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You made it, mama! Your second trimester to-do list

There is something magical about the second trimester of pregnancy. Chances are you will feel more energized and less nauseated than you have in weeks.

Feeling those kicks ?

With your little one getting bigger at a fast and furious pace, you will probably get to experience those amazing first kicks and jabs before long.

Sharing the news ?

You may have waited until this point to share the exciting news with friends and family, which means you can officially start celebrating the impending arrival.

We fully support imbibing in a mocktail at your baby shower!

Getting stuff done ?

Take advantage of your invigoration by tackling a to-do list. Trust us: When the last weeks of pregnancy tick down you may not even want to get off the couch, let alone scramble to prepare for the new addition.

Here’s what you’ll want to do during the second trimester.

1. Sign up for a prenatal exercise class.

The purpose of a pregnancy-oriented workout class is twofold.

The big benefit is that it will enable you to stay active with expert guidance. Secondarily, these programs are great ways to meet other expectant mothers. We cannot overemphasize the importance of connecting with others who have at least some idea of what you’re going through.

Plus, you may even find a few friends for future stroller strolls!

2. Make healthy eating a priority.

You may have your appetite back after overcoming morning sickness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be eager to get back in the kitchen. Avoid the temptation of calling for takeout too often by stocking up on wholesome snacks and simplifying your menu. You may spend a bit more, but it’s worth it to get chopped veggies or prewashed lettuce if it means you’re more likely to eat them.

3. Do your homework on what optional tests your doctor will offer.

There are some big decisions to make in the second trimester, starting with whether you’ll do a quad screening.

Quad screening

This is done by a simple blood draw and tests for a few substances that can indicate whether your baby has certain birth defects, such as Down syndrome. Some women decide not to get these tests due to personal or religious preferences. Talk to your doctor or midwife to weigh the pros and cons.


A few weeks later, your doctor may offer to do an amniocentesis, or “amnio,” another test for genetic disorders and chromosomal abnormalities. This is a bit more complex: Your doctor will extract a small amount of amniotic fluid using a thin needle inserted through your abdomen. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports there is a small risk of miscarriage with amniocentesis, with one loss for every 300 to 500 procedures.

4. Decide whether you want to learn the baby’s sex.

Between 16 and 20 weeks, you will almost definitely do a big anatomy ultrasound.

The technician will pay close attention to how baby is developing, and can get the first good look at whether you’re having a boy or girl. This could very well be your last ultrasound, so decide in advance if you want to know the baby’s sex or go Team Green until the end.

5. Book a babymoon.

Before even simple day trips start to require multiple bags, car seats and strollers, take advantage of your freedom with a romantic getaway.

You can go big with a vacation like a cruise (be warned that most companies won’t allow you to sail after 24 weeks) or keep it simple with a staycation. Just make an effort to spend some quality, one-on-one time with your sweetie.

6. Decide about working with a doula.

You’ve likely decided whether to use an OB or midwife by now.

For some women who chose to use a doctor but want more consistent support or hope for a medication-free labor, adding a doula to the equation is a great option. Birth doulas provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. We’re grateful for that!

7. Invest in some flattering maternity clothes.

It can be really exciting when you first get a true baby bump, but that joy can give way to frustration when your old wardrobe staples don’t fit. Maternity clothes aren’t only comfortable (so, so comfortable!) but can also boost your confidence.

8. Rev those baby registry engines.

If you’re planning to have a baby shower—or if someone’s planning to throw one for you—you’ll want to register for baby goods. This is one of the most fun parts of registering, and there’s no reason to stress out about it. (For one, Amazon Prime exists, and for two, you’ll have plenty of time even when your little one arrives to introduce the delivery man to you house.)

Lots of Motherly’s mamas love BabyList’s universal registry because you can add items from literally anywhere. But we also adore its personalized lists from partner brands—so many great ideas.

9. Plan for your return to work and childcare.

Now that the news is probably out in the open, it’s time to have The Talk with your boss about approaching maternity leave and your return to work, if that’s what you plan to do.

It also isn’t too soon to look into childcare, which can book up surprisingly far in advance.

10. Schedule a dentist appointment.

You can blame it on the hormones (for real!), but approximately 40% of women develop gingivitis at some point during pregnancy. That makes it more important than it already is to stay on top of dental cleaning. The second trimester is an ideal time.

11. Start assembling the nursery.

When so much of what happens during pregnancy is out of your hands, it can be nice to take control of something like designing a peaceful place for you and baby to enjoy in a few months.

So if you haven’t already, hop on Pinterest and get inspired.

If all that decorating makes you feel overwhelmed instead of excited, that’s fine too. Your baby will be just as happy in a simple room as one with an elaborate design.

12. Work on your post-baby budget.

Whether you plan to return to work or not, your monthly expenses are guaranteed to change when baby arrives—and not just because of those diapers! You should also bolster your own savings for emergencies and consider setting up a college fund like a 529 savings plan. Look at you, responsible parent!

13. Savor the moment.

We know this list, like so many things related to pregnancy, may seem overwhelming. Take your time. Include your partner. Ask “been there, done that” moms for advice.

And then build in time for relaxing! This is a special time in your life and we give you complete authorization to enjoy it. Rest and relaxation—go full force.

Emily Glover is a writer and new mama.

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Baking Christmas cookies together is a family tradition for many, but the Centers for Disease Control is warning parents that if your recipe contains raw flour or raw eggs, you really shouldn't sneak a bite before it is cooked, and neither should your kids.

The CDC is warning people not to eat raw cookie dough, cake mix or bread as we head into prime baking season.

The agency acknowledges the appeal of a spoonful of chocolate chip goodness but asks that we "steer clear of this temptation—eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick."

Salmonella from raw eggs is, of course, a concern, and so is the raw flour. According to the CDC, flour needs to be cooked in order to kill germs like E.Coli. That's why the CDC is asking parents to "say no to raw dough," not just for eating but even for playing with.

"Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay, too," the CDC posted on its website.

On the Food and Drug Administration's website, that agency advises that "even though there are websites devoted to 'flour crafts,' don't give your kids raw dough or baking mixes that contain flour to play with." Health Canada also states that raw flour should not be used in children's play-dough.

The warnings follow a 2016 E.coli outbreak linked to contaminated raw flour. Dozens of people got sick that year, and a post-outbreak report notes that "state investigators identified three ill children who had been exposed to raw flour at restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Restaurant staff had given them raw dough to play with while they waited for their food to be served."

The CDC worries that with flour's long shelf life, products recalled during the 2016 outbreak may still be in people's pantries (although the CDC notes that any raw flour—recalled or otherwise—should not be consumed).

If your kids do have flour-based play dough, don't worry.

Some parents are still choosing to use flour-based craft dough to make Christmas ornaments or other crafts this holiday season and are reducing the risks by A) making sure the kids aren't eating their art, and B) thoroughly washing little hands, work surfaces, and utensils when the dough play is over.

Other parents are choosing other types of craft clay over flour-based dough.

During the 2016 outbreak, the FDA called for Americans to abstain from raw cookie dough, an approach Slate called "unrealistic and alarmist," noting that "the vast, vast majority of people who consume or touch uncooked flour do not contract E. coli or any other infection."

Two years ago, 63 Americans were made sick by E. coli infections linked to raw flour, according to the CDC. We don't know exactly how many Americans ate a spoonful of cookie dough or played with homemade play dough that year, but we do know that more than 319 million Americans did not get sick because of raw flour.

Are there risks associated with handling and consuming raw flour? Yes, absolutely, but it's not something to panic over.

Bottom line: Don't let your kids eat raw dough when they're helping you bake cookies for Santa, and be mindful of raw flour when choosing crafts for kids.

(And if you have just got to get your raw cookie dough fix, the CDC notes that cookie dough flavored ice cream is totally safe as it "contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria." Sounds like mama's getting Ben & Jerry's tonight.)

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Twinkling lights are everywhere I look, and the magic of the holiday season is filling our house. The kids are growing more excited each day anticipating Santa's arrival and gifts are accumulating, ready to be wrapped in beautiful paper and bows.

Elf and The Grinch have been playing on repeat and the nativity scene has found a safe spot among our decorations. It's one of the busiest times of the year and it can be hard to catch your breath in the hustle and bustle of it all.

But then something stops you.

Maybe it's a pang in your heart or a memory of someone dearly missed. Maybe it's a familiar feeling of emptiness—of wanting this person to be a part of this magical, joy-filled time of year.

It's so easy to forget that many people are struck with sadness around the holidays and are longing for someone who's missing from their lives. We give and give to our families and friends and communities this time of year—food for dinners, and toys for less-fortunate children—but people don't always realize that another type of giving is needed.

The gift of comfort.

Because someone who is missing their mother, father, brother, sister, child, friend or spouse needs your connection and warmth. They need a reminder of their loved one is not forgotten, and maybe above all—just needs a hug.

Family traditions are wonderful and cherished, but they can also feel incomplete when someone is missing.

For me, I love the holidays, and watching my kids experience all the joys this season has to offer truly fills my heart. Yet, not a Christmas goes by that I don't think about what Kendrick (my first child lost at 2 months old) would have thought of this time of year.

Would he have loved hot cocoa like his sister and brothers? Would he have gotten into all the ornaments on the tree as a toddler? What toys would he have asked Santa for? What Christmas wishes would he have made for others?

I am left to wonder these things without answer. And even though I fully embrace this time of year and relish the holidays, I can't help but miss him.

I wanted to share my story as a reminder that even though your holiday cup may be filled with joy, someone you know may be wrestling with sadness. With all the merry and bright and cups of cheer, it's important to be mindful of this and to treat people with extra care. Reach out to someone you know who has lost someone, and let them know you're thinking of them. It won't go unnoticed.

Many of us have dealt with loss at some point in our lives, and we've learned to carry these special people in our hearts so that they are always with us. But missing someone never goes away. There are so many experiences in our lives we wish we could just snap our fingers and have them right by our sides—the holidays being one of those.

So as you check off your shopping lists, make your donations, trim your tree, or light your menorah—please don't forget to show care to those who may be hurting a little this holiday season.

They're certainly in a position where they could buy every item on their kids' Christmas lists, but Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher aren't planning on piling up the presents under the Christmas tree this year.

"So far, our tradition is no presents for the kids," Kunis said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. Mom to 4-year-old daughter, Wyatt, and 2-year-old son Dmitri, Kunis says she and Kutcher are determined to not raise entitled kids—and are learning from the mistakes of Christmases past.

“We've told our parents, 'We're begging you: If you have to give her something, pick one gift,'" Kunis said. “'Otherwise, we'd like to take a charitable donation, to the Children's Hospital or a pet... Whatever you want.' That's our new tradition."

The minimalist Christmas that Kunis and Kutcher embrace makes sense on a lot of levels: It teaches kids how to be more mindful consumers, removes the emphasis on material goods... And saves you from those chaotic trips to the mall.

Going without presents doesn't mean going without

Putting a halt on presents these upcoming holidays is one way to reinforce what the season is really about: Spending quality time together as families and cherishing what we already have. But "no presents" doesn't mean "no fun," either.

Some of our favorite non-material gift suggestions include:

  • Experiences
  • Lessons
  • College contributions
  • Coupon booklets
  • Piggy bank donations
  • Gifts for others

Or you could take a cue from Kunis and Kutcher without going all the way: Maybe you only focus on one or two quality gifts. Or pass on anything that will likely get discarded to the bottom of the toy box before next year's holidays.

Think of Christmas gifts for kids kind of like eggnog: A little goes a long way.

[Originally published October 11, 2017]

After feeling alone and suffering silently for years, Gabrielle Union has been very open about her struggle with infertility since her memoir, We're Going to Need More Wine, came out last year. She surprised many by writing about how she'd suffered "8 or 9 miscarriages" while trying to conceive with husband Dwyane Wade, and just over a year later the couple surprised the world again by announcing they'd just welcomed a baby girl via surrogate.

Union's story is incredible, and one so many women needed to hear, and that's why Oprah's OWN network just aired a sit-down interview special with Union and Wade: Oprah at Home with Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade & Their New Baby.

(The audio version of the interview drops in two parts on 'Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations' podcast on Monday, December 10, and Wednesday, December 12.)

The interview, which first aired over the weekend, saw Union open up about how the years of IVF treatments and disappointment left her questioning everything she knew. "I've just always been of the mindset — because this is what people tell you: 'You work hard, you do the right things, you're a good person, it will happen for you,' eventually," Union, 46, told Oprah.

"I could not let go of this idea of creating this life within me," Union explains, adding that she felt the "need to be pregnant for everybody, including myself."

As the medical interventions escalated, Wade became worried. "I'm watching her do things to her body and to herself that it's getting to the point where it's not healthy," he told Oprah, adding that he always told Union that he wanted a baby as much as she did, but that he married her and that she was the most important thing to him.

"So it came to a point where, you know, I started to feel a certain way about that because I didn't want something to happen to her," Wade told Oprah.

So when the couple decided to explore surrogacy, Wade was pleased to see the medical part of his wife's journey come to an end.

When the couple surprised the world by announcing the birth of their daughter, Kaavia James, Union was puzzled by comments that insinuated the skin-to-skin photo she used in the birth announcement was an attempt to "act like" she'd been pregnant herself, or that she really had been pregnant herself.

She notes she never tried to make it seem like she'd been pregnant, as she explained her daughter was born via surrogate in the caption for that photo, which was taken after the surrogate had a C-section.

"Our surrogate went into recovery, and we were able to go immediately into another hospital room," Union told Oprah. "I had one of my New York & Company sweaters on, but skin-to-skin was kind of hard. And because the doctors kept coming in…it was easier to have skin to skin in a hospital gown."

Wade said he found the comments painful. "I think for me the most hurtful thing was once we had the baby, and everyone started talking about why is she in the bed holding the baby, why does she have a gown on, why is she acting that she just had a baby," Wade said.

Union and Wade say they hope talking about their story will help others tell theirs, and know that they are not alone. "So many people are suffering in silence and every time, when we're candid and transparent about our journeys, no matter what those journeys are, you are allowing people to be seen and heard and empowered in ways that they've never been," Union told Oprah.

She may have felt alone during her journey to motherhood, but by telling her story, Union is making sure other mamas don't.

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