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5 lessons breastfeeding taught me about motherhood

3. Thanks for teaching me the importance of slowing down.

what breastfeeding taught me about motherhood

Breastfeeding hasn't always been an easy road for my babies and me.


I remember the feeling of breastfeeding for the first time. It was sort of like an out of body experience. I was thinking: Am I doing this right? Is this how it's supposed to feel? Does this look right to you? What was that other way I can hold her to nurse again? How do I widen her latch?

And the questions kept coming. Wait—do I make sure she eats every two or three hours? Do I wake her up if she's sleeping? Should I keep track of when I'm feeding her? Should I set an alarm to remind myself to offer her milk?

It was a little overwhelming at first.

Which makes sense. Doing something new—something I've never done before—can leave me feeling confused and unsure, until I build up my confidence.

Along with my questions, I experienced Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER), which, for me, means getting a heavy, sad feeling right before a letdown. It only lasts a couple of minutes, and I didn't figure out that it was an actual 'thing' with an actual name until I was nursing my second child.

Once I figured out that it was something other women experienced, it was so nice not to feel alone or weird.

With the little bumps along the way (and the successes as well!)—there have been a lot of lessons learned. I'm currently four months into nursing my third baby, and I have realized how much my breastfeeding journey has taught me. It has brought me immense joy, and, a bit of perspective on motherhood.

So, breastfeeding—thanks for teaching me a lot about being a mama.

1. Thanks for teaching me to be confident.

And that confidence might not come right away, but to be patient with the process and with myself, because it will come. (And it did!) Even though I had millions of questions, my baby and I figured it out together.

Breastfeeding ended up working for us, but even if it didn't, we would have figured something else out, and that would have been a lesson learned, too.

And as a mother in general, I had no idea what I was doing at first. Motherhood was a new experience, unchartered territory. Now, four years and three babies in, there are days when I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing! But you figure it out as you go along. It really is a true “learn on the job" job. And there's grace in acknowledging that and learning to be okay with that.

2. Thanks for teaching me how to work as a team.

I needed to follow my babies' lead with breastfeeding. I needed to trust myself and my body. But I quickly realized that that is hard!

We are often taught to read instruction manuals and measure progress and make sure you know what you're doing. Well, with breastfeeding, sure—there are “instruction manuals" to read and lactation counselors to consult, there are even videos online and classes to take (and all of these resources are amazing!). But in the end you have to trust in yourself and your baby—you have to trust in your team.

And that goes for nursing and non-nursing mamas. If you've realized that your breastfeeding journey as a team is not working and your baby is not gaining the weight she should, and you feel like you've tried it all and you're going to supplement or transition to formula or donor milk (or whatever the case may be!) it's time to work as a team to find out what you both need.

More and more I am learning that working together—parent and child—is much more effective than working against one another. Working together builds trust on both sides.


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3. Thanks for teaching me the importance of slowing down.

A mother's day is often filled with moving from one task to the next. It's busy, busy, busy. I felt this way as a new mother, and I feel this way times a million now. I am caring for three children, “cleaning" my house (I use the term 'cleaning' lightly here), tending to my marriage, working from home, remembering to do all the things, rushing here, dashing there—the days can be LONG.

But—my baby needs to eat.

And yes, there are times when I nurse her and multitask by answering an email or finishing an essay on my phone, but most of the time I have to sit down and take some time to feed her. She can't wait—her feeding schedule has to come first. I can't just “finish one more thing" before I pick her up. I feed her when she's hungry, so that means I have to sit down and take a breather a few times a day.

It's so wonderful. It's such a nice reason to take a break. Even though my body is working hard when I nurse my daughter, my mind can take a rest. These are beautiful moments throughout my LONG days that remind me how short the seasons are and how fast our babies grow.

4. Thanks for teaching me the importance of doing what works best for us.

With breastfeeding brought lots of outsider opinions and comparing myself to what other moms were doing. I have finally let that stuff go. Now, I am able to do what works best for two people—me and my baby.

Which means I am okay nursing her to sleep because that's what works for us.

I am okay with nursing to comfort her because that's what works for us.

I am okay nursing in public (but, also okay if you're not!) because I just need to feed her when I need to feed her and get overwhelmed at the thought of having to find a specific place to feed her in.

I'm okay nursing her in front of other people at a family party or with guests over because I don't want to spend hours hiding in my room, missing out on the conversation (although, sometimes I do enjoy the quiet break, especially now that she gets distracted easily while nursing!).

My point is—along the way, we're all going to get so many opinions from other people. We're going to have ideas and philosophies shoved in our faces from the world. This will happen at every stage of raising our children. So, we need to listen to ourselves—we need to let our inner voices be the loudest voice we hear because we know what's best for ourselves and our families. A mama's intuition is powerful.

5. Thanks for helping me appreciate my body.

Oh, my postpartum body! I love you, I appreciate you—but boy, do I get frustrated with you.

I feel like I will NEVER fit back into my pre-baby clothes. I feel like my body is completely changed for life after baby number three. I feel like my belly will always be jiggly and my stretch marks will always bother me. I feel like my boobs will always disappoint me when I look at them. They don't even remember what the word 'perky' means.

But, on the other hand, I have such reverence for my body. For this stomach has housed three children. For these arms and legs have, with their strength, allowed me to carry and rock and piggy-back my babies. For these breasts have fed three children.

That's downright amazing.

Motherhood, like breastfeeding, is a challenge.

Motherhood, like breastfeeding, is fulfilling.

Motherhood, like breastfeeding, is intense.

Motherhood, like breastfeeding, is a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions.

And it sure has taught me a thing or two.

So, thank you.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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