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Babies + Kids

My Fave Baby Essentials

Before our first baby, Rose was born my husband and I had a little baby shower. Ok, it was a massive baby shower complete with loads and loads of baby gifts. We felt so much gratitude for our friends and family who were so thoughtful, but we were completely overwhelmed with baby stuff. Drowning in soothers and washcloths to swings and playmats and wipe warmers?! Babies needed their wipes warmed? Ah babies. We had no idea what we needed and didn’t need or could survive without.

Fast forward 2.5 years.

Our 2nd baby, Will is born and I’ve now learned to pair down to a few essential baby items. Of course, every mom is different and every baby is different, but I’ve listed a few things that have made it to my “love it list”.

*Baby Essentials….Need & Love (starting from top left, clockwise)

01/ Having a diaper bag that is functional but also cute and stylish is key. This backpack/messenger bag is from Fawn Design and my friend Emily convinced me to get one. I’m so glad I did! It has tons of pockets inside and out for storage, the straps are durable and best of all, its made of faux leather (yay!) and easily cleaned (yay! yay!)

02/ I have a couple of different wraps and slings that I use because I’m constantly on the go and have my hands full with a busy toddler. Plus, babywearing is super important for baby development, both physically and emotionally (more on this later!). My go to wrap is the Solly Baby. This wrap is just really easy to put on, lightweight and breathable and so so soft. I had William in the wrap the minute we arrived home from the hospital!

03/ To use a pacifier or to not use a pacifier – the old debate. Rosie didn’t take to the pacifier, but Will did and it often helps settle him down. My favourite is the WubbaNub.   Our penguin WubbaNub is attached to a Soothie pacifier that is BPA, PVC and Phthalate free and is really durable. The plush toy is key because I find it stays in Williams mouth for a longer time, plus its easy to find when it does fall out!

04/ The Dockatot gets my award for most innovative baby product. Essentially, the Dockatot provides a snug cozy space for your baby to sleep or lounge. The sides and bottom of the Dockatot are made from a breathable fabric allowing loads of air flow and its hypoallergenic. It’s not just for sleeping either! William loves hanging out on his tummy in his Dockatot!

william tummy time

05/ Aside from good ol’ coconut oil, finding a good natural “all over” baby moisturizer and balm is tough. There are so many products on the market. I love Joy McCarthy’s Smooth Like Butta Body Butter for little Will’s skin. The butter is so smooth and lightweight going on and has a yummy scent! Plus, it has no chemical additives!

06/ Surviving these Canadian winters with a baby is a challenge.   I’m never quite sure how to dress the wee ones so they are comfy and cozy! But one of my favourite 100% Canadian made products that I love for baby is the Padraig Slipper. Crocheted by hand from raw wool and hand cut sheepskin, these slippers are a staple in my family and I often give them as gifts. They definitely keep baby’s footsies warm and toasty but are also breathable. Bonus – they are hand-dyed in small lots, ensuring each pair is one of a kind!

Those are some of my fave baby essentials! Hope this list helps those of you preparing for baby’s first few months.

Mamas – are there any other items you loved for your baby? Send me a note!

I’ll definitely be adding to this list as William gets older as well. Stay tuned!

xo

Dr Aliya

* Please note: These opinions are my own and I am not receiving any monetization from any products for my recommendations.

 

 

Pregnancy

The Ups and Downs of My 2nd Pregnancy

Pregnancy number 2? No problem…..right!?!

I mean, we’ve done this before. We know what to expect. The morning sickness. The weight gain. The sleepless nights. The raging hormones.

We got this. This will be a cake walk, right?

Ummm….not so much. Not for me, anyway. My 2nd pregnancy was anything but a cake walk.

I wish I could tell you that I had the best time being pregnant the second time around. That I loved every single minute of it. That I relished my pregnant belly and all of the lovely, beautiful emotions that came with growing a tiny human inside.

The truth is, I wasn’t the glowing, lovely, smiling pregnant lady that you see on the street caressing her baby belly and looking absolutely radiant.

I felt like crap and I struggled with my 2nd pregnancy every step of the way. And to be honest, there wasn’t one real reason why.

Maybe it was because right from the first trimester, I was already dealing with some pretty intense emotions surrounding my father’s diminishing health.

I felt I was unable to feel elated and happy about a new baby when my father was dying. Nothing about the situation was easy and my exponentially increasing hormones made dealing with grief incredibly difficult.   I was an emotional train wreck, barely holding it together for my family and for my toddler.

My toddler. She was a whole other story. Try chasing after a 2.5 year old…..pregnant. It’s not pretty. I know my mamas with 2 babes can agree – nothing about being pregnant and having another kid to care for is rainbows and sunshine.

All you want to do is — LIE. DOWN.

Plus, they aren’t old enough to understand that you just can’t piggyback them all the way to the park, which leads to a bunch of whining and inevitably a tantrum. And I’m sorry – you actually can’t manage to get your butt down that kiddie slide in the park anymore….physically you just can’t (have you seen my butt lately? Think Kim Kardashian but more saggy)

Let’s add in the fact that in August, I got pneumonia. Yup. Walking pneumonia. How did I get pneumonia? I still have no idea.   Run down immune system, no sleep and high stress. A perfect storm which led my body to eventually break down.  And as my mamas know, when you’re pregnant and sick…it takes a while for your immune system to get back up and running again! A long while.

OK, so those were the downs.

Don’t get me wrong — there are some serious “ups”, too.

My 2nd pregnancy gave me the opportunity to appreciate all the little movements this little bean has had in my belly.

Second time around, there is no question – you know what you are feeling and every time, he/she moves or kicks…I feel like it’s a tiny miracle in my belly. Like a little blessing that kicks you to remind you how damn lucky you are.

Second time around, you get to share every little experience with your first little bean. Rosie’s eyes light up every single time she puts her tiny hands on my belly or feels a little movement. She kisses “her baby” every morning and every night and it gives me all the feels.

Second time around, your partner isn’t completely oblivious or in the dark as to what you need as a pregnant lady. They know that you aren’t crazy when you get weepy at a YouTube Dove commercial (seriously, those things are tear jerkers). Or that cleaning the house, top to bottom, is just a part of your nesting. Or that your ice cream craving is for real and they’d better get a Haagan Daaz in your hand, stat.

Listen mamas, you don’t have to feel like a glorious pregnant goddess all the time. You are allowed to feel crappy and you are allowed to feel “ugh” about your pregnancy. It’s not all shiny happy pregnant women all the time. I’m here to tell you – it’s OK. Feel your feels and allow yourself space to just be….whatever.

Soon you’ll have that tiny little bean in your arms…..

…..that’s when the real fun begins.

 

xo

Dr Aliya

Health + Wellness

Tips for getting a Good Nights Sleep

A good night’s sleep?

Feels like a distant memory for this mama — between the frequent midnight wake ups and the very often early wakings of our two year old – I really do miss sleeping through the night undisturbed and the feeling of awakening naturally in the morning.

When it comes to sleep – quality counts just as much as quantity. Although I’m not consistently sleeping 8 hours per night, I try to make sure my pre-sleep/bedtime routine is solid to optimize the quality of zzz’s I’m getting – keeping me productive and full of energy all day long.

How you feel during your waking hours depends on how well you sleep.

Here are a few tips that will help you sleep better so you can feel rested and refreshed.

Sleep better tip #1: Get in sync with your body’s natural rhythms

Supporting your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm) is important for achieving good sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Sticking to a consistent sleep-wake schedule will set your body’s internal clock and optimize your sleep quality.

Sleep better tip #2: Create a bedtime routine

A peaceful bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that its time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses. Avoid bright screens within 2 hours of bedtime. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer or TV.

Many people use television to wind down at the end of the day, however many shows are more stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audio books instead.

Sleep better tip #3: Get regular exercise

Studies show that regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Exercise improves the symptoms of insomnia and increases the time spent in deep, restorative stages of sleep.

Sleep better tip #4: Improve your sleep environment

Small changes to your sleep environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.

Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 18˚C). A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep.

In addition, if you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from city traffic, loud neighbours or barking dogs try masking it with a fan or white noise. Earplugs may also help.

 

Sleep is something we all need and most of us fail to get on a regular basis. When we don’t sleep enough or sleep well, our productivity and behaviour are affected. In addition, lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.1

Follow these easy tips and a better night’s sleep can be in your future soon!

 

1 Statistics Canada, 2005 General Social Survey

(Reference http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm)

 

Babies + Kids

4 Fun & Easy Ways to Re-connect with your Partner – Post BABY!

I had a mama-to-be come in to see me last week and she asked me if I had any advice for the first few months after baby is born.

“Just try to survive the first 3 months”, I told her honestly.

Remembering the first three months after Rose was born was difficult. It was a complete blur!

My husband and I found ourselves managing on a day-to-day basis and our relationship took a toll, to say the least.

That is until about 4 months post-birth when I found myself missing him and trying to come up with different, unconventional ways to re-connect. Our new responsibilities were crowding out everything that seemed important before baby.

One day we found ourselves on the living room floor playing cards (our internet was down and our Netflix was out of commission), enjoying each other’s company in a way we hadn’t since becoming parents.

Trust me, I get it.

It’s easy to fall into a routine, the hum-drum of life takes over and we forget to nurture the relationship we have with our partners especially when kids enter our world.

For this very reason, I’ve thought up some easy and fun ways to re-connect with your partner.

  1. Learn something new together

To keep things interesting, try learning a new skill or hobby or playing a new sport with your honey. Things like taking a wine-tasting course, or a cooking-class, learning a new language or even trying out a new sport such as tennis or squash or my favourite thing to do – going for an easy casual bike ride around our ‘hood!

  1. Day dates

Perhaps an evening date may not be in the cards for you two, but meeting for quick coffee or lunch during the day can easily fit into your schedules. Take a longer lunch break and meet your partner downtown for bite or even schedule an afternoon off to hang out and get a couples massage.

  1. Games night

Board or card games aren’t just for your kids. Challenge your sweetie to a game of cards, Monopoly, Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit to lighten the mood and reconnect.

  1. Get in love!

Remember how it felt when your partner gave you flowers for no reason? Or that time you were wearing something sexy and the look on their face? Every relationship needs a kick start of romance post-baby. Try things like writing a sweet note, or buying a nice bottle of wine.

Rekindling a connection to your partner is crucial to any couple’s relationship and can easily fall by the wayside after baby is born.

Start with small gestures and easy, fun things to do with one another and your relationship will be back on track in no time!

 

 

Babies + Kids, Health + Wellness

Life Lessons Learned from my Little

 

No one ever said motherhood would be easy.   Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our butts kicked by our kids at some point or another. For me, it’s a constant reminder that she really is “The Boss”.   And the boss is a little crazy.

But I will say one thing….my little boss is constantly teaching me things.

Today I took a second to stop and think about all the little nuggets she’s shown me or taught me over the last 2 years.   Some pretty awesome life lessons.

Here are a few:

1. Take pleasure in the little things.

Blow bubbles. Splash puddles. Let snowflakes land on your tongue. Try on mommy’s jewelry.   Eat raisins one at a time. Lick the jam off the toast before you take a bite.

She loves taking her time, investigating and savouring the little details.  Life moves so fast – it’s easy to get caught up in it and forget the little things that make you feel joy!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

photo rose 1

 

2. Dance to the rhythm of your own drum.

Sing off tune. Dance they way you want. Wear mismatched socks. As adults we’re constantly fearful and mindful of what others will think or say. Her life is limitless. She’s not scared or fearful of failure or judgment.

As we get older, we fear the unknown, stay safely in our comfort zone and perpetually match our socks. I’d like to think the sense of unknown exhilarates our senses and keeps our spirit awake.

3.  Baths aren’t just to get clean.

Baths are to practice swimming or to pretend you are an octopus. The crib isn’t just where we sleep – it’s a giant castle for all of your stuffies or a boat that’s sailing through the sea.

A child’s imagination is wild. I can’t believe all of the things she dreams up and how creative her mind becomes. She sees an elaborate fairytale story everywhere!

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get your everywhere” ~Albert Einstein

photo rose 2

4. Every day is a new day

She pushes a reset button every night.   Every morning is a fresh start and all of the worries from the day before have flown away. Her adaptability constantly surprises me – she kinda just goes with the flow (clearly she doesn’t get that from me!).

There’s no baggage from day to day.   How I wish I could as easily let go of the past with its often tenuous situations and just chuck my baggage out the window!

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.

5. A hug and kiss fix EVERYTHING.

I’m serious. It’s like a magic potion. It works for skinned knees, major meltdowns and a lost stuffed bunny.   It still amazes me how powerful a loving hug is when she’s in the throes of her emotions – whether it’s anger, sadness or frustration.

It’s such a tremendous feeling to know that I have the best antidote to all of the crappy things life hands her… she still needs her mama to make things better!

“The Best Medicine in the World is a Mother’s hug”

Babies + Kids

The Ins & Outs Of Swimming With Baby

Yes, it’s -10°C outside. And yes, maybe the last thing you are thinking about is a dip in the pool.   However, Toronto’s indoor pools are pretty busy this season with parents finding indoor swimming and lessons a great way to keep their children busy as outside temps fall below freezing.

Swimming at all ages is awesome and it’s particularly amazing for infants for a whole host of reasons.

When can you take your little one for a dip?

Although a specific swimming age appropriate guideline doesn’t formally exist, most pediatricians and health practitioners advise parents to wait until their baby is about 5-6 months old before enrolling in swim classes. By this age your baby should have pretty good head and torso control. Plus, at that age your baby will be able to splash, kick and enjoy the water.

After spending nine months suspended in fluid in the womb, it’s not surprising that most babies have a natural affinity for water.  Babies have primitive reflexes that actually help them in the water.

Specifically, the laryngeal reflex (or gag reflex) allows them to hold their breath and avoid inhaling water in response to the sensation of water on their face, nose or throat.

 

The Benefits of Swimming in Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that younger children may benefit greatly from swimming classes.

New data shows that early swim training may actually lower drowning rates in children under the age of 4.  Swimming also helps to develop a child’s confidence, as well as improve motor skills and co-ordination.

Swimming helps develop a child’s confidence and improve motor skills and co-ordination

Here are a few tips to turn your tot into a water baby:

  • Visit pools that have warmer water temps for baby’s comfort
  • Use bath time as an opportunity to get your baby used to the water.  Sing a song, use a cloth or sponge to dribble some water over baby’s face, splash, and blow bubbles.
  • Take your time and be patient.  Give her plenty of time to get acclimated to the water.
  • Start with slow, gentle motions like bouncing up and down together or swaying from side to side.  Once she’s more comfortable with her surroundings, explain and demonstrate some fun, basic skills like blowing bubbles or splashing.
  • Hold off on introducing floats or other floatation devices until baby is comfortable in the water.
  • Enjoy yourself.  If you are relaxed, smiling and having fun, your baby is more likely to be at ease!
Babies + Kids, Pregnancy

Baby and Beyond: Learning by Trial & Error

As a chiropractor working with pregnant women and babies for years, I’m your girl when it comes to labour prep, solutions for colic, dealing with gas, breastfeeding, morning sickness and the like. I’m ready and willing to share!

But nothing could have prepared me for going through this process myself.   There is so much more to pregnancy, labour, childbirth and parenting than I could have imagined. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 months, it’s that every pregnancy, mama, baby is different. What worked for many of my friends, or even my patients did not work for me.   Unfortunately, there isn’t one way to conquer all that comes with pregnancy and having (and raising) a baby. What I’m slowly learning is that parenting is basically trial and error. As an analytical person, I like to follow rules, steps, flowcharts; motherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Every baby is different and we are all doing our best to figure it out. You might get the hang of certain things – you’re good, you’ve got it under control… And then the phase changes. Sleep patterns are out the window, your toddler stops eating and you have something new to master. It’s a learning curve, and at times it can be frustrating but it’s also so gosh darn amazing!

So if you’ve tried everything under the moon to help soothe your teething, fussy baby (or your morning sickness won’t ease no matter how many tips you’ve tried), my advice to you is: Don’t Give Up! Just because your best friend’s way to burp a baby didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. You’ll settle into your groove and find a way that works best for you.

Chin up Mama – you’re doing great!

Health + Wellness

The Science behind Cobra Pose: Why it helps back pain

A Case of Radiating Lower Back Pain

Back in March 2012, I first experienced lower back pain with tingling and aching in the back of my left leg and I had no clue what caused it. This sensation literally came out of no where. After many doctor’s visits and tests, it was determined that the lower back strain I experienced in November 2011 caused some nerve inflammation in my leg. My chiropractor, Dr. Aliya, suggested I couple my chiropractic treatments with weekly yoga classes.  Although hesitant at first, I started to notice that specific Yoga poses, in particular back bending and cobra pose always gave me some relief.

You may have experienced something similar to this patient if you have ever suffered from back pain, sciatica or nerve-related pain. Back bending (or extension) exercises have been found to provide relief to patients by helping ‘centralize’ or move pain away from one’s arms and legs towards the back, where it is usually better tolerated. The reasoning behind this mechanism of relief comes from a technique called the McKenzie Method or McKenzie Technique.

What is The McKenzie Method?

In the 1950s, physical therapist Robin McKenzie developed a system of assessment and treatment protocols based on observing how patient’s sitting, standing or moving positions or activities affected their pain.

McKenzie found that extension exercises helped centralize patient pain, moving it away from the extremities and towards the back. He theorized that centralizing the pain allows the source of the pain to be treated rather than the symptoms.

The McKenzie Method is a therapeutic approach that moves a patient through a series of activities and test movements to gauge the pain response.  The therapist then uses this information to develop an exercise protocol designed to ‘centralize’ the patient’s pain.

Think of it as bringing the pain back to the pain source.

Pain Centralization with Yoga

One of the centralization exercises for back pain utilized by the McKenzie method is the ‘Prone Press Up’.  Yogis call this ‘Cobra Pose’.  This pose provides relief from disc-related pain by alleviating compression of the disc on the nerve root (see last week’s post).

Named after the king cobra, said to have the strongest spine in the world, Cobra Pose is meant to resemble a snake before it strikes.  As mentioned, this pose is fantastic for your spinal health – but make sure you perform it correctly!

DOs and DON’Ts

The DOsPreview Changes

  • Squeeze your glutes tight and push your hips down into mat
  •  Use your eyes to start the movement – “where your eyes go, your body will follow”
  • Keep your heels together and lock your knees in order to lift them up from the floor

The DON’Ts

  • Avoid using all (100%) of your hand/arm strength; most of the strength comes from lower back muscles (remember it’s not a Push Up); Bikram recommends you use up to 15% of your hand/arm strength
  • Shrug your shoulders up to your ears; remember to drop your shoulders down
cobra pose

Cobra Pose performed by Bikram Choudhry (www.bikramyoga.com)

 

I continue to be amazed of the benefits of this Yoga and how it helps my patients get better and stay healthy.

Until next week…FEEL GOOD, BE GREAT!

Health + Wellness

Bikram’s Spine Strengthening Series and Back Pain

If you are a Bikram Yoga practitioner, you know what I mean when I say “Spine Strengthening Series”. However, for the non-Bikram Yogis, here’s a recap. The Spine Strengthening Series is part of Bikram’s Beginning (Hatha) Yoga Series and includes the following postures (or asanas):

1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

2. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

3. Full Locust Pose (Poorna-Salabhasana)

4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

You either love them or hate them….but here’s why you need to DO them!

New research has shown that spinal extension often decreases symptoms of lower back and leg pain often caused by a herniated or bulging disc (which creates pressure on nerve roots causing pain radiating down the buttocks and legs).

These four postures all include elements of spinal extension – or back bending – by lifting the lower extremities (legs), the upper extremities (arms, shoulders), or both.

How does spinal extension help lower back pain? It may seem counter-intuitive, since we associate spinal extension negatively with “scrunching” or compressing the lower back.

But consider that when vertebral discs bulge out, they often bulge backward (posteriorly). Spinal extension wedges open the front of the disc and allows the disc fluid to resettle into its normal forward position. This helps push the disc back into its original position and can diminish the intensity or extent of lower back or leg symptoms.

These postures all help stabilize and strengthen your core abdominal and lower back muscles through the contraction of your paraspinal muscles that support either side of your spine.  This helps prevent future injuries.

Love them or hate them, the postures of the Spine Strengthening Series are one of the best things you can do to maintain a lovely, healthy back!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll review each of these postures highlighting do’s and don’ts and their benefits….until then – FEEL GOOD, BE GREAT!