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The system to support motherhood is currently broken—it's time to fix it

Motherly is demanding change on behalf of America's moms.

The system to support motherhood is currently broken—it's time to fix it

Each month, 30 million women read or watch Motherly content—and we hear their voices loud and clear. Speaking on behalf of this generation, we at Motherly want to amplify their voices, taking issues that have been treated as niche into the forefront, sparking a dialogue and demanding change.

Our annual State of Motherhood survey, the largest, most statistically-accurate and comprehensive study of US Millennial mothers, revealed this year that a full 85% of our survey respondents feel society doesn't understand or support mothers and they are looking to Motherly to lead the conversation to make changes.

Today's mothers are stressed out and burned out and deserve better. Today's mothers are better educated than any generation before, working more than ever before, and our governmental policies, corporate governance, and culture have not adjusted to provide the support needed to ensure mamas and families thrive. We stand with and for America's mothers, not a political party, and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families, and the country.

Motherly calls on lawmakers and employers to hear our voice, the voice of today's mother, as we advocate for six critical changes:

1. Motherly demands paid family leave in America

Paid family leave is good for babies, families and businesses and the United States is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that has not implemented paid leave on a national basis. Support for paid leave is growing in both parties because this is truly a non-partisan issue. Motherly wants all parents to have access to paid family leave.

2. Motherly demands America's maternal health crisis be addressed

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world. Giving birth in America is shockingly dangerous, black mothers are three to four times more likely to die during or after pregnancy or birth and Native American and Native Alaskan mothers are also dying from complications in childbirth at a disproportionate rate. Systemic racism, socioeconomic disparities, heteronormative expectations and unequal access to healthcare are hurting mothers and babies. This is unacceptable and Motherly supports the modernization of obstetric medicine standards and policies which address implicit bias among providers in clinical settings.

3. Motherly demands better maternal mental health support

We know that mood disorders are among the most common complications of pregnancy and we know that the majority of mothers who need help aren't getting it. Research suggests suicide is a leading cause of death in other developed countries, and that maternal suicide is the United States is more common than previously thought. In America, suicides are not coded as maternal deaths on death certificates, but new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide in this country. And yet maternal mental health is being neglected and this crisis is going unrecognized.

Motherly is asking healthcare providers to increase maternal mental health screening and for community leaders and lawmakers to increase support for maternal mental health. We want mothers to know that when they speak up to ask for help they will be heard.

4. Motherly demands support for mothers feeding their babies

The simple act of feeding babies is way harder than it should be. America's mothers face intense pressure to exclusively breastfeed, but lack societal, corporate, and government support to enable breastfeeding success, including paid family leave and protection from breastfeeding discrimination.

At the same time, formula feeding is stigmatized, leaving mothers feeling judged for making a deeply personal choice filled with complexity.

No mother should have to choose between breastfeeding and keeping her job and no mother should be shamed for exclusively breastfeeding, feeding with formula or doing both.

There is no easy way to feed a baby in America. It is time to change that with more support and way less judgment.

5. Motherly demands affordable childcare solutions

The cost of childcare is increasing faster than household incomes and parents cannot keep up. Parents are struggling to find care that meets their standards and are burdened not only by the financial costs but the time it takes to investigate childcare providers.

American parents need affordable and safe day care and America's children deserve the kind of care that is good for their social and emotional development.

Motherly believes all children in America deserve access to quality, affordable preschool, and we know it is possible as universal childcare has been successful in Washington, DC where 90% of 4-year-olds attend a full-day preschool program for free and where the city's maternal workforce participation rate rose by more than 10%.

6. Motherly demands changes to the cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress

Research suggests America's mothers are the most stressed moms in the western world. We are parenting under intense and incompatible cultural pressures and doing way more than our fair share of unpaid work while increasingly serving as household breadwinners.

Meanwhile, work culture tells us we need to pretend we aren't parents while the wider culture suggests mothers need to prioritize parenting over work by continuing to frame mothers as the default parent.

As a workplace, Motherly is supporting parents by providing something American parents are increasingly seeking: flexible schedules and remote opportunities.

We recognize that no single company or policy will shift the status quo, but by supporting mothers at work and supporting fathers to be the caregivers they want to be we aim to redistribute the uneven ratio of unpaid work, lessen the mental load of motherhood and help equalize pay.

We are living in an important (and exciting!) moment in history as society comes to terms with the importance and value of caregiving. It's time we take motherhood seriously — it's time we take ourselves as mothers seriously and demand change.

We need our elected officials and governmental institutions to invest in the future of society by legislating new policies, enforcing existing policies, and invest in pregnancy and early motherhood.

We need our corporations to establish and de-stigmatize parental leave and flexible work options, as well as modify corporate culture values and behaviors to ensure families can thrive. This includes aligning values to incentives and compensation structures.

We need to shift our cultural norms to value caregiving and motherhood, starting with our own self-talk and involving our partners at home, setting an example for the next generation—what we do today has a ripple effect for the rest of society and history.

Motherly is a safe space to talk about issues.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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