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We all have high expectations of joy and deep fulfillment when we’re about to have a baby. Our minds fill with images of radiant moms and dads cooing with delight over their tiny babies.

But for many parents, there is a darker side of that rainbow… exhaustion. The deep fatigue that is an almost universal stress to new parents can cast a pall over much of this happiness—which is why there is such a significant link between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression or anxiety.

Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) is an unwelcome visitor to one in six new mothers (and many new fathers, too). Yet, despite how common it is, somehow it still feels like a rude surprise whenever it arrives.

In more than 30 years as a pediatrician, I have heard thousands of exasperated parents ask the same question: “Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this hard?”

However, even when expectant couples are warned about how hard the first months can be, they often blithely believe that PPD or PPA is a problem “other people” have. Then baby arrives and stress, exhuastion and general overwhelm often sets in, which sets the stage for anxiety and/or depression.

The truth is, modern parenting doesn’t automatically grant us the same community structures that used to help new parents. Sure, we don’t have to wash our clothes in the river like past generations of parents, but two huge societal shifts make modern baby-rearing much tougher: For one, most new moms and dads have little experience—many have never even held a baby before. Secondly, few new parents have strong family support.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this is first time in human history that parents don’t have “the village” to help them. Today, families are spread across the country and it’s a luxury to have baby care help.

This lack of support can lead to serious sleep deprivation. And while most new parents expect that being tired is part of the job, profound exhaustion is not at all a trivial problem.

Recently, BabyCenter and I surveyed more than 1,000 new mothers. Almost 80 percent said they routinely felt tired or exhausted. Most said sleep deprivation was their biggest angst—well ahead of a lack of time or money.

Other studies confirm that 50 percent of new parents get fewer than 6.5 hours of fractured sleep each night. That little sleep can cause a similar mental impairment to being drunk and double the risk of serious car accident. Further, exhaustion can lead to marital stress, infant death from unsafe sleeping and failed breastfeeding.

And, as mentioned above, topping the list of the problems from extreme fatigue is PPD or PPA.  These affect about 15 percent of new moms—and many husbands. (Yes, men can get it, too.)

Unfortunately, many mothers don’t really know what PPD or PPA feels like. When people hear it mentioned, they imagine a mom who is sad and weepy. But, an even more common way it manifests is with anxiety, irritability and intrusive fears.

Many moms with PPD or PPA say they can’t turn off their minds… and can’t rest, even when the baby is sleeping. This can lead to marital stress, shame and secrecy, low self-esteem, poor bonding, obesity, accidents, infant sleep death, breastfeeding problems, lifelong depression and even suicide or infanticide. This list is not meant to provoke fear. Quite the opposite, it’s meant to encourage us to work as hard as possible to find a solution.

Fortunately, the conversation around PPD and PPA has begun to see the light of day. Chrissy Teigen penned a moving, insightful piece in Glamour to share her battle with postpartum with other moms and moms-to-be. Other stars—Brooke Shields, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hayden Panettiere and Adele—have also chronicled their painful experiences. Centers to aid depressed new mothers have popped up across the United States, including, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chapel Hill and Providence. And The Motherhood Center opened in New York City just last month.

Today, medical groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have strongly supported efforts to screen all new mothers for depression. And, thanks in large part to the leadership of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the United States Congress passed a bill to provide resources to support screening and treatment services.

Yet, these important steps fall far short of what will ultimately be needed to stem this crisis. We cannot simply wait for women to get depressed and then hope they come to a doctor to get screened. We need robust programs to prevent PPD and PPA before it occurs.

Fortunately, new hope is on the horizon.

We now know that exhaustion can raise a woman’s risk of PPD or PPA 7-27-fold during the first months after birth. Crying is also associated with a 4-fold increase of PPD or PPA. So, by preventing crying and boosting sleep, we may be able to significantly lower the risk of developing PPD or PPA.

As the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, some techniques that I suggest to parents include using motion, white noise and swaddling to help their babies fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. (My latest project, the SNOO smart infant sleeper, combines many of these good practices. Studies are currently underway from major universities to investigate a potential link between the SNOO and reduced rates of parental depression and anxiety.)

The very hopeful news is that by using new ideas in baby care we are now able to give parents more sleep, less crying and more confidence. And, that gives us a real chance of helping parents and babies be happier and healthier during this amazing stage of life.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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