#Views From Motherhood

Years of celebrating incredible women such as my mom, my grandma, my sister and most recently my mother in law, I have finally joined the troop of mothers as I celebrate my first Mother’s Day today. Today marks me being a mother for 5 months and 2 days (I know, I’m such a veteran). Now, I could say I need no gift, and that Ziana’s love, health and happiness is plenty (which it is and my utmost priority), but it doesn’t hurt to have yet another day to be spoiled and another excuse for a gift for all the things I so desperately need (my Lust List keeps expanding).

Shortly after becoming a mom, I learned that there’s something called a “mommy cult”. The word cult may have a bad rap, but in this instance, it’s not so bad at all. When Ziana was only a few days old, I posted an adorable pic of my newborn on Facebook with a caption along the lines of getting no sleep and soliciting the advice of other mamas. I was overwhelmed with the sweet comments, advice, direct messages and texts I received from other moms. As most of you know, some Facebook friends are friends that you haven’t seen or spoken to in decades. Regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve seen this friend, a fellow mom will still reach out to you. It’s like as soon as you become a mom, there’s that instant connection that any female can relate to, hence the term cult. Within these comments and messages was a slew of advice and many conflicting one another, so then how do you determine what’s right?

One thing I’ve learned in this journey so far, is that, aside from some glaring exceptions (and don’t get me started on anti vaccinations), nothing is right or wrong when raising your child. While one thing might work with one child, it may not work with the other. As an investment professional, I’m very analytical and tend to side with parenting advice that’s often backed up with clinical studies. In addition to the unofficial Mom Cult Encyclopedia, we have a plethora of information from Google, which again can give you conflicting advice, so you kind of have to pick what works for you. They say that even if it’s your first time, trust your mommy gut, because you ultimately know your child the best, and that is precisely what I did. While I listened carefully to all advice and read an exorbitant amount online, I eventually decided to try tactics that resonated with me.

So if you’re a mom to be, a new mom, a second time mom looking to switch things up or just here for the read  to see how I’m dealing, I decided to share some quick insights on how I’m managing this new chapter in my life.

Trust Your Mama Instinct

Even if it’s your first time, trust your instinct! You spend the most amount of time with your child, so you’ll know if he/she is not well. I find that since I spend so much time with my daughter, I can even estimate her weight and height to get a gauge of if she’s growing or not. Eventually, you start learning exactly what your baby needs or wants, it’s like having a secret language only you two understand – you learn how to interpret her cries, whines and gestures.

It’s Trial & Error

My first piece of advice still stands, trust your instinct. However, a lot of times, you just need to try different things to see what works. You may have 5 different pieces of advice for one thing. Sometimes the first thing you try works, while other times, third times a charm.

Breastfeeding Must Dos

Ask your doctor to prescribe you the prescription nipple cream and don’t wait for your nipples to start chapping to use it! Start applying it even before giving birth to prep your nipples and apply it after each feed to avoid the dreaded dry, cracked nipple syndrome.

Do go see a lactation consultant. They’re a great, free resource (for us Canadians that is) that can help ensure your baby is latching properly and getting enough milk. There’s no harm in going in regularly until you get the hang of it. Breastfeeding should eventually stop hurting and if you find the pain isn’t subsiding with time, a lactation consultant can help determine the cause and provide solutions.

If you find your newborn is falling asleep while nursing and waking up again in an hour to feed, strip your baby down to nothing but his/her diaper. The cold will keep them awake long enough to fill up their little bellies. Some moms even use an ice pack to keep their baby awake!

How Mama Got Her Sleep Back

I’m lucky that my daughter is a great sleeper so far. I’m not sure if it’s luck or a combination of the following things that did the trick.

First off, a baby will only sleep a longer stretch if their bellies are full. You can try a “dream feed” which is feeding them for longer than you normally would. If you typically feed for 15 minutes, try a 30 minute feed. If my daughter doesn’t have a dream feed, I find that she tends to cluster feed in the evenings right before going to bed.

At first, my daughter was mixing up her days and nights. She’d be asleep all day and wide awake at night. I read several articles explaining that her circadian rhythm may be off and to adjust it, I should create distinct patterns between day and night. During the day, I’d keep all the blinds open so that she would be exposed to natural sunlight, let her nap while I was watching TV and keep upbeat music on. At night time, I’d dim the lights and create a calm, soothing atmosphere. Within a week her schedule got adjusted.

Another thing that I swear by is White Noise. I’ve been putting her to bed with the use of white noise from week 1 – you can YouTube it, buy a noise machine or even it stream it on iTunes.

Lastly, babies are creatures of habit and thrive on routine! Try creating a night time routine which triggers it’s sleep time and keep it the same every night. Even when I’m out at a friend’s place or on vacation, I try my best to mimic our night time routine I do at home.

Track Your Baby’s Growth

Every time I take Ziana for a check up at the doctor’s, I always ask where she is faring in the height and weight growth chart. Doctors will advise what percentile your baby is in based on her age and region. The way percentiles work is the higher the percentile the bigger your baby is relative to other babies his/her age for the specified region (North America in my case). For example, at birth, my daughter’s weight was 8th percentile and height was 82nd percentile. This means that 8% of the babies at birth are lighter than her and 82% of babies at birth are shorter than her – so she’s well below average for weight (less than 50%) and well above average on height (no surprise there!). At her one month check up, she dropped to 7th percentile weight, and although it’s not a lot and my doctor didn’t seem to be worried; since she’s on the lighter side, it didn’t sit well with me. I expressed my concern to my doctor and she recommended that I force an extra feed or two daily. I took my doctor’s advice and she shot up to the 15th percentile the following month. Now, it’s perfectly okay if your baby was born say in the 5th percentile for weight/height and continues to track at 5th percentile, however it would be very concerning if your baby dropped significantly and continued to drop – especially if say your baby was born 50th percentile weight and within two months dropped to 10th. I’m sure your doctor would address such a concern; but it’s just something I personally like to also keep track of.

Find Some Me Time

Lastly, in this beautiful whirlwind we call motherhood, it’s easy to lose yourself. That is something I promised myself I wouldn’t do. I have a strong belief that in order to best take care of your child, you have to be the best version of yourself. So do take some time out for yourself – go for a massage, have a girls night, ask friends and family for help so you can have a break. Personally, towards the end of my pregnancy, I started piano lessons. I took a break after giving birth and picked it up again around 6 weeks postpartum. Every Monday, at 8pm, for 45 minutes, it’s my time, to work on me to do something I’ve always longed to do. And may it be when she’s down for the night, taking a nap during the day or even crying wanting me to pick her up, but I’ll squeeze in 10 minutes of practice. Oddly enough, if Ziana’s having a fit, as soon as I start playing, she quiets down to listen – it’s as if, even she appreciates my me time!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful souls celebrating out there! Xo

 

Saris, Lenghas & Baby Bumps – The Hindu Goddess Edition

hindu goddess maternity shoot

I still remember being at the grocery store with my mom and seeing Demi Moore gracing the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991 in the magazine stands at the checkout counter. Despite being a tender age of 7 years old, I remember thinking how beautiful she looked. While it received some backlash from critics, it started a revolution amongst pregnant women and changed the beauty landscape when it came to maternity photography. Many celebrities followed suit, most notably, Cindy Crawford on the cover of W Magazine in 1999 and Claudia Schiffer on Vogue’s cover in 2010.

Photo Credit: www.fashionista.com

Many years ago, showing off your baby bump was considered taboo, where maternity clothes were made to be loose in an attempt to hide it. In recent years however, maternity fashion centers around tight clothes to show off a woman’s baby bump and many woman even bare it confidently in a bikini.

If I still vividly remember being in awe of Demi Moore’s Vanity Fair cover from the age of 7, it’s no surprise that I’d embrace my baby bump in all its beauty. I was excited to start showing so I could have fun with maternity fashion. I embraced tight dresses and bikinis, accessorising my pregnant belly in the latter with kimono style cover ups and body jewelry. I shared these looks on my social media and it seems that it didn’t sit well with some of my South Asian peers. While there’s maternity inspiration showing off your bare baby bump everywhere, I realized that it’s not so prevalent in the South Asian community. There seems to be a stigma associated with an Indian woman baring her baby bump for people to see, despite the fact that our traditional clothing otherwise shows off a woman’s bare midriff in saris and lenghas. When I first heard of whispers behind my back about how distasteful my bikini pictures were, I became defensive. I felt the need to justify my decision and then went out to seek approval from my family and friends. Suddenly, embracing my baby bump was being overshadowed by other people’s view of it. Ultimately, the only person’s opinion I cared for was my husband’s, as I believe it’s important to respect each other’s wishes while embracing each other’s differences. My husband is very open minded and in fact, he’s the one who took the pictures, as the doting “Instagram Husband” he is. We didn’t even think twice when I posted pregnant bikini pictures and didn’t even think anyone would mind. I mean, I’ve posted “regular” bikini pictures before, so how is this any different? I went back and forth for a couple of weeks, unsure about the images and thinking I should take them down. Ultimately, I decided that I loved the images, I loved my pregnant body and I loved sharing it for people to see. It didn’t matter if there were people who didn’t appreciate it like I did, because in the end, my body is my temple and how I wish to celebrate it is my prerogative.

After bringing life into this world, I’ve learned that there is no other beauty that is parallel to that of a pregnant woman. To know that a life was growing inside me, I felt empowered in a way I haven’t been before. Although I always strive to be the best version of myself, now that I’m a mother, it’s important that I set a good example. The motivation to do good and be good is greater than ever. It is said, that a human baby is the most dependent mammal of all mammals at infancy. Here you have a life that you created and you are their whole world. You will mold this child into the person they will become and thus the energy he or she will give out into the universe. When you hold your baby for the first time, you are holding the power of life, love, constant growth and learning. And it all began inside of you, a power only a woman can understand.

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou

I teamed up with Babies By Banga and The New Delhi Company to portray this power in hopes to end the stigma amongst the South Asian community of baring their baby bump and inspire women to embrace this powerful beauty. We decided to take a contemporary spin on three Hindu Goddesses as Goddesses represent power and beauty. We selected three goddesses – Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Durga – as they represent facets of values a mother would wish to instill in her children and aspects of maternal care giving.

Lakshmi: Gentle Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity

Lakshmi is depicted as kind and forgiving and represents wealth. Her wealth is not limited to material wealth, but also extends to good health, happy family and infinite love.

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning

hindu goddess maternity shoot

Sarasvati: The Goddess of Knowledge & Arts

Sarasvati is the inspiration for all arts – music, poetry, drama – and well as knowledge – math, science and literature. In Hinduism, artists pray to her before performances and students pray to her before taking a test. She represents all facets of human learning and exploration.

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” – Oprah

hindu goddess maternity shoot

hindu goddess maternity shoot

hindu goddess maternity shoot

hindu goddess maternity shoot

Durga: Warrior Goddess

Durga is a warrior goddess and often depicted riding on a lion or tigers, carrying weapons, fighting evil and cleansing one from sin, protecting her loved ones fiercely.

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” – Barbara Kingsolver

hindu goddess maternity shoot

hindu goddess maternity shoot

hindu goddess maternity shoot

What’s your favourite look? Share in the comments section below!

Now it’s your turn to end the stigma, with one story and picture at a time. Share your beautiful bump with the tag #bumpthestigma.

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Photography: Babies by Banga

Art Direction: Banga Studios & BeautyCubed

Outfits and Styling: The New Delhi Company

Model: BeautyCubed

Beauty: Seher Studio

Jewellery: Banglez Jewelry

How To Keep Cool In This Hot Real Estate Market

Let’s be honest, with the rising prices of real estate, a thought that has crossed many people’s minds is, “How will I ever afford a place of my own?”

There are many people who are still waiting for the “bubble” to crash and refuse to commit to buying a place. I’m sure that if you’re one of them, prices have continued to increase while you’ve been waiting. As an investment professional and a person who follows the real estate market closely, I always tell friends and family (especially those looking to buy their first home) that if you plan to live in a particular area, it will be a market adjustment and your home value will increase again commensurate with the cost of living- even if the market “crashes”. Read More

How To Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

how to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

All doctors will tell you that there is no way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and that they’re hereditary. A good indication is if your mom got them during pregnancy or if you got them through other means throughout your life.

By way of genes, both my mom and sister didn’t get them, so I was safe there. But I have some major tiger stripes on my bum from my growth spurt back when I was 15 years old – so being prone to them was definitely a concern for me. In addition to being prone to them, my mom and sister’s husbands are less than 6 feet tall and all their kids averaged less than 6lbs at birth, while my husband is over 6’7″ and was born a sizeable 10 lb baby (eek!). I thought to myself, boy or girl, Akhil’s offspring will likely not be under 6 lbs, which means my belly will likely do more stretching than my mom’s or sister’s ever did! (In case you’re wondering, my baby girl was 7 lbs). So I was determined to do whatever I could to prevent stretch marks and am happy to say that this time around, I was spared…almost. At my 8 week check up with my OBGYN, what I thought were clogged milk ducts, she chuckled at my self diagnosis and pointed out that they were in fact faint stretch marks on my boobs (damn nursing boobs!). I also know of women whose mothers got stretch marks during pregnancy, but by remaining diligent in their prevention care, they were able to avoid them. So for those out there that believe that perhaps we can prevent stretch marks, keep reading to see how I prevented them. Read More

Pre Natal Fitness – 2 Simple 15 minute workouts

pre natal fitness

While pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to the next level, there is no reason to stop working out while pregnant with the goal to maintain your muscle mass. In a previous post, we discussed 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Exercising While Pregnant. In this post we’ll be giving you sample workouts you can do while pregnant.  Read More