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Now I know I’m beautiful, too: My daughter’s body looks just like mine

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Today, I came across an old photo of myself in an album that my mother meticulously put together about 20 years ago. I remember when she undertook this project. She wanted to have a dedicated album for each of her three daughters, and it involved hours of lovingly sorting, arranging and reminiscing over every single photograph. She gave me my album to keep when she came for the birth of my first daughter.


In that photo, I'm about 8 years old. I'm standing at the shore of the ocean with my youngest sister, aged three at the time. She has a delighted grin on her face as she gingerly treads the golden sand, but you can't see mine as it's covered by my windswept, thick, brown curls with copper-tinged ends due to being in the sun for days on end. I'm wearing a bathing suit. My long, strong legs show that I was tall for my age.

All I can remember when I see this photo is the time my preteen self saw it in the album, self-consciously extracted it and hid it away from view.

“I look so fat," I remember thinking to myself.

I hated seeing it and certainly didn't want anyone else to see it. I remember my other sister, two years younger than me, asking me at some point why I hated that photograph so much. I don't remember how I answered her.

I haven't seen that photo since then. And today, I decided to sit down with my 21-month-old daughter and show her pictures of Mama when she was a little girl. This photograph immediately fell out of the pocket at the back of the album where I had placed it for safekeeping and straight onto my lap. It stunned me into silence for a little while as all of the associated thoughts and emotions came flooding back.

“Pittee-too!" my daughter cried out in glee, announcing her version of the words “swimming pool." We don't have a lot of beaches where we live, so I laughed softly and started pointing out the people and scenery in the picture. And with her innocent eyes, she didn't see a girl with chubby thighs, a rounded belly or frizzy, unkempt hair. She simply saw two little girls playing happily in the water.

I looked at her. Quietly and carefully. I watched her peaceful expression as she took in the photo. I pulled her close to me, breathed in the heavenly scent of her hair, and kissed her soft cheek. I thought about how when I look at her, all I see is perfection.

Most people agree that she looks just like her father. But those that observe closely can tell that she has elements of me, too.

She has my high, rounded forehead. I remember noticing it in one of the late-stage ultrasounds when I was pregnant with her. I joked to my husband, “She's got my big alien head!"

She has the same slight joining between her eyebrows that I have. I love the way her strong brow furrows when she's concentrating on something. We both frown when we're concentrating; it's just one of those things. I watch her and can see the flickers of recognition and understanding coming over her face as she discovers something new. I remember how, at age 12, I was so eager to do something about my “monobrow."

She has my curly hair. I run my fingers through it when I get her ready in the morning, and love the feeling of every little perfectly formed ringlet coiling around my fingers. Her hair is soft, bouncy and light. I find myself unconsciously playing with it when we're sitting together, in the same way that my father would play with mine when I was a child. In fact, he still does it now sometimes. I got my curly hair from him and now I've passed it onto her. When I was in primary school, I remember trying to slick it back into a tight bun to make it look as straight as possible, but the frizz always won that battle. I so desperately wanted one of those perfect, straight fringes that went evenly across my forehead. I remember getting a fringe cut at the hairdressers and then being disappointed to find out that by cutting curly hair, it actually springs back a hundred times curlier.

She has my legs. One hundred percent.

It actually amazes me how they're a carbon copy of mine, down to every last detail: the shape of our ankles, the way our knees aren't perfectly centered, everything. She will probably eventually get my wide hips, too. She has always had strong legs, and people would marvel when she was an infant at how well she could support herself while standing. I love how expertly she can run to chase after something that has caught her interest, squat down to quietly observe a snail that has come across our path and dance like a ballerina on her tip-toes with real, genuine grace. I remember dreading P.E. day at school because I hated wearing those horrible white shorts which accentuated how much thicker my thighs were than all the other girls. I started wearing swimming shorts over my bathing suit all the time and would refuse to get into the water without them.

She has my big, wide feet. I love how despite their toddler sponginess and roundness, they take her wherever she wants to go. They look like little girl feet now, but I still remember the way they looked when she was first born. So small, so delicate, toes curled in slightly; and when she would sporadically kick them at me I would be reminded of how it felt from the inside. Her favorite shoes are the blue and orange sneakers Papa bought her when he went on a business trip and she asks me if she can wear them inside the house at least twice a day. I remember when my parents bought me some sparkly red Cinderella shoes at age eight and I was distraught to find that they didn't come anywhere close to fitting. I started to hate shoe shopping because the styles that I liked inevitably never came in my size.

There it was. The realization that all of the parts of my body that I resented as an adolescent, and some even now as a grown woman, were emblazoned so clearly in my child. The child I see as the ultimate embodiment of beauty and perfection, in every possible way.

Was this some kind of catharsis that the universe had decided I needed to go through?

That in a moment, my perspective of these parts of my own body as flaws and imperfections would be completely torn down and replaced with the perspective of an adoring mother beholding how exquisite every last detail of her child was? “How is it possible," the universe taunted me in that moment, “that you can hate this part of your own body, but then love it beyond comprehension in that of another, when the two are so undeniably similar?"

She's at the age now where she is copying so many of my behaviors. The way she carries her handbag as she pushes her toy stroller. The way she rocks her baby doll when she's trying to comfort her. The way she makes a surprised face when she sees or hears something that we both know is super exciting. The way she came into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth the other day, saw the digital scale under the sink, pulled it out and excitedly stepped on it. Obviously, she didn't know the significance of what she was doing in that small action, but I was completely stunned at the truth behind what “they" say: That our little ones are watching, observing, learning and imitating. Every. Little. Thing. That we do.

One of the craziest things that strikes me when I think about that photo is that I was raised by two loving, supportive, incredible parents, who never made body image a “thing." And yet this insidious body insecurity that affects so many children, and particularly girls, still managed to weasel its way in to a child's mind, despite being told that she was strong, smart, beautiful and loved.

Raising girls during a time when there is so much emphasis on the physical, on aesthetics, on narrow, unrealistic and shallow definitions of beauty, is daunting. And with this newfound realisation, I have promised myself to teach her, as best as I can, to see her body as something amazing, and powerful, and strong, and perfect. I want her to see how many incredible things her body is capable of–I've certainly learned that over time.

That you might think that you're not the “athletic type," but then you train those legs and feet you once resented, through determination and perseverance, to run faster, and farther, than you ever could have thought possible.

That you might feel uncomfortable with your changing body as you transform from girl to woman, but then you appreciate every single one of those changes when you witness your body house and grow a baby, who you then nourish with that very same body.

That the sooner you accept that beauty is not about a set of standards to which one must aspire, but about valuing your own uniqueness, and what you do with that uniqueness, how you treat people, what kind of person you become, the easier life gets.

And the reemergence of this photograph which I so desperately wanted to keep hidden, reminded me that in order to do that, I need to be her example. I wanted to hug the young me in that photo and tell her all of these things.

And then I realized that the universe has given me a chance to do that, by teaching those very things to my own little girl.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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