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?

All Hail The Wet Bag

All Hail The Wet Bag

All hail the Wet Bag.

Funny how our interests shift, isn’t it? Before becoming parents, where to eat, a great new app or even a fabulous pair of jeans that sucked in my stomach so I didn’t have to were all the rage in my life.

Now, it’s The Wet Bag.

I capitalize The Wet Bag because it is that important in my life and the lives of all parents with babies/toddlers. Even my neighbour who is nearing the end of potty training uses it daily and it with more adoration than she has for her husband (at times).

Wet bags are fairly common-place in the worlds of us who use cotton or cloth diapers, but that doesn’t make them any less brilliant for families who use disposables.

These reusable waterproof bags that contain dirty diapers until they’re washed have saved many a diaper bag – and hamper.

But they also:

  • Keep items sorted: I don’t like bibs and poop together. I keep bibs and clothes in one bag and diapers or poopy clothing in another. Particularly handy during toilet training.
  • Hold wet changes of clothes – With one for each child, a wet bag can go to school with a clean change of clothes inside and come back with the soiled or wet items. Tossed into the washer inside out along with the dirty items they are a handy way to make sure your kid’s clothes don’t come back in a flimsy plastic bag that can tear by the time you get to it. Gross.  Before turning to the wet bag for this, I was using large ziplock bags which meant a lot of unnecessary expense and waste.
  • Oops bag – Three kids and road trips means there are harmless accidents of all kinds: spills, messes, rushes to the public bathroom that don’t quite make it in time. Whether you have one child or ten, having an odour proof, water proof bag that you can toss in the wash is a handy thing to have.

My Wet Bags gets a lot of use with everything from bibs for our youngest who has Rett Syndrome to just worn “ripe” soccer socks, and anything else that needs to be contained.

If you’re someone who hasn’t ever used one, you’ll want to know that they come in various sizes and with different closures: zipper, velcro, sliding toggles.  You might develop a preference for one in particular. Many great companies make versions of this fabulous item, I like the zippered bag by Monkey Doodlez because it’s straight forward and just the right size, big enough for several pieces without being huge and lumpy in my bag. Here is a smattering of bags that might catch your fancy. Here is a link to various wet bag options on amazon.ca.


Diapers in Toronto Green Bins

Diapers in Toronto Green Bins

The city of Toronto allows diapers in the green bin. So does York region and Vaughan.

Great news, right?! Not exactly. The fact that these cities and regions accept diapers in green bins does not mean that disposable diapers are now magically biodegradable, sadly, they are not.

In fact, the large amounts of plastic, pulp, and chemicals that make up each disposable diaper do not compost. They remain in our landfills, leaching toxins and waste into the soil, well, pretty much forever (300-500 years is the estimate).

Toronto, Vaughan, York and other regions accept diapers in green bins out of convenience to parents because green bins are emptied weekly whereas garbage and regular recycling is picked up every other week.  Great news for our noses, but no change in the impact disposables have on our soil, water, and environment. Diaper liners made of biodegradable material may be separated out but the diaper itself is then sent to landfills. The trip to the green bin depot is simply an extra trip. Basically a waste of truck space, gas and human resources within the GTA.

We think cities need to make it clear to well-meaning parents who place disposable diapers in green bins that diapers, despite being collected in the green bins, do NOT end up being composted. They are simply transferred to landfills.  So what do you do when you want to make a true impact on reducing the environmental footprint of diapering?

There are three proven options:

  1. Use a diaper service to deliver, pickup and wash diapers so you have nothing to do except change your baby.
  2. Buy or make re-useable diapers and wash them at home (if you’re washing at home, this is a very helpful article on how to get a better clean at home).
  3. Use eco-friendly disposables (they may cost more and use some level of toxins or gels but far less so than regular disposable diapers).

Does your city allow disposables in the green bin? We’d love to know how cities help families who diaper be as ecological as they can and want to be.

Happy diapering!