Nikki Leigh McKean is the owner of FIKA Cafe in Kensington Market, but she’s also a photographer and co-runs Splendido Restaurant on Harbord with her husband,  Chef Victor Barry. (Talk about a balancing act!) The power-pair added parents to their portfolio when their daughter Charlotte Lee Barry was born on January 9th, 2014!

Please share three tips for a new mom who also owns their own business: 

1. Maternity Leave

So… I said that I would give myself until June for “mat leave” but who’s kidding who? It wasn’t long before I was creeping back into the working world again. It’s hard to leave what you love, especially when it’s your own.  I think the best thing about owning you own biz is that, technically, I never have to go back to work and that’s an amazing feeling.  Right now people look at me and make comments like, “Wow, how does she manage?” Especially when I was shooting a wedding just seven weeks after giving birth. I’m not sure if people were impressed or disturbed! But   when the “regular moms”  have to go back to work full time next year, I don’t, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

2. Breast Feeding

I was and am 100% committed to breast feeding my baby, but it’s hard—and I mean it’s really hard.  It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone and it’s a lot of work.  My milk didn’t come in right away and Charlotte had to go back to the hospital because she had lost so much weight and it was so confusing.  The lesson I learned was that at the end of the day, your baby is hungry and she needs to eat and you need to sleep.  Charlotte didn’t latch properly, I wasn’t producing enough milk because she wasn’t latching, then I had to wear a breast shield and I was pumping to keep up the milk supply and then feeding her with a tube on my boob so she would latch. REPEAT every 2-3 hours. So, I did that for the first six weeks and we are three months down the road and her latch is great, no more shield or tubes. I’m still not producing enough milk so I top up with formula and she is super happy and has no problem taking a bottle and going back to my boob.  We also found out early in the pregnancy that she has an allergy to cow’s milk protein so I had to change the formula and change my diet. As a working Mom who needs some flexibility it’s really nice that I can have the breast feeding bonding with her and also be able to leave her with someone for the day with a bottle. It’s win-win.  You can’t expect to be a super hero… there is too much stigma around this topic.  You have to do what’s best for you and what works for your family, and I say family because I truly believe that it’s important to include your partner/husband in the experience.

3. Enjoy the snuggles

I can’t get enough of her snuggles… and so many people have reminded me that I should embrace this time with her and she will grow out of it, and it’s true.  Charlotte is only three months now and, already, she doesn’t need/want as much snuggling anymore as in the first weeks.  I’m a very snuggly person so it just makes my heart melt to be so close to someone who can’t live without you—it’s crazy.  Somedays I felt like a prisoner to my couch and it’s extrememly frustrating when your starving but your cute little bean just feel asleep on you and your afraid to move.  I quickly taught myself to relish in the moment and let it be a teaching lesson to calm down and take in the still energy of a newborn baby and to always go pee, top up on a large jug of water and a snack before you start feeding incase you don’t leave that spot for another 2hours.  I also made a rule to not be on my cell phone during the night feedings and to spend the time being calm and focus on bonding. Instagram can wait. Facebook can wait.  The emails, they can wait.  It can all wait.

Babies are the most amazing things.  Pregnancy allows us to listen to our bodies and babies ask us to extend that invitation to be better people, more patient, more loving and for us working moms who own our biz, it makes us that much more knowledgeable about ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses.

For more of Nikki’s beautiful photography, follow her on Instagram.