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Whether you choose to nurse for two months, are preparing to breastfeed for two years, or using formula, it's an important decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. First, know that whatever you decide is totally fine. We're here to support your entire journey.

If you are breastfeeding as a new mother, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for the first six months, and it can be continued as long as both mother and baby desire it. While this is an awesome goal to reach, for many of us, nursing is a complete struggle.

We tapped a few experts who know the breastfeeding ropes and are happy to share bits of advice. Here's what they had to say:

On increasing your milk supply

1. The exact number of fluid intake may vary per individual, but you should aim to have at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

2. Anecdotally, some women find that lactation cookies help—and even if they don't, they are delicious cookies, so yay! You can bake some at home and modify the ingredients to your liking (ie. add more chocolate chip!) or buy pre-made cookies.

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3. Galactogogues like Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle and Brewer's Yeast are supplements that can help with your milk supply. These herbs can be taken separately or in a combo formulation. Fenugreek can have mixed results when taken by itself. For some women, it really helps, but for others it may not make a difference or even reduce supply. Find what works for you.

4. Breastfeeding moms need an extra 500 calories per day. Choose nutritious food that give you energy, such as protein-rich foods like oatmeal, adding flaxseed meal or brewer's yeast to smoothies or yogurt, eggs, and veggies.

5. The AAP recommends calcium, vitamin D, iron, folic acid as important vitamins and minerals for breastfeeding moms.

6. Nursing babies do not follow a schedule, they set it. So, try to go with the (milk) flow and follow your boss baby's cues, especially when your baby is still a newborn. Lactation consultants often recommend feeding on demand, which means that every time your baby is hungry, you feed them.

Nadia Sabri Nadia Sabri MD, FAAP is a board certified pediatrician.

On taking medication

7. The commonly used acetaminophen and ibuprofen are generally considered safe to take while breastfeeding. Medications are said to be "lipophilic" when they have a tendency to concentrate in fat. Because breast milk contains a high proportion of fat, it will also contain a high proportion of a drug that dissolves in fat. Therefore, fat-soluble medications are often prescribed with caution.

8. Medications prescribed for anxiety and depression are lipophilic and have relatively long half-lives, meaning that they both dissolve in fat and take longer to metabolize. Although the infant exposure to these medicines through breast milk is still relatively low, there have not been long-term studies of this exposure, so women who need these drugs may be discouraged from breastfeeding.

Stephanie Loomis Pappas is a professor turned stay-at-home parent committed to debunking all of the bad parenting advice on the internet.

On alcohol and breastfeeding

9. Certain beers can increase your milk supply. Studies have found that a sugar in the barley that beer is made from can increase the hormone prolactin, which is involved in triggering let-down, or the release of breast milk.

10. A study found that babies slept less in the hours after consuming breastmilk with alcohol in it.

11. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake [which is approximately] 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or two beers.

Diana is Motherly's digital education editor. She is a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

On what position to breastfeed in

12. The cross-cradle position is the standard, go-to nursing position that most lactation consultants will start you on. It's good for first-time nursers, when you're in bed, on a chair and in public places.

Katie Brooker is an avid multi-tasker. Apart from being the head designer and fit technician for Cake Maternity, she's the mother of two young girls.

13. It's essential that you're aware of what to realistically expect of you in those first few days, weeks and months. You can do this by talking to mamas who are breastfeeding. Find a friend who is nursing, a local La Leche League, or a breastfeeding support group—and attend a meeting prenatally or have conversations around what to expect.

Daniela Jensen is the VP of strategy at Premama Wellness, and a mother, wife and entrepreneur who founded and sold NüRoo.

On preparing for the breastfeeding journey

14. There probably won't be a nursing pillow in the hospital, so you may want to bring one.

15. I recommend hydrating your nipples with olive oil. Just like you would use hand cream to protect your hands, the more supple your nipple, the less likely they are to crack and bleed.

16. In the first three days of life, your baby loses weight, and can't eat a lot because their gut is the size of walnut. In those first few days, your baby can nurse as much as 12 times a day. Since they're not taking much in, they don't need as much time on the breast—eight to 10 minutes per breast is enough.

17. In those first three days, baby should be doing eight to 10 minutes on each breast. Once your milk comes in (around day two to four), it should be 10-15 minutes on both sides, and one or two times a day, 10-20 minutes each breast. Babies should be able to drain a breast in an appropriate period of time.

18. You know you have a proper latch when your nipple goes deep in the mouth and comes out of the mouth round. During a great latch you should also have minimal to no discomfort and you should see your baby sucking. Latching is not just the mother's responsibility; it is also the baby's responsibility.

19. If your baby is nursing well during the first few days, don't pump. Milk is supply and demand. If you pump too early, you might overproduce.

Freda Rosenfeld is an BCLC.

On traveling and breastfeeding

20. When traveling, don't forget your road trips snacks. Nursing moms need extra calories, so pack water bottles and healthy snacks to keep your energy—and patience—up.

21. If you're on a road trip and using bottles and nipples to feed your expressed breast milk, it's always helpful to pack one to two more than you think you need.

22. If you're on a flight, breastfeed at take-off and landing. Swallowing helps babies adjust to the change in air pressure.

Molly Petersen Molly began her Lansinoh career assisting customers with product questions, and was inspired to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) when she realized that many questions were more about breastfeeding than products.

On nutrition and breastfeeding

23. The USDA publishes an online tool that includes breastfeeding in calculating recommended daily nutritional intake. For example, an active 30-year old mother who is 5' 4" tall and weighs 100 lbs should consume 59 grams of protein per day during the first 6 months of breastfeeding.
24. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid seafood and limit consumption of fish such as tuna and mackerel, as they can contain excessive amounts of mercury and other toxins.
Dr. Stephanie Canale is the co-founder of Lactation Lab

On those hard breastfeeding days

25. Sometimes breastfeeding problems can be solved by going back to basics. If your nipples hurt, try to change position, shape and hold your breasts, or unlatch and start again. If you aren't making enough milk, try nursing more frequently.

26. Breastfeeding boils down to three things: Trust biology, your body, and your baby.


27. Even when you get there, know that it is normal to have rough days as your baby gets older. Teething, growth spurts, and other fussy phases can all drive a nursing mother mad! We have all been there. You have the right to complain. You have the right to vent. It's all part of the cycle of life you are in with your baby, and with breastfeeding.

28. Whether or not you breastfed or were breastfed matters in many ways, and in many ways it doesn't matter at all.

29. All mothers have a right to feel whatever they feel about how breastfeeding went for them. All feelings are normal. All feelings are real.

30. How much you pump doesn't always reflect how much milk your baby takes at your breast. Most babies take more than the pump extracts; some take less.

31. You should breastfeed for as long or as short a time as you want. It is entirely up to you (and your baby).

32. There is no magic age when babies should stop nursing in the middle of the night. Some babies need the nutrition well past the first few months, and many like the nighttime connection for years.

On what is normal… and what is not

33. Lactation cookies and herbs can really help with your supply, but they are only helpful if combined with other treatments for remedying supply issues like lactation teas.

34. Tongue ties can impact breastfeeding. Tongues that are tied down can't milk the breast properly (leading to low weight gain) and can cause a lot of pain.

35. It's normal for newborns to never want to be put down. Ever. And it's normal for them to nurse all the time, sometimes more than once an hour. Really.

36. Almost all moms will make enough milk if they nurse often enough, but for a small number of moms, this isn't the case. Low milk supply is a real thing, and if you have it, you deserve good, kind, thoughtful help.

37. We need to make breastfeeding normal. Teach kids breastfeeding positioning, behavior and more.

38. After the first few hours, babies often fall into a deep sleep and are less able to nurse well. There is also evidence that nursing in the first few hours leads to long nursing duration in the long-term. Babies are learning as soon as they are born, so give them the chance to learn to nurse.

On general breastfeeding tips + tricks

39. When you're at the hospital after the birth of your child, give your baby no artificial nipples—no bottles or pacifiers.

Wendy Wisner is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and breastfeeding writer.

40. Set small goals and reach out to your support team when you are having a hard time. Breastfeeding can have its ups and downs...and so can parenting! Find people who will be that listening ear and supportive sounding board that we all need.

41. I think one of the biggest factors in mothers reaching their breastfeeding goals is confidence.

42. Prenatal education is important. We all have a mother's intuition inside of us, but having reliable information and options helps us to create the confidence to tap into that mother's intuition more readily.

Lindsey Shipley is a registered nurse and owner of Lactation Link LLC

On trusting your intuition

43. Trust your instincts! So often I hear new mothers say, 'I'm just a first time mother so I'm not sure...' If there was one thing I wish for every new mother it's to realize that you know more than you think."

44. You will know if breastfeeding is not working. You will know if your baby is unsettled or something just isn't right. If you suspect something is going on, please seek help from an IBCLC who listens to you, respects your instincts and feelings and helps form a plan for you to reach your breastfeeding goals.

Meg Nagle is an IBCLC and author of Boobin' All Day...Boobin' All Night. A Gentle Approach To Sleep For Breastfeeding Families

45 . Your breastfeeding journey doesn't have to be all or nothing to be successful, it isn't a pass/fail event.

Jessica Martin-Weber, founder of The Leaky Boob

46. Most progressive NICUs will prioritize breast milk and breastfeeding. But there's still the misconception that premature and other babies in intensive care can't breastfeed so read on the topic and be prepared to advocate for yourself and your baby.

On breastfeeding with twins

47. Tandem breastfeeding means breastfeeding your babies simultaneously (one on each breast), which may actually buy you some time to rest and take care of yourself between feeding multiples! For most new parents of twins, this requires latching one baby on first and having someone else position the other baby on the opposite breast. If tandem is not working for you in the beginning, that's ok. Practice really does make perfect. So take the time to work on the latch individually with each baby; and once individual latching and feeding is feeling easier, try tandem nursing again (somewhere in the 2- to 6-week mark).


48. One of the biggest concerns for twin parents is getting a milk supply big enough for two. To do that, our breasts require frequent, regular stimulation to make the right amount of milk for our babies. So if you can, initiate breastfeeding within the hour and allow the twins (either one or both) to suckle at your breasts whenever they show signs of hunger.

49. Expert support can really make a difference when it comes to feeding twins. A lactation consultant who's versed in breastfeeding multiples will give you all the tools you need to find the right nursing position, to help you make enough milk for both babies and to ultimately succeed in your breastfeeding journey.

50. If you can, keep your babies very close to you at all times as you are learning to breastfeed and building milk supply. At home, you can use a co-sleeper or nearby bassinet so you can hear and respond to your babies' feeding cues as quickly as possible.

Jada Shapiro is the founder of boober and Birth Day Presence.

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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It's been more than a decade since federal guidelines were implemented to ensure nursing mothers have the time and space to pump at work, but as Motherly has previously reported, many mothers still find it extremely challenging to maintain a pumping schedule in the workplace.

This week a new study out of the University of Georgia showed that while most women report having access to private spaces and break times for pumping there are still significant "gaps in access to workplace breastfeeding resources" and the researchers recommend employers take action to reduce breastfeeding disparities.

"We know that there are benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant, and we know that returning to work is a significant challenge for breastfeeding continuation," says Rachel McCardel, a doctoral student at UGA's College of Public Health and lead study author. "There is a collective experience that we wanted to explore and learn how can we make this better."

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The challenges of breastfeeding in 2020

There is a lot of pressure on mothers to exclusively breastfeed, but nearly half of mothers feel like they must make a choice between breastfeeding and keeping their job. A baby's mother is the best person to decide whether the infant should be breastfed, formula-fed or both, but it should be her choice. When workplace supports for breastfeeding are not in place many mothers feel like they don't have a choice at all.

Public health campaigns and social norms reinforce breastfeeding as the best choice, but a recent survey from Areoflow found that 1 in 3 people (31%) "do not believe employers should be required to provide a lactation room" but at the same time, 90% of those surveyed stated that they believe women should be allowed to pump at work.

For too many women, those contradicting messages mean that pumping at work is an uncomfortable experience, something they need to do nearly in secret. It's an example of the many ways in which mothers are supposed to parent as though they don't work but pretend they aren't parents when at work.

Calling for change in 2020

Half the states in America explicitly protect the rights of nursing parents in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and federal law also provides protections to nursing workers under the Affordable Care Act. Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act—but millions of working mothers are not covered by those protections, and the new research out of the University of Georgia's College of Public Health suggests that even mothers who are need more support from their employers.

Heather Padilla is an assistant professor at UGA's College of Public Health and the co-author of the study. She recommends employers "designate a person who is responsible for making sure that women who are preparing for the birth of their baby understand what resources they have available to them when they return to work," she said.

Supervisors or HR directors could fill this role, and would fill a gap between company policy and personal experience. Padilla and McCardel found that many women "said they hadn't expected to get much help from their employers, and there was a general lack of communication about the resources available to them."

The work Padilla and McCardel have done reinforces the work we at Motherly are doing: In 2020 we are calling for change, and demanding support for mothers feeding their babies.

Mamas need to work + babies need to eat

For many American mothers work is not a choice, it is a necessity. Mothers are increasingly the breadwinners for their families and it is very hard for mothers, even those with working partners, to be a stay-at-home parent in 2020.

We need paid family leave and protection from breastfeeding discrimination. We need employers to support working mothers who choose to pump, and we need to reduce the stigmatization of formula feeding.

Mama, we see you pumping in your office and mixing formula bottles to take to day care. We see how hard it is and we support you. Know that no matter what your baby is eating—bottled breast milk, formula, or some combination (because breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing)—we know you are working so hard to provide it.

We have declared 2020 the #yearofthemother. Join us, and call for change because McCardel is right—this is a collective experience and it is one we can make better for the mothers who come after us.

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