What no one tells you about your post-baby period

The return of your menstrual cycle after birth isn't just back to business as usual.

woman-laying-with-baby-in-pain
sutlafk / Getty

As if new mamas don't have a steep learning curve already, one event can take most of us off-guard: that first postpartum period. After what was probably a hiatus of a year or longer, the return of your menstrual cycle isn't just back to business as usual. In most cases, your first period after having a baby can be initially less predictable and stronger than what your menstrual cycle may have been pre-pregnancy.

The good news? By preparing yourself for what's to come, the first postpartum period doesn't have to be so intimidating. Here's what to know about your first postpartum menstrual cycle.


1. When your period will return can vary

The biggest factor that affects your first period after having a baby is whether or not you are breastfeeding. "If a woman is not breastfeeding, then the first menses usually returns at six weeks postpartum to three months postpartum," says Elizabeth Sauter, MD, fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Among exclusively breastfeeding mamas, Sauter says it can be harder to predict when menstruation will return in full force: It's rare for your period to return until at least six months postpartum (at which point you've probably introduced some solid food to the baby's diet), but it may not return at all until you are finished exclusively breastfeeding—often a year or more postpartum. The timing can differ from person to person.

But just remember that the absence of a period while breastfeeding doesn't mean perfect contraception. You can definitely still get pregnant with your second child while breastfeeding your first.

2. Your first postpartum period will probably be heavier than before pregnancy

Whenever your period does return after having a baby, it will likely be in full force—it's not only shedding your uterine lining, but also shedding any clots or old blood from the delivery process. (And you thought you got past that during the initial round of postpartum bleeding!)

This time around, you might also experience ovulation pain, wonderfully known as mittelschmerz (German for 'middle pain'). In some cases, women who have been pregnant may be more attuned or more sensitive to the one-sided abdominal twinging that comes with the action of an egg being released from an ovary.

While this can be a less-than-pleasant experience, Sauter says that many women eventually experience less painful and intense periods as they get farther away from their baby's birth.

If you experience very heavy bleeding—filling a pad or period underwear in an hour or two, having multiple clots or one clot that is the size of a golf ball or larger—seek emergency medical care immediately. Also look out for fevers, chills, lightheadedness, foul-smelling blood or discharge, belly pain, rapid heart rate or breathing rate or any other worrying signs, and seek medical care right away if you have them.

3. Your menstrual cycle may not be as easy to track as it was pre-pregnancy

Whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding has an impact on how reliable your period will likely be for the first year or so. As Sauter explains, mothers who had regular periods before pregnancy and aren't breastfeeding often fall back into that rhythm within a few months of the baby's arrival.

For breastfeeding mamas, even once your period returns after you give birth, it may not come back in exactly 28 days (or whatever frequency you were used to). However, for some women, this is a silver lining.

"Many mothers who had irregular menses prepregnancy in fact start more regular menses postpartum," says Sauter, adding the disclaimer this isn't always the case, especially for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Like everything with motherhood, soon enough you'll find your rhythm. But if you experience any worrying signs or symptoms, be sure to speak to your doctor or midwife.

A version of this story was originally published on August 12, 2020. It has been updated.

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Helping your 2-month-old thrive: Tips and activities

Routines create a foundation for learning how to love and developing good self-esteem as baby grows.

*This article is sponsored by ParentPal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Your life may still feel like a blur of feedings, diaper changes and short spurts of sleep. That new baby fog means you usually have no clue what day it is or why the car keys are in the fridge. But this month is the perfect time to actually start a routine. Having a basic schedule helps the day flow, which is good for you and baby.

According to Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, routines help even 2-month-olds anticipate what's going to happen next. She explains:

Bath? Check. Song? Check? Feeding? Check. Zzzz.

This kind of predictability helps her feel safe, calm and trusting of parents and caregivers. This creates a foundation for learning how to love the important people in her life and developing good self-esteem as she grows.

To help support your baby's development and track routines like sleep and feeding, you can try an app like ParentPal™. ParentPal is the only all-in-one parenting app with everything you need to support, track, and celebrate your child's healthy development. Developed by Teaching Strategies, the leaders in early childhood development, and the creators of Baby Einstein, ParentPal provides trusted, research-based guidance and parenting tools at your fingertips. You can use the Daily Plan of age-appropriate activities, Milestones, Sleep, Health & Wellness Trackers, and a vast library of age-based resources for your middle-of-the-night parenting questions.*

Week-by-week activities

And speaking of learning, this month your kiddo is becoming more interested in pictures and objects. You'll see the beginning of hand-eye coordination, too. (You're still her primary focus, so keep up the talking, singing and silly faces.) From story time to play time, these week-by-week tips from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl will help you navigate the month:

Week 1

Instilling an early love of reading can strengthen language skills and parent-child relationships. Squeeze in that oh-so-important 20 minutes of reading by visiting your local library or bookstore for story time. This activity will deepen your tot's love of books and promote mama-baby bonding.

Week 2

Infants have an innate love of gazing at faces. Spend a few minutes each day attending to baby's favorite faces: the ones staring back in the mirror! Make silly faces and label baby's facial features. Gazing in the mirror may promote baby's sense of self-recognition. This understanding will appear slightly later and is the basis for baby's later self-confidence.

Week 3

Your little bundle is developing rudimentary hand-eye coordination. Promote coordination by fostering interaction with baby's fascinating surroundings. Help your tot gently stroke household pets. Dangle a textured, crinkly toy for those little hands to swat. Lay baby on an activity gym and soak in the baby bliss as your little one intently reaches for toys overhead.

Week 4

Are family and friends antsy to cuddle with the new addition? Take baby to visit loved ones for exposure to new faces, voices and styles of play. Plus, social support from friends and relatives around 3 months can help you be a more responsive mama and give baby supplemental support, leading to more secure attachment by 12 months.

Baby

One of the greatest joys of parenting is getting to introduce your baby to the great, big world. Even from a young age, travel can open our eyes to new environments, teach resilience and adaptability and create a meaningful bond between family members.

The problem? The logistics of traveling with a baby can be, well, challenging. For too long, one of the biggest obstacles standing between parents and their traveling plans has been the hassle of managing an infant car seat on our journey.

The new Nuna PIPA lite rx is changing all that. The Nuna PIPA lite rx is an infant car seat made for everyday life and more enjoyable adventures. With a combination of features that make travel easier, you can skip the question of "how" to go with your baby and move onto asking "where" to go.

From trips around the corner to trips across the country, the new Nuna PIPA lite rx car seat solves so many pain points of traveling with a baby. Here's why you'll love it...

It is amazingly light-weight

We're all for a good workout—just not every time we need to carry the car seat. Weighing in at just 6.9 lbs., the PIPA lite rx truly earns the title of lightweight champion. Combined with a luxe leatherette handle for comfortably carrying in your hand or the crook of your arm, this dreamy travel car seat is great at getting from Point A to Point B—whether you're in the car or not.

It is incredibly safe and secure from day one

With an additional GOTS™ certified infant insert and harness covers, 7-position height-adjustable no-rethread headrest, Aeroflex™ foam and side-impact protection, you can travel with the confidence that your baby is well-protected from your baby's first ride and beyond. And because any parent knows the trickiest part of travel is getting baby in and out of the car seat, the PIPA lite rx simplifies the task: The 5-point no-rethread harness can be held to the side with magnetic buckle holders while you're getting your baby in or out of the seat. (Meaning no more searching for straps under a wiggly baby!)

Your baby will be cozy for longer excursions

When it comes to keeping your little travel companion content, comfort is the name of the game. With foam cushions and a memory foam headrest, your little explorer will have the best seat in the car when buckled in. For a little extra privacy, pull down the breathable Dream Drape and quietly attach it to the side of the car seat with magnets. Or, enjoy some time in the sun without concerns about harsh rays with the full-coverage UPF 50+ canopy.

Base or belt... the decision is yours

The Nuna PIPA lite rx offers two ways to secure the seat to the car: with the (included) PIPA RELX base or by buckling in through the belt path on the infant car seat with the vehicle's seat belt, meaning one less thing to take along when you travel by taxi or airplane. Better yet, the car seat securely installs in just seconds so you can get on with the adventure.

Stroll on with the full travel system

Compatible with Nuna's extensive line of strollers, the Nuna PIPA lite rx lets you create a travel system that works for your lifestyle. From single strollers to rides that can grow with your family, you can click the Nuna PIPA lite rx into place and go—wherever your travels might take you.

The Nuna PIPA lite rx is available now in two color options. Take a closer look at this fully featured infant seat on nunababy.com.

This article is sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

15 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Stomp Racers

As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

$19.99

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

$17.95

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

$19.95

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

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

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.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

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.

$79.99

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.

$24.75

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

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@myeverydaytable/TikTok

Doesn't it seem like the older a child gets, the pickier they become about what they eat? (Just one of the ways babies can be easier than toddlers. Sigh.) And that's OK, because hey, you like what you like, right? Having a "picky eater" can still be frustrating, however.

This viral TikTok answers every parent's age-old question: How do I avoid making separate meals for my kids?


"There are two problems when you fix them something else," TikTok user @myeverydaytable begins in her video, which is a response to a parent who asked this exact question. "One, it sets you up as a short-order cook, and no one wants that job. And two, it doesn't help expose them to new foods and new flavors."

So what do we do with our picky eaters?

Well, the answer is so simple and makes so much sense, you'll shake your head because you didn't think of it on your own. (But that's why TikTok can be so helpful—other parents think of these things for us!)

"So you're going to decide what the meal is," she explains. "And make sure you're serving it with one to two items you know they will eat." She says in her house, it's usually bread and butter and milk. In our house, for example, it's apple slices/bread and butter/cucumbers.

"And then they decide what to eat off their plate." And maybe this isn't a foolproof guarantee, but more often than not, kids will eat the main meal—or at least try some of it and learn what they like about it and what they don't like about it. Which is important!

The initial question that this video is in response to was a comment on an earlier video from @myeverydaytable, and it's also got some valuable information for parents and caregivers of tiny humans.

Here's why she says saying things like "Just three more bites!" is wrong:

Many nutrition experts agree that we don't want to teach our children not to trust their bodies. When they say they're full, believe that they're full. Plus, she says, pressuring kids to eat isn't an enjoyable mealtime for anyone.

The more you know!

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TODAY host Dylan Dreyer shares that her water broke 6 weeks early

In her latest Instagram post, Dreyer says that doctors are working to keep her third baby "on the inside a little longer."

Dylan Dreyer/Instagram

TODAY host Dylan Dreyer is currently in the hospital because she says her water broke six weeks early. Dreyer, who is pregnant with her third child, shared the news via Instagram on Tuesday.

"Just a little update as you won't be seeing me on @todayshow or @3rdhourtoday for a while," Dreyer, who is the meteorologist and 3rd hour co-host, wrote on Instagram. In the post, she shared two hospital room photos.


"My water broke Sunday evening and I've been hanging at the hospital. Our little guy is anxious to get out and meet us!" she continues. "Doctors are closely monitoring both of us and trying to keep him on the inside for a little while longer to get stronger."

Dreyer and her husband, Brian Fichera, are already parents to sons Calvin, 4, and Oliver, 1. Back in May, she announced she was expecting her third baby—and blamed the show Bridgerton for getting pregnant (which, relatable). In an Instagram post at the time, Fichera shared an ultrasound photo, which he captioned, "When two people are quarantined together for over a year and Bridgerton is on..."

As for their third bundle of joy, Dreyer says her youngest son will likely make his appearance later this week despite being so early.

"All is well! I'm in great hands and I have the best person to keep me calm and comfortable," she writes. "Looks like we'll be getting to meet our littlest boy sometime this week…6 weeks early! Guess he couldn't handle being left out of all the fun his brothers have been having!"

Dreyer has also been candid about her experience with secondary infertility—she suffered a miscarriage in 2019 while trying to have a second child.

"So many women are going through their own fertility issues, and I want to open up the conversation to get us all talking instead of sneaking onto that baby chat room and scrolling endlessly through the comments hoping to stumble upon someone going through a similar situation as us," she wrote at the time.

As for her current situation, she remains confident that she's receiving the best care possible, but she still has one request:

"We'll gladly take any extra prayers you have."

Consider it done. ❤️

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