How to "hygge" in the springtime

How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
babys breath. How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
Coffee. How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog
Spring flowers. Baby's breath. How to hygge in the springtime. Photographer & writer Eva-Maria Smith writes a personal lifestyle blog about hygge, motherhood, slow living and sustainability. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog

I think it is fairly easy for most of us to apply a cozier way of living when it is dark and grey outside and winter has covered the ground with snow and ice (for more on what "hygge" actually means read here). Now, that the first spring flowers are popping up outside, it is just as important to have that slower, gentle mindset of togetherness and comfort, yet it may not come quite as easy to some of us. Spring generally fills us with new energy - which is great - but it sometimes leads us to over-doing things. A hygge lifestyle can help us to use that springtime energy to re-load our batteries and make them last. 

On a recent Instagram post I asked my friends which hyggelig habits they carry over from winter into spring. Together with my own favorites, I put together a little list for you:

Fill your vases with fresh flowers. Talk about a botanical pick-me up. Nothing combines the new season and a cozy home as well as fresh blooms. This doesn't have to be expensive either. You may be able to find beautiful flowers and blooming twigs on your morning walks. Personally, I love "Baby's breath", which is simple, cheap and just lovely. 

Have a "hyggekrog". Roughly translated, this means a cozy nook or corner in your home. A place to snuggle up. Around christmas time, most people have their houses filled with pillows, blankets, dimmed lights, candlelight and more, but once spring rolls around a lot of these things make way to a more "airy" way of decorating. While, I love that "fresh air" that comes with spring cleaning, I also make sure to have a "hyggekrog" ready. Adding a second baby, I even bought a new comfy chair, that I have decorated with linen-covered pillows and a wool blanket to sit in and nurse. Later, I plan on adding it to the dining area. 

Don't neglect the wool just yet. Spring comes with rays of much needed sunshine. Yet, the air can still be chilly and mornings and evenings are crisp. Don't neglect the wool just yet. As a matter of fact, don't ever completely do! One of the nice things about wool is that it has warming and cooling effects, making it the perfect natural fiber to wear year round. So keep the booties, the socks, the cardigans and blankets around. Maybe invest in a wonderfully cozy wool/silk blend tank for the new season. 

As a matter of fact, take your "hyggekrog" and your wool outside. One of my favorite things to do, is to enjoy the first signs of spring by sitting outside in a comfy chair, all bundled up and letting the spring sun shine on my nose. Before having kids, I would take my coffee and book out on the patio even when the days were still fairly cold. Now, I sit there and watch my daughter play. Also, I think these early spring days are perfect for first lunches outside with close-friends. Thankfully, a lot of restaurants nowadays provide blankets and the opportunity to take it outside as soon as the first signs of spring emerge. If you have young kids, that just want to run free, you may prefer packing a picnic and do a potluck style lunch with your friends in the park instead. 

Coffee and tea is a good idea any time of the year. The smell of freshly brewed quality coffee is one of the sweetest scents to fill the morning air, wether it is December or April. This is one of the "hyggelig" things, I think we can all easily agree on. I enjoy mine, with some mellow slow jazz playing on the record player. We bought this vinyl recently and it has been spinning endlessly ever since. Another good idea is to sign up for a local coffee tasting, or barrista course. A lot of smaller coffee roasters offer great seminars and will do it exclusively for you and a few friends. Togetherness and coffee - "hygge" at its finest, really. 

Going to the market and preparing simple, comforting foods. Some farmers markets are open year-round. However, it is never as wonderful to stroll through one, than it is in spring. Spring is the time of new-life. Even folk like me, that has everything but a green thumb, enjoys the season for its botanical possibilities. One of my favorite childhood memories is surely my father's dandelion salad around easter time. There is somethings so simple, yet profoundly peaceful in shopping at a local market and to go home and prepare a simple meal for your loved ones.

Candles. Even though one of the perks of the new season is, that the days are getting longer again, eventually they still come to an end. And so it goes without saying, that candlelight is a wonderful thing, every month of the year. 

Spring bath with an open window. This is one of my personal spring and summer favorites. To take a hot, relaxing bath, but to open the window (depending on the weather and your location more or less). There is something so comforting and mindful to just soak and listen to the birds chirping outside, to raindrops hitting leaves, or to whatever noises are typical for your home. 

This list is a wonderful start, but certainly not all-inclusive. Please share your favorite springtime "hygge" habits with me in the comment section below. I would love to hear them all.

 

 

 

A hospital bag full of comfort

Packing a minimalist hospital bag full of comfort for a gentle birth experience. Eva-Maria Smith writes about motherhood, simplifying and slow-living on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog. Hospital gown / Home birth essentials / Hygge. 
Packing a minimalist hospital bag full of comfort for a gentle birth experience. Eva-Maria Smith writes about motherhood, simplifying and slow-living on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog. Hospital gown / Home birth essentials / Hygge. 
Packing a minimalist hospital bag full of comfort for a gentle birth experience. Eva-Maria Smith writes about motherhood, simplifying and slow-living on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog. Hospital gown / Home birth essentials / Hygge. 
Packing a minimalist hospital bag full of comfort for a gentle birth experience. Eva-Maria Smith writes about motherhood, simplifying and slow-living on www.houseofsmilla.com/blog. Hospital gown / Home birth essentials / Hygge. 

If I could have it my way, this baby will be birthed in the peaceful atmosphere of my own home, just like his older sister entered the world. However, the tricky thing about births is, you can't really plan for them. Now, that doesn't mean, you can't prepare for them though and all the possible outcomes.

So, just in case I end up having to go to the hospital this time around, I finally scrambled a few things together and packed a hospital bag. Alongside a few practical items, I packed it full of things that will provide me with "comfort" and hopefully put me at ease.

As you read through the list below you will surely find, that most items are about warmth, security and feeling well. Wether you give birth at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital - I believe it is most important that you exclude distractions and wear and surround yourself with things, that you know will make you feel good, "hyggeligt" really. 

Since I do believe in a minimalist approach, I tried to keep it simple. Hospitals here provide you with diapers, some baby clothes and thick sanitary pads, so I didn't really have to pack any of that. Check with your hospital or birthing center to see what they will provide for you.

For mama:

Nightgown/Birth gown. A few weeks ago, I realized that I don't actually own a fitting pair of pyjamas or nightgown, that I would want to bring out in public. Instead of ordering a cheap gown half-heartedly I looked up a Pinterest tutorial on how to sew a slouchy hospital gown. With the help of my friends, we sewed some stretchy organic fabric (oh my it is so soft!) into a great gown in no time. We added a deep V, to help me nurse my little darling.  Before we got to sewing we had a lovely breakfast together and this morning alongside these strong females makes me cherish this garment so much more. It holds dear memories and loving wishes for me and my babe. I'm sure in the weeks to come you will see plenty of it. It will be such a comfortable thing to wear both during birth and after and instead of calling it a hospital gown, I lovingly refer to it as my gentle birth and postpartum comfort robe. 

The warmest, softest wool slippers. It was so very important to me to have warm slippers around for birth, but more so even for the first couple of days with babe. My sheepskin slippers recently fell apart and so I was browsing Etsy for a wonderful substitute. It didn't take long until I stumbled across these and fell in love. Read more about them in the little section below. 

A comfortable robe or soft knit cardigan to throw on. I actually packed both. The robe more so for the hospital and the cardigan  for when it is time to leave.

Going home outfit. I packed a pair of comfy leggings, warm wool socks, old undies (I recommend not wasting your lovely pairs in the first pairs postpartum - it can be quite messy), an oversized tee and the cardigan mentioned above. 

Soft organic cotton nursing bra. 

Soft bamboo nursing pads. 

Water bottle. If I can help it, I will stay of an IV drip for as long as I can. Not only is it so limiting in natural movement during birth, but also staying naturally hydrated is so important. During my first birth I took huge sips of water after every contraction.

Snacks. The same goes for food. See what policy your hospital has on eating during birth. Most likely, you won't be eating a pizza during birth, but some quick blood sugar booster can be life savers. I have nuts, protein bars and dextrose suckers ready. Your partner may need an energy boost, too. 

Toiletries. Again, I tried to keep it minimal. My favorite lip balm, natural deodorant, toothbrush and paste, my face lotion, shampoo bar. 

Pure sweet almond oil (for massages during birth, but also for after - last time I did not get a single stretch mark until after the baby was out), as well as a birth essential oil mix (they provide a diffuser at the local hospital. However, even having just a bottle of lavender oil to smell on might may calm you significantly during birth, or even lemon oil to give you a boost of energy). 

Witch hazel postpartum spray. Lucky me, I didn't end up tearing really, during my first birth. Even so, it was so nice to have this to soothe my lady parts.

A favorite comfortable blanket and/or pillow. Hospitals can be a scary, cold place. In any case, it is nice and comforting to have a favorite piece from home with you. 

For papa:

Don't forget your birth partner - he deserves to be comfy as well. Sweatpants and a toothbrush are the bare minimum. 

For baby:

It is most important to me that baby is always warm and comfy, wrapped only in the most natural fibers from the get go. Therefore I packed:

An organic muslin swaddle.

An organic wool baby blanket.

One organic wool/silk onesie.

One organic cotton romper.

An organic wool suit to go home in. 

The most wonderful knit baby booties. (I ordered them from my lovely Instagram friend Sarah at Brass Buttons & Babies - she finally opened up shop and I thought it was only right to be one of her first customers)

A wool hat (thanks to one of my wonderful friend, who is a much better knitter than I will ever be).

I also put a note on top of the bag to remind my husband to quickly throw in my cell phone, charger,  and camera (check for battery and SD cards). This would also be a good time, to have a note ready with the phone numbers of our doula (I can recommend a birth and postpartum doula to anyone striving for a natural birth experience) and birth videographer (which is a dear friend and follow photographer, as well as a mother of four. She was the perfect addition to my "birth team" the first time around and didn't make feel uncomfortable at all. The video is still one of my most treasured things) as well as the pager number of our wonderful home birth midwife. 

If everything goes smoothly and I do birth at home, I will still have all the items above handy, along with the following home birth essentials: disposable changing pads, thick sanitary pads, at least 3 tall and 3 small towels (we warm the small towels in the oven - this was such a relief on my back last time around - a cherry seed pillow could also be nice), a trash bag, a cleaning bucket and a bowl (for the placenta), smoothies in the fridge, 3 condoms filled with water and frozen (my midwife will utilize those in case of heavy bleeding or to reduce swelling due to heavy tearing), some calming records or birth music ready to go, my birth affirmations (which I could bring to the hospital, too I guess). 

Did I forget something vital to bring me comfort and joy? Which items were absolute necessities for you? Please do share your stories with me. I always appreciate other mamas talking about their experiences. 

SHOP SMALL:

I wanted to dedicate a small paragraph here to Agga and her wonderful Etsy store "Pure Iceland" . I wrote to Agga if she'd be willing to knit me a pair of her beautiful wool slippers in exchange for my photography skills. In working together with her I didn't' just end up with the coziest way to keep my (always) cold feet warm, but also got to know a very kind person behind an otherwise impersonal shopping experience. Agga first started knitting for her two girls. After a while, she found that she couldn't stop knitting, making warm gifts for friends and family, getting more and more hooked on the tranquility and coziness that follows the clicking of busy needles. She says she can be mostly found with knitting needles, a pile of wool and her furry companions by a crackling log of fire, with a cup of coffee or freshly baked cinnamon buns nearby (Hello "hygge", right?). Her knitting needles provide her with comfort and calm, just like her slippers are hopefully providing me with comfort and calm in the weeks ahead. Agga wrote me that a note of gratitude from a satisfied customer simply melts her heart and makes her day. And that statement, made me appreciate her product so much more. All of her items are hand knit of pure Icelandic wool and they are all based on the old Icelandic heritage of knitting. The wool is lightweight, warm and comfortable. Or as her favorite customer quote goes "It's like wearing a warm blanket". You can also find Agga on Instagram - @pureiceland

(If you use code "HOUSEOFSMILLA123" at checkout, you will get $5 off your own pair of wool slippers)

 

Inspiring books for a gentle birth & beyond

books and resources for a gentle birth and postpartum period. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog is a lifestyle blog about motherhood, as well as a simpler, slower, kinder life incorporating the danish concept of hygge by Eva-Maria Smith
books and resources for a gentle birth and postpartum period. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog is a lifestyle blog about motherhood, as well as a simpler, slower, kinder life incorporating the danish concept of hygge by Eva-Maria Smith
books and resources for a gentle birth and postpartum period. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog is a lifestyle blog about motherhood, as well as a simpler, slower, kinder life incorporating the danish concept of hygge by Eva-Maria Smith
books and resources for a gentle birth and postpartum period. www.houseofsmilla.com/blog is a lifestyle blog about motherhood, as well as a simpler, slower, kinder life incorporating the danish concept of hygge by Eva-Maria Smith

With my first baby I read an astounding amount of fertility, pregnancy, birth and parenting books. Starting from the (in my opinion) very shallow, very predictable  "What to expect..."-series, to some very spiritual "hippie" literature. I had both the time and the interest to submerge myself fully into the subject and it made feel secure and ready for childbirth and beyond. 

This time around, I was either too busy running after my daughter, or too tired from running after my daughter to really get into reading. However, there are a few books, that mean so much to me and bring me so much inspiration, assurance and guidance for child birth and the weeks after, that I just had to re-read them. Recently, a dear friend introduced another gem to me, that I am currently finishing up. So if you are short on time like me,  or simply a minimalist when it comes to pregnancy reads, I would whole-heartedly recommend these three books, to gently prepare you for what is to come:

"Ina May's guide to childbirth" - by Ina May Gaskin. To me, this has been by far the most helpful read to prepare for my home birth. However, no matter where you plan on giving birth, this book will help you understand the natural process of childbirth. It will help you appreciate the power of the female body and its capabilities and leave you confident and fearless as you enter your birthing story. The first part, is a beautiful collection of powerful birth stories. The second part, is about the "essentials of birth", including comfort measures, incredible facts about the female body and its birthing powers and a bit on the history of certain "standardized" procedures performed in hospitals in the U.S. today. It is a spiritual, but also factual read. Ina May Gaskin is probably the most inspiring lady in midwifery today and this book is her gift to all of us.

"The birth partner" by Penny Simkin. This book is meant for fathers to be, doulas and all other labor companions - "birth partners". It is a very comprehensive guide to childbirth with information about anything from the last weeks of pregnancy, to the stages of labour, to the first days postpartum, and even a little bit about breastfeeding. I have never actually "fully" read this book. My "birth partner" and incredible husband did the reading for me. In the evenings, he would rub my belly with oil, or give me a foot massage, while telling me the most important facts he learned in the book. The book left him knowledgeable and comfortable about childbirth. As usual in our marriage, he took over the role of the level-headed, fact-based brain of our "birth operation", while I focused in on my feelings and handling the physical and emotional part - the "soul" of birth. Due to his preparedness, I could ease into birth without fear. He is the one that knows all the details from the signs of any stage of labor, stimulating measures, comforting techniques, to counting contractions and baby's first poops. "The birth partner" empowers your partner and gives him an active role in a time when the female partner is left with most of the "heavy lifting", both figuratively and literally. It is also a great way to bond and find some special downtime as a couple during pregnancy. 

"The first forty days - the essential art of nourishing the new mother" - by Heng Ou. I'm a firm believer in the rest and relaxation period, or "laying in" after childbirth. It is a wonderful, quiet time of getting to know your baby, healing your body and adjusting to motherhood (wether it is the first or second or seventh time around). There will never be another time in your life, where you can get away with being present only with your loved-ones and yourself, instead of pleasing, working, rushing, stressing and hurrying... This beautifully put together book is a gentle reminder of the benefits of taking it slow after child birth. It provides interesting facts, guidance and even nourishing recipes for this special time. It makes a beautiful staple in your bookshelf, or a wonderful gift as you pass it on to other mothers.  

If you can't get enough now, of indulging in wonderful books like the ones above I can also recommend this one, as well as this.

For the little one, I loved this one , to prepare her for her new role as a big sister. 

And if you can barely keep your eyes open and reading is not on your agenda tonight, but you want to get into the spirit anyways, then I can recommend these wonderful youtube videos:

Conception to birth - a visualization

90 seconds to change the world

Reducing fear of giving birth

Why it matters how we are born

We must put the sex back into birth