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We all prepare differently for baby's arrival and truly there's no right or wrong way to get ready for the big day. Often times, this preparation takes the form of reading and attending childbirth prep classes, registering for baby items and setting up the nursery. These are all important ways to prepare mentally and emotionally, but I want you to consider preparing your body as well and the physical work that comes with labor.

Rest assured, this preparation applies whether you're preparing for a planned cesarean or striving for a vaginal delivery. Optimal fitness will aid in tolerance of and recovery from all forms of delivery. If you're exercising already, that's wonderful! If you're not, it's not too late to get started!

To begin, try these simple breathing exercises that will help you achieve strength and balance in mind and body.

1. Passive diaphragmatic breathing

A great way to reduce stress and anxiety, this practice can be incorporated into daily living throughout all stages of pregnancy and into postpartum. Diaphragmatic breathing will provide numerous benefits when utilized during labor and delivery as well, including muscle relaxation and creating an overall sense of calm as it works to reduce feelings of "fight or flight."

To practice, begin in a comfortable seated position, upright, but not stiff in your posture. Relax through your jaw and tongue while lifting through your spine. Practice lengthening your neck and releasing your shoulders.

With one hand on your belly and one to your chest, notice the movement of your abdomen with each inhale and exhale. Actively breathe into the belly while inhaling (allowing belly to expand). On the exhale, gently hug your belly back toward your spine while visualizing a wrapping motion of your deep abdominal muscles as they hug side to side.

You may repeat the sequence 10 to 20 times daily, focusing on relaxing the muscles of your rib cage and spine while gently activating the deep abdominal muscles to facilitate expansive breathing. For more on this breathing practice, see here. You can give the practice a try alongside this video.

2. Active diaphragmatic breathing

Sit-ups? Crunches? Leg-lifts? Planks? Can you do what you've been doing for core exercises now that baby is on board?! Well, that all depends, but there are some things I'd like you to avoid!

Core strength is very important in pregnancy as it helps to reduce muscle imbalances throughout the body, reduces common aches and pains and the risk of abdominal separation. With that said, proper core strengthening considers the needs of the pregnant body and means leaving behind those traditional "ab workouts" (such a crunches and sit-ups).

If you're beyond the first trimester, this is a great time to transition to more beneficial, safer core exercises such as Quadruped also called, Opposite Arm and Leg Extension or Bird-Dog.

You can practice safe core training through the use of diaphragmatic breathing simply by making the breath a bit stronger, called Active Diaphragmatic Breathing. To give this a try, add an audible sound such as "Shhh" or "Ssss" through pursed lips on your exhale while gently hugging your belly and baby back toward your spine and up toward your diaphragm.

You can follow alongside this video to practice.

3. Core + pelvic floor connection

"Are you doing your kegels?!" Good news! You will never hear me ask a student this question and I'm not really asking you either!

Why? Well, because many of us are walking around with pelvic floors that are already too tight. As you can imagine, attempting to strengthen an already tight pelvic floor with hundreds of kegels each day does not help in preparation for labor and delivery.

Now this does not mean we should ignore the pelvic floor. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If you have a history of or are currently experiencing pelvic floor pain or dysfunction ie: urinary incontinence, I would definitely recommend seeing a Women's Health Physical Therapist in pregnancy. These specialists can help you to prepare for labor and delivery through education and manual therapy.

While I won't advise in performing hundreds of kegels, I will encourage you to connect to your pelvic floor through the use of your breath and movement. When you practice your diaphragmatic breathing, notice if you can feel the pelvic floor relax and contract with the breath. Pay attention and aim to incorporate a lift of the pelvic floor while you're exhaling. On the inhale, aim to fully relax and release the pelvic floor.

As with much of life and within our own bodies, we are striving to find balance. In the case of the core and pelvic floor, it's finding the balance of strength and relaxation, the ability to contract and release. Tuning into these sensations of relaxation and contraction in unison with your breath can be powerful preparation for the effort of labor and delivery as you and baby work together to bring your little one earthside.

You may be planning for a scheduled cesarean, trying for a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC), hoping for a vaginal delivery... independent of this, pregnancy places stress on the pelvic floor from the downward pressure of an increasing belly. Having the ability to relax and contract your core and pelvic floor will aid in postpartum recovery based on your unique delivery experience.

Practice these foundational exercises daily to gain a greater connection to your evolving body in pregnancy and to set you up well for returning to fitness.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

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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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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