A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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By Ashley Abeles

As mothers, we are tasked with countless responsibilities. We are often balancing parenthood, career, relationships and more. Additionally, we face pressure to emulate an unrealistic image of motherhood, one that we see on diaper boxes and baby commercials. Those imaginary women are able to do it all—flawlessly, and with perfect hair. Many of us, perhaps unknowingly, absorb this expectation and hold ourselves to that standard.

The problem? It is unachievable.

When we set our bar at an unattainable height, we will undoubtedly fall short. The result is a hearty dose of mom-guilt with an extra side of shame. When we combine these feelings with all of our motherhood duties, it is no surprise that many women feel depleted. While juggling obligations, it can be challenging to find the time or resources to recharge ourselves. Furthermore, in the throes of mom-guilt, it is easy to feel undeserving of self-care.

Many women believe that, by caring for themselves, they are taking something away from their families. This could not be further from the truth.

In order to meet the needs of others, our own needs must also be met. An empty well cannot yield water. Practicing self-care is not an act of selfishness; it is a necessity. We must remember that we are not prioritizing our wellness above our families. We are prioritizing our wellness for our families. Self-care allows us to be the best versions of ourselves—for us and for those we love.

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Rest assured that self-care is not only spa days and manicures, as lovely as those can be. Simple daily practices and adjustments to our perspectives may also serve as self-care. Wellness does not need to feel like one more task on an already overwhelming to-do list.

Below are self-care strategies for busy moms that require little-to-no time and do not cost a dime.

1. Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that teaches us to focus our attention on the present moment. Rather than ruminating over the past or planning for the future, we learn to tune into what is happening right now. Meditation has also been associated with reduced stress and anxiety. This is a practical strategy for overbooked moms, who can dedicate as much or as little time as they have available. Positive results may be achieved in only a few minutes a day.

2. Let go of perfectionism

Some of us are perfectionists by nature and others have learned this tendency through social pressures. Regardless of how we adopted perfectionism, it is important to recognize that it is unhealthy for us. When we set unachievable expectations, we are destined to fail.

One of the most caring things we can do is allow ourselves to experience success. This is crucial to our emotional wellbeing, and can only be achieved when we let go of perfectionism. There is no such thing as a perfect mother.

3. Prioritize rest

As busy parents, rest can feel elusive. While there are times when exhaustion is out of our control, there are other times when we have a choice. For instance, when the baby is finally napping, we can choose to do the dishes and respond to work e-mails, or we can choose to give ourselves a break.

While most of us would like for our homes to be immaculate and to be voted employees-of-the-year, we must realize that these are not necessities. Rest, on the other hand, is.

Our children will benefit more from a healthy, replenished mother than from a fresh batch of laundry. Recharging may not always be an option but, when it is, take it.

4. Stop comparing

In this day of social media, we have innumerable opportunities to compare ourselves to others. With the click of a button, we have access to the lives of everyone we know. We may see our mom friends baking homemade bread, hand-sewing Halloween costumes, or running the school fundraiser, and suddenly feel inadequate.

Remember that these are only some of their moments, and likely the best ones. Very few people share their darkest moments. Stop comparing your worst to someone else's best. Social media is not reality and motherhood is not a competition.

5. Be honest

Motherhood can be beautiful, but it can also be lonely. That sense of isolation is frequently rooted in a lack of honesty about parenthood challenges. Because discussions of motherhood are often censored, it can feel that we are the only ones struggling. We change this by being unedited and truthful when sharing our experiences.

Honesty fosters meaningful relationships and helps us to build the villages we so desperately need. Authentic connections are imperative to our wellness and are only developed through honesty. Allow yourself to have those genuine support systems.

Originally posted on HealthyWomen.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

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

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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