January 3rd, 2012 • Comments: 0 • by Amy • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Amy - Our Social Media Diva

Amy West - Social Media DivaHi! My name is Amy West and I’m the woman behind a lot of the social media work that goes on around here. Wendy has been a great, long-time client and it’s an absolute blast to work with her.

My job is basically to keep up with what’s happening in social media and to help the Snugabell team connect with all of their great fans and customers online. We post new content every day and love reaching out to you to see what you think about things that hopefully kick off great conversations.

The thing about my job is that you really have to feel good about the companies you work with. I’m a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) and very proud to be a member of the Best for Babes team – an organization that Snugabell supports generously. Because my life and work are so entwined with breastfeeding and parenting in general, Wendy’s company really speaks to the things I care about.

This is a great gig and I’m very proud of the work I get to do every day. My company, West Freelance Communications, does similar work for a number of other clients, mostly active in the parenting sphere. This allows me to work from my home, which has been fantastic – especially during our first years with Ava, our now three (going on twenty-three) year old daughter.

Anyway, that’s a little bit about me – the one who’s usually behind the curtain. The moms I get to meet through my work with Wendy are amazing – I’m so grateful to be a part of the Snugabell team!

December 28th, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Jessica • BirthHealth & WellnessResources

Five Ways a Doula Can Make Your Birth More Blissful

Birth Takes a Village

Giving birth is one of the most intensely powerful physical and emotional experiences a woman can go through. Labour and birth themselves are intense, as well as the transformation of a woman into her new-found role as a mother.

Our North American culture does not always seem to honour this process or transition. Historically, women were able to rely on a community of other women to support them throughout this experience. Today, women generally are expected to carry themselves through pregnancy, birth and postpartum with minimal support or nurturing from other women.

Enter the Birth Doula. The word doula is a Greek word meaning “female slave” or “woman’s servant”. In the birth world, a doula is a woman who provides familiar, knowledgeable emotional and physical support to a woman prenatally, during labour, and postpartum.

The support a doula provides allows women to remember their births as more positive, blissful experiences, feeling honoured, heard, comforted and supported throughout.

Here are 5 ways a doula can make your own birth more blissful:

1. A doula is focused on your emotional and physical needs 100%. Your doctor or midwife is a medical professional, trained to ensure you and your baby stay healthy. We’re lucky to have them as safeguards for birth, there to intervene if things don’t go as smoothly as they usually do. Because their role as medical professionals is their number one priority, they are not able to provide continual support as you cope with the intensity of contractions during labour. Your doula is not a medical practitioner, and does not have this responsibility pulling at her attention. This allows her to put all of her energy into making sure you are as comfortable, relaxed and taken care of as possible.

2. A doula can do the left-brain work. During prenatal classes and in birth books, you learn about different labour positions, comfort measures, specific things to try for certain situations that may come up during birth. You may also have heard that it is important to allow yourself to go inward, switching to the more meditative, right-brained mentality and focus on letting your body do its work. It is difficult to stay in that meditative, focused state if you are constantly reaching into your “left” brain to think of all the things you could be trying. You doula can do that thinking for you, making gentle suggestions for trying a new position, reminding you to have a sip of water between each contraction, getting you to the washroom once an hour to make sure your bladder is empty and there’s lots of room for baby to move around. She will also have a few tricks up her sleeve for dealing with especially intense labour or discomfort. This allows you to stay focused inward, steadily focused on coping with each contraction.

3. Doulas provide continual and familiar support. If your are birthing in a hospital setting, there will be nurses around to check in and monitor you between visits from your doctor or midwife. An important thing to point out is that hospital staff work in shifts! Labour can be a long journey, and in your time at the hospital, you sometimes go through one or two OB's and multiple nurses. Your doula will likely be your only support person that you and your partner became familiar with during pregnancy, and will stay by your side through the entirety of labour. Your doula knows you, knows your birth vision and knows what you’ve experienced so far in your birth. This steady and familiar presence offers a feeling of safety that is so important to minimizing your stress level during labour.

4. A doula takes stress off your partner. We are lucky here in North America to live in a time where fathers are invited into hospital birthing rooms. It wasn’t long ago that women birthed without any familiar support in hospitals, left only with doctors and medical staff. However, men have traditionally never been a part of birth, and in our culture, people barely talk to women about birth, never mind men! Because of this, it is a lot to ask of the father to be your sole support person during birth. Doulas do not replace the father’s role in your birth experience. They simply remove the pressure on dads to remember their crash course in labour and birth over the last few months. Between holding mom, taking steps to minimize her discomfort, making sure the whole birth team is nourished and hydrated, asking the right questions of medical staff, and suggesting techniques for keeping things moving along smoothly, there is no shortage of support to give mom. Having a doula to aide in some of these tasks makes birthing a more blissful experience for both mom and dad.

5. A doula will make sure you continue to feel supported after birth. You’ve had your baby. Now what? As you settle into your new role as a mother, your doula will be available for breastfeeding support, emotional support and to help you find any postpartum resources to make the entry into this new part of your life as smooth and blissful as possible.

Having a birth doula to support you during birth is one of the easiest ways to create a sense of calm trust in the process. The biggest enemy of birth is stress, which interferes with progress and can slow or stop contractions altogether. Having a doula by your side providing continual emotional and physical support during your birth makes it so much easier to create a blissful birth for you, your partner and for baby.

Jessica Austin is a Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her doula practice - Birth Takes a Village - has a mission "to promote a gentle and informed birth culture". You can also find Jessica on Facebook and Twitter.

I for one wish I had hired a doula for my birth. Don't get me wrong, I had "textbook" pregnancies and wonderful births both times. As well, my doctor and the rest of the hospital staff, as well as my husband, were all amazing during my labour and birth and I wouldn't change a thing. However, a doula is there to support you in a different way and I would definitely opt to have that support if I were to have another baby. Jessica's five points really resonated with me. It just makes sense. How about you? Did you have a doula? If so, what was the best thing about having one? If not, will you have one "next time"? Please share your experiences below.

{Photo credit: Jessica Austin}

November 16th, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Jen • Pumping

Pumping While Shopping at Target with Jen from Life with Levi

Pumping While Shopping with Jen from Life with Levi

You remember Jen - she is the lovely mama that began as one of our wonderful PumpEase customers and shortly thereafter evolved into a true PumpEase Ambassador of her own accord. Jen first shared with us, the story of her bumpy road to exclusively pumping and pumping in public (PIP) on Black Friday and now with this post, she shows us how she pumps while shopping at Target while wearing Heelys. (Thanks Jen, now I want a pair of Heelys too...)

This post is the sixth of TEN in the "What Can You Do While Pumping" video series. Please check back regularly to see where Jen sets up the horns next!

Like Jen mentions in her post, it is hard to believe we started this video series almost a year ago with her Black Friday video. I'll admit that before meeting Jen, I didn't really consider that someone could use PumpEase in public. I can't tell you HOW MANY times I've wished I could go back to that moment on the Dragons' Den set and tell Jim Treliving, "YES, she could pump while driving/riding her bike/mowing the lawn...." I admire Jen for being creative, open-minded and tenacious. A life approach that will surely present her with many amazing opportunities. And now I can't wait to see where "we" go pumping next!

How long did you pump for before you hung up the horns? Did you have a pumping goal? If so, did you meet or exceed it? Drop a note with your pumping "bio" below.

Aside from working full-time, attending night school and being a wife and mom 24/7, Jen blogs over at Life With Levi. You can also catch-up with her on Twitter and Facebook. Be nice now and go say "Hi!".

{Photo credit: Jen / Life with Levi}

November 9th, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • PumpingWarm & Fuzzy

The Jazz Singer and Her PumpEase

Last week I received the following email. After reading it, I realized it was written by a customer who had recently purchased a PumpEase from our website and who had also just received our November newsletter that touched on Prematurity Awareness Month. I also realized it was from a fellow Canadian (yay) and that she was a little bit famous (yippee). As always, I felt extremely honoured that one of our products helped a mom reach her personal breastfeeding goals (jumping up and down with glee).

"I don't think I already wrote to you guys, but I just wanted to say a big thank you, in light of Prematurity Awareness Month.

Whitney's preemie baby

My son was born 10 weeks early when he arrived on April 26th of this year. I was hurled into a scary and foreign experience, which included pumping 10 times a day while he spent some time in hospital growing and getting stronger.

I was so clueless about it all, having not had time to properly research and read about breastfeeding - let alone birth - and so everything was a big hurdle.

Pumping was hard and discouraging at the start, but I was determined, knowing that it was the only thing in my power that I could do to help my son. So with cracked and throbbing nipples, I soldiered on.

Whitney's son at 10 weeks

One day, one of the other NICU moms was sitting in our pump room at the hospital casually reading a magazine and checking her email while she pumped. She was using a PumpEase - the one with the badass cherries on it. It was like a shaft of light shone down on her from the fluorescent bulbs above.

"What is THAT?!" I demanded, "and where can I get one?!"

I soon ordered my own online and I love it. It didn't change my life but it really made what was a very difficult time just a little bit easier, as in the 3+ hours I was spending pumping every day, I could keep in touch with my family, letting them know about my son's progress, I could read, have a glass of water... and I am so grateful. It was also nice to hear that it was made in Canada. Hooray!

I love functional, yet beautiful design. I really think you should let all the lactation consultants in Canadian hospitals know about them, PumpEase is awesome and certainly makes something difficult and trying a lot less frustrating.

Thanks again,

Whitney Ross-Barris

Cool huh? Ya, I thought so too. And yes Whitney, we WILL be sure to let all Canadian LC's know about PumpEase - working on that right now in fact. :-)

Please be sure and follow the link to Whitney's website to take in a few sultry notes of her eclectic voice. OBVIOUSLY this email made my day. What made YOUR day today? Tell me about it down there .

{Photo credit: Whitney Ross-Barris}

November 3rd, 2011 • Comments: 0 • by Denise • Inside Snugabell

Meet the Snugabell Team: Denise - Our Quality Control & Packaging Diva

Dixie, Denise and Olivia (L-R)

Hi, my name is Denise Armbruster and I am responsible for the quality control and packaging here at Snugabell. I have been on the Snugabell team by far the longest. In fact, Wendy has been bossing me around since 1970!! Truth be told, I am her younger sister so it kind of goes with the territory (or so she tells me). :-)

Before having children I worked as a bookkeeper. After over 10 years of that, I decided I needed a change and chose to pursue a career in the food industry. I have always loved baking and did it every chance I could growing up. I think I baked my first chocolate cake all by myself at age 7 and it turned out awesome. Instead of doing the “usual” teenager type stuff on weekends, I would tackle big projects like puff pastry, donuts or endless amount of sugar cookies intricately decorated for upcoming holidays. In the early 90’s I enrolled in both the Culinary and Pastry & Desserts Program at Dubrulle French Culinary School here in Vancouver. I loved it and excelled in both programs. Upon graduation, I was hand-picked by the school for a three-month apprenticeship at a chateau in Normandy, France. I have to admit, those three months are a definite highlight in my life. Have you ever eaten unpasteurized French cheese? OMG so good!!! We totally kill cheese here in North America, sorry! I still do custom cakes for friends and acquaintances out of my own kitchen. I love doing wedding cakes!

Dixie wearing a PumpEase as a sash.

I met my husband Mike shortly after I returned from France. I had my first baby, Olivia, in 2003, and had absolutely no intentions of not being her mom on a full time basis, so I quit my job to stay at home. Sure money has been tight - I have to go without some things - but it is worth it. By the time Dixie arrived in 2008, Wendy had already invented the PumpEase. By that time I was also providing full-time daycare for Wendy's two girls, therefore I was concerned about how I was going to fit it all in! So I promptly went out and bought a breast pump. I was also diagnosed with a low milk supply, something that wasn't an issue with Olivia, and was prescribed Domperidone. Dixie has always been an “easy” baby. She has slept through the night since she was one month old. (Yes I’m bragging!!!) I attribute my success to my PumpEase and breast pump. I would pump once a day around 11pm and then would use that milk to “top her up with a bottle” after nursing her before bed every night. Worked like a charm for me anyways.

I have been doing the quality control and packaging for Wendy since the birth of Snugabell almost four years ago. It is really great because I can do it in my spare time. I am pretty sure I have the most flexible job on the planet! Dixie even likes to “help” me sometimes by passing me the boxes one at a time as I fill them up. She also enjoys modeling the PumpEase pretending they are Brownie sashes! Check her out rockin' the Verry Cherry!