walking by themselves.

 

4. Your baby will keep you warm around the campfire on chilly nights. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you won’t need to share the snuggles, or the warmth of the baby.

 

5. Babies (and adults) tend to sleep well when they have spent the day outside. When your baby does wake for a feed, tuck them in close and nurse lying down before returning them to their bed.

 

6. You may catch a beautiful sunrise. You may not normally get up early enough to see the sunrise, but with an early waking infant, you may just get the chance.

 

7. You won’t need to pack extra food. If you are exclusively nursing your little one, you won’t need to pack extra snacks or special food. The only food baby will need is always with you, and at just the right temperature.

 

Some baby camping tricks that have worked for us:

  • baby outdoorsPack an old sheet. Use it to cover the ground in a shady area of the campsite. Prop baby and toys on the sheet.
  • If you have a large tent and a stroller that completely reclines, try Cindy’s trick. Get your baby dressed for bed and go for an evening stroll. When baby falls asleep, simply roll the stroller into the tent.
  • Be sure to pack a light colored wide-brimmed hat to protect baby from the sun.
  • A large plastic storage bin makes an excellent bathtub. Add a couple of inches of water warmed on the campstove.
  • If your campground has a shower, it is even quicker to take baby into the shower with you.

 

For more clever ideas about camping with a baby, visit our “Camping with Baby” Pinterest Board.

 

Other posts you may enjoy: Yes You Can! Outdoor Adventures with Baby and Sun Safety for Babies.

 


thumbnail cindy and janaAbout the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

 

 

 

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May 15, 2015

Saskatoon Supports Breastfeeding in Public

 

As a new mother, breastfeeding in public can be daunting. My first experience was a few weeks after my oldest child was a born. We had travelled 3 ½ hours to introduce him to my beloved grandparents. Being one of the oldest grandchildren, I had not yet seen anyone breastfeed in their home. When my baby began to squirm and and show signs of hunger, I was uncomfortable. Should I go to the bedroom? Should we leave and nurse him in the car a few blocks away? Thankfully, I had the courage to ask where they would like me to feed. I will never forget their reply: “Oh my goodness. If your baby is hungry, feed him right here!”

 

Breastfeeding in my grandparents home, in a room full of people, was my first experience breastfeeding in public. Their whole hearted support for feeding wherever and whenever my baby needed gave me the courage to breastfeed in other public locations.

 – Cindy

 

 

Ideally, all women should feel supported to breastfeed anywhere, anytime. Unfortunately this is not always the case. We are excited about a new program in our hometown, Saskatoon, SK that is helping to make a difference.

 

Passport to Breastfeeding

 

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Saskatoon Breastfeeding Matters, a community organization, and the Saskatoon Health Region have teamed up to promote places where women can breastfeed without fear of confrontation. .

 

The “Passport to Breastfeeding” lists local businesses that guarantee their staff have been trained to protect breastfeeding mothers from judgement, harassment or discrimination. Stickers, displayed in their front window, indicate their support. Passports will be handed out at the two and four month baby well baby check ups in Saskatoon.

 

 

Win a $25 gift certificate

 

Women can enter to win a monthly draw. To participate:

  • Breastfeeding is welcome here. Sticker to door for businesses providing a safe environment for breastfeeding.Take a photo of yourself and your baby at one of the participating locations.
  • Be sure the photo clearly identifies the business (e.g. a menu in the background).
  • Post your photo to Instagram, Twitter, or the Saskatoon Breastfeeding Matters Facebook Page with the hashtag #protectbreastfeedingyxe.

Full contest details and list of participating businesses are available here.

 

Great work Saskatoon!!

 

Read more about breastfeeding: Breastfeeding or Formula, is there Really a Difference?

 

(*Header photo courtesy of Flickr: UNICEF Ukraine)

 


 

thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

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March 13, 2015

6 Powerful Ways You Can Help Brand New Parents

 

We have the greatest jobs in the world! We visit families with brand new babies.

Our jobs give us a glimpse “behind the scenes” as families adjust to the reality of life with a newborn. Families are tired! And almost without fail, they tell us they have had too much company!

Here are our suggestions for showing a new family that you care — without overwhelming them.

 

6 Powerful Ways You Can Help Brand New Parents

 

1.  Send congratulations via text or Facebook but be sure to wait for an invitation before dropping by to visit. New parents are sleep deprived; while they would probably love to show off their new baby, even a short visit can interrupt a much-needed chance to nap!

 

2.  Please do not visit if you have a cold or are unwell in any way. This will not only protect the newborn; it will protect the health of the new mom and dad as well.

Wash your hands before holding the new baby — without being asked!

 

3.  When you receive an invitation, try to keep your visit short. Unless you are cooking or cleaning, 20 minutes is likely long enough.

When you visit, don’t let the new mother serve you coffee or tea. (We have visited moms who were expected to serve an entire holiday meal to their guests!)

 

4.  Please don’t give advice unless you are asked. Parent’s hearts are tender as they learn their new role. Help them to feel confident by pointing out the things they are doing well.

“Look how your baby calms down when you hold him.”

“You are so loving with your baby; I know you are going to be a great parent.”

 

5.  If there is an older sibling, bring a small gift for them as well. It can be difficult for an older child to watch a new sibling get all the gifts and attention.

 

6.  Offer to do one or more of these practical things:

  • Cook a meal for them. Deliver it in a disposable container so there is no dish to return.
  • Get their groceries for the week.
  • Take their dog for a walk.
  • Drive an older sibling to and from school.
  • Invite an older sibling for a special play date.

 

The birth of a baby is a great opportunity to show a new family how much you care. Being sensitive to their need for rest is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

 

Know a mom with a newborn 6 ways to provide practical support.

 

What would you add to this list?

 

 

Other posts you may enjoy: 6 Tips for Surviving the Newborn Period and Top 10 Websites and Apps for New Families.


 

phpTJhnGTPMAbout the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

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February 13, 2015

 

14 Ways a Newborn Steals Your Heart

 

There is something magical about the newborn period. Here are 14 things that make us fall in love.

 

 

1.  Newborns recognize their mother’s voice, having heard it while in the womb.

 

2.  Newborns recognize their mother by smell. (If mom and baby have to be separated, baby will be calmer if an object with mom’s scent is nearby.)

 

3.  A newborn will grasp a finger placed in the palm of his hand.

 

4.  A newborn’s needs are simple: food, warmth and love.

 

5.  Newborns are not passive. They are born with the ability to make their needs known; they will continue to communicate until their needs are met.

 

6.  Newborns who are hungry and fussing will begin to settle when put into a feeding position.

 

7.  Newborns are portable! It is easy to take them with you, without straining your back.

 

8.  A newborn is happiest curled up against your chest. They love to hear your heartbeat; it reminds them of being in the womb.

 

9.  No need to be home for naps! A newborn can sleep anywhere.

 

10.  You can snuggle as much as you like knowing you cannot spoil a newborn.

 

11.  Newborns smell deliciously good, especially the top of their heads!

 

12.  A newborn can see most clearly at a distance of 8 – 12 inches (21 – 30 cm), perfect for seeing your face while cradled in your arms.

 

13.  A newborn’s eyes are 70% of adult size, making them appear very large in comparison to their body. It’s part of what makes them so darn cute!

 

14.  Every newborn has a unique personality. Some are very laid back while others seem to demand your attention — NOW!

 

Other posts you may enjoy: The Importance of Skin to Skin with Baby and How to Prepare for a New Baby on a Budget.


 

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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

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December 23, 2014

 

 

 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas

Babies are born 365 days of the year. Our profession, therefore, works 365 days of the year. At our workplace, we take turns working on holidays and this Christmas, both of us are scheduled to work. We will spend Christmas Day visiting brand new families, answering questions and helping them get started with breastfeeding.

 

Fortunately, our own families are flexible. With a little creativity, we are able to squeeze in Christmas celebrations around our schedule.

 

Our Christmas preparations have been in high gear for several weeks.

 

Here is how Jana’s family is celebrating the holidays:

 

 

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A festive tree, with decorations that actually match this year. And only complete with Zoey sleeping under the tree… her favorite spot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A day spent watching old home movies, in awe of how quickly the kids grow up! It is amazing what you forget and how precious these videos become.

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Jana's family

 

Having family time together. We were fortunate to have both sets of grandparents and our special friends join us for an early holiday meal. We will celebrate with more family in the early New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how Cindy’s family has prepared for the holidays:

 

Child #3

 

 

Child #3 helping to set the mood with decorations. (What you can’t see is that the tree has a definite lean from her sons’ wrestling-match-gone-wrong a few years ago.)

 

 

 

 

 

Husband

 

 

Cindy’s husband staying calm and focused on what is important. (Just kidding, he has been the all-star housecleaner and grocery shopper.)

 

 

 

Child #2 and friend

 

 

Child #1 arrives home from Waterloo, Ontario, bringing his beautiful blond girlfriend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Child #2 is the last to arrive after a long trip from Powell River, British Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our family

 

 

 

The best part of the holidays, being all together as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

 

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July 19, 2014

From Mom to “Udderly Hot Mama”

We met Melanie of Udderly Hot Mama on Twitter. We love her breastfeeding supportive tweets; then we saw the beautiful photo above and knew we had to connect! Despite being busy with her 2 children, Melanie kindly agreed to our interview.

 

(Please note: This is not a sponsored post but rather a post that grew out of our genuine curiosity.)

 

1.Tell us a little about yourself, where you live and what you would love to do if you had an entire hour to yourself!

 

imageI grew up in Canada but when I graduated college, I decided to try my luck in Hollywood. As a result, I’ve had some interesting jobs in my life, including that as a publicist for actors and comedians. (I was even part of a Bravo reality show because of it).

 

Before Udderly Hot Mama, I worked in the news as a radio anchor and then a newspaper reporter. But when I gave birth to my now 2.5-year-old daughter Deanna, I was inspired to change careers. She didn’t take a bottle till 11 months old and desperately I missed wearing cute clothes. The only nursing tops I found weren’t so stylish and I needed to be able to feed on a moment’s notice so regular tops were out of the question. I decided to take a leap of faith and launch a nursing top company that would give moms what I didn’t have: stylish and functional breastfeeding shirts.

 

I now reside in Phoenix, AZ, after a four-year stint in Harrisburg, PA. If I had an entire hour to myself, I think I would take a nap! I’m a night owl and that doesn’t go away when you have kids. I try so hard to go to bed early but usually fail miserably. So, a nap is always at the top of my list.

 

 

 2. You just had your second baby. Tell us about the birth and your first few weeks with him.

 

I live by the saying (wo)man plans; God laughs. And so that happened yet again with the birth of my sweet son Nicholas. I had planned to have a C-section at 39 weeks. With my daughter, I’d had an emergency C-section because she was sunny side up and I was told my odds of baby No. 2 being in that position were pretty high.

 

So I decided it would be easier to work the baby’s arrival around my schedule. He clearly had his own plan, however. I went into labor 17 days before my due date and had a c-section 18 hours after that! I was actually in denial that I was in labor. I went to the hospital in the middle of the night but was sent home again. The next day I saw my doctor and she said, how does a 4:30 pm birth sound to you? It was a quick and easy surgery. I couldn’t believe how great I felt just days afterward. The first time around, it was a full 6 weeks before I felt human again.

 

The first few weeks have been a lot easier than I thought they’d be. He’s a good sleeper and a great eater. Nursing has been so easy and enjoyable!

 

 

 3. Is there anything you have found surprising in the adjustment from having 1 child to being the mother of 2?

 

imageBefore my son was born, I did a lot of reading about how to effectively integrate a new baby into your life when you have an older child. But even with all the tips and tricks up my sleeve, I still had my work cut out for me. When my husband brought Deanna into the hospital room to meet her little brother, she burst into tears. I was not expecting that reaction.

 

I think the biggest surprise is how I already can’t picture life, as crazed as it can be, without my little baby. But I was not expecting that everything I do in a day must be planned out in advance. The logistics are complicated. For example, where do I put the baby when I need to have one-on-one time with my daughter? What do I do with my daughter when I’m feeding the baby? At first, she would cry and beg me to hold her when I was feeding him. Now she’s actually getting used to it. I am so relieved. 

 

 

4. We can tell from your your tweets, and your business choice, that you love supporting breastfeeding. What makes you so passionate about breastfeeding?

 

It’s funny because I wouldn’t say that I consciously set out to be a breastfeeding advocate. It just happened. My mom breastfed me and both my younger sisters and so it was just commonplace in my household growing up.

 

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I never even thought about using formula. I just assumed I would breastfeed (at least God didn’t laugh at that plan of mine!). I was lucky that breastfeeding worked for me because I know now that it doesn’t work for everyone. Some moms are incredibly tenacious and will pump 8 times a day just to provide their babies with the best. Those women are amazing in my book.

 

I felt that for me, at least, formula was very expensive and if I had free food flowing from me, I might as well use it. It was only when I started breastfeeding that I realized what my mom had been talking about all those years ago: it creates the most incredible bond between mother and baby. You are nourishing this little life and he or she is growing and flourishing and healthy because of you. I can’t think of anything more special in this world.

 

 

5. Is there a piece of your own clothing line that has become your favorite over the past few weeks?

 

Because I live in Phoenix and the temperature is currently hovering around 110 degrees, I have been living in Udderly Hot Mama’s Sassy Scoop Necks. On days when it’s only 100, I wear the Chic Cowl Neck, Swanky Snap Front or Tantalizing Tunic. The fabric is great because it breathes and is very forgiving with my post-pregnancy figure. I can’t wait till the weather cools off and I can wear our longer sleeved tops.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 9.52.47 AMIt’s been so incredible wearing the tops as a nursing mom. They are so great for nursing in public too. I was at a bookstore and the baby was hungry but I didn’t have a nursing cover with me. The patent-pending flap provided so much coverage that no one even noticed what I was doing. These were the shirts I dreamed of having back when I nursed my daughter. I’m just thrilled that women everywhere can now nurse with ease in Udderly Hot Mama shirts!

 

 

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Melanie Herschorn is the founder and designer of Udderly Hot Mama nursing tops and mom to a two-year-old girl and a baby boy. Melanie is also a journalist and has worked in both broadcast and print media. Her goal is to make breastfeeding easier and more stylish for moms everywhere. For more about breastfeeding and other parenting topics, check out Udderly Hot Mama’s Blog and follow on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest. Melanie and her family live in Phoenix, AZ.

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February 21, 2014

Yes You Can! Outdoor Adventures with Baby

We met Meghan online and were intrigued by her gorgeous baby, her active lifestyle and the fabulous photography on her website, The Adventures in Parenthood Project. She kindly agreed to take time away from her suitcase packing to do this interview.

 

1. You live in an international tourist destination, Banff, Alberta. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Banff?

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, just outside of the mountains, but my family moved to Ottawa, Ontario, when I was just five weeks old. When I was 15, my family went on a camping trip to Banff National Park, and that was the first time I laid eyes on the mountains. Years later, when I was window washing during my summer break after my first year at Queen’s University, I had a longing to do something more adventurous with my next summer off. I applied for a job at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake in Banff National Park, got hired, moved to the mountains, and met my (now) husband, Paul. After three summer seasons at Bow Lake, I eventually moved to the Town of Banff in 2008, and have lived here ever since. I love living right in nature, and having easy access to incredible wilderness and backcountry trails.

2. Your beautiful daughter Mistaya was born almost a year ago. We would love to hear about Mistaya’s birth and your early weeks with her.

 

Resting together in those early weeks. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Resting together in those early weeks. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Mistaya’s birth was an incredible experience. I am a firm believer that birth is an empowering experience – not some hardship to be dreaded and endured – and I brought this perspective into my own labor and delivery experience. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Her birth involved 28 hours of active labor after a full day of laboring at home. It isn’t easy to summarize a birth experience but suffice it to say that the little adventurer was just too excited to be out in the world, and was coming out with her head tilted up, which prevented her from descending. I’ll never forget the moment the nurse placed Mistaya (or Maya, as we call her) on my abdomen, and I just lay there totally exhausted, counting her fingers and toes.

Our early weeks with our daughter were blissful and completely exhausting. We don’t live close to family, so it was a month before we had any hands-on help. We had a few breastfeeding issues, but we gradually overcame them, and she gained weight fast. My daughter is wonderfully spirited and wouldn’t sleep; it required a Herculean effort every night to get a few hours of rest. She eventually settled into a better pattern.

For those first few weeks I tried my hardest to be easy on myself and let myself rest and heal. My husband was a total rock, even though I’m pretty sure we were both sleeping vertically at times! Parenthood really has a way of pulling you to extremes, all in a matter of seconds. One second you’re totally done, feeling like a failure, and the next you feel completely overcome by love and like you’ve been a mother forever.

3. We can tell from your website that you love the outdoors and being active. What were some of your earliest outdoor adventures with her?

After her birth it took a week before I could walk outside with Mistaya, and then it was only for a few minutes at a time. Within a month, however, I was doing a bit of light hiking with her, including Tunnel Mountain, a small peak here in Banff. When she was 11 weeks old we took her camping for the first time (I wrote these 10 Tips for Camping with a Baby based on that experience). I gradually got more comfortable taking her out, and by six months we took her up her first big peak in the Rockies, Mt. Fairview, and also hiked into a backcountry lodge. It’s amazing how convenient it is when all you have to do is pull over to breastfeed! I’ve fed that kid in a tent, at a snowy mountain pass, on a summit…even in a canoe!

I have kept a logbook of all the hikes and trips I’ve done with her, and it’s fun to look back on it.

4. We are in the middle of a cold and snowy winter. Do you find yourself getting cabin fever being home with a baby? How do you keep Mistaya warm when you do get outside?

I’ll admit I don’t get out as much as in the summertime, or for long periods of time. But I will get cabin fever if I don’t get out, so I pretty much plan my whole day around getting outdoors with Mistaya, even if it’s just for a walk. There were only two days this whole winter when we didn’t take her outdoors. One of my favourite things to do is push her down to the river in the Chariot, lace up my skates and push her around on the rink. She usually falls asleep, and I get some fresh air and exercise.

I have my 7 A.M. ENFANT Blanket 212evolution (Meghan reviewed it here) to thank for keeping Mistaya warm during all these outings. It’s a lifesaver and helps me feel confident when I’m taking my baby out in really cold temperatures.

5. Do you have any tips or advice for other families who would like to be more active but have a baby?

 En route to Skoki Lodge, our first backcountry experience. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

En route to Skoki Lodge, our first backcountry experience. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

My advice to these families is to just get out and do it! Being active outdoors with a baby requires some planning and preparation, but it also involves practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get. Start small, and work your way up to larger, longer adventures.

Babies are incredibly adaptable; it’s often the parents that need to learn to be more flexible and easy-going. Be ready to laugh at your mistakes and mishaps, and treat every outing as a mini adventure. You can’t go wrong!

For some activities, you’ll need the right gear. My website is full of tips and resources, and if anyone is looking for some specific advice, they are welcome to contact me.

6. Do you have favorite product that has made outdoor adventures with a baby easier?

There are a number of products I recommend, but the #1 product would have to be a quality baby carrier. This is essential for hiking, walking and traveling with baby and gives parents more hands-free time overall. I personally recommend Boba Carriers (or carriers that are a similar model). This carrier offers optimal support to the parent and baby, and can be worn on the parent’s front or back.

Another carrier worth checking out is the Onya Baby brand. Their carriers come with a built in baby seat! I’ll be trying this one out on some upcoming travels, and I think the built in seat will come in really handy.

7. You are going abroad soon. Can you tell us a little bit about what adventures lie ahead and how you are preparing for travel with a baby?

 In just a few days we depart for nine weeks of what I’m calling “Island Hopping with an Infant.” Our travels will take us to New Zealand, Niue, various islands in French Polynesia and Hawaii. Even before she was born, my husband and I had the goal of travelling with our daughter in her first year. We are so excited to share our love for adventure and travel with her!

I think that all my time spent outdoors with Mistaya has offered me great preparation for our upcoming travels. We have also already travelled with her to four other provinces in Canada, so are accustomed to meeting her needs on-the-go. Additionally, I have been reading articles about traveling with a baby (I have compiled them here) in order to learn as much as I can from others.

For the most part, I know we just need to dive in headfirst. There’s only so much preparing we can do. A lot will have to be figured out on the spot. All the more fun, right?

Introducing Mistaya to Bow Lake. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Introducing Mistaya to Bow Lake. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Meghan J. Ward. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson

Meghan J. Ward. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson

 

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer and outdoorsy mama based in Banff, Alberta. She is the founder of The Adventures in Parenthood Project, a website exploring the transition of outdoor adventurers to parenthood. A mountain sport enthusiast, she also enjoys international travel, photography, yoga and healthy cooking. You can learn more about her at meghanjoyward.com, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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February 7, 2014

Reflections on a Quarter Century of Mothering

Jana has kindly allowed me to take over the blog for this week’s post. – Cindy

 

My oldest child turned 25 this week. This is not only a milestone birthday for my son, but it is also a milestone for me as a mother — a quarter of a century of mothering!  Much of the early years with my children are a blur but there are some memories that stand out.

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I remember:

  • how my mother-in-law helped me after the birth of our first child. She cooked, cleaned and generally pretended that she knew nothing about babies. She made me feel like I was the expert.

 

  • how proud we were of our first baby. My husband and I argued over who should carry him into church for the first time (I won!).

 

  • my 6 year old being present at the birth of our second child. His reaction to the birth: “Sometimes you feel so happy you could cry.”photo 5

 

  • the painful 6 years of waiting for our second child to be born. I felt my heart would burst with happiness on my first Mother’s day as a mom of two.

 

  • thinking that “sibling rivalry” was something that happened in the first 2 weeks after the birth of a new baby. I have learned that it is a lifelong condition!

 

  • spending the night in the hospital after the birth of my youngest. Our oldest child phoned me, feeling sad. I sympathized, “It’s sad to miss mommy, isn’t it?” He replied, “It’s the baby I miss!”

 

  • wondering if I would ever have the time or energy to get my bathroom clean.

 

  • being expected to put on a shower for a newly engaged couple at a time I wasn’t getting more than 4 hours sleep a night.

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  • our amazement about how different each of our children were, right from birth. How can two parents have three children who are so different?

 

  • how much energy my middle child had as a toddler. I made it my mission to “run him” outdoors every day. One day I paid him a penny each time he ran up the hill behind our house. He didn’t stop until he earned a dollar!

 

  • using a Rubbermaid bucket to bathe children while camping and later using that same bucket to make them a “hot tub” on our deck.

 

  • how delightful it was to nap while snuggled up with a toddler.

 

  • my children doing the “bare naked dance” (i.e.: jumping on my bed after bath time).

Some things I did well:

 

  • Without realizing its importance, I married a laid back and patient man. He has helped to counter balance my “less laid back” self and has made me a better mother.

 

  • photo 4I breastfed my babies. When my first child was born, I didn’t know about its health benefits. In my family, that was how babies were fed.  Years later, I looked after my niece who was bottle fed. I was amazed at the work involved with formula feeding!

 

  • I did lots of activities with my kids when they were preschoolers: library story time, skating, tobogganing, biking, and the zoo. I miss those times.

 

  • I made sure we camped every summer as a family. For us, it was a time to connect without a lot of distractions. (My children probably have less than happy memories of the campground hikes I forced upon them…)

 

  • Our kids were always allowed to crawl into our bed when they needed us. Some people worry their children will be in their beds forever; we are living proof that it does end. We can assure you that we have never had a teenager come sleep with us.

 

  • I loved my kids fiercely and I still do! Heaven help you if you aren’t kind to my children (as a couple of their teachers discovered…).

 

  • I apologized to my children when I messed up (and it was often!)

 

  • I made the choice to work part-time. It meant we had less “things” but we had more of what was most important to us — time with our kids.

Things I wish I had done differently (Note: There are NUMEROUS mistakes I have made but to preserve my dignity, I will only list a few):

 

  • photo-27I was given a formula sample some time after my oldest was born. He had been exclusively breastfed to that point but I noticed that it was nearing its expiry date.  I fed it to him so it wouldn’t “go to waste”. Illogical to me now…

 

  • I felt embarrassed that our house was untidy and cluttered with children’s toys. I wish I had turned a blind eye to the mess.

 

  • I wish I hadn’t yelled at my kids when I was stressed. I was the one who should have gone into time out.

 

  • I wish I had paid more attention to nutrition. I remember serving a lot of Kraft Dinner and hotdogs for lunch.

 

  • I wish I had allowed myself to take breaks away from my children. I thought a “good” mother would be available to her children all the time. In retrospect, I would have been a “better” mother if I had allowed myself a break.

A quarter of a century is a long time. It amazing how little I remember. (Hint: When someone with older children tries to tell you how they did it, don’t believe them. They likely cannot really remember either!)

 

“The fingerprints move up and up the window, and then they disappear.”

Enjoy your children, no matter what their age.

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Other posts you may enjoy: Why Cindy & Jana? and Creating NuuNest.

IMG_9687 4About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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