Mindful Mamas: Tips from Pregnancy and Beyond

Mindful Mamas: Tips from Pregnancy and Beyond

On Sunday, May 27, Comfy Cotton held space for several mamas-to-be in the Toronto, and we all learned a lot about being mindful throughout pregnancy and beyond. Our guest facilitator, Carine Sroujian, took us through a powerful meditation that grounded us, allowed us to be present in the moment and connected us with our babies.

Here is an overview of all that we took away from this workshop:

Mindfulness is awareness of and paying attention to the present moment. It’s been shown to help manage chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. A recent study published last year showed that mindfulness and meditation practice during pregnancy may help decrease symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression, anxiety, and help you cope with fear during and after pregnancy, and can even help you through labor.

It also helps your baby! Meditation decreases the production of stress hormones (cortisol) and produces endorphins (the pleasure hormone), which via the placenta, reassures the unborn child about the safety of its environment, calming the baby and helping with childbirth, all due to the pain-relieving effect of endorphin.

Your unborn baby is aware of everything you are thinking and feeling as they are sensitive to your vibrations. This is also true for newborns and beyond. When you meditate, your little ones feed off your energy and will also absorb your calmness.

Meditation and connect with your baby. Start each day off by closing your eyes, connecting and sending love to your unborn child by placing your hands on your belly and just focusing on your breath.

Don’t force it. Often when you HAVE to do something, your brain will block it and do everything in its power to procrastinate and not do the very thing it HAS to do. Instead, try reframing and say: “I would love to meditate today.” or “I would love to spend some time breathing and relaxing today.” and find fun and enjoyable ways to incorporate mindfulness and breathing throughout the day, in your normal everyday activities, instead of forcing or scheduling it like a task.

Slow down. It’s tempting to maintain the lifestyle and busyness that you’re accustomed to, but your body is going through so much right now and is working so hard that it’s important to just slow things down. You have a great excuse to say no and put yourself first so take advantage of it! As Thich Nhat Hanh’s says: “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Sleep. It’s very difficult to be present when you’re lacking sleep, but it’s also difficult sometimes to get a good night’s rest when you’re pregnant. But, if you take some time to move and exercise daily, and meditate, do yoga and breathing exercises at the end of the day, it will help promote a more restful sleep.

Be aware of your actions and emotions. Unless you’re a Buddhist monk who meditates multiple times daily, it’s difficult to be mindful every single moment of your life. But, start to gradually be mindful of mundane tasks you do every day, or thoughts and emotions that you experience. For example, when you’re washing the dishes, feel the warm water running down your hands, the sponge against the plates, and your feet on the ground as you stand. If you feel a certain emotion, acknowledge the feeling in your head. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated, repeat 3X in your head, “frustrated, frustrated, frustrated” and go back to focusing on your breathing.

Mindfulness becomes a habit. Like any muscle that you train, the more you meditate and are mindful, the more it becomes natural and ingrained in your everyday life. And it does become easier and easier to get into a meditative state as you keep practicing and you will learn to become more and more aware. Just remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and try not to give yourself a hard time when you don’t meditate the way you expected or procrastinate. Just smile and breathe, and everything will flow the way it should.

Adapt your mindfulness practice with the baby. You may have more time now (unless you have other children of course!) to focus on a long mindfulness practice, but when the baby comes, two hours can end up to be 10 minutes of meditation while baby naps, or 10 minutes of mindful stretching while holding your baby or even mindful breathing while nursing or feeding.

Do you have any tips you can share on how to be more mindful during pregnancy and once your baby is born?

8 Simple Life Hacks to be an Eco-friendly Mamma from a Toronto Mom

best dating in london

Being a mom is time-consuming and stressful enough that we barely have time to think of our impact on Mother Earth. But what if going green could actually simplify your life as a busy new mom and protect the environment at the same time?

The planet needs us now more than ever. Our over-consumption and damaging lifestyle are causing a lot of damage (like marine life being killed by plastic!), but there’s a ton we can do to minimize our footprint and be as kind as we can be to our environment.

In honour of Earth Day, we asked a busy local mom of two Carine Sroujian if she could take over this blog article and share 8 simple life hacks she used to become a more eco-friendly mom and some of the steps she’s planning to take in the future.

Over to you Carine!

Hi mamas,

About 8 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first, I started becoming more and more conscious of what I was putting in and on my body. Every decision I made would also impact my baby, so it wasn’t just about me anymore. This started me on my journey of waking up to all the damaging chemicals around us, not only wreaking havoc on our health but that of our precious planet’s. I started making gradual changes that have significantly reduced our family’s consumption of plastic and toxins, our carbon footprint and the impact on our overall wellbeing.

I truly hope the list of eco hacks below inspires you to make a change in your life and that of your family’s. It’s important to not put additional pressure on yourself as I know you already have enough to deal with as it is, but to see this gradual shift as a way to simplify your life as a mom and make a significant impact on the world around you.

Start with one hack that resonates with you and see where that takes you. And think of it this way, less toxins mean less sick babies! Since becoming more mindful of the chemicals we bring into our home, we have dealt with much less disease and health-related issues in our family.

  1. Replace plastic bottles and cups with glass 

    and/or stainless steel ones depending on the age of your little one. I would only buy glass bottles for my little ones when they were born, but when it came time for sippy cups and cups as my kids got older, I naturally gravitated towards plastic. Considering that they drop and break everything, I was undoubtedly concerned about glass. Plastic is just easier right? But, you can find a huge variety of stainless steel sippy cups with silicone sleeves for toddlers. I also recently discovered these adorable cups on dating lunch or. dinner, and I was hooked. They have been dropped so many times yet they’re incredibly durable. Now if my kids can only stop fighting over the panda cup!

  2. Use glass/mason jars instead of plastic containers. 

    A few years back, I threw out all of my plastic tupperware and replaced them with glass containers. I’m obsessed with my mason jars. I make everything from chia puddings, salads to beauty products and store them in my jars. And you can easily and safely transport them if you take your lunch with you.

  3. DIY cleaning products.

    I have been making my own hand soap for years using free online dating in egypt and essential oils. I also switched from chemical dishwashing liquid to natural eco ones a few years back, and most recently, started making my own, storing it in a glass mason jar with a pump, saving even more plastic. And the best part is that it works even better than any store-bought brand I’ve used!

    Carine’s Dishwashing Liquid Recipe

    – 2 cups of Liquid Castile Soap
    – 1 T vegetable glycerin (cuts grease and thickens soap. Add more if you want thicker soap.)
    – 1 capful of Thieves Household Cleaner to fight grease, stains, and get more suds
    – 1 cup warm water
    – 10 drops Purification essential oil
    – 10 drops Lemon essential oil
    – OPTIONAL: A few additional drops of your favourite oil
    – Pinch of salt
    – Mix in a glass mason jar

  4. Switch from paper to e-bills. 

    We don’t realize what a positive impact this simple switch makes on the environment, and the best part is that it reduces the clutter in your home (score!). We have enough of that to deal with already, right?

  5. Make your own personal care products. 

    It’s a lot easier and much cheaper than you think to make your own beauty and personal care products. I switched over to natural deodorants years ago when I found out the impact of the toxins in chemical deodorants on our bodies, including the absorption of carcinogens and hormone disruptors. But after having spent tons of money on store brand natural deodorants that simply did not work, I set out to find and perfect a recipe of my own that did. I’ve been using the below recipe for close to 10 years and have even tested it in hot yoga classes, and it works like a charm! You can even double or triple the recipe to make a larger batch.

    Carine’s Deodorant Recipe

    1. Mix baking soda and arrowroot together in a bowl.
    2. Mash in coconut oil with a fork until well mixed.
    3. Add oils.
    4. Store in small glass jar or empty deodorant container.
  6. Reusable Feminine Hygiene Products.

    Apparently, the average woman uses over 16,000 sanitary items and spends over $18,000 during her lifetime! Other than putting your health at risk with toxin-laden pads and tampons, these products are adding to the impact on our planet. I recently switched over to a menstrual cup called the Diva Cup and I absolutely love it! It took a bit of time to get adjusted to it, but I don’t see myself ever going back to pads or tampons.

  7. Go Local and Organic if possible. 

    Support farmers and start buying local produce. I often shop at local farmer’s markets like Evergreen Brick Works or Toronto Botanical Gardens. And buying local ensures that you aren’t endorsing or consuming packaged foods and also supporting struggling farmers. I even started my own little organic garden in my backyard last year! Tending to your own garden and growing your own food is incredibly grounding and meditative, and as moms, we need that more than ever! It also encourages your little ones to be more adventurous with veggies and fruit because they’re growing them. Not only will you be making a positive impact on your family’s health, but also on our planet.

  8. Eat more plant-based foods. 

    I adopted a vegan lifestyle this time last year, reducing my carbon footprint even further. Now I’m not saying you should go fully vegan (although the animals would thank you!), but making a conscious effort to eat more of a plant-based diet and reducing your intake of meat significantly reduces the environmental impact caused by meat production.

What I wish I had known sooner is how easy and simple it would have been had I used a cloth diaper service for both my kids. Cloth diapers intimidated me and the lack of information and education contributed to that feeling. I didn’t want to deal with the hassles of cleaning up the mess and the laundry involved. In hindsight, now that I’m more informed, I wouldn’t have hesitated twice about using cloth!

Some of the changes I anticipate making over the next couple of months:

    • Switch from plastic bags to reusable ones (if I can remember to bring them with me when grocery shopping!). As I write this, I’m thinking I can leave a few in the car so that they’re always accessible when needed. And buying stylish reusable bags like these ones, can definitely encourage you to use them more often!
    • Move from plastic straws to glass or stainless steel
    • Replace plastic popsicle molds with a stainless steel one
    • Use less plastic water bottles (even though they’re extremely convenient!) and make a conscious effort to take my stainless steel bottle with me when I’m on the go

I will keep you all posted on my progress in a future article!

It may seem like a lot to do, especially for a tired mom, but once you get into the habit of adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle, it will become more and more second nature.

Do you have any simple tips you can share on how to become more of an eco-conscious mom?

Top 14 Eco Baby Registry Must-Haves

Top 14 Eco Baby Registry Must-Haves

For many moms and dads, growing their own food or making organic baby clothes for their baby is the ideal way to go. But, it’s a tiny bit hard to pull that off, especially with a newborn to care for.

But you still want to do everything you can to protect your baby from harsh chemicals and care for the environment at the same time, which makes registering for baby gear a bit of a challenge given that many of the products out there are made of plastic and harsh chemicals and those that are not are often, well, as expensive as they are desirable.

The good news though, is that staying green while stocking up on baby supplies isn’t impossible, it does, however, mean navigating labels knowing what solvents, materials and ingredients do what and whether they are safe to us. Choosing the right green products can be challenging and expensive if you go by trial-and-error. The key is to focus on what’s important and not buy into all the fads.

Our curated eco-registry has the earth-friendly baby gear that’ll cover your newborn needs and help you stay aligned with your eco lifestyle.

 

Reusable Nursing Pads

Because they’re made of natural fibers, cloth nursing pads provide better air circulation and are more soothing for sore nipples. Rather than disposing of these pads after use, you wash, dry and reuse them – most can be washed easily with your baby’s clothes. Not only will you be saving the environment by reusing your pads, but you will save money as well.

These washable nursing pads from Apple Cheeks (found at Toronto-based Snugglebugz) are made of plush rayon from bamboo/cotton blend.

 

Sustainable Nursery Furniture

Many cribs these days are coated in toxic finishes, not to mention made with some not-so-pleasant chemicals and glues. There are all sorts of VOCs in both the construction of the wood as well as the stains and finishes. Thankfully, there is a large selection of cribs that are sustainable like the Babyletto line that’s available at WestCoast Kids.

Chemical Free Mattress and Pads

Mattresses and pads are typically treated with toxic pesticides and fertilizers that are damaging to the environment and your baby’s health. Opt for an organic one like the Naturepedic mattress instead, which is made of organic cotton fabric and filling, and non-toxic fire protection.

Cloth Diapers

Disposables create significant harm to the environment. Reusable diapers are typically made from all-natural, biodegradable materials, making them easier on both the environment and baby’s sensitive bum.  The misconception is that cloth diapers cost more and will be a hassle to wash, but it’s quite the opposite. There are cloth diaper services like Comfy Cotton in Toronto that make the process so easy that you would never have to worry about supplies, laundry or damaging the environment. They launder in large quantities using less water, gas, energy, etc. compared to laundering at home.

 

Eco-friendly Baby Carrier

By choosing organically grown cotton, you are playing an active role in keeping toxic conventional cotton growing chemicals out of our environment. Choosing organic cotton keeps the insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers out of the rivers, it doesn’t kill off the good insects, and instead of taking all of the good stuff out of the soil, it actually enriches it. Check out Boba Organic Baby Carrier Collection found at Toronto-based Ava’s Appletree.

 

Eco Stroller

Yes, even strollers can be eco-friendly! The Bumbleride Indie‘s fabric is made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles—each single stroller recycles 28 bottles. Bumbleride also works with eco-conscious factories to minimize water use and pollution. And you don’t have to compromise on features as the lightweight all-terrain stroller comes with all-wheel suspension, all air-tires, and an SPF 45+ retractable canopy, and is very comfortable even for infants, as the backrest reclines to a flat position and the fabric can enclose the footrest area.

 

Organic Bedding Set

 

 

Eco-friendly doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish! The selection of organic and eco-bedding for babies used to be limited, but luckily even big box stores now offer beautiful organic bedding set design like this one from Pottery Barn.

 

Organic Clothing

Soft organic cotton is a dream for baby’s sensitive skin—the natural fibers are highly breathable, which helps keep baby cool, and they’re produced without the use of chemicals, meaning you don’t have to worry about impacting the environment, and any unpleasant smells and uncomfortable skin reactions. With all the super cute options out there like the Endanzoo line at BabyJoy that’s designed and printed in Canada, finding baby clothes that match your style will not be a challenge. Plus, 10% of their net profits are donated to various organizations that support the cause for endangered animals!

 

Natural Skin Care

Newborn skin is much thinner than ours, so it absorbs more chemicals—which is why it’s so important to choose baby-safe products that are free of parabens, dyes and other irritating and toxic ingredients. You’ll find listings of low hazard items (as well as high hazard) on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database. Toronto-based Baby on the Hip has a big selection of natural and organic skincare products for baby.

 

Natural Wipes

Conventional wipes contain a variety of ingredients that we already try to avoid including parabens, phthalates (fragrance), PEG’s, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and a variety of other chemicals you might not want to be rubbing all over your precious newborn. And the chlorine process of creating them is pretty hard on the environment and our landfills. Try a more natural version like Aleva Bamboo wipes found at Diaper-eez in Toronto.

 

Natural Sunscreen

For babies 6 months and up, choose a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30. Look for mineral-based sunscreens with formulas containing natural, plant-based ingredients that can be gentle and nourishing for baby’s delicate skin than a product containing chemical filters like avobenzone and oxybenzone.

Well.ca has a great section on their website that features the top-rated sunscreens for kids based on the EWG’s ratings. Our personal favourites are ThinkBaby and Badger sunscreens.

 

Organic Hooded Towel

Organic towels are affordable, accessible, and reduce your baby’s exposure to pesticides and preservatives used in manufacturing. Since bath towels and washcloths are used so often and directly touch your baby’s skin, it’s best to choose organic. Gently wrap your baby after a bath with an organic terry cotton hooded towel like this one from Baby Joy. They’re soft, thick and highly absorbent. Look for the GOTS certification to make sure the clothing is organic and non-toxic from field to finish.

 

Green Diaper Bag

 

Lassig Green Label Urban Style Diaper Bag is made from recycled PET bottles and is, therefore, a sustainable companion – even after you’re done with diapers. Being made of recycled pet in addition to PU and polyester, natural resources are consciously spared.

Glass Baby Bottles

Glass is the healthiest choice for your family as there is no chance of any chemicals leaking into liquids. The entire LifeFactory glass bottle line, including all components, available at ByNature.ca in Barrie is completely free of known toxins including BPA, phthalates, polycarbonates, and PVC. The bottles come with colourful, protective medical-grade silicone sleeves for a tactile non-slip gripping surface and to help prevent breakage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are there any eco-friendly baby product that you love? Share with us!

Top Baby Shows and Events in Toronto

Top Baby Shows and Events in Toronto

Spring is around the corner, which means baby show season is upon us! There are so many baby events in and around the GTA that it’s nearly impossible to attend all, especially if you’re pregnant and tired, or a sleepy new mom, so we’ve compiled a list of the top shows below with key highlights to help you decide on the ones that are worth taking part in. Try out new products before you buy, enjoy show specials and free samples, get pampered or just have fun with other moms and moms-to-be at the below events.

 

The Baby Show

April 14-15, 2018

 

Key highlights:

  • Seminar series with experts
  • 15-minute free sleep consultation
  • Complimentary massages – yes please!
  • Health & Wellness Mat with prenatal yoga classes, a fitness demo and more
  • Etsy Junior Zone: exclusive selection of 20 local Etsy vendors featuring handmade products for baby and child

Healthy Moms Toronto Spring Marketplace

April 15, 2018

This event is not necessarily catered to babies, but we still found it relevant to add to our round-up for moms interested in healthy/natural options for yourself and your little ones.

Key highlights:

  • FREE event!
  • Healthy and delicious foods to sample and purchase
  • Complimentary onsite childcare
  • Contest and great prizes
  • A chance to shop for your favourite natural and organic products at an affordable price.

The babytime Show

Spring: April 27-29, 2018

Fall: November 16-18, 2018

 

Key highlights:

  • Expert seminars from the likes of Nanny Robina and more!
  • Babies R’ Us Booth with exclusive specials, swag bags, registry sign up with a coupon offer, contests and more
  • Meet & Greet area to meet your kiddos’ favourite characters live like Chase, Skye and Penguala
  • The interactive Toddler Time Stage with characters like Barney and Bob the Builder
  • Snugabug Portrait Studio: get professional portraits of your little ones right at the show!
  • Complimentary massages
  • Diaper Derby! Get ready for a baby crawl race to the finish
  • Supporting a great cause: the show will be collecting money and diapers for the Diaper Bank of Toronto

Bump, Baby, Toddler Marketplace

May 5-6, 2018

 

Key highlights:

  • Speak to experts from parenting websites, bloggers, publications, businesses, healthcare and private and public sectors about topics ranging from daycare to preschool education, moms prenatal health, infant nutrition to toddler feeding tips, baby carriers, strollers and more.
  • Get to know local baby businesses and try out new products
  • Meet live characters like Paw Patrol, Trolls and more
  • Mommy and me workout sessions like Salsa Baby, Babes and Barre, and more
  • Wesley Ontario Early Years Centres interactive program like Baby Picasso creative art experience, and Music and Movement rhythm, dancing and movement activities.
  • Face painting!

 

Gearapalooza: Toronto – The Ultimate Baby Gear and Registry Event

June 21, 2018

 

Key highlights:

  • A 60-minute presentation + Q&A from Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuyNYC, followed by raffle & giveaways.
  • A jam-packed gift bag filled with essentials for mom + baby!
  • The chance to meet baby gear vendors and check out the latest products
  • The chance to win THOUSANDS of dollars in prizes!

7 Self-Care Activities for Expecting Moms in Toronto

7 Self-Care Activities for Expecting Moms in Toronto

Before your life gets overtaken by poopy diapers, snotty noses and sleepless nights, pregnancy is the perfect time to start your self-care activities and creating a habit of making room for them in your calendar on a regular basis. The New Year typically brings hope and an openness to embrace positive change and set goals, and among them, self-care being the most crucial for surviving and thriving in motherhood!

Binge watching your favourites on Netflix, sorting drawers in dressers and closets, scrubbing your home clean in “nesting mode”, and folding – then refolding all the baby clothes…may have made you feel better in the moment. So now what? Here are mindful, simple ways and places to tend to your mind and heart during this most transportive (and exciting) time in your life.

 

Mama Wellness Bundle at Yoga Mamas

Yoga Mamas have put together a beautiful wellness bundle for mamas-to-be that includes an initial assessment and treatment for each of their wellness services, two free yoga class, plus a free luxury wellness basket. The Wellness Bundle includes the following service: an initial naturopathic doctor treatment, a pelvic floor physio treatment, a 60-minute registered massage, an acupuncture treatment, an initial chiropractic care treatment.

Get adjusted by a prenatal Chiropractor

A chiropractor trained in the Webster In-Utero Constraint technique can help align your body in preparation for labour and aid in optimal fetal positioning.  Dr. Kristina Bosnar from the Bosnar Centre for Health is a specialist – look for practitioners who are in good standing with their professional colleges and ask as many questions as you need to feel at ease with whomever you chose.

Indulge in a prenatal massage

A prenatal massage will ease the ache of your ever-growing body, soothe your mind and help with sleep as well as comfort during your pregnancy. One place some of our parents have gone to is Caring Touch Massage, which provides a pregnancy-safe, and fully adjustable pillow which allows you to comfortably lie on your front if that is your preference. Not every spa or massage studio has the right equipment, call ahead and ask whether they have the proper pillow supports and experience with a prenatal massage at your stage of pregnancy as well.

Get fit with Belly Bootcamp

If more active and fitness-oriented activities are more helpful forms of release for you, take advantage of Belly Bootcamp classes in your area and safely strengthen your core to help prepare for labour and liberate your body. Belly Bootcamp classes use effective techniques in women’s fitness to focus on the areas mamas-to-be need most. Classes are often held outdoors from May to October, giving you some much needed fresh air while you work on those pelvic muscles.

Go for a swim!

There are many local swimming pools all around the GTA, but why not indulge in a luxury swim at the half-indoor half-outdoor heated pool at the Sheraton? You can also relax in the lounge area and seasonal bar and get a cold drink to keep you cool on hot summer days! Or check out your local pool for some fun prenatal aquafit classes.

Put your heightened senses to good use.

We know of a mom who used to have to sit with her head out the passenger window when she and her husband drove home from her in-laws, “she’s a great cook and my husband loves sauteed onions, but I couldn’t keep anything down with that smell on his clothes!” With your senses heightened, a walk through botanical gardens is likely to be enjoyable rather than nauseating. We’re lucky to have some beautiful public gardens and hiking trails in an around the GTA, so get your walking shoes on and go for a walk or a jog in one or all of them. If you have a kiddo(s) already, they’re likely to be happier out in nature too.  To name a few, Edwards Gardens and Evergreen Brickworks also have free nature-related workshops for kids and adults.

Join a local pregnancy support group or Meet-up

Sometimes the best form of self-care comes from connecting with others who just “get it”; who will listen without an agenda or judgment. Meet-up.ca is one example of a place to find groups near you made up of people with similar interests. Wouldn’t it feel great to learn that you’re not the only one suddenly grossed out by tomatoes or crying at any commercial that involves puppies or babies?

Are there any self-care or “me time” activities you enjoy and want to suggest to your fellow-mom or moms to be? We’d love to share your recommendations!

Top 10 Green Boutiques in Toronto

Top 10 Green Boutiques in Toronto

If you’re still looking for that unique, eco-gift for a loved one this holiday season or for an upcoming birthday, you won’t need to venture very far. Toronto is filled with eco-boutiques that share our values in protecting the environment by reducing our carbon footprint, without compromising on quality and design. We scoured our neighbourhoods and found these mom and baby-friendly eco shops that carry unique gift items you would be hard-pressed to find somewhere else.

Baby On the Hip

969 Queen St E / 2978 Dundas St. W

Baby On the Hip is a green baby boutique in Leslieville that focuses on environmentally-friendly, locally-sourced and natural products. In addition to offering eco-conscious baby products, they ship orders using recycled supplies.

Eco Existence

766 St. Clair Avenue West at Arlington Avenue

For many starting a business, it all begins with a dream, and for Eco Existence, it was that of preserving our planet. From home accessories to unique gift items, Eco Existence offers a selection of sustainable lifestyle products that help us make more environmentally friendly choices.

Chartreuse Style

1692 Queen St. W.

Planet friendly fashion is possible, and Chartreuse Style is living proof! The eco-store provides environmentally friendly, organic and locally-sourced clothes for both men and women, accessories, and natural beauty products for all your skincare needs.

Ava’s Appletree

870 Kingston Rd

Ava’s Appletree is the place to go in the Upper Beaches if you’re looking for natural parenting supplies and gifts. From cloth diapers, feeding accessories to natural creams and lotions, everything is eco-friendly, natural and health-conscious. From reducing paper usage and energy consumption to supporting local businesses, reusing and recycling, the boutique also makes every effort to be a green business.

Susan Harris Design

53 Gristmill Lane

Located in the heart of the Distillery District, Susan Harris Design creates up-cycled clothing using recycled wool, as well as a variety eco-friendly products. Considering the frozen tundra we’re currently living in, toasty wool sounds like a great way to keep us warm!

logan & finley

670 Queen Street West

For solutions for living a more sustainable lifestyle, look no further than logan & finley. Every product they feature has been thoughtfully chosen, is purposeful, useful and built to last. More than 40 of the brands they stock are made in Canada, with 20+ made right here in Toronto. They specialize in comfortable, stylish and versatile clothing made with natural fibers.

Ecotique

191 Roncesvalles Ave.

Located in Roncesvalles Village, Ecotique is a green gift and lifestyle shop that offers locally crafted gifts, recycled glassware and jewelry, and natural beauty and home care products.  All their products are made from sustainable materials in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

Karma Co-op Food Store

739 Palmerston Avenue

Karma is a member-owned, democratically run co-operative that specializes in organic, local, non-GMO and fair trade products, and a “one-stop” shop for the conscious consumer. They carry over 200 bulk items, organic produce fresh from dozens of Ontario farms, health supplements, and the highest quality, eco-friendly, packaged goods. The store is also offering the first ever holiday gift baskets, without the actual basket, making it easier than ever to gift local, organic, artisanal products in reusable cotton bulk bags and Karma totes.

Diaper-eez

501 Runnymede Rd.

Diaper-eez is a cloth-diapering heaven in Bloor West Village. They carry a wide variety of different styles of cloth diapers, as well as nursing bras and accessories, ugly sweater bibs (a must for the holiday season!), fashionable diaper bags and eco-friendly toys, clothes, hats and baby carriers. Diaper-eez even sources local and Canadian-made products whenever possible. The staff can teach a cloth diapering rookie everything they need to know. They even offer free seminars and workshops to make life with baby a little bit more simple.

Sweetpea’s

163 Roncesvalles Ave. 

Recognized as Toronto’s Best Florist, Sweetpea’s brings to life eco-friendly, unique and contemporary floral designs. Creating eco and socially responsible floral designs isn’t always easy, but Sweetpea’s makes it their mission.  They offer same-day fresh flower delivery throughout Toronto & the GTA and also have hand selected a wide variety of giftware, furniture, home decor and stationery to compliment their eco-friendly approach to high quality floral design.

Have we missed a favourite eco-boutique that’s in your hood? Let us know in the comments!

Holiday Gift Guide for Eco Moms-to-be in Toronto

Holiday Gift Guide for Eco Moms-to-be in Toronto

Stuck on what to get a GTA eco-mom-to-be? With the confusing array of baby products and our growing environmental concerns, what can you get an expectant mom that will make her feel special, support a local business and protect Mother Earth at the same time? We surveyed our staff to put together a list of their favourite, local eco-gifts you can give this holiday season.

Fit Organix 

Organic food delivery service. When you bring a baby into this world, making food is the last thing you want to worry about, but a new mama needs her energy and nutrients more than anything! Fit Organix will deliver healthy, organic meals straight to her door, every day. Every meal is free of gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts, additives or preservatives.

 

Mama Earth 

Organic produce delivery. Their baskets are an assortment of the freshest local produce they can find, curated each week and help support local farms. Some baskets even include bread baked the morning of the delivery, eggs from local Amish farmers, coffee roasted in the St. Lawrence Market, juices pressed down the road. Need we say more?

Eco|stems 

Organic, sustainable, and fair trade flower arrangements. A beautiful bouquet of hand-selected eco-flowers will certainly add warmth to her home or her hospital room.

 


ZippyJamz

Help make diaper changing a breeze for new moms with these certified organic jammies adorned with two zippers, one to make dressing easier, and the other making diaper changing super convenient. These sleepers are adorable with their modern prints and so easy to zip and unzip even if your baby is rolling, kicking or crawling away! ZippyJamz has also partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities and donates a portion of sales to help provide a home away from home for out-of-town families with sick children being treated at a nearby hospital.


Mini Mioche 

Organic and ethical kids’ clothing and accessories. It’s so difficult to find simple, ethically made basics for the littles, but Mini Mioche clothes are beautifully made, comfortable, sustainable, and entirely designed and made in Toronto!

 

 

 

 Miik gift card

We all know our bodies change after birth and she’s going to need the motivation to get out of those maternity pants! What better way to spoil her than to treat her to a shopping spree to buy Toronto designed and sewn clothes that are also stylish and comfortable?


YogaMamas

Mom and baby yoga classes. The mama in your life will need calm and zen after baby arrives. Yoga classes are a great way for mom and baby to bond, meet and connect with other moms, and some exercise at the same time!

 

ELARI Diaper Wallet

Made in Toronto, Elari diaper wallets provide chic, compact organization for all diaper changing essentials. Small enough to fit into your favourite purse, backpack, or diaper bag – you would be gifting fashion with functionality!  The wallets are made with materials that have no harmful chemicals or additives, including non-toxic dyes, are mold and mildew resistant, and are washable.  This is a diaper wallet by day and an evening clutch by night.

 

Comfy Cotton Cloth Diapering Service

One of the best gifts you can offer a new mom is soft, comfortable cotton diapers for her little one, that protect against rashes and harsh chemicals, and the peace of mind that her laundering will be taken care of with less environmental footprint, while she tends to her newborn. Comfy Cotton has been servicing Toronto moms for 30 years!

List of Doulas and Midwives in the Greater Toronto Area

List of Doulas and Midwives in the Greater Toronto Area

More and more Canadian women are choosing the services of a Midwife or Doula. Below you can find a list of resources on where to find Doulas or Midwives in the Greater Toronto Region. If there are other resources you would like for us to list, please let us know. Also, please refer to our other articles on the subject of Doulas and Midwives.

Questions to ask before choosing a Doula or Midwife

What’s the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

RESOURCES TO FIND MIDWIVES IN TORONTO

Midwife Groups

Community Midwives Toronto (416) 944-9366 website

Diversity Midwives (Scarborough) (416) 609-8187 website

Kensington Midwives (416) 928-9777 website

Midwife Alliance (Etobicoke) (416) 534-9161 website

The Midwives Clinic of East York Don Mills (416) 424-1976 website

Midwives Collective of Toronto (416) 963-8842 website

Riverdale Community Midwives (416) 922-4004 website

Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto – clinic located at the Toronto Birth Centre (416) 530-7468 website

 

Search Midwife Directories at:

College of Midwives Ontario

Association of Ontario Midwives 

Ontario Midwives

 

RESOURCES TO FIND DOULAS IN TORONTO

bebomia

Association of Ontario Doulas

Toronto Doula Group

 

INDIVIDUAL DOULAS:

Tricia Madill
Babe + Belly
Toronto, ON
www.babeandbelly.com

Carol Anne Skorvaga
Lifetime of Love Birth Doula Services
Brampton, ON
www.lifetimeoflovedoula.com

 

Amber Hines
Labour with Love
Toronto, ON
www.facebook.com/pages/Labour-with-Love-Amber-Hines-Doula-Services/261894300663468

Kris Pedder
Beautiful Bellies Doula Care
Mississauga, Oakville, Brampton & GTA, ON
www.beautifulbelliesdoulacare.ca

Nici Shipway
Nici the Doula
GTA, ON
www.nicithedoula.ca

Amy Wehner
Opet Childbirth Services
Toronto, ON
www.opetchildbirthservices.ca

Andrea Paul
The Happy Little Doula
Kawartha Lakes, Durham Region and GTA, ON
www.thehappylittledoula.com

Marjorie Wong
Breath it Down Birth Services
Toronto, ON
www.Marjwong.com

Elaine Cavin May
Baby Ready
Toronto, ON
www.baby-ready.ca

Nadia Verdugoy
Bellies to Babies Doula Services
Toronto & GTA, ON
www.belliestobabiesdoulaservices.com

Grace Jose
Graceful Birth Doula Services
Oakville & GTA, ON
www.gracefulbirth.ca

The Doula Collective
Toronto, GTA, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Hamilton, Grimsby & Brantford, ON
www.thedoulacollective.com

Christie Gray
My Doula Toronto (Part of Toronto Yoga Mamas)
Toronto, ON
www.torontoyogamamas.com

Nelia DeAmaral
Birth With Care
Milton, ON
www.birthwithcare.com

 

Rhiana the Doula
Postpartum Doula
West Toronto, ON
www.rhianathedoula.ca/

Susan Balaz
Love’s Memoray Labour Doula
Burlington, ON
www.lovesmemory.com

Kyla Austin & Sondra Marcon
Sisterhood Wellness Collective
Toronto, ON
www.sisterhoodwellness.com

Julie Saunders
Julie Saunders Doula Services
Whitby, ON
www.juliesaunders.ca

 

Joanne Raines
Whispering Heart
Toronto, ON
www.torontodoula.ca

Jessica Powell
Jessica Powell Doula Services
Durham Region & GTA, ON
www.jessicapowelldoula.ca

 

Michelle Haché
Birth Beginnings
Burlington, ON
www.birthbeginnings.com

Jenny Barandich
Doula Secrets
Thornhill, ON
www.doulasecrets.com

Rean Cross
Lucina Birth Services
Toronto, ON
www.lucina.ca

Megan Graham
Sitting On An Egg Pregnancy And Doula Services
Toronto, ON
sittingonanegg@outlook.com
www.sittingonanegg.com

Tashi Harrow
Enjoie Birth Doula & Childbirth services
Kleinburg, Vaughan, Markham GTA, ON
www.joiemilangroup.com

YourBelovedBirth
Milton, ON
www.facebook.com/yourbirthdoulas

Pamela Vieira
Birth and Postpartum Doula CD(DONA)
Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Mississauga, Toronto
www.doulapamela.ca

Jacquie Thompson
Happy Healthy Doula & Nutrition Services
Whitby, Ajax, Pickering & Oshawa, ON
www.happyhealthydoula.com

Jaklyn Andrews
Oakville Family Birth
Oakville, ON
www.oakvillefamilybirth.com

Lindsay Dalton
Gentle Mama Doula
Toronto, ON
www.gentlemamadoula.com

Anna Berger
Midtown Doula Services
Toronto, ON
www.midtowndoula.ca

Renee Dawley
Labour & Beyond
Durham Region and GTA, ON
www.labourandbeyond.com

Catherine MacKay
Birth Harmony
Oakville, ON
www.birthharmony.ca

Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
Birth & Postpartum Doula Services
Toronto & GTA, ON
www.tcnm.ca

Rachelle Marek
Sage Care
Toronto, ON
www.sagecare.wordpress.com

Jessie Silveira
Sweet Baby Labour Doula and Birth Services
Milton, ON & surrounding areas
www.sweetbabydoula.ca

Danielle Love
Labour With Love
Burlington/Mississauga, ON
www.labourwithlove.ca

Laurie Browne
Doula on Board
Milton, ON
www.doulaonboard.ca

Leanne Sedentopf, RHN & Doula
Be YOU Health and Wellness
Burlington, ON
www.beyouhealthandwellness.ca

Karen McWilliam
Transitionings: Prenatal & Postpartum Support
Toronto & GTA including the greater Hamilton area
www.transitionings.ca

Sarah Baker
Sarah Baker Doula Services
Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville & GTA, ON
www.sarahbakerdoula.com

Toriano Dyer
Beautiful Dawn Doula Services
GTA, ON
www.beautifuldawndoulas.com

 

Questions to ask before choosing a Doula or Midwife

Questions to ask before choosing a Doula or Midwife

Having the right support system surrounding you during pregnancy and childbirth is essential not only for your health, but also for baby’s. A midwife is a medically-trained professional who will serve as your primary caregiver during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. A doula is someone who acts as a caregiver and advocate for you in addition to a medical professional. Here are a few things to think about when choosing one of these caregivers.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you search for the perfect caregiver, take some time to think about and clarify what you want from your providers and what your ideal experience would be (of course, labor and delivery can be unpredictable so remember that this isn’t like placing an order for a birth. Instead, it’s a statement of your best scenario.). You don’t have to have all the answers now, but knowing some of these details will help you find a caregiver that is a good match.

  • Pain Management. Are you open to an epidural or are you trying to avoid one? Have you looked into other pain management techniques like breathing exercises, massage therapy, or acupressure?
  • Delivery. How do you feel about procedures like episiotomies or the use of Pitocin before or after birth? Do you want to delay cutting the cord? How does your partner fit into this plan?
  • Visitors. Who do you want in the birthing room with you, including your partner, other children, or other relatives?

Questions for the Caregiver

The first questions to ask before you meet with a midwife or doula is about training and certifications. Midwives in Toronto must be licensed by the College of Midwives Ontario. Doulas do not need to be licensed, but you should check their education and experience before proceeding. Once you have those details worked out, here are some questions to ask to see if the caregiver is a good fit.

  • Experience. Ask how long she has been a midwife or doula and how many births she has attended. Were there any troubled births? What happened? How were they handled? At what point would a pregnancy or birth require further assistance from a hospital or obstetrician? (For example, what if the baby is presenting breech? What about going past your due date?)
  • Philosophy. There is no right or wrong answer here; you’re looking for someone whose philosophy of birth, prenatal, and postnatal care matches yours. Ask about pain management techniques, labor practices, thoughts on things like manually breaking the water and use of Pitocin, the need for continual or intermittent monitoring during labor.
  • Schedule. How many women do they attend to currently? What does the backup team look like? How often to patients typically see their primary provider compared to the backup team? How many patients are due around the same time you are? Can you meet with other providers beforehand?
  • Services. How many prenatal visits are provided? How many postpartum visits? Which tasks and services are provided? For example, is nutritional support provided? Childbirth preparation? Are routine screenings included, such as glucose and protein levels? Most of these specific questions would not apply to a doula but are essential for choosing a midwife.
  • Affiliations. Does the caregiver work with your chosen hospital? Has she attended births there in the past? What are her experiences with the rest of the medical staff at the hospital? Even if you’re hoping for a home birth, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Timing. At what point during labor will the midwife or doula join you? How long following birth will she stay?
  • Partners and Family. How does the provider feel about other people in the delivery room? Does this match your feelings? For example, will the provider be uncomfortable if your mother and sisters want to be present? What if you prefer a more private birth, will she be comfortable asking others to stay out?

After the Visit

Following an interview with a potential caregiver, take a few minutes to assess your feelings about the visit. Did you feel comfortable? Safe and secure? Did you feel heard and understood? Are your personalities a good fit? Some might prefer a high-energy caregiver to keep up the momentum while others need someone calm and steady. How was she toward your partner and other children? Do you feel comfortable calling to ask questions?

When choosing a professional to help with your pregnancy and birth, checking credentials and calling references is important. However, your feelings and comfort are just as relevant so don’t feel pressured to choose someone because your friend loved her or because she has excellent references if you’re not completely comfortable. This time is about you and your baby; make the choice that makes you happiest.

What’s the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

What’s the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

Whether it’s your first or your fourth, planning for a baby is always an exciting time filled with many decisions. One of the first decisions to make is choosing what kind of care you would like during your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum days. If you’re thinking about a midwife or a doula, here’s what you need to know about each.

The Role of a Midwife

Midwives are medically trained professionals who attend your pregnancy and birth instead of an obstetrician. To practice in the province we operate in; Ontario, midwives must complete a four-year degree through the Ontario Midwifery Education Program. Upon completion, midwives will obtain a license and then must complete a one-year mentorship with an experienced midwife. There are currently more than 800 registered midwives in Ontario who deliver more than 130,000 babies every year.

Pregnancy with a Midwife

If you choose a midwife, she will be your primary health care provider for the duration of your pregnancy and the first several weeks after delivery. You will meet with your midwife throughout pregnancy for physical examinations and discussions. She will monitor baby’s progress while also providing support and guidance, and answer any questions you may have.

Your midwife can arrange the same routine prenatal tests as doctors, including ultrasounds, genetic screenings, and lab tests as well as receive and discuss the results of each test. Midwives can also prescribe necessary medications such as morning sickness relief and antibiotics. You will receive information about available tests and medications, including associated risks. She will make recommendations, but ultimately the decision will be yours to make and your midwife will support your choices.

Birth Locations

If you choose a home birth, your midwife will provide you with all the information and support you need for success. She is trained to provide care and support for a home birth and brings the necessary equipment including sterile instruments, oxygen, and medication to stop bleeding if it becomes necessary after delivery.

Staffed by midwives, birth centers are another option for a safe, comfortable environment for delivery. The instruments and equipment at a birth center are similar to what would be found in a hospital delivery room for a typical delivery, but no surgical procedures are performed in a birth center. Several hours after giving birth, you will be transported home for recovery.

Epidurals and narcotics can only be administered in a hospital. If these are part of your pain management plans, you must arrange for a hospital birth. All midwives in Ontario can attend a hospital birth; check with your midwife to find out in which hospital she holds privileges as that’s where your delivery will take place. Your midwife works with all other medical staff, and just like a physician, will admit and discharge you when the time comes.

After Delivery

After giving birth, your midwife will provide care in your home for the first 24 hours. Over the next six weeks, you and baby will meet with your midwife about once per week. She will monitor your recovery and help you establish good breastfeeding habits. She will also examine baby at each visit to check overall development including weight, height, heart, lungs, and healing of the umbilical cord.

Complications

Midwives are highly trained to handle complications during pregnancy and birth. In the event of a development that exceeds your midwife’s abilities, she will consult with an expert such as an obstetrician or neonatologist and transfer care if necessary. During birth, your midwife is capable of handling a number of difficult situations. If needed, transportation to the hospital where she has privileges will be arranged. In the event of an urgent situation, emergency ambulance transfer to the nearest hospital will be made. Your midwife will remain with you as your primary care provider throughout, even if you are transported to a hospital.

midewife_toronto

The Role of a Doula

A doula plays a very different role in the pregnancy and birthing process. She is someone you may choose in addition to an obstetrician or midwife, but she will not replace a primary healthcare provider.

The doula’s job is to provide personal care, support, and assistance to a birthing mom, both physically and emotionally. She’s there to be an advocate for you and your personal needs during a time when you may not be the best advocate for yourself. An experienced doula has attended many births and can answer all your questions about pregnancy, including all those “is this normal?” questions that come up.

You’ll also spend time talking with your doula about your birthing goals, such as a desire for an unmedicated birth, and go over what steps to take when medical intervention may be required. When it is time to give birth, a doula will stay with you for the duration of the delivery and offer comfort, help with positioning during labor, and help you interact with your medical support team. Once the baby is born, your doula will help you recover from delivery and provide breastfeeding support.

Many people compare a doula to a birthing companion or a good friend (with tons of experience!) who will be by your side. She is someone who will give your partner a break–especially during delivery–so you both are calmer and more prepared for what’s coming. A doula will help you feel safe and comfortable while also making sure you meet as many of your birthing goals as possible.

The Best Decision for You

While you will need to choose whether you prefer a midwife or an obstetrician, a doula is an optional companion. Making the right decision comes down to finding the right fit for your needs. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few different providers as soon as you find out you’re pregnant–or even while you’re still trying to get pregnant–and ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable.