Struggling with breastfeeding? Memorize these mantras

5. Be kind to yourself.

Struggling with breastfeeding? Memorize these mantras

When you were contemplating motherhood or perhaps when you were pregnant, you probably saw those picturesque images of mothers nursing their babies. You may have even imagined yourself in that role; nursing a sleepy newborn while rocking in a chair.

Fast forward to actual motherhood and you’ve probably realized that breastfeeding is not always snuggles and serene. For many of us, it can turn out to be one of the hardest things we’ve ever done—but also the most rewarding.

Some of us have struggled with latch problems, insufficient supply, mastitis, and soreness. By the time our little ones are ready to wean, however, most of us have found a peace with the balance of challenge and reward that comes with nursing.

To me, it’s just about the perfect analogy for motherhood itself—an ongoing dynamic between self-sacrifice and reward; between struggle and peace; between myself and my child.

If breastfeeding seems more overwhelming than rewarding for you, here are a few mantras that might help.

1. It’s not just about the milk.

It’s good to remember the big picture. Yes, breastmilk is wonderful, but you are also bonding with your baby. Moms who don’t breastfeed can still do all these bonding activities. Step back for a moment, look into your baby’s eyes and see the beauty of the relationship you are building. Picking up on baby’s cues and reading to her are not activities exclusive to breastfeeding moms. So whether you nurse or bottle feed, the beneficial bonding can still happen.

2. It’s a learning process.

Although breastfeeding is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Humans are complex beings, even little newborns. You and your baby are learning a new skill and it takes time to learn. Each mother-baby pair has a unique anatomy, unique personalities and preferences. It usually takes 6-8 weeks to get all the kinks worked out with breastfeeding. Give yourself and your baby patience and time.

3. It’s a relationship.

Breastfeeding is such a unique situation. It is a functional activity (provides food), but it’s not just that; it’s a relationship. How, why and when your baby nurses may differ from day to day or even hour to hour. Sometimes he nurses because he’s hungry; sometimes he nurses because he’s upset or nervous.

In the beginning this was difficult for me to understand. Why was my newborn nursing all the time? Is he not getting enough milk? Well, as we went along in our relationship I realized it was different depending on his needs at the time.

My first son just loved the nursing/sucking motion; it calmed him. My second son nursed much more just for nutrition, not as much for soothing. Each nursing relationship is unique and it takes time to allow this to develop and understand its meaning.

4. It is NOT a competition.

I would hope that in today’s world the notion that “who breastfeeds the longest, wins motherhood” would be thrown out the window. We are all moms, we all struggle, and we all love our children. Whether you nurse for six months, three years or not at all, it does not make you a better mom to your child. You know your child best and you know yourself best. Each mother makes choices about feeding their child based on those factors.

As a new mom, it’s easy to feel judged when your baby is crying or you are trying to nurse in public. I found it helpful to remember that my priority was my baby and myself, not trying to make the situation comfortable for onlookers.

Another key to feeling secure instead of competitive is support. Support from your spouse, family members and perhaps even a moms group can make all the difference. It can take a while to find the moms group with whom you feel comfortable, supported and not judged. Once you find your tribe, however, you will know it. With help from other moms, you may find that all things motherhood, including breastfeeding, seem a little less intimidating.

5. Be kind to yourself.

Breastfeeding mamas, do not forget the magnitude of what you are doing—you are nourishing a complete new little person with your own body. It is really a miracle of nature.

Go easy on yourself and remember that you do not have to do everything that you did prior to motherhood right away. Over time you will learn how to nurse with one hand, while eating with the other. You might even manage nursing while simultaneously helping your toddler get dressed.

Take one day at a time and just focus on nourishing that baby. Focus on only doing the things that help nurture your baby and yourself. Once you get the hang of it, hopefully breastfeeding will become another piece of the beautiful relationship between you and your child.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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