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Ohio based cheerleading coach, Ally Opfer, went to the hospital late one night for severe abdominal cramping. Doctors, nurses and techs drew vials of blood, started an IV and did a pregnancy test—which was negative.


She lay on the exam table getting an ultrasound, waiting for the worst. Here's what happened instead, (as told by Ally to Love What Matters):

"Then, all of a sudden, not only did my doctor come flying in the room, but so did literally 10 other people who I had yet to see that night. As all these doctors and nurses filled my room, I was preparing myself for the worst news possible, that I was dying. There were so many doctors and nurses in my room all with a sense of urgency that I knew whatever was happening to me was very serious.

"Then, the doctor said these words to me: ‘Have you ever been pregnant before?’ I, of course, said ‘no,’ very confused. He said, ‘Well, it looks like you’re about 38-weeks pregnant and 10-centimeters dilated. You are in full blown labor, and we need to get you upstairs to labor and delivery now!’"

Ally was rushed into the operating room for a cesarean section—her blood pressure was high, and the team decided that a cesarean birth was the safest option.

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She writes, "As I waited for them to tell me the baby was out, it felt like forever. Then I heard, ‘Time of birth: 3:31 a.m.’ and my mom and I looked at each other and were just saying, ‘Cry. Please cry. Please start crying little baby,’ so we knew the baby was okay and healthy. He finally started crying, and so did we. That’s when it finally hit me that I was actually in labor and I had just given birth. I laid there crying (happy tears) and was in shock listening to my baby’s cry. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him."

Ally said, "My whole family was filled with joy to have this unexpected, magical gift. He’s my parents’ first grandbaby. He’s the most amazing Christmas gift I could ever receive."

I meeeaaannnn with that cute little face, we totally get it.

Stories like Ally's are always followed by people asking if it's really possible to be pregnant without knowing it. It's actually quite possible.

In fact, it's estimated that it happens to about one in 450 women. It may not be common, but it's something we should definitely be aware of.

Everyone's story looks different, and there are probably many more factors than these, but here are seven things to consider:

1. Many women have irregular periods

The tell-tale sign of being pregnant is often missing your period. But what if you're used to "missing" your period?

About 30% of women experience irregular periods. Irregular menstrual cycles can happen for a variety of reasons, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, use of hormonal birth control, thyroid issues, over-exercising, stress, breastfeeding and more.

If a woman has irregular periods, she may not suspect pregnancy for some time.

2. Not tracking cycles

Have you ever had the thought, "Ummmm... when was the last time I got my period?" If so, you are definitely not alone.

In a recent study, researchers found that as many as 68% of women were not tracking their menstrual cycles, and 53% didn't know when their next period would be. Between juggling the demands to work schedules, kids and simply life, it's quite easy to lose track of your menstrual cycle, and not realize that you're "late."

3. The menstrual cycle is confusing

Most women have at least some degree of uncertainty about their menstrual cycles. Researchers found that less than one-third of women surveyed knew about reproductive hormones. About 47% of women did not know what ovulation was (when the egg is released) and almost 50% didn't know how long the average menstrual cycle should be.

The laws around sexual education in school vary tremendously by states—only 24 states and the District of Columbia mandate it. So, while some people may have a lot of exposure to the information, many do not.

4. Birth control

With the exception of abstinence, there is no such thing as an error-proof birth control method. Here are some methods of birth control, and the percentage of women using them that become pregnant each year "with typical use:"

  • Spermicide 28%
  • Fertility awareness-based methods 24%
  • Male condom 18%
  • Diaphragm 12%
  • Pills (combined and mini) 9%
  • Depo-Provera 6%
  • IUDs 0.2-0.8%
  • Vasectomy 0.15%

If using birth control, a woman may not be on the lookout for pregnancy symptoms—so it would be easy to miss them, and not know that she's pregnant.

5. But what about the bump?

Women carry pregnancies differently. While some women start showing very early in their pregnancies, others barely show when they are full-term. If, for example, a woman has an anteverted or tilted uterus, she may not "look" pregnant for a while. Tall women tend to show later than shorter women. Every body is just different.

6. And the symptoms?

That varies too. When we think early pregnancy, we think "oh-the-nausea." But it turns out that 20% of (lucky) women never experience pregnancy-related nausea.

And, the symptoms of pregnancy are pretty vague—nausea, tiredness, bloating and headaches could all be caused by so many things, it would be easy to assume that something besides pregnancy was the culprit.

7. What about fetal movement?

Women experience sensations differently. While some women may feel like they have an actual village living in their bellies, others may not be as aware of the movement. And the feelings can be hard to pinpoint. Many times people think fetal movement is just gas or belly rumbles, for example.

Women who have anterior placentas (toward the front of their bellies) often feel less fetal movement than women with posterior placentas (toward the back).

Even women who do know they are pregnant miss the movements. A study found that 83% of women were asked to do fetal kick counts by their providers—that means that 17% were not. The same study reported that only 16% of women actually did fetal kick counts and that many women were confused by how to do them.

(Psst: We love this app for doing fetal kick counts, btw!)

Lastly, many women experience a phenomenon called phantom fetal movement, where they think they feel a baby kicking even though they are not pregnant. If a woman has experienced that, she may not think much of actual fetal movements when they happen.

To sum it up, every pregnancy and woman is different. We all need each others' support as our motherhood stories unfold.

We wish Ally and adorable little Oliver all the best!

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It's 5 pm. You just got home from a busy day at work, dinner is nowhere close to being started, and the afternoon shenanigans have taken ahold of your little ones. They need some time to decompress from their busy day and, let's be honest, you need a few moments to transition into the last part of yours, too.

Your child asks, "Mooooom? Can I watch a show?"

Cue parenting inner-dilemma.

You want to say yes, but you also have fears about technology. How much is too much? Is it bad for my children? Will it isolate my children from me?

Sara DeWitt, the vice president of PBS KIDS Digital, said in her TED Talk that this last question is a big concern for parents. We desperately want to be connected to our children, and for our children to be connected to the world.

Unfortunately, she says, the "fear and skepticism about these devices hold us back from their potential." The truth is, high-quality educational screen time can actually build connections (more on that in a minute). Even more exciting, did you know that the right screen time can help your child develop empathy?

Empathy is a skill, but as a society, we are losing it. A shocking study found that empathy drops by about 40% by the time kids get to college. In a world fraught with inequities, divisiveness and conflict, rebuilding empathy is paramount. Motherly mamas agree. In the 2019 State of Motherhood survey, you told us that your top priority was to nurture kindness with your children.

But how do we do this? Telling our child to "be a kind person" is great, but in order to truly understand, they need to see empathy in context. By using digital content as a prompt for communication and conversation, it becomes one of the many tools we have at our disposal to help guide our children on the path to becoming empathic, kind people.

Enter PBS KIDS.

Raun D. Melmed, MD, FAAP, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and author of the Monster Diary series told us that, "our children have unprecedented access to wonderful educational opportunities through digital media. Interactive, nonjudgmental apps can enhance cognitive development (processing and organization, visual-spatial awareness, pattern recognition and even reading), social and emotional awareness, and even moral development."

When we control technology—and not the other way around—the potential is enormous.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that "media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it's critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS."

Researchers looked at the impact of watching PBS KIDS' series, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and the results were pretty inspiring. Children who watched the show for 30 minutes each day for two weeks demonstrated improved empathy, the ability to recognize emotions and increased social confidence.

But, here's the catch: In order to experience this growth, children needed to have recurrent conversations about what they saw with their parents.

Nicole Dreiske, Executive Director of the International Children's Media Center and author of The Upside of Digital Devices: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart encourages parents to utilize screen time "in the same way that they would use story time: to build trust, emotional intelligence, and empathy." By spending just 10 minutes discussing what happened in a show, children can experience significant benefits.

Knowing the science behind the benefits of screen time is great. But when that afternoon struggle hits, it can be hard to remember exactly what to do, so DeWitt encourages parents to make a plan—here's how.

How to make a screen time plan for your family

Ask yourself the following two questions:

1. What do I want my kids to get out of their digital media time?

Do you want them to have an opportunity to be creative and think outside the box? Pull up PBS KIDS ScratchJr. Is there something going on at home or in school that requires learning about sharing? Share the "Daniel Shares his Tigertastic Car" episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood with them.

Consider your goals, and then choose media accordingly.

2. What do I want my kids to get out of their digital media time? How can it support our family schedule and priorities?

It is okay to factor your needs into the equation, mama. Deriving benefit from your child's screen time is no need to feel guilty. Go ahead and start dinner, or send that email, or yes (gasp), put your feet up and relax for a bit.

Once you've figured out your 'why,' it's time to consider the 'how.'

1. Communicate the plan to your kids (and be clear about limits).

Kids do best with clear boundaries and expectations. This will be especially important if you are implementing changes to how screen time is done in your home.

You could say, "You can play the Wild Kratts game for 30 minutes while I work on dinner, and then we are going to go outside and flap our wings as bats do! Do you think we should eat mosquitos for dinner like they do?!"

Before you start the show, Dreiske recommends planting the communication seed: "Today we're going to notice what we're feeling and what the characters are feeling."

2. Discuss what your kid played or watched.

When screen time is over, strike up a conversation. Dreiske suggests open-ended questions that help to "[create] a special space in which your child feels safe enough emotionally to confide in you about their experiences. Let the child's emotion or feelings 'lead' the talk rather than being obscured by your feelings." You can try the following starters:

  • How did you feel when… ? Why?
  • How do you think that character felt?
  • What if that happened to one of your friends?

3. Find a balance of activities.

Like everything in life, screen time is best in moderation. It is important that children know that screen time is one of the many options they have for activities. Exercise, outdoor play, reading, coloring and more are also incredibly important.

If there is a show or game your child particularly loves, DeWitt suggests finding the non-screen time version of it. "For example, if the kids in Dinosaur Train start a nature collection, suggest a nature walk through your neighborhood after they've watched. If your child likes Ready Jet Go!, use the Ready Jet Go Space Explorer app to look at the stars together and then continue exploring the night sky away from the screen. In other words, we can make digital media as a jumping off point for family fun!"

Sara DeWitt writes, "It helps to remember digital media is simply a tool, just like books, toys and art supplies. As parents, we have the power to decide how and when to use these tools with our kids."

When used thoughtfully, and with love, high-quality screen time is an incredibly powerful way to foster empathy and kindness in the next generation.

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

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It's been a hard week of hard news. It's tough to hear about what is happening to the detained immigrant children and feel helpless (but you're not—you can help, mama) and sometimes our brains just need a break.

We have been updating information on this situation all week long, and so we totally understood when Chrissy Teigen took to social media on Wednesday asking for a feed that would only let you see happy posts.

"I would use that today," Teigen wrote.

Don't worry Chrissy, we've got you covered. Here are 4 adorable video posts from our archive to make Chrissy and all the other mamas happy today.

Viral video of dad helping daughter hula hoop

#dadgoals 😍

(via parents @mayaturnipseed + @djkingseed)

This video has been viewed so many times on our Facebook page because it is just that good. Watch this and try not to smile, we dare you.

There is nothing sweeter than a dad playing with his baby, and there is a ton of scientific evidence showing that when dads are involved like this father is, kids reap all kinds of developmental benefits and can even end up with higher self-esteem as they grow.

One of Motherly's Facebook commenter's said it best: "This is the best video ever. The bond between father and daughter is priceless ❤️"

Adorable video of little girl meeting Mickey Mouse

This little girl's reaction to meeting Mickey will make your day. 💕

Seriously, turn the audio up because this is the cutest thing. We all get a little star struck when we meet a celeb and this 2-year-old is no exception.

"Hi Mickey!" she shouts (over, and over).

She just couldn't get enough hugs from the famous mouse (honestly, we would be super excited, too) who was a really good sport and sang to his little fan, making her day (and ours).

The Magic Kingdom really is magic.

Viral video of a dad adoring his newborn daughter

She's definitely going to be a daddy's girl. 😍

This is going to melt your heart. If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: There is nothing sweeter than a man loving his child, and this proud dad obviously can't get enough of his baby girl.

"You're the best thing that ever happened to me," he coos at her, making her smile.

"You're my best friend," he tells her.

A study found when parents chat with their babies like this it can help infants recognize people, places and things.

Another study found that when parents use baby talk, babies may learn to talk faster.

This is a daddy-daughter duo that is going to be having a lot of these conversations for years to come. This baby is beautiful and so is their bond.

Hilarious video of babies that scoot, slide and army crawl

Check out these babies who are just figuring out how to get where they want to go, by any means possible.

Whether it's a scoot, a slide, or a crawl that's not quite a crawl, these babies are finding creative ways to get mobile.

"There is a big age range for when babies start to crawl (and some never do), so don't worry if yours has not started," notes Dr. Tovah Klein.

She continues: "Being mobile is very exciting—[your baby] can move on her own and that is an enormous shift for her. Soon she will be able to pull up to standing, which is thrilling as well. She has more control of her world and being upright gives her a new view of her world."

These moves in the video may not be true baby steps, but they are baby steps to baby steps, if you get what we mean.

Viral video shows NICU 'graduate' in cap and gown

After 160 days in the NICU, baby Cullen Potter was carried by his primary care nurse, Jewel Barbour, as he "graduated" from the NICU, in attire fitting of such a momentous milestone: A tiny cap and gown.

The little graduate, Cullen was born weighing three ounces shy of a pound.and was no bigger than a can of soda. Over the next five months, the Potters went back and back and forth from their home in Florida to the hospital in Mobile, Alabama to be with Cullen.

Getting to graduation day was a big achievement for Cullen, his thankful parents and the amazing medical team who took such good care of him.

"It was an overwhelming sense of joy. It didn't feel real. We were going to walk out with our baby after five long months. We can never say thank you enough to the nurses and doctors as staff at the hospital. They saved our baby," Cullen's mom, Molli Potter told Motherly last year.

Viral video of a baby in a dinosaur costume will make your day

BRB, ordering all of our babies Dino costumes for Halloween.

Did you know that your kid's dinosaur obsession is really good for them? This little baby could be crawling toward an obsession that will serve them well.

A 2007 study published in the journal Developmental Research, found about 1 in 3 young children will develop an "intense interest" at some point, and dinosaur obsessions rank really high in what they are interested in.

"It makes them feel powerful," paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara told CNN. "Their parent may be able to name three or four dinosaurs and the kid can name 20, and the kid seems like a real authority."

This baby can't say "dinosaur" yet, but they sure are a cute one.

Adorable video of dad pretending to have a conversation with his baby goes viral

Baby breaks the internet babbling to dad 😍

Motherly recently caught up with proud parents DJ Pryor + @Shanieke Pryor—about their adorable 19-month-old son Kingston who has warmed all our hearts. 💕

"I know every parent probably thinks this—but seeing his growth every day and how he interprets what he sees—it's thrilling to me," DJ told Motherly.

These two cuties went viral and then they booked a Denny's commercial! Talk about an adorable grand slam!

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My oldest has been expressing herself with clothing, shoes, costumes, hats, jewelry, gloves and bows (lots of bows) for two years now, and I don't see it slowing down any time soon. She's five, but her love for styling herself independently began around age three. She loves colors and patterns and prints. (Especially when there are lots of different ones together in one outfit.) Mixing and matching and over-accessorizing is her love language.

She will come out of her room and declare herself ready to go—in the MOST creative concoctions I have ever seen. Truly. Lady Gaga's got nothin' on this 5-year-old fashionista.

There was the time she wore her green frog dance recital costume (including the hat and gloves) with a Christmas Rudolph sweater over it and mermaid leggings under it—to the grocery store.

There was the time she wore a furry unicorn onesie with heart-shaped sunglasses that looked like they came straight out of Elton John's closet and clip-on earrings—to music class.

And then there was the time—oh wait, it's most of the time—when she layers (there are always so many layers). Because, honey, a t-shirt and leggings are just the base layer! After that, you need to add jean shorts over the leggings, a dress over the t-shirt, a cardigan over the dress and you must always remember to pack a small carry-on size back of backup outfits anywhere you go.

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Then, and only then, will you be ready for the day.

This place we are now—where my kids dress (mostly) however they want—took some time to get to. I have not always been comfortable with the layering (is that tank top really necessary over that long-sleeved shirt?!) and the mixing of colors and patterns makes my inner-perfectionist want to shout, "THAT DOESN'T MATCH! NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT!"

But, over time, I've trained myself to say instead, "You look awesome! Nice outfit!" as long as it's weather appropriate.

Because, it's their body they're dressing—not mine.

It's their way of expressing themselves—not mine.

It affects their mood—it should not affect mine.

I don't have control over their bodies and choices, and I don't want that. I aim to be their guide, helping and assisting when necessary. I have let go of aiming for or wanting control.

If it's good for them. It's good for me. They are learning how to make their own choices, how to dress and get ready for the day independently, and it takes one thing off of my very long to-do list. It's a win-win for everyone, really. (Let's skip the topic of dealing with meltdowns over not being able to wear your swimsuit and flip flops when it's snowing out for another essay…😂)

So to the mother who has let their child dress themselves today—I FEEL you. I see you. I am you.

I see that your child also has 5+ bows in their hair and a layer of leggings, shorts and a skirt on.

I see that your child has a Spiderman costume on with a shark sweatshirt over it and a PJ Mask cape attached to the back.

And I see that your child has every color of the rainbow on, plus their shoes on the wrong feet.

My friend, I salute you.

I know that your kiddo dressed themselves and I want to give you both a big high five. I know this life well. And I know you too might wonder, What are people going to think with this outfit on? That I'm not teaching my kids to look presentable? That I don't care enough to tell them that their shoes are on the wrong feet?

I know that's not the case.

I know you're showing your child what having control over their own body looks like.

I know you're allowing them to feel free creatively in their expression of themselves.

I know you're helping to shape them into confident humans.

I know you're choosing your battles wisely.

And I know you told them that their feet may be more comfortable if they switched their shoes around, but they swear they like how it feels that way.

We've learned over the past few years from my kid's favorite movie soundtracks, Annie, that "you're never fully dressed without a smile"—but little did those lyricists know they should have added, "and also at least three layers of various items of clothing, three bows and three additional accessories of your choosing!" (That doesn't have quite the same ring to it though, now does it?)

Happy dressing! 😉

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If there's one day a year we can't wait for, it's Amazon Prime Day. We love a good deal (one of our editors *just* got through the dish soap she ordered last year!) and we prefer to do our shopping from the comforts of our home.

That's why we're even more excited about the news that just released—Prime Day 2019 will be two full days, starting on midnight (PT) Monday, July 15 through just before midnight on Tuesday, July 16. 🙌

Amazon announced that it'll feature more than one million deals, and some have already started. You can browse all of the Prime Day launches here. Amazon released these deal sneak peeks:



How to get the most of Prime Day 2019:

1. Check your membership

If you're not a Prime member yet, you can sign up here for a 30 day free membership to get in on the deals on Prime Day 2019! The annual shopping event is reserved for members so make sure you're logged into a Prime account to shop.

2. Browse Amazon products

While all of the deals aren't available, Amazon's products typically always go on sale so take a look ahead of time to know what you'd like to add to your list. We love the Echo Show for video calling grandparents, the Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet for indestructible devices for kids, and the Echo Dot for asking all of the questions.

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3. Track products + lightning deals

There are only a certain number of items that qualify for the deal and they can go fast. You can use the Amazon App to track upcoming deals and set it to notify you when that deal is about to begin. Sold out? See if there's a waitlist option—if an item becomes available, you'll be added to the line to be notified.

4. Make a list

It can be tempting to order all of the things because they seem like a good deal, but remember that deals happen throughout the year, too. To avoid having a million boxes showing up at your doorstep (guilty 🤷♀️) make a list of what you really need for the year. Think: Birthday presents, holiday shopping, household goods you always use, that item you'd love to treat yourself to, a stroller you desperately need. If it's on the list, don't hesitate to buy so you don't miss out.

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For a lot of mothers, the way they become mothers is different from how they imagined, and for House of Card's Kate Mara that was true. Her journey wasn't exactly how she pictured it, but it is one so many mothers can relate to.

Mara recently opened up about how her first pregnancy ended in an miscarriage, and her second ended with an emergency C-section and a blood transfusion. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast, Mara told prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin about her experience, and it is definitely a story about the strength of mothers.

Kate Mara is refreshingly honest about her misscarriage 

Mara explains that she first told her husband, fellow actor Jamie Bell, about her pregnancy when they were stopped at a red light. "I turned to him and I was like, 'Is now a bad time to show you this?' " she tells Berlin. "I showed him the [test] stick. He was at a stop light, and he just burst out laughing and was like, 'Oh, my God. How is that possible?'"

"It was the first time I've ever been pregnant, and I've never had that excitement and shock of being an almost mom," says Mara.

She continues: "That just was such a special sort of reveal."

Unfortunately, about eight weeks into her pregnancy Mara learned something was wrong. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a blighted ovum, a type of early miscarriage where a fertilized egg doesn't continue to develop into an embryo.
Weeks later, the pregnancy officially ended with a miscarriage. "Everything just took so much time, by the time it was all over. It just dragged out forever," Mara explains.

Kate Mara's birth story didn't go as planned (but she wouldn't change it) 

After her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, Mara did get pregnant again but was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition that can make mothers extremely itchy in late pregnancy and can result in complications as serious as stillbirth.

Mara's medical team determined the safest thing to do was induce her a month early, dashing her dreams of an unmedicated home birth. Instead, she spent several days laboring at the hospital and did get an epidural. Eventually, though, things took a serious turn as her temperature spiked to unmanageable levels and she needed to be rushed to the OR for a C-section.

"Right before I went in for the C-section, that's when I sort of [felt] the devastation of it and the disappointment of not being able to experience a birth any way that I had hoped," Mara tells Berlin.

She goes on: "I was so scared to have the C-section, to have this surgery. I was genuinely terrified of what that meant and what could happen and all of these things, and then of course just being tired made me that much more scared, I think."

Once her baby girl was born and safe, it became clear that Mara was not. She'd needed a blood transfusion during the operation and was experiencing something a lot of C-section mamas know all too well—the post-surgery shakes. These tremors kept her from holding her baby.

"My husband brought her over to me and he kind of held her on my chest and it was amazing, but it was not at all what I imagined it would be. I could barely keep my eyes open to look at her."

Mara was sad that day because her birth experience didn't go as she'd hoped, but she also says that looking back, she wouldn't do a thing differently. Everything that was done was done for really serious medical reasons and her baby girl ended up with the best outcome.

It's okay to feel either sad, happy (or both) when your birth plans change 

Kate Mara's C-section story is like a lot of moms', and her feelings are totally valid, say experts.

According to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C-sections are super common, representing about 32% of all births in the United States, but emergency cesareans can be so stressful. "The emergency nature of C-sections leads [some mothers] to feel out of control, as well as fear that there will be harm to the baby or themselves," Dr. Sarah Allen, a Chicago psychologist and director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune.

Mara's worst fears did not come true that day, but her dream of motherhood did. And that is why she doesn't look back on her birth and regret the interventions. She was scared, but she was so strong and she's telling her story in the hopes of lending some strength to other mamas.

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