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Being a brand new mom is intense. Intense in every way in every emotion. In the happiness, in the overwhelm, in the sadness, in the uncertainty, in the exhaustion, in the love, in the beauty.

All of these feelings feel so big. And sometimes they feel like they're all-consuming.

The tears feel extra heavy. Your worries feel extra scary. Your heart feels extra full. Your nerves feel extra raw. Your body feels extra tired. Your boobs feel extra sore. Your mind feels extra scattered. Your soul feels extra clear. Your happiness feels extra abundant.

Everything is heightened.

It's a powerful time. I became a new mother four years ago. Then I became a new mama again two years ago. And one more time four months ago. Each time, with each beautiful bundle I brought home, I brought with her a little more wisdom and a little more ease. But let me be clear—I am also still learning so much as I go.

This learn-on-the-job position of “Mom" has taught me a thing or two over the past four years. I have spent time reflecting and learning and pushing myself to grow and get better—to be better.

New mamas, this is what I want to share with you.

1. On your confidence

Your confidence levels will be tested. You have never done this before. Of course you have very little clue as to what's going on or what's going to work or what is going to happen next. This is natural and normal. This ride is a rollercoaster—when there's a twist, your life may turn. When there's an up, it seems that there could be a down around the corner. And you may even get flipped around a few times.

But you know what all of this is doing? Building your confidence. You are learning how to be a mother, learning how to selflessly care for another human being. It will take time, but eventually you are going to believe in yourself and the fact that you truly are the very best mother for that darling baby of yours. That you were made for one another.

2. On your career

You may put your career on hold when baby comes. You may not. You may have a long maternity leave; you may have a short maternity leave. You may decide to go back to work at first, but then determine that working outside the home right now is not worth the price of childcare for your family. You may be excited to go back to work when your maternity leave is over because you want to feel a little bit closer to the 'pre-mom' version of yourself. You may not want to go back to work at all, but you have to help support your family.

Guess what? All of those things are okay. This is life. Everyone's career path looks different—baby or not. My point is...there are no rules on how to do this. There's no black and white. You will figure out what works best for you and your family along the way.

3. On your marriage

I found that with each baby we brought into our family our relationship went through a bit of a shift. In talking to friends, I realized that (surprise!) we weren't alone in that. For us, the change from one to two kids was the most challenging to navigate. But we're here to tell you that we made it through and our marriage is stronger because of it.

Bringing a baby into your marriage means you do a lot of growing together on this journey. Neither one of you (most likely) has ever been a parent before. You learn new things about each other, and yourself, and it's a long period of discovery. It's an exciting and frustrating and romantic and enlightening and never-ending period of discovery.

4. On your friendships

You may want mom friends if none of your friend friends are having babies around the same time as you. But finding new friends as an adult is...kind of weird, TBH. It feels sort of like going on a blind date. Just know that other moms feel like this, too. So don't be afraid to be the mom at the park who goes up to another mom to start a conversation. It will probably make her day! It can be awkward, but it's worth it.

Your friends who aren't having kids might not fully “get" everything about your new life—but that's okay. They don't have to understand it all. They just have to stick around for this chapter in your life. Reach out to them. Ask them for help. Our friends will always be important keys to different times in our lives.

5. On the monotony

You may feel like you are doing the same thing every. single. day. That all you're doing is changing diapers. Nursing. Wiping spit-up off yourself. Or the rug. Or the baby. You're not doing much, but at the same time—you're doing SO much.

This newborn fog clears faster than you can imagine. And looking back, that time is pretty magical. You have nowhere to be, nowhere to go—it's your time to figure out how to be a mom to your baby.

It's your time to sit on the couch and stare at her as she lays on your chest. It's your time to ooh and ahh over every yawn, every stretch, every sound. It's your time to be gentle with yourself—to rest and recover. Oh and to binge watch so many TV shows.

6. On your body

I sort of have a love-hate relationship with my body at the moment. And I'm working hard on getting that 'hate' part out. Because when I really think about the miracle that is pregnancy and childbirth and motherhood, in general, I want to just bow down to my body and thank it profusely for what it has gifted me.

The feeling of my baby kicking inside of me? Amazing. Watching my baby move around on the ultrasound screen? Mind-blowing. It's all just downright beautiful.

But then, with this miracle of life, comes the stretch marks, the loose skin, the seemingly pregnant (but not actually pregnant) looking belly, the (still) wearing maternity clothes a few months after giving birth, the feeling like you'll never fit into your pre-baby clothes ever again.

For me—it actually did take a little while to feel comfortable in my own skin again. But, eventually, I did. I really did. I felt like myself again, and it felt empowering. I was 'myself 2.0.' Because if there's one thing I've really learned over the years is that I am strong. Physically, emotionally, mentally strong. And that is one incredible gift my babies have given me.

7. On your pre-mom self

You'll miss her. I can't say you won't. Or at least the idealized version of what she was. She could book a trip and fly somewhere exotic on a whim (she didn't really do that, but she could have.) She could make plans at 5:00 p.m. to see an 8:00 p.m. movie. Exciting stuff. She didn't have to make three different meals at dinner time, and she could sleep till whatever time felt right on a Saturday morning.

But, she didn't have a really, really cute alarm clock yet. She didn't have this incredible human calling her 'Mom' yet. Her heart was still inside of her body, not yet crawling and walking around on the outside.

She knew love, of course...but she didn't know this love yet.

8. On appreciating your mom

I see my mom in a whole new light now that I'm a mother myself. I truly do not know how she raised five (seemingly) normal human beings. It's awe-inspiring. I have an even higher level of respect and admiration for her now than I ever did before.

Even though I am an adult, and I'm a mother myself—I will never stop needing her. I always call her for advice or with questions—to just check in or to vent. She “gets" it and that has brought us closer than ever.

9. On asking for help

At first when I was a new mama, I wanted to do everything myself. I wanted to figure it all out and be in control of what was going on with my baby. I watched what and how my husband did things (hardcore maternal gatekeeping going on) and I felt anxious when other people were helping to do anything baby-related. It caused me a lot of anxiety, and I turned excellent help away that could have been making my life easier.

Now, with three kids, I pretty much believe that we all deserve to live in communes together so we can all help care for each other's kids and live in peace and harmony. So the advice I'd have is: Try to let people in. Accept their help. They want to care for you and make your life a little easier. That's pretty wonderful.

But mama, let me remind you—you are your child's mother. They want you. They need you. They love you most. So it's okay to let people in. It's great in fact—to allow your child to strengthen their relationships with the people who mean most to you.

10. On taking care of yourself

I have found that if I don't make time to take care of myself, no one is just going to insert themselves into my life to do it for me. I have people who love me and want to help me—but no one is going to go as far to do that. So I have to do that. I can't pour from an empty cup, and with three children and a husband—there's a lot of pouring to do.

So I try my best to get the time I need. I try to get to the gym. I try to make regular hair appointments and plans with girlfriends. I try to take long, quiet showers when my husband gets home. I try to get out of the house when I need a break. It is not perfect, but I try.

Reflecting on life as a mother is a privilege. This role is the greatest honor of my life. And these are the important things I've learned, that I'm honestly continuing to learn every day.

And even if I was able to tell my first-time pregnant self these things, who knows what I'd do with this information. As I said before, motherhood is a learn-on-the-job type of position. You have to go through it firsthand to feel it, to believe it, to be okay with it, and to fully understand it.

So just know this—you will. You will fully understand it. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. This ride is the best adventure of your life.

Welcome to the sisterhood of motherhood. You're going to like it here.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99


2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98


3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99


4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25


5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99


6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95


7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com


8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79


9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99


10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99


11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95


12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19


13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99


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

Our Partners

While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

skellington mug

If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99


2. My First Halloween Board Book

disney amazon halloween shop

Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

Price: $8.99


3. Anna + Elsa Costume

anna else costume

Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

Price: $16.01-$28.99


4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

minnie mouse ears

If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

Price: $11.99


5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

hocus pocus tee

Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

Price: $16.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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