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Welcome to boot camp! Er, I mean, your first trimester. First of all, congratulations! This is a building time—a season in which your hard efforts will lay the foundation of your pregnancy experience.

You will encounter some mothers who will remember (and be honest enough to talk about) the tough days of morning sickness and profound fatigue. You will also encounter those who swear they sailed through pregnancy without so much as an extra hiccup.

Some of these women are trying to gloss over their troubles because they want to sound like Supermom. Others simply forget what they went through. Still others are influenced by cultures that train women to project a “no big deal” attitude about pregnancy, which downplays the vital and sacrificial role of motherhood and undermines the respect that mothers ought to be given. Or perhaps they truly didn’t have as tough a case of nausea and tiredness that others go through. But whatever their story, their bodies literally rearranged the location of organs to make room for the new human life growing within them. Their bodies changed in indelible ways and their thoughts and emotions became preoccupied with someone other than themselves. They had to juggle their schedules and routines to accommodate doctor visits, prenatals and new plans.

In other words, no matter what impression they may give, or how much they might forget or consciously downplay their efforts...

Every woman who has gone through pregnancy is heroic.

The definition of a hero: a person who in the face of adversity shows bravery and self-sacrifice for a greater good.

Ever wished you could be a hero? You are one now. Check it off the list.

So, we’ve officially established that pregnancy is heroic and that every trimester is filled with noble sacrifice. We’ve determined that every mother is deeply affected, whether she ever admits it to you. Knowing that, let’s talk about the first trimester.

The sea of hormones churning within you and helping strengthen your baby’s new life is the same mix that causes that morning (or every-time-of-day) sickness.

And it is completely normal to feel exhausted to your bones.

The pregnancy hormone relaxin can kick in at any point in the first trimester. Its important job is to relax the intrauterine ligaments. But sometimes you may rise too quickly from your chair and feel a pulling sensation or a sharp jabbing, and for this unpleasant sensation you can thank (or blame) relaxin. You may start noticing occasional pullings and even mild to moderate cramp-like sensations that indicate your uterus is starting to grow. It’s a little after that time you’ll start to notice the modest beginnings of a baby bump.

There’s another component to the first trimester that doesn’t get as much attention as it should: worry.

The first trimester is an anxious time. We are frequently reminded that miscarriage risk is greatest during these months, so we worry about the twinges of discomfort and mild cramps, and we keep tabs on whether we’re spotting.

These days, many expectant mothers are offered blood tests to investigate the health of genes and chromosomes. Then they have to wait up to two weeks for the results, wondering all the while whether the results will be normal. Mothers are offered sonograms examining levels of nuchal translucency fluid and examining the chambers of the heart and the parts of the brain and spine. They either refuse these tests and wonder and worry and hope and pray... or they receive these tests, and wonder and worry and hope and pray, holding their breath while the sonographer analyzes the precious life within them with a detached air of objectivity.

In this age of information, we are inundated with knowledge our foremothers didn’t have. In a time that’s already fraught with worry, it can make us question every morsel of food. Is the cheese at this restaurant pasteurized? We cut out alcohol, sushi, deli meats, hamburgers, raw vegetables (to avoid the risk of salmonella), pineapple (to avoid contractions), make sure we’re not getting too much vitamin A but extra folic acid and calcium... and on and on. It’s all for the good, but it can be exhausting.

So how do we hold on to hope during a first trimester that is a grab bag of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, mood swings, ligament pain and anxiety? For many of us, spiritual practices are key: prayer, meditation, contemplation, journaling our emotions and finding inspirational reading material. Friends and family members who offer love and support are a wonderful resource. Funny, brainless movies that make us laugh take the edge off anxiety. Lots of extra sleep and warm cups of caffeine-free tea are great. Perhaps the best way to hold on to hope is to remember what it’s all for: your child. My grandmother, who had six children, told me to enjoy pregnancy because, she said,

“Someday, you’ll know the person your child grows up to be and you will realize what a privilege it was to have once held that person inside you.”

I taught a seminar recently and chose to announce my pregnancy to my all-female class, despite the fact that it was during my first trimester. “There are two people standing before you right now,” I said, and it was fun to watch their eyes widen and smiles broaden as they solved the riddle. Despite the inconveniences, the discomfort, even the pain, my child will never be physically closer to me than he or she is now.

Pregnancy is a unique time of safeguarding the bodies and souls of our children, holding them within us like a nesting doll.

As we carry them, we carry our grandchildren, too... the eventual lives that would not be possible without our sacrifice. And we have a heightened awareness of those who came before us, and hope our children will have the best of their virtues.

What could we ever do that is more important than carrying all of that within our very bodies?

I think it’s that truth that makes mothers wax romantic about their pregnancies years later. I believe it is that quality that makes them reminisce about pregnancy and remember it fondly. It’s knowing that the children they now know as filled with loving warmth, humor, intelligence and quirky wonder uniquely theirs were once folded within them, joined in an unbreakable bond that only grows more sacred as years pass and wisdom grows.

So hang in there. Think about meeting that child, seeing her face, watching her grow. Think of how proud you’ll be.

And now be proud of yourself for making it all possible.

Annabelle Moseley is an award-winning writer and poet, a mother and a contributor to Motherly on meaning and motherhood.

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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.


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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