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I struggled to raise my hand in class, even when I was 100% sure I had the right answer.


At the mere thought of raising my hand, my stomach would tighten while my heart pounded so loudly I would swear my classmates could hear it.

I’d silently practice what I wanted to say out loud, but I’d never have the guts to say it.

This continued throughout high school, college, and eventually in the office. So many good ideas were left unsaid during meetings because of fear—fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, of being embarrassed, of not being perfect.

And now as a new mama to two little girls, I so desperately, whole-heartedly do not want that for my daughters.

And luckily, neither does Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and author of Women Who Don’t Wait In Line

Reshma recently gave an inspiring TED Talk about teaching girls bravery instead of perfection which (not surprsingly!) quickly gained over 750,000 views. We got to chat with the brilliant attorney, activist, and women’s leadership advocate Reshma on all things bravery: for us, for our daughters, and for our economy.

So how do we teach our daughters to be brave, instead of perfect? (Who needs perfection, anyway?)


We spoke to Reshma about how we can cultivate bravery in our daughters—and ourselves.


On the risks women and girls need to take—

Reshma told Motherly: “I’m enormously regretful of being so risk-averse early on in my career. I stayed in jobs I hated for far too long because I was afraid of the uncertainty that came with leaving. I was afraid of failing and afraid of disappointing my family.

“I was 32 when I ran for Congress. I say this because we’re taught it’s ok to take these big career leaps when we’re in our 20s, but we cast an unfavorable light on those who take big risks later on in their careers or when they start families.”

“Yes I lost the campaign but out of it came Girls Who Code. If I hadn’t taken that leap I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope through sharing my failure stories I can show women of all ages it’s never too late to follow your dreams.”

On opt-ing in to risk—

In Reshma’s TED talk she explains that when it comes to applying for jobs, men will apply for roles where they meet 60% of the qualifications—whereas women will only apply if they meet 100%.

Reshma told Motherly: “Those stats are really eye-opening. There were so many times I didn’t apply for a job I really wanted because they asked for a specific skill or expertise I didn’t have. Yet how realistic is it they we can check every box? You can also think of it this way: If you are able to check every box, what do you left to learn? I think this desire to make sure something is a ‘sure thing’ before we even try has caused us to be so overly cautious. It causes us to miss out on opportunities for real growth.”

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On cultivating bravery—

Reshma: “I think it’s important to see bravery as something not outside of our girls but something that can be cultivated within them.”

“It’s so important to encourage girls to take risks (however small at first!) early on. As parents it’s our role to nurture her adventurousness and exploration in her day-to-day, and reward her for taking risks in the same way we reward her for being ‘good’. Allowing girls to explore new interests in their own time is really important.”

On teaching your children by your own actions—

Reshma: “We know as parents and caretakers we play a huge role in how we shape our kids’ values and outlooks. An obvious way would be to encourage our girls to take on the same risks we encourage in our boys, and to reward hard work in the same way we reward accomplishments. But let’s not forget that so much of what our kids’ learn is through observation. Kids are always listening, watching, and they pick up on subtle cues about what’s acceptable and unacceptable.”

“We have an amazing opportunity to teach our girls to accept imperfection by encouraging and embracing it in our own lives.”

On why we should praise bravery—

Even if as women we have been “socialized to be perfect,” Reshma explains, now is our time to change that within ourselves. To throw perfection out the window and explicitly model bravery for our daughters.

Reshma: “Awareness is the first step. Noticing how we’re encouraging our girls to play it safe rather than being bold and courageous is powerful. Adjusting our behavior accordingly is the next step. It’s about finding the right balance between making sure our kids feel safe and supported and giving them the space they need to explore, fail, and get back up again.”

“As parents we’re hardwired to want to step in and protect at all costs. It requires not just a lot of patience but living with a certain amount of discomfort.”

“But know that that patience and discomfort is an investment into your child’s future. And the future of our economy.”

So when can our daughters start learning to code with Reshma?

Reshma: “When it comes down to it, coding is all about building and problem-solving. There are tons of resources for kids as young as 1-2. We’re big fans of GoldieBlox. It’s never too early to start introducing girls to these resources, developing skills that will help them in life whether they decide to pursue computer science or not. Our Girls Who Code Clubs program teaches girls beginning 6th grade, when girls’ interests in math and science begins to drop off.”

As Reshma explains in her TED Talk, “Those 600,000 jobs that are open right now in computing and tech? Women are being left behind. And it means our economy is being left behind on all the innovation and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave, instead of socialized to be perfect. For the American economy, for any economy to grow—to truly innovate—we cannot leave behind half our population. We have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfection, and we’ve got to do it now.”

So let’s not wait for our daughters to figure this out themselves. Let’s teach them together; let’s show them the way. Raise your hand. Speak up. Apply for that job. Build startups. Push boundaries. Take risks. Go outside your comfort zone. Big, great, amazing things are going to happen. ?

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Programs and Clubs, Girls Who Code is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Started in 2012, the organization has grown to reach 10,000 girls in more than 40 states. In 2016, Girls Who Code will run more than 80 Summer Immersion Programs and 500 Clubs. The results speak for themselves: 90 percent of alumnae have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. Reshma has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and ran a spirited campaign for Public Advocate in 2013.

Reshma is the author of the groundbreaking new book, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line, in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She’s been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC’s Next List, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State’s Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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