3 essentials for your birth bag

Head onto any mom Facebook group and you will see questions about what to pack for your stay at the hospital, and the list is exhaustive and overwhelming, so let’s break it down.

Here are the 3 most essential items to bring to your birth at LHSC (or any hospital)

1) Food\drink

During your labour at LHSC (London health sciences centre) you will have access to clear fluids and light foods like toast and peanut butter. labour is hard work, so it’s important to nourish your body throughout the process, unless your care provider says it’s not safe to eat during labour, bring your favourite light snacks like fruit, granola, yogurt etc.

If you’re looking to bring something that will pack some punch for some quick energy, Honey sticks lollipops and sports drinks can be a great option. If you lose your appetite during labour, you can always save it for when you’re recovering. Trust me, you will be thirsty in the days after giving birth, so whatever you don’t use in labour can be used afterwards

2) Comfy clothes to labour and recover in

Birth is beautiful, and messy. A midwife at my first doula birth said ‘women are leaky’, it’s a term that is accurate AF. The gowns they give you at the hospital are handy for keeping your clothes safe from stains, but they can be pretty uncomfortable to labour or breastfeed\chestfeed in.

Whether you’re birth plan includes a home birth or taking every chance you have to take ‘all the drugs’, the thing to consider when choosing a birthing outfit is that your temperature will perceivably change. Sometimes you will feel overheated, or cold. So items such as sports bras, old pajamas, warm socks, slippers and house coats can bring a great deal of comfort for labouring in the hospital.

3) Postpartum pads and toiletries

These are hot items in the hospital, meaning that they are in somewhat of a limited supply. After delivery at LHSC you will get one gigantic pad, and then after that about half a dozen postpartum pads that are about the size of a regular maxi pad. As stated once above birth is messy, and women are leaky, so invest in some sample size toiletries to stick in your bag.

If you are staying at the hospital for an extended time you’ll likely want to shower at least once before going home, or at least have items to freshen up with. It’s important to remember that the hospital is a scent free zone, so please be considerate when thinking about things like body sprays or highly fragrant deodorants.

You might be tempted, especially as a first time parent to pack more, and that’s OK. If having stuff helps you feel more prepared, go for it, that on it’s own can be a comfort whether you use the ‘stuff’ or not. Chances are however, you probably won’t use a lot of the extra things you pack. Comfort is a need that can be met many ways, and what you think you will use or enjoy having around now might not be what you want in the moment.

Remember, birth isn’t about what stuff you bring to it, your birth plan won’t hinge on whether or not you have honey sticks, or your favourite fuzzy socks. The hospital has many supplies for all of the comfort measures you might want to try including warm blankets and birth balls. Remember: Once you enter that birth room, it is your birthing space!

-Kate Williamson PSW, birth and postpartum doula


So why does menses matter?

As followers of the Facebook page for this blog will know I have started a 2 week donation drive called menses matters

But why does menses matter? Did you know that pads and tampons are one of the least donated items at food banks and shelters? These are not items that people think of when making donations.

Watch: “The homeless period” —-> https://youtu.be/ABch4VYOJZ0

Periods are a fact of life for a large part of the population, pads tampons, menstrual cups (etc) are all products we use to meet the needs for cleanliness, dignity and even comfort. But what happens when we can’t afford them? There has been a lot of discussion over the years on whether pads and tampons are a necessity or a luxury. I would like to think most of us treat them as a basic necessity, like diapers or toilet paper.

That’s why I decided to run this drive, to help support others and maybe make someone’s life just a little easier. That is also why this drive is collecting toiletries and comfort items as well, because dealing with having a period isn’t as simple as having pads on hand. Some people experience heavy pains and even exhaustion.

Would you like to help? Make sure you like our page https://www.facebook.com/mensesmatters/

And join our group for organizing and updates https://www.facebook.com/groups/133835134011961/

It makes a world of difference when you like comment and share flyers and our social media posts. Each share makes the drive more visible.

And of course you can help by donating! In fact the most effective way you can donate is to send us a picture of your donation or post one on your on your own and tag our page. We really love hearing about what has inspired you to give such a gift to your community!

It matters greatly if people have access to menstruation products, it matters if they have enough food, can stay clean, and if they are suffering from pain or discomfort. Poverty matters, dignity matters, women matter therefore #mensesmatters

Thank you for reading and sharing


Donations can be brought directly to Safe Space, or The Hive London

Friday feature: Sew much love

Sew much love is a small business in London Ontario that creates essential handmade items for babies and new parents! And by essential we also mean beautiful.

Inspired by a love of sewing for her own children Raine began Sew Much Love a few years ago, creating handmade pieces such as nursing scarves, soft sole baby shoes, soother clips (soother clips are essential to a new mom’s sanity!) and even nursing scarves

Sew Much Love provides unique items that are both practical and gorgeous, perfect for baby shower gifts. The products mentioned (and more) can be found and purchased at http://www.sewmuchlove.ca and at prim and pauper in London, Ontario. If you want to check out more about Sew Much Love make sure to head to their website, Instagram and Facebook page.

Instagram: @sew_much_love
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sewmuchlove1

Starting this month this blog will be featuring local talent every Friday. For more information on featuring your business on the blog (for free) please contact greatexpectationsdoula@gmail.com. we are always happy to feature local businesses in the London and surrounding area free of charge

Written by Kate, a certified postpartum and birth doula, PSW and mom of three

Lovely and Local Friday Feature: The Cozie Baby Company

Starting in September this blog will be featuring local talent every Friday. For more information on featuring your business on the blog (for free) please contact greatexpectationsdoula@gmail.com. we are always happy to feature local businesses in the London and surrounding area for free.

On to today’s local and lovely business

The Cozie Baby company was founded by Candias K. a work at home mom of four, who lives just outside of London. After making just one baby blanket for a special little one the idea turned into a small business and grown since then.

The baby blankets are made from soft cuddly flannel, chenille and 100% cotton. There is a blanket for every season, and each blanket boasts a generous size (large enough for a toddler). Blankets can be customized to each customers personal style.

Like many small business the Cozie Baby Company utilizes Facebook to showcase completed blankets and post pictures of available fabrics to mix and match with. If you would like to order, or just support a local business make sure you head over and like their page!

For ordering inquiries:



Thanks so much for checking out our lovely and local feature

-Written by Kate, mother of 3, postpartum and birth doula

Want some more pics?

11 (low cost) gifts for a new parent

Here are 11 tips on how to be the best visitor a postpartum parent has ever had!

1) Don’t ask, just help. Many new parents will turn down help for fear of burdening or inconveniencing others. Try to make it clear that it would bring you Joy to help them around the house because you know how hard it is to adjust to the postpartum period

2) Entertain the older children. This is by far the biggest way you can help with a 2nd 3rd or 15th arrival of a new family member. If you are trusted enough to take them out for lunch or to a park go for it. If you’re not familiar or comfortable enough with that, bring quiet low maintenance activities such as making play dough, baking, coloring etc. Just make sure you clean up afterwards and enlist the kids help in helping their mom.

3) Feed them. All of them. Buy food and bring it to the house and cook. This will also give you a great excuse to clean their kitchen! While you’re at it…change the garbage, wipe down the cupboards etc

4) If you can’t cook, feed them anyway! With some favourite fast food, store bought salads, or whatever you want, and like seriously, clean their kitchen, or bring disposable plates and dishes and then change the garbage (are you sensing a theme here?)

5) Bring healthy, easy to keep snacks for the new mom or the kids

6) Sit and listen, watch t.v, offer low maintenance company because postpartum is both overwhelming and fucking lonely at times. There maybe some serious FOMO going on with new parents. Sometimes just coming over to watch the walking dead or playing a video game can be just as helpful to them.

7) This is an oldie, but a goodie: hold the baby so the new parents can go take care of themselves. Perhaps a nap, or a shower would be the best gift you can give them

8) Offer to get things for them. This could mean getting the baby bath set up, or grabbing milk and toilet paper on your way in.

9) Bring something for the new parents, onesies and blankets are great too. But some organic bubble bath might be just what a new parent who has just given birth might need to get a decent sleep tonight, or nap, or at least attempt to sleep

10) Remember that they may feel odd, uncomfortable feelings, that make little sense to them. They might be suffering from conflict in their family, financial stress or the baby blues etc. Try your best to just sit and be with them, empathise. Even if this is their second third or 15th baby it’s still a huge transition for the mind body and soul to go through. They might be fragile and vulnerable, be prepared to remind them that their feelings are valid and it is OK to be vulnerable. (We all could use that reminder from time to time)

11) Just surround them with love. Whatever that looks like for you and them

A helpful saying to remember when visiting a new parent (or anyone who is sick or struggling with a life transition) is to empty what is full, and to fill what is empty.

Seriously, just change the garbage, fill their glass of water, empty the dishwasher, and fill their home with support and love.

What would you add? Is there a gift that someone gave you after you had a baby that you are greatful for? What would you like to see published in the next list?

-Kate Williamson birth and postpartum doula, PSW and mom of 3

Birth Related PTSD

Welcome to the first post of our pre and postnatal mental wellness series. This will be a series of posts dedicated to topics on mental health and well being while pregnant and parenting. Each post will include evidence based resources, general information and above all support, so you can make well informed decisions about supporting yourself or someone else who may be suffering


Birth related post traumatic Stress disorder (also known as postpartum PTSD) is not a well known or highly recognized mental health issue, which is why I chose this topic as the first blog in our mental health series. As a birth and postpartum doula I am wel aware of the effects that trauma can play on pregnancy birth and parenting.

Birth related PTSD is just one part of a much bigger picture of trauma, and mental health related to parenting

Birth Related PTSD is a serious mental health issue. According to PATCH (Prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth) It is described as:

” A birth is said to be traumatic when the individual (mother, father, or other witness (8)) believes the mother’s or her baby’s life was in danger, or that a serious threat to the mother’s or her baby’s physical or emotional integrity existed.”


The prevalence of birth related PTSD is hard to nail down in statistics, as quantitative numbers are difficult to record when talking about an experience. Estimates have claimed that as many as 30% of birthing people describe their births as traumatic and it is said that about 9% will meet the criteria for PTSD


Risk Factors for Birth Related PTSD include:

A History of Trauma

A History of mental illness

Low social support

and of course, a traumatic birth experience

Signs and symptoms of birth related PTSD include

Intrusive thoughts about or reexperiencing the event: this could look like intrusive thoughts about the birth itself, it could also mean obsessive thoughts about your baby’s safety and more depending on individual circumstance. Birth related PTSD doesn’t not look the exactly the same.

Flashbacks or nightmares: This could mean having nightmares or flashbacks about the birth that bring back emotional distress or even physical sensations.

Avoidance: Avoidance behaviors could include avoiding your own thoughts and feelings about the birth, and avoiding other stimuli such as your care provider, hospital settings, or other places objects and people that remind you of a traumatic event.

Hyper arousal: this may result in an inability to sleep or rest as the postpartum person may be on ‘high alert’.

Anxiety: This may look like extreme fear for the baby’s safety, or general anxiety (social anxiety, avoiding going out)

Detachment: Detachment can look like detachment from others or oneself. This could mean withdrawing from relationships, or even experiencing symptoms of depression

If you or someone you know has had a baby recently and is exhibiting these signs it’s important to get help from your care provider right away. If contacting your care provider is difficult, you have a few other options. You can go to a different care provider such as a family doctor, or a walk in clinic. If entering these settings is daunting, gather support from a friend, a relative, or other support persons such as a doula.

It is totally understandable that placing your trust in system that has caused you harm (whether intentionally or not) is hard. It’s important to give yourself some compassion if you are experiencing getting help as difficult. When you know that you are already fragile, it’s hard to trust your own reaction to situations that don’t seem safe.

Fears can compound the difficulty people face in asking for help, a common fear among parents suffering from mental health issues is that if they reach out for help they will lose their children. This is a fear that plays on our confidence as parents and even guilt for being sick in the first place. If you share this fear, you are not alone.

A a doula, I always recommend that anyone suffering from birth related PTSD seek the appropriate professional help. However, I also understand that some situations might make that difficult to do right away, or that the person suffering may be on a waiting list for an appointment, or have a long time in between appointments.

If you find yourself stuck and needing some strategies on how to cope in the meantime, here are some additional options to try:

  1. Exercise: If you can take your baby out for a quick walk everyday, or find a way to exercise at home. Vigorous exercise can help with feelings of anxiety or depression
  2. Healthy eating: Taking care of your emotional state is a lot easier when your blood sugar is stable
  3. Therapy
  4. Gather support from friends, family whenever you can
  5. Connect with others who are going through similar experiences
  6. Sleep: Sleep is restorative for the brain and crucial for your mental health

If you know someone who is suffering from Birth related PTSD, or you know someone who describes their experience as traumatic, here are some ideas on how you can support them

  1. Encourage them to take care of themselves (walking, healthy food, finding help etc) load the dishwasher for them, take out the garbage, hold the baby so they can nap etc
  2. Make time to just be with them, listen to their story and empathize with them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&w=560&h=315%5D
  3. Find time to visit, or support them. When you are around, wash the dishes, change the baby, hold the baby so mom can shower, cook, eat etc) take older siblings out
  4. Familiarized yourself with birth related PTSD, know the symptoms and the effects of trauma thoroughly
  5. Take care of yourself, make sure you find time for you as well

Tips for support people:

  1. Know how to recognize the makings of trauma. Empathy and understanding in the moment is important for stopping or at least lessening the impact of a traumatic event
  2. Learn the skill of empathy, I say skill because it really does take a great deal of effort to stop yourself from wanting to jump in and ‘fix’ things or ‘educate’ people. There is a reason we have therapists, and that’s because empathy and understanding are valuable tools in helping someone heal.

If you are suffering from PTSD and you are reading this blog right now, I would like you to know that it’s common for people to blame themselves for developing PTSD. It’s tricky when your mental wellness is threatened by an event outside of your control and it often leaves people ruminating on what they could have done to change the outcome. Blaming yourself can become a painful way of regaining some control. If you are stuck, and blaming yourself, I encourage you to remember that you are only human and there was likely no way you could have predicted the outcome. What you are going through right now is a natural reaction to a traumatic event, and you can heal. After post traumatic stress disorder comes post traumatic growth.

This is a topic I hope to revisit again and again on this blog, because dialogue about birth trauma and birth related PTSD is sorely needed.

If there is a mental health topic you would like to see on the blog please make sure to comment below.

If you wish to share your story with us we are coming out with a birth stories series in the fall. Click here for more information

Postpartum PTSD(1)

References\ Resources






Local resources for London and Ontario


Birth Trauma Ontario facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthtraumaontario/

The MAMA project https://www.facebook.com/theMAMAprojectcanada/

Local vendors got the Canada 150 deals!

What better way to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday than by buying local Canadian products

As a former entrepreneur myself I love to support local businesses whenever possible, so here is a list of local businesses offering Canada 150 products, or deals and giveaways

Red tree co has made a gorgeous summer sleeveless top to celebrate Canada 150

And if you scurry over and like their page! https://www.facebook.com/redtreeco/

This tee can be found (in limited quantity) at Keelys Kollection (https://www.facebook.com/keelyskollection/)  and at the artisans market in Mount brydges ( https://www.facebook.com/artisansmp/)

And hey, if they don’t have this tee than you know they’ll have some equally fantastic ones still available to buy!

Plus, the Canada 150 shirts are 15% off today this weekend!

Betty’s Consignment is having a sale this weekend in celebration of Canada 150!

You can check out their info here: www.bettysconsignment.com and of course their page https://www.facebook.com/bettysconsignment/

Last but not least,

See much love is offering free shipping on orders 25 and up with the coupon code Canada150 (your welcome!) Check out their page at https://www.facebook.com/sewmuchlove1/ and order from their website: www.sewmuchlove.ca

Happy Canada day!

Written by Kate, your lovely local doula

5 Canada day celebration ideas!

What better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday than with some delicious looking pins?  Here are 5 positively pinworthy party ideas and activities!

Underneath each picture you will find a link so you can pin it for later!

Want to see the whole board?

Make sure you follow our blog on Pinterest! http://pin.it/WzOjBTm

1) Maple doughnuts!

2) Maple scented playdough

3) Cute party favours

4) Canadian themed windsock

5) a clean eating Canada themed cake (to go with the doughnuts and candy above)

Interview: Brooke Hohenadal certified sleep consultant

It’s common knowledge that babies just don’t sleep, right? Well what if I told you it doesn’t always have to be that way?

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brooke Hohenadal, a certified sleep consultant and owner of Bedtime Beginnings

I had so many questions for her, but I narrowed it down to 5 main questions to give everybody reading a good idea of what Bedtime Beginnings services can do for sleepless babies (and parents!)

If you read this and still have your own questions Great Expectations will be hosting a live Q&A with Brooke on July 5th at 8:00 pm

if you wish to receive a reminder or notifications you can click ‘going’ to our facebook event. You can also make sure you follow this blog and receive updates as we promote the event!

on to the interview!

1) What is a sleep consultant?

A sleep consultant is a coach, mentor, motivator, teacher, hand-holder or whatever you need us to be in order to follow a plan to improve your child’s sleep!  Some people need education and guidance, others need someone to hold them accountable to truly implement the changes necessary to solve their child’s sleep problems- as a Sleep Consultant I am happy to take on whatever role you need in order to achieve your goals.


2) What inspired you to get into this work?

After my husband broke his leg, when our first daughter was only 4 months old, it only took me another month before I realized that I couldn’t do this any longer!  The constant night waking’s to “feed” (she was just soothing back to sleep, who are we kidding!) coupled with taking care of two babies (once slightly larger than the other…) took a toll on this new mom!  One night, at about 3AM I caved and bought my first sleep book and haven’t looked back.  Once I taught our daughter how to sleep through the night it truly changed our lives, and hers; we now have two girls that go to bed easily each night and sleep the proper amount each day, which means that every day when they wake up they are ready to take on that days challenges.  I was so inspired by how much it changed our lives that I wanted to help others achieve the same thing, but also to just get out there and let people know that you don’t have to go months and months without sleeping, there is hope, and it’s not as bad as you may think (or read online…)!


3) What is the most common complaint/problem you hear from clients?

Hmm, this is a good one- I have a few common complaints:

  • My baby wakes up 2-10 times a night, every hour, every two hours, she just won’t sleep!
  • I can only get my child to sleep 30-45 minutes at a time during the day; it is so frustrating, just when I start to do something he wakes up, every time!!!
  • Every night when we tuck our toddler into bed we have to lay with him, it used to be really sweet but now it can take over an hour and he just won’t sleep! 
  • We really wanted to co-sleep with our baby, it’s been wonderful but now our child has taken over our bed and will not sleep in her crib- I really want my husband back in bed with me, it’s really starting to take a toll on our relationship!
  • My baby wakes up every morning at 4:30, I give her a quick feed and she goes back to bed but I am really starting to get tired of waking up at that time- she is 18 months old so I know she doesn’t need a feed anymore!
  • My child falls asleep in their own bed every night but will have a nightmare and comes to sleep with us each night!  I didn’t mind it at first but it’s becoming more and more common, when will he start to sleep through the night in his own bed.


4) What is the most popular package bedtime beginnings  offers?

Some families just need a little bit of guidance and reassurance that they are on the right track with their child’s sleep but many of the families I work with benefit from a full 2-week package to ensure their little ones are sleeping properly with as few tears as possible!

What really separates Sleep Consultants from any book, online forum or relatives’ advice is the follow-up support and custom sleep plan.  Having a detailed plan laid out, that is specific to your child, when you are already exhausted makes the changes simple and straightforward and takes all of the guesswork out; on top of that I am here for you every day for 2-3 weeks while you implement the plan.  If you are worried about something, have a question or something needs to be tweaked I am here to offer education and guidance so the whole process can be as smooth as possible for your child.

Depending on the age of the child I offer custom sleep packages, in each sleep package I offer:

  • An Intake questionnaire so I can get all of the details of your families sleep situation.
  • A Custom Sleep Plan based on your responses to the questionnaire.
  • One hour private consultation to discuss the details of the plan and answer any questions you may have.
  • Digital sleep logs so you can track and see the progress your child is making each day.
  • Follow-up support in the form of phone calls and e-mails; this is what all of my past families have loved the most, knowing someone is there for you every step of the way!  We work together to help your child learn this new skill in the simplest and quickest way  because there is someone there to make any necessary changes so that your child learns as quickly as possible.  It’s all about providing the proper tools and structure so your child can learn easily.
  • Bedtime Beginnings Sleep Kit offers additional information after our time together has ended so that you are prepared for any future events (travel, daylight savings, nap transitions etc.).



5)  If you could give just one piece of information/advice to every expecting parent what would it be?

Respect your child’s sleep; it is as important as diet and exercise!  Children can only deal with their daily stresses when they are running at full capacity- if your child has constant meltdowns, a hard time focusing, or just always seems to be tired then there is a good chance that they are not getting enough sleep!  An early bedtime (7-8 latest) is recommended right up until the pre-teen years- don’t underestimate their desire to sleep, even if they say they aren’t tired.  Pick an early bedtime and stick to it, it might take a few nights for the change to take place but once their bodies realize they can go to sleep at that time they will start getting the proper amount of sleep and it will change their life for the better!


If you like what you just read and want to support this new blog please, comment, share, and tell your friends! any support is appreciated. Thank you

Kate, your lovely local doula

Why I refuse to call my Clients ‘mama’

If you’ve had any experience in the blogging birth world, you might have noticed this odd trend in speaking about our clients. Here’s 10 reasons why I don’t:

1) The person giving birth isn’t my only client. Yup, that’s right I support ‘papas’ too as the family transitions to life with baby. My job is primarily to support the person carrying the pregnancy, but I do get hired by families to make the transition into parenthood easier…

2) Not all people who give birth identify as ‘mama’ because transgender people exist and have children. I don’t ever want to push potential clients away.
2) Sometimes the partner identifies as a ‘mama’ too and that could just get confusing.


3) I wouldn’t call my clients parents grandma or grandpa, nor would I call their partner papa or mama. Its a familial term an even though doulas do certainly get very close with families we are not actually family.

Let’s try this on for size ‘ I love looking after my grandmas too! They are usually so tired after the birth happens!’ Does this make sense? No. Just no!

4) Doulas have fought hard for recognition as a legitimate profession. You would not hear a nurse or an OB or a midwife calling their patients mama for a lot of the reasons listed above, so neither will I.

5) As a PSW I’m pretty sure I would have been in trouble if I called my residents ‘Nana’ or ‘papa’ because its unprofessional. I’m just saying…

6) I already have a mama. She is wonderful. I don’t need a new one

7) I truly respect who my clients are as a person. We are not just the roles and titles we choose to take on. 

8) It doesn’t feel right, it’s about as odd as calling a stranger ‘honey’ or ‘sweetheart’ it’s just….no. 

9) I am a professional doula who works hard to maintain the image of professionalism in my industry. Therefore I don’t have ‘mamas’ I have clients that hire me to care for them during birth and postpartum.

10) My final and biggest reason for not calling my clients ‘mama’ is because of the reality that not all of my clients will have a baby in their arms at the end of the journey, and they may or may not want to identify as a mother at that point. I accompany clients through abortions, miscarriages, still birth, relinquishment and apprehension.
I think that this trend is on its way out among professional doulas, and good riddance, because our clients need support, not cutesy names.

-Kate, your lovely, local, London doula

Pregnancy Birth Parenting