MAMA and BABY SERIES: MEET VALENTINA
I am launching a new series, Garden Heart’s Mama and Baby Series, and I couldn’t be more excited!
I have created a place where you can access useful information on pregnancy and motherhood as well as get to know real life mamas and find comfort in knowing you are not alone.
My very first guest is Valentina and her delicious newborn baby, Agatha. I sat down with Valentina from LoveFestJourney to ask her about the things she couldn’t live without during her first month of motherhood. Here is her list of nourishing and healing staples that she loved for both herself and Aggie!
NEWBORN / FIRST MONTH
BABY BATH: This was something we implemented right from day 4. It might seem silly to bathe your newborn everyday especially because they have so much goodness on them when they are born but for me it was a helpful entrance to a calm evening and a symbol of the close of one day together. It doesn’t need to be anything special, you can fill the tub yourself and just hop in with your baby and rest them on your knees. Just feeling the warmth of the water with a little lavender to relax both of us was the best part of my day for the first few weeks (and to be honest, still is!).
BADGER BABY BALM: I can’t speak to any other creams or balms, but we started using this right from the start and we love it. Aggie hasn’t had any diaper rash or irritation whatsoever ( so far – fingers crossed! ).
BABY PROBIOTIC/FENNEL TEA: I’ve heard a lot of babies have rough tummies right from the start and Aggie was one of them. We would see her wiggling around, trying to move things inside with a lot of frustration. Once we started giving her a baby probiotic in the mornings (we used Bio Gaia) we noticed a huge difference. I also found that if I drank a natural ‘gripe water’ type tea that she would be a lot happier. I used a combination of fennel, chamomile, lemon and ginger. I would just brew a big pot of this and drink a glass or two a day – hot or cold.
NATY BABY DIAPERS: We originally wanted to go with cloth diapers but decided that for the first three months we would use disposable to just ease our load a bit. In my opinion, there is enough ‘newness’ when it comes to a baby that having to go the extra mile of cleaning cloth diapers and doing laundry was just a bit too much for us. We originally chose ‘Bamboo Nature’ diapers but quickly found that they didn’t really fit Aggie’s body all that well. In the end, my girlfriend gave us a few packages of Natty Diapers at our baby shower and after trying them out, we decided that they were the ones for us!
SOLLY BABY WRAP: Whatever your wrap choice ( there are so many out there ), get one! This saved us in those first few weeks. As soon as I would put Aggie in the wrap she would fall asleep pretty much instantly. It was a comfort for both her and I. She felt close to me like she was for so many months, and I felt confidant having her on me – knowing that if she needed anything I was right there to take care of it. It also leaves you amazingly ‘hands free’ which in those first few weeks is a rarity. I loved that I could still do things that were important to me – cook for myself, go for big walks, write for my blog – all while having her sleep on me.
MAMA FIRST MONTH:
PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION: To me, there is no away of actually knowing if this works, but, like most other things I’ve tried, I like to think it is doing something! I chose to get my placenta encapsulated first and foremost because of it’s nutritional value ( it is essentially the most nutrient dense organ that you created specifically designed to feed and nurture your baby – so why not use the goodness it has to replenish yourself postpartum!). It also has the added bonus of potentially helping with postpartum depression as well as increasing milk production. The encapsulator I chose picked up my placenta at the hospital and delivered it in pill form 2 days later! I chose to get a mix of both pills and a tincture (which I can use later this year or for years to come if my milk production slows down).
MILKMAID TEA: On days when I just didn’t feel like I had enough milk for Aggie I would make a huge pot of this tea. Ideally you want to get the herbs from a well known, reputable organic source but this pre packaged tea was one I turned to often in a pinch. If you are curious about making your own, look to herbal galactagogues (milk encouraging herbs) in their natural form to combine to make your own tea. Some include: Red Raspberry Leaf, Nettle, Fennel, Fenugreek, Chaste Tree, Blessed Thistle, Anise and Milk Thistle.
PRE BED ROUTINE: Your body changes when you have a baby. Parts of your body get more attention than they ever have before and sometimes that attention can be painful or at least not pleasant for the first month. I had two routines that I stuck to for the first month and I’m so happy I did. One for nipples and the other for my bum! No shame here ladies. Your nipples are getting more aggressive attention than they ever have before, trust me. It’s not that breastfeeding hurts, it’s just a whole new level of stimulation that your nipples aren’t used to. I would slather this balm after our first feeding at night and just let it soak in. The second part to my routine was for my bottom! I know this is a bit personal but let’s be honest, you’ve just given birth – and that region of your body probably has never been stretched like that before. After I would feed Aggie I would boil some perineal herbs (Calendula, Comfry, Yarrow and Camellia) and use a sitz bath to soak for 15 minutes. It was heaven. It just relaxed me mentally and allowed me to have a little space from her and the day we just had but more importantly it also helped my body to heal. Taking that time was so worth it. After the sitz bath, I would use a perineal balm to help heal everything – whether you’re dealing with prenatal and postpartum hemorrhoids, postpartum vaginal swelling and bruising, perineal tears or episiotomies this will calm your body down and help you towards the path to recovery! For the perineal balms look for good natural oils mixed with soothing and calming herbs like: shea butter, jojoba oil, peppermint, witch hazel, lavender and calendula. I found both the herbal soak and the balm at The Herbal Dispensary on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto.
SOOTHING COOLING PADS: These were like heaven on earth post baby. Cool and comforting. Make them when you’re just hanging out waiting for baby to come! Buy a pack of unnecessarily ( but actually so necessary) large maxi pads. Create a mixture of aloe vera gel, witch hazel and a few drops of lavender in a bowl, mix and add to a clean small size spray bottle. Spray each pad with mixture (it should feel quite heavy). Wrap the pad flat with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Stick in the freezer and enjoy post birth!
CONFIDENCE – I didn’t really read any postpartum books. I don’t know whether or not I did it on purpose but I think I had just read so much about fertility and pregnancy that when the time came to think about actually having a physical baby I was a bit exhausted. One book I purchased on the recommendation of a friend was La Leche League’s book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I didn’t touch it until two weeks after Aggie was born when we were mid breastfeeding struggle and I didn’t know where to turn to. With Aggie not latching, with advice coming from every known source, with me just not having the confidence I needed, I opened the book. It was so helpful. I felt like it was the first thing I had read on breastfeeding and just having a baby that wasn’t super preachy and that didn’t making me feel guilty about any of my decisions up to that point. It was also the most hopeful literature I had read on breastfeeding – it allowed me to see past where I was, and to see where I could potentially get. It’s easy to feel frustrated and like you don’t know what you are doing those first few weeks- how could you, with our first baby’s we’ve honestly never done this before! Give yourself a break, listen to your intuition and act from your heart. With your baby’s best intention in mind and with you making the decision, I honestly believe you can’t go wrong. And remember, you’re doing an amazing job, make sure you shower yourself with as much love as you can muster up – you deserve it.
Elli, Valentina and Aggie
Photography by: Charlotte Giacomelli