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Take a birth class.

Knowledge is power. Take a birth class that respects your choices and empowers you to give birth with awareness. You’ll feel calmer if you understand what’s going on, and you’ll know how to make decisions as your birth story unfolds.

We are particularly fond of Motherly’s birth class ?, and we’ve designed it for ALL types of birth, so **C-section mamas, we’ve got you covered, too.

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Have you ever watched a birth scene in a movie or on a TV show? Chances are it was pretty intense and loud, and made you cringe at least once.

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As a midwife I’m here to tell you that birth is just not like that in real life.

Yes, it is intense. But it can be incredibly peaceful, gracefully serene and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.

Here are some strategies you can use to bring Zen into your birthing room, whether you’re having your baby at a hospital, birth center or at home. C-section mamas, look for the asterisks to know which tips work for you, too.

Play a tune.

Has a song ever moved you to tears? Or instantly lifted your mood? That’s because music has a profound effect on our emotional state. Heidi Lengel, a doula, music therapist and owner of Fulheart Family Support in Philadelphia, says:

“Research shows that the effective use of music during labor lowers anxiety and pain perception as well as increases emotional and physical comfort.”

So why not crank your favorite tunes in your labor room?

Check out Motherly’s labor playlist!

**C-section mamas: Ask if you can bring some music into the OR with you. We bet the staff will be on board because, hey, they get to enjoy it too!

Smell the roses (or lavender).

Scent has such a powerful connection to our emotions. When we smell something pleasant and soothing, we instinctively close our eyes and take a deep breath. You can harness this when you are in labor. Studies have found that the use of aromatherapy while in labor may help women experience less pain and feel more relaxed. Bonus: It can make your hospital labor room smell less well, hospital-y.

Pack a bottle of essential oil in your labor bag, and put a drop or two on a cotton ball next to you for an instant mood change (our personal favorites are lavender for relaxation and orange for an energy boost).

To learn more about the safety of aromatherapy in pregnancy, check with your provider and read this.

**C-section mamas: Ask if your partner can bring the essential oil cotton ball into the OR with you.

Breathe.

It sounds simple, but it is oh so important. And easy to forget.

Breathing has both physical and emotional benefits. Your body (especially your uterus) needs oxygen to do all the awesome work it’s up to, and your baby needs oxygen to thrive. When you inhale, think about sending a big dose of power and energy down into your uterus and baby. They’ll thank you for it!

Breathing deeply can also be incredibly therapeutic. It gives you something to focus on during your contractions and will help keep you calm. And at the end of each contraction, take a big, cleansing breath to remind yourself that that contraction is over, and you now have a moment of rest.

When you take these deep breaths, try breathing in through your nose for a count of 5 (or whatever feels comfortable to you), and out through your mouth for the same count.

**C-section mamas: This one’s for you, too!

Repeat a mantra.

A mantra is a word or short phrase that you repeat over and over, as a tiny (but powerful) meditation or reminder. Using a mantra in birth can help you focus and can instill a real sense of calm as well as confidence. There are no rules when it comes to your mantra. The right one is whatever works best for you. Some examples:

  • Breathe in calm, breathe out tension
  • My body knows just what to do
  • My baby is coming
  • I trust myself
  • I am safe, my baby is safe
  • I let the wave carry me
  • I’ve got this

Pro tip: Start practicing now. You want your mantra to feel safe and familiar when you are labor. It will come more naturally and it will be more effective.

**C-section mamas: This one is awesome for you.

Lean on your support person.

Your support person plays such a huge role in helping you to stay calm during your birth. Their presence alone can be very soothing. But they can also serve as your advocate, helping you communicate your desires with the birth team so you can focus on laboring. Let them know what’s important to you, and include them as you practice your coping skills before you go into labor so that they can work seamlessly with you.

**C-section mamas: Your support person will be in the OR with you and can for sure help you relax. They can talk to you, guide you through a relaxation exercise or simply rub your hair.

Move.

If I had to pick one thing to focus on in labor, it would be movement. Throughout your labor, your baby is making tiny but very important movements to navigate her way down and out. When you move, you change the space within your body, which gives her the opportunity to do what she needs to do. Therefore, moving results in faster labors and decreased pain.

And it just feels good. Think of a contraction as a wave (many people even call contractions “surges”). If you’re standing in the ocean and a big wave comes, you can stand rigid and try to resist it, but chances are it will knock you down. Or you can let your body go a little limp and move WITH with wave. You’ll still feel it, of course, but instead of falling over, you’ll be carried along gently. Same thing in labor.

(Psst: For LOTS of labor movement techniques, check out our birth class.)

Hire a doula.

A doula is a trained professional who provides consistent non-medical support to you during labor and birth. In other words, while she won’t be making decisions about your plan of care, she knows a ton about birth and will help you cope. Research finds that women who have doulas report more satisfying birth experiences.

We should add that doulas are awesome for both you and your partner. They need a little TLC during birth, too, and a doula can provide support to you both.

**C-section mamas: Some hospitals will allow you to bring both your partner and a doula into the OR with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Try relaxation + visualization exercises.

Guided meditations in the form of a relaxation or visualization exercise are awesome when you are in labor. A relaxation exercise will help you release the tension in each part of your body, while a visualization will allow you to envision peaceful images and settings that help you find your Zen. You can practice these now, and then ask your partner to read them to you while you’re in labor.

**C-section mamas: This can definitely be done in the OR.

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It's time to go shopping for your little ones mama. Not long ago we shared the super sale on Hunter boots for us moms, and now the super colorful and water proof boots are on sale for kids! Perfect timing as Spring is approaching and there will be a lot of puddle jumping in our futures.

The sale is up to 50% off in select styles, but in all the colors of the rainbow! We don't know how long the sale will last so act fast because some sizes are already on low stock!


Here are our favorite styles to shop from the sale:

The original grab handle boot in light blue

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 50% off right now.

$28

The classic gloss boot in blue

Original Kids First Classic Gloss Rain

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

Chelsea boot in yellow 

Original Big Kids' Gloss Chelsea Boots

Originally $75, the Chelsea boot is 40% off right now.

$45

The original grab handle boot in pink

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The classic gloss boot in yellow

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The camo boots

Original Little Kids Storm Camo Rain Boots

Originally $75, the camo boot is 50% off right now.

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."

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She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)



As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."

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Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.

$150

Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌

$34.99

Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.

$99.99

Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.

$178

Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.

$34.99

JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.

$99.99

Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.

$69.95

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!

$99

Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.

$30.99

Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.

$159.99

Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉

$69.99

Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.

$159.99

Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.

$90

Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.

$159

Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.

$70

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.

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So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

Life
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