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One out of three women in the United States becomes a mother via a cesarean section. That’s a lot of mamas. Yet despite the high numbers, there are still plenty of misconceptions around them.


I have been a midwife for 7 years, so I thought I’d clear up just a few of those myths here:

Myth # 1: C-sections aren’t births

Let’s clear this up right now, because this is simply, without a doubt, not true. When a baby is born from your body, it is birth. Period.

Saying that a c-section isn’t birth because it didn’t happen vaginally is like saying that soccer isn’t a sport because it’s not tennis. Cesarean sections and vaginal births are different yes. But you know what’s not different? How hard a mother works to grow and birth her baby, how committed to her baby’s health and safety she is, how proud she should be of herself when she’s done, and how much she loves her baby.

And while we’re on the subject, many women who have C-sections do go through labor. Most C-sections are unplanned, meaning something comes up during labor that causes the need for a C-section. So, many women have already had many hours of contractions.

Myth #2: Birth classes + plans aren’t necessary with C-sections

Every mother deserves to have her best birth. Part of having an awesome birth experience is taking a birth class that will empower you to give birth in awareness and confidence. A specially-designed c-section birth class, like Motherly’s online C-section class will give you these tools, so you can look back at your birth experience with joy.

Psst: Our class also gives your a guide to help you determine your birth preferences and plan.

Myth #3: C-sections aren’t a big deal

C-sections are becoming more common, but that doesn’t mean they are less serious. First, birth is always a big deal. But this kind of birth is also a surgery. This means they shouldn’t be gone into “lightly”—make sure to ask all the questions you have.

And, make sure to really take care of yourself afterwards. The recovery from a C-section can be tougher than from a vaginal birth, so make sure your home is set up to support you, you have the gear you need to feel comfortable, and that you enlist all the help you need.

Myth #4: You can’t breastfeed after a C-section

While it may be a little more challenging at first, you absolutely can breastfeed after your cesarean birth! The medications given are usually safe for breastfeeding, and with the help of a lactation consultant or nurse, you’ll be able to find positions that are comfortable.

Myth 5#: Women don’t have vaginal bleeding after a C-section

I know this one seems a bit random, but I get asked this all the time. The primary reason women bleed after birth is because their uterus is healing from the (normal) placental separation, and because the uterus is “shrinking” back to its pre-pregnancy size (and some blood is pressed out in the process).

This happens in vaginal and cesarean births, so stock up on those maxi-pads (and take some home from the hospital!).

Myth #6: Once a C-section, always a C-section

Veni Veci VBAC, baby!

VBACs (or vaginal births after cesareans), are absolutely possible for many women (it often depends on why the first C-section was done—some causes are one-time events, others are more likely to repeat themselves.). But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that 60-80% of women should be able to have a successful VBAC.

If you want to have a VBAC, make sure to ask lots of questions, advocate for yourself and choose a provider and birth place that is supportive of you.

Myth #7: You won’t have any sensation during your c-section

Don’t worry—you won’t have pain! They will do a lot of tests before they start to make sure you are numb. But, when the baby is being born you will feel pressure in your abdomen (the pain medication they give you can’t take that away). A lot of women are caught off guard by that, but it’s completely normal.

Myth #8: You’ll be bedridden for days after your C-section

Quite the opposite! After a C-section, it is particularly important that you get up and walk around to help get everything in your body moving and to prevent complications. You’ll need help from your nurse in the beginning and you won’t be running races for a little while, but movement after almost any surgery is very important.

Myth #9: You can’t do skin-to-skin after a C-section

Skin-to-skin (putting your naked baby directly on your bare chest) is one of the most glorious parts of parenting. It provides so many emotional and physical benefits to you and your baby, and it is just oh-so-lovely.

The good news is that you can often do it after a C-section. Make sure to let your medical team know that you want to, and a nurse can help you do skin-to-skin in the OR, or shortly after in recovery.

Pro tip: If you’re not able to do it, your partner can!

Myth # 10: Having a C-section means you can’t get postpartum depression

Even though you are not going through labor, the same hormonal shifts happen after the baby is born. And, you’re adjusting to life as a mom and taking care of a tiny human, all while recovering from surgery. So be very aware of your emotional status. If you frequently feel sad, have trouble bonding with your baby, have no energy, or feel like hurting yourself or the baby, get help right away. You are not alone.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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