Lazy Lasagna

Looking for a quick meal you can throw together before baby wakes from a nap?  BONUS:  it's freezable, so you can make it ahead of time.

I love lasagna.  Growing up it was a special occasion meal because it took my sister (the world's best lasagna maker) all day to make it.  But I'm a working mom who's short on time.  So when I'm craving homemade lasagna taste I put this together.  And it tastes even better the next day!

Lazy Lasagna

Serves 6 (or 4 really hungry people).

Ingredients:

450 g pasta (any short kind will do - rotini, penne, shells, macaroni)

1 jar tomato sauce

1/2 large block mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups.  Buy pre-shredded to save time).

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground beef (sub ground round if you're vegetarian, or leave it out)

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1/2 green pepper (optional)

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tub ricotta cheese

1 egg

Fresh tomato (optional)

Method:

  • Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove.  Cook pasta according to package directions, drain when cooked.
  • In a large skillet heat olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, and cook until slightly browned.  Add in green pepper and oregano and basil, cook for a few minutes more.  If using ground round, add to pan now, stir until heated through.  Put veggies in a bowl and set aside.
  • In the same skillet after you've set aside the veggies, add the ground beef (If using ground round, skip this step).  Cook until browned and drain off the fat.
  • Add the veggies back to the skillet and mix with the tomato sauce.  Add the pasta and mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • In another bowl, beat the egg with the ricotta cheese.
  • In a casserole dish, add a little of the sauce to coat the bottom.  Add a layer of pasta mixed with sauce, layer with the ricotta mix.  Add another layer of pasta, and top with half the mozzarella cheese.  Add a final layer of pasta, add a layer of chopped fresh tomatoes (optional) and top with remaining mozzarella.
  • Cover with foil and bake in the oven preheated to 350 degrees.  After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese has melted on the top.
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

You can freeze this either before you bake or after - both work but if you freeze before you will have to defrost and cook the casserole, so I usually recommend you bake first.

Enjoy!

Doulas, Night Nurses, Mother's Helpers and Nannies. Which is right for you?

You may have heard these terms used while you were pregnant when it comes to finding help for your family once baby arrives. 

As a postpartum doula, I often run into a lot of confusion about what kind of care they are looking for.  Here is a guide to some of the main options for care so that you can see what will work for you.

1)  Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula comes to your home and "mothers the mother".  It's her main job to help families transition to motherhood.  This can encompass breastfeeding help, teaching newborn care skills, preparing light meals and snacks for new moms, answering questions on postpartum recovery, or sometimes just holding your newborn while you take a shower or nap.  Postpartum Doulas may help families during the day or for overnight shifts, where they will help watch the baby so that mothers can get more rest.  Postpartum doulas are trained by various organizations, and some may be certified.  They can also spot possible signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, and make proper referrals to other professionals who can assist with things that may be out of scope for them.

2)  Night Nurses

Sometimes also called "baby nurses" or "night nannies", these women are often not actually trained in nursing.  Their primary job is to look after the baby at night.  They usually, though not always, work with bottle feeding families, and the mother's postpartum care is not in their scope of practice. 

3)  Mother's Helpers

Mother's helpers come into your home and keep your baby and children occupied while a caregiver is home but otherwise preoccupied.  Mother's helpers are an economical choice and work well when moms just need a break.  Like night nannies, their primary function is to care for the children and they are not trained in mother's postpartum recovery.

4)  Nannies

A nanny can work with children of any age, and are usually hired through referrals or a nanny agency.  Again, they look after the baby/child, not the mother.  A nanny can be an alternative child care arrangement in place of daycare, and are usually employed once mom's get close to returning to work.  Some nannies may also do some light housework, meal preparation, and errands (especially if the children are older and in school).  Nannies can live in (meaning living in the home) or be live out (typically more expensive than live in).  Nannies are usually employed full time (40+ hours a week), so this is a great choice for someone looking for full time childcare.

Many families use a mix of the above care providers or transition providers as their baby gets older. 

Did you use any of these services?  Comment below and let us know!

Five Ways to help baby and new siblings have Harmony

Congratulations, you’ve decided to grow your family!  While this is an exciting time, you may be concerned about how your older child will react to the baby.   And while this may not be your first time bringing home a new baby, because there is already another child in the home, it introduces some different challenges regarding integrating baby in to the family. 

These five tips will help you when bringing new baby home so that everyone can enjoy being part of a growing family.

1)    Have a present ready for older children “from the baby”.

Babies need a lot of attention and rightly so – they are helpless as newborns and parents need to spend a lot of time with them to bond.  A special present for an older child “from the baby” acknowledges that the sibling is important, plus can provide a welcome distraction when Mom or Dad are busy with the baby. 

2)    Set some special time aside to bond with your older children.

Remember that your firstborn was once the focus of Mom and Dad’s attention, and now that attention has shifted to the baby.  Try at least once a day to have some special time with your older child.  Whether it’s reading a book together, playing a game, or letting someone else (grandparent, friend, postpartum doula, neighbour), watch the baby while you have an outing or a snuggle.  Make time and remind your older child that they are special too.

3)    Let siblings help around the house. 

As children get older, they can start to assume small responsibilities and chores.  This is ideal if you can start this before the new baby arrives.  That way, they can do small things and feel like they are contributing to the family.  “Everybody does their share” is a great phrase to use.  This is an opportunity to explain that the family dynamic will change when baby comes, and that the older child is needed to help.  Children take pride in accomplishing things and this is an opportunity to build their self-esteem (and keep them busy when parents are busy with baby!)

4)    Let siblings help care for baby.

Even young toddlers can do something to help with the new baby, like a simple game of peekaboo.   Older children can read baby a story, and help with general care like bathing and diapering.  It’s a learning opportunity for them and shows them that they are an important part of the family. The important thing is to not make it feel like a chore, so that they are not resentful.  Pour on the praise for the older child when they help, even if it’s not perfect.  Be gentle, this is new to them as well.

5)    Have a sibling basket by your feeding basket.

Just like new moms need to have a basket filled with water, snacks, and entertainment when feeding a baby, for older children (especially toddlers!) having a sibling basket is a great strategy for managing feeding time.  Fill it with special toys, books, and games (that you can play one handed!) that are to be used ONLY when baby is feeding.  That way, the novelty takes longer to wear off (you may have to rotate to some new items) and it makes the time spent feeding the baby a special time for them too. 

Remember, it is challenging to bring a new baby home, sibling or no sibling.  But by preparing in advance, lining up help, and using these strategies, it can help reduce friction between siblings and help set a foundation for a more harmonious transition for your growing family.  

Do you need a helping hand with bringing baby home?  Doula Care Journey has postpartum doulas that can help with the transition.  Contact us to learn how we can help.

 

Mamma Care Recipes - Spring Quinoa Salad

With warmer weather finally here,  it's nice to spend more time outside and less time cooking.  Here is a super quick, super healthy, make ahead salad that travels well.  The great thing is, it's made with things that you likely have in your pantry, and you can easily substitute ingredients to make this salad different and to work with what you have and your taste preferences.  This is my go-to recipe when I am called to bring something to a potluck.  Best of all, it's gluten-free and can be made vegan too.

Spring Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed well

2 cups water

1 cup celery, chopped (can sub zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, red onion)

1 cup apple, chopped (can sub oranges, pears)

2/3 cup cranberries (can sub raisins)

1/2 cup toasted almonds (can sub sunflower seeds, or pecans)

optional:  feta cheese, parsely

Dressing:

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp honey (sub maple syrup or agave to make it vegan)

salt and pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

Method:

1)  Set quinoa and water in a pot to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and cover and let cook for 15 minutes.  Take off heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.

2)  While quinoa is cooking, put remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.

3)  Mix all dressing ingredients except for olive oil in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil and stir until combined.

4)  Once quinoa has cooled, add to the bowl with the other ingredients, and pour the dressing on top.  Mix.

5)  Ideally, let sit for an hour before serving to let flavours mingle.  Keep in the fridge if not eating within an hour.  Keeps for a few days.

 

The Birth Diaries: Episode 1

If you’ve had me as your Birth Doula (or even if you haven’t!), you’ve probably also had the pleasure of hearing my gospel: 

“Labour and birth are so unpredictable each and every one is unique.” 

And it’s so true! Yet every birth I attend still surprises me in some way just in case I’d forgotten what I preach! 

My most recent experience in the labour room was exceptional and in being so, no exception to my gospel!

My client contacted me early on a Tuesday morning after a sweep (a common procedure whereby the doctor strips the membranes between the amniotic sac and the cervix hoping to help stimulate labour). She was dilated 2-3cm, so I made sure my Doula bag was ready and the phone ringer was on LOUD. But labour being labour, and this being a first time mom, who knew when she would give birth.  

What happened next?

Can you guess? 

I invite you to take a few moments to imagine...........

Ok, here’s how it actually went down:

Throughout the day, my client and I had periodical conversation about the explicit signs of prelabor that she was having. Her cramps were still “bearable” at 1pm. Fast forward to 7pm and her cramps were definitely contractions .  They had increased with so much intensity that by 9pm this couple were preparing to depart for the hospital, and then her waters broke! 

At the hospital the triage nurse informed my client that she was 8-9cm dilated and less than an hour later she had an epidural.

Note: an epidural at 9cm can be unusual, it’s very circumstantial and sometimes not an option

Up until this point she was using Nitrous Oxide to help cope. 

Then at 11:34pm a beautiful, healthy baby was born vaginally.  

Of course I left out a few details but to give you an idea that is how a labour timeline can look.

So returning to my original question, did you guess correctly?

You might be thinking “WOW that was fast, I hope mine is like that!”. That’s a valid thought, but I advise that you let that one go because remember my gospel “Labour and birth are so unpredictable each and every one is unique.”

Yours will be too. 

Remember…

You will hear a lot of birth stories during your pregnancy! 

You will also be given a lot of solicited/unsolicited advice.

While I’m sure all of it is coming from a place of compassion and concern, it may not always be in the form of inspiring or empowering words.  

So at the end of the day take it or (if it sucks) leave it, but despite everything you hear, trust in your personal experience and the process of labour as it unfolds because no matter how much you have in common with your bestie, your mother, your sister or any other wonderful woman in your life, her birth story will never be the same as yours. 

Being informed for birth

Why Childbirth Education?

Most people would never embark on any major undertaking in their lives without having done some research, or undergone appropriate training. Childbirth is no exception. There are few events in our lives that equate to birth - it can be a test of endurance, both physical and emotional, it’s a test of our relationship with our partners and birth companions, and in a medical environment, can be inundated with jargon that many parents to be can have a hard time understanding.

For example:

 Do we need internal fetal monitoring?

 Do I want a hep-lock installed?

 I’ve been diagnosed with Failure to Progress… now what

A well-structured childbirth education course will help you understand, ahead of time, some of the things that may be asked of you and help you make an informed choice should special circumstances arise. Regardless of your birth place and plan, you will benefit from quality childbirth education. Documented benefits of childbirth education include:

 increased understanding of the birth process

 increased maternal confidence in her ability to birth

 improved communication between birthing women and care providers

 decreased need for medication in labor and increased satisfaction with birth

 higher breast-feeding success rate

Why HypnoBirthing?

Founded by Marie Mongan in 1989, HypnoBirthing® teaches women and their partners to reconnect with their natural ability to birth, free from fear. You will learn Relaxation Techniques and how to work with your body so that you can give your baby a welcome that is calm, gentle, and safe. We will explore your options in the event special circumstances should arise and give you the confidence to make informed choices. Even if your plan is a medicated birth, HypnoBirthing will educate you in what to expect, remove fear of the unknown and provide you with tools to optimize the experience for your family.

HypnoBirthing is taught in a series of five 2.5 hour classes. The next session starts Saturday, April 8th at Skills for Change – 791 St. Clair Ave W.  Please contact Marta at:

hellodoulacare@gmail.com if you have any questions or to register!