Meet Sascha Lafleur, the woman at the helm of West of Main, an international award winning design firm based in Ottawa, Ontario. When we first met Sascha, we felt an instant connection to our shared belief that style should be timeless and carry us through no matter the time of day, year, or life’s transition. Inspired by her travels around the world, Sascha mixes simple elements of nature and modern pieces to create beautiful spaces that stand the test of time.
Business owner and internationally recognized Interior Designer, this inspiring woman is about to add mother to her resume. We checked in with this incredible mama-to-be to talk about her journey to pregnancy, her thoughts on maternity fashion and what learnings from her career she’ll be carrying over into motherhood.
August Women (AW): How are you feeling? How has your pregnancy been?
Sascha: I feel very fortunate to have had the ability to move my body throughout my pregnancy and have been feeling really good in my second and third trimesters. Being able to take a vacation to Mexico earlier this year made a huge difference in my journey. It was a great opportunity for me to relax and relieve some of the day-to-day stress!
Can you share your journey to pregnancy?
I know they say that there is no perfect time to have kids, but this definitely feels like a better time than when we first started West of Main, which will be 7 years old on May 12th.
I took six months prior to getting pregnant to set up a good physical and mental routine – I felt the healthiest I had been since I was 12! I got into cooking and learned about gut health. I started what I like to call my “Sascha Study”, where I'd track my sleep, what I ate, when I exercised, my cycle, and the moon – just to name a few. I know this may seem like a lot to some people, but it really helped me further understand myself and my health. I could recognize patterns when it came to what made me feel better and what didn’t. In this time, I felt a strong sense of empowerment and ownership of my life.
By the time I did get pregnant, I had built this strong foundation of knowledge and healthy routines, which made it easier to continue them throughout my pregnancy. I’m not going to lie, the first trimester felt like I was hungover the entire time – it could get a bit depressing, but it passes.
When I first got pregnant, I did feel overwhelmed with all of the different approaches to pregnancy and fears. With women having more of a platform in recent years to share their stories, there's so much information out there – good and bad. It almost felt paralyzing to make a decision about what exercise to do or what food to eat or drink. I found it really helpful when I hired a doula; we were able to talk through some of the questions and concerns I had. At first, everything is so new, so it's to be expected to feel out of your comfort zone. It takes time to settle into what works for you. For me, the first trimester was definitely a research and development phase.
The maternity industry seems to set an expectation for women to dress a certain way during their pregnancies – a way that often doesn’t align with a lot of women. You have an incredible and unique style. How did you maintain your style and stay true to yourself throughout your pregnancy? What styling advice would you share with other expectant mothers?
I found it a lot easier to dress for summer rather than winter when it comes to maternity fashion. My style has always been flowy and comfortable which allowed a lot of my existing closet to fit my bump as it's grown. Onesies were definitely my go-to. I would layer cardigans, kimonos, and dress shirts to style out sleeveless onesies or dresses and would often pair the ensemble with a hat and gold jewellery. Luckily I was able to tap into my summer wardrobe when we were in Mexico and feel free in all the flowy dresses. I’m a firm believer in investing in comfortable, quality pieces that you truly love and can be worn whether you're pregnant or not.
What does maternity leave look like for you?
We are going to take it one day at a time. As a business owner of a growing company, I don’t have the traditional maternity leave and there is no doubt it will be difficult to take a step back from being so highly involved. My goal is to create some sort of a routine within the first 3 months so that I can get back to consulting on the creative direction of the company. Fortunately, we have an extremely talented team of over 30 people now and the capacity within our leadership team to keep things going while I take some time to figure out motherhood.
How do you juggle being pregnant and running a business? What piece of advice would you share with others?
Sleep. I go to bed early because I often wake up 3-4 times during the night to pee and sometimes can’t get back to sleep until 3-5 am, then I’m up for the day! So I try to get to bed by 9 pm on a regular basis to get enough sleep. Eating well and exercising also allow me to keep my body and mind energized. So, healthy sleep, food, and exercise. These are the things that have allowed me to continue having a clear and quick mind.
You’re the co-founder of an award-winning design firm. How are you feeling about stepping away from your work when your little one arrives?
It's such a mix of feelings. On one hand, I’m really excited about this next career path of becoming a mother! On the other hand, I am in awe daily by everything our team at West of Main is doing and the creative energy that the team has – I don’t want to miss a beat!
Any self care tips you can share for expecting mama’s?
In my last trimester, I gifted myself weekly prenatal massages. This was a game-changer for me in terms of how I felt on the day-to-day. I hold my stress in my shoulders and neck and the massages helped keep all my body aches at bay while reducing stress. I get that this is a luxury, but I also chose to prioritize this over other things in my life. I also decided to take a hypnobirthing course, which was very insightful. I learned a lot about the history of birthing and it provided me with some relaxation tools and techniques that have made me feel more confident in my journey.
What are you most afraid of about motherhood? Most excited about?
I think the lack of sleep and hormonal changes might make me feel out of control and moody. I like a clean home – it makes me feel calmer – and I don’t want to build resentment towards my partner if he doesn’t deliver on my cleanliness expectations! I’m most excited to meet my baby girl and discover how beautiful the world is through her eyes.
What’s one thing you’ve learnt during your professional career that you plan on carrying over into motherhood?
It's not all glamorous and sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not, for the success of the bigger picture. Don’t get too emotional about what you thought it would be like and just do what it takes so that you can get to the more enjoyable parts. At least I find this approach makes me feel a lot better on a regular basis. I like the saying “Happiness is reality minus expectations.”
Wish me luck!