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The impossible expectations placed on mothers

Cynthia Nixon went viral for talking about the impossible expectations women face. Now let's talk about motherhood, specifically.

The mental load of motherhood

The now-viral "Be a Lady" video narrated by actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, written by Camille Rainville, has demanded our attention this past week. The video calls out the impossible expectations women face (and have faced) every day in our society from ridiculous beauty standards to how we should behave.

Dr. Caitlin Zietz has interpreted the video through her lens of motherhood, writing this poignant piece on the topic. She explains the impossible task of what it would look like trying to please everyone when it comes to how we should mother our children.

Read her post here:

Get pregnant. Have babies. But not too early. And not too late. Somewhere between 27-35 is ideal. 25 is so young to have kids! Over 35 is considered a geriatric pregnancy. Do it naturally. It should be easy. Everyone gets pregnant.

You lost a baby? Don't worry, it happens. It wasn't meant to be. It's normal. You'll have another and forget all about this. Don't be upset. Don't be angry. Next time, don't let anyone know before 12 weeks. Enjoy your next pregnancy. Don't have anxiety. Everything will be fine.

Stay fit when pregnant. But not too fit, you could hurt the baby. Eat veggies. Eat meat. Take vitamins. Not those ones, these ones. Gain weight. But not too much weight, it's hard to lose. Don't drink coffee. Drink more water. Don't stress. It hurts the baby. How are you not stressed? Birth looks terrifying.

Did you find out the gender? I can't believe you don't "need to know" what it is? Do you have names picked? Don't pick a name until you meet them. Do you have the top-of-the-line sleepers, crib, car seat, bum cream, noise machine, carriers, diaper bag and stroller? Why did you spend so much money? Less is more.

Give birth naturally. Definitely get the epidural. You opted for a C-section? Weren't there more options? Breastfeed your baby, it's best. Your baby is too big. Your baby is too small, you need formula—you're not sustaining enough milk for her. Your baby cries a lot. Use a soother. Don't use a soother, it interferes with breastfeeding. Use a swaddle. Don't swaddle, it's dangerous. Your baby should sleep more. You should sleep more. Co-sleep. Wait, don't. Cry-it-out to get more sleep. Don't cry-it-out, it's harmful. Try this middle-ground method.

Don't listen to your instincts. You're too tired. You should sleep when the baby sleeps. Oh, but get all this done today. You're six weeks postpartum. You should "get your body back." Workout. But not that workout, it's dangerous. You should love your body. How did you manage your stretch marks? Di·as·ta·sis. No, it's pronounced di·as·ta·sis.

You should be happy. Why are you sad? You're so lucky to have a baby. What is there to be anxious about? Don't yell. Stay calm. You're too calm. Discipline your kid. Listen to your kid. Use reason.

Start solids early. But wait until after six months. Start with purées. Start with solid food, it's better for development and positive experiences. Your baby could choke. Start with banana. Bananas are too sweet. Start with something less sweet. Don't use salt. Don't use spices. Your baby isn't eating because there is no flavor.

Stay home with your kids, they'll only be little for a short time. You should be working. How can your family financially manage with you at home? Dad is at home? That's new. Make sure you breastfeed until they're two years old. Use this pump. How do you have time to pump? Don't you have things to do?

You seem like you've got this all handled! You look like you need help. Motherhood is easy. Just listen to your gut...

This is the mental load of motherhood in a society that knows "everything."

This essay was previously published here.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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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To the mama who had a baby during the pandemic

You deserve hugs, love, recognition and so much more. But I will settle for the next best thing, which is to write you a little love letter.

I am a midwife, and that means two things:

  1. I am a total birth nerd
  2. I want to hug every new mom I see

But we are in a pandemic, which means that the latter is impossible—and this makes me impossibly sad. You deserve hugs, love, recognition and so much more. So I will settle for the next best thing, which is to write you a little love letter.

Darling new mama. Here are seven things you need to know:

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