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From first latch to weaning and everything in between, breastfeeding is often a long, winding road. Though each woman’s trip down the breastfeeding lane is different from the next, they all share similarities or markers, if you will. Speaking about them and commiserating over them connects mothers, calms anxieties and opens valuable dialogue about various times in your baby’s feeding journey.


I got to interview Veronica Horner, founder and mom boss in charge of Maia Moda, a super chic nursing wear label—because who better to comment on the stages of breastfeeding than someone who’s made it her business to learn about and address one of nursing mother’s biggest pain points: what to wear?!

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Veronica, a mother of one (soon to be two!) started the fashion line alongside Gerta Fresheri. The brand is manufactured in the United States in a factory owned by a woman and run by a brilliant all-women staff.

Here are her thoughts about the six unique scenarios breastfeeding women may experiences.

1. Welcome baby: The first latch

Veronica: Ideally, the first latch is recommended to occur within an hour after giving birth. I was honestly shocked when I first learned this, but it makes sense. If all goes well during delivery, why not get started?

It’s a time to savor the sweet moments after birth, be skin to skin and offer comfort for your little babe after he or she enters the world. So, don’t stress and worry if you are doing it right, producing enough milk, etc. There is plenty of time for that.

A post shared by Maia Moda (@maia_moda_mom) on

2. Whose boob is it anyway? Dealing with cluster feeding

Veronica: Ahhh, cluster feeding. I hope you have a comfortable nursing chair!

Cluster feeding is when your little one is non-stop feeding, sometimes with seemingly NO breaks in between. It generally comes in phases and can start as early as 10 days.

Although exhausting, your baby is feeding more often to increase your milk supply to accommodate their growing appetite. This is when your breastfeeding schedule—if you had one—will go out the window. But just remember it's completely normal and natural. I remember during this time I was also extremely hungry, due to producing so much milk, but I was feeding so often I didn’t have much time to eat. At one point, my husband was spoon-feeding me my cereal while I was breastfeeding—that’s what I call team work!

A post shared by Maia Moda (@maia_moda_mom) on

Photo by Ivette Ivens

3. It’s complicated: Breastfeeding issues

Veronica: Unfortunately, there are a number of issues a breastfeeding mom can encounter at any phase. It’s rare that there won’t be some hiccups, so keep in mind that it is all very common and surmountable.

Problems can include sore nipples, mastitis, engorgement, thrush, issues latching and more. I’m not here to solve your challenges for you, but instead to tell you that you’re not alone.

I think the best advice I ever got from my lactation consultant is that it shouldn’t hurt and when it does there is an issue to be solved. If you do have a problem, I think the best thing is to reach out to a certified lactation consultant to help you; La Leche League is a great resource. Although a little Googling can give you some ideas, there is so much misinformation out there that a certified professional is always your best bet.

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4. I’m coming out: Breastfeeding in public

Veronica: The first time you breastfeed in public can be a little intimidating, but I promise it gets easier every time!

Breastfeeding should be something that fits into your life as opposed to the other way around. I know with my short two-hour breaks between feedings, getting baby dressed, out the door and back for the next session was just unrealistic. Women should feel empowered to breastfeed in public how they see fit—with a cover, no cover, discreetly, un-discreetly. A mother’s comfort is most important, and each woman should decide for themselves what is best for her and baby.

Personally, I’ve never had an issue breastfeeding in public. I would breastfeed at restaurants, in parks, at yoga class and more. I was never made to feel uncomfortable by others and always felt very welcomed.

I was lucky. However, I know that isn’t every mother's experience. Therefore, every nursing mother should know that she has the right to breastfeed wherever and wherever, within 47 states in the USA.

Out of the remaining states, South Dakota and Virginia exempt breastfeeding moms from public indecency or nudity laws and, unfortunately, Idaho is the only state that has yet to pass similar laws. (C’mon, Idaho—keep up!). It’s awful if a mother has a bad experience with the public, however, she is on the right side of the law.

A post shared by Maia Moda (@maia_moda_mom) on

5. Going back to work: Bringing home the bacon and the milk

Veronica: Bring out the pump! Going back to work while nursing can complicate things, but the more prep you can do beforehand the smoother it will be. Talk to your boss, get the right equipment, do some practice runs with your bambino and, most importantly, take care of yourself! In the grand scheme of things, the time you'll be pumping at work is quite short. If it means you need to take it a little easier than usual, be kind to yourself and let it be.

An oldie but a goodie. Working mother cradles her child in sling as she cast her vote for EU Parliament.

A post shared by Maia Moda (@maia_moda_mom) on

6. The final stage: Weaning

Veronica: Congrats, Mama, you made it! After all those late nights, milk spills and sore boobs, you and baby are going to start the weaning process.

Whether it is mom-led, baby-led or sometimes just life-led—it will happen at some point. I remember feeling like I had been breastfeeding forever, but when my child finally decided to wean it all seemed to go by too quickly. He ended up going cold turkey at 11 months. Who knew he had it in him? The most difficult part can be dealing with the emotions of it all.

Take comfort in knowing you aren’t alone and as every phase ends another one begins. Now pass the wine!

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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