60+ mamas tell us the *one* thing they wish they had known about newborns

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We have nine months to prepare as we watch our belly grow and feel kicks and movements. But somehow, when babies arrive, we can feel totally clueless (at least the first time around) about the little things newborns do. Maybe you've been around enough babies to know what is coming, or maybe you are changing a diaper for the first time in your life and have no idea where the velcro straps go. We've been there.

We asked #TeamMotherly to share what were the things they didn't know about newborns they wished someone had told them, and we received more than 2,000 responses. Here are some of them:

1. "How your birth plan and postpartum might not be the Disney Fairytale that society makes it out to be, and that it's okay to have all the emotions. There will be people who make you feel bad if you express anything other than 100% happiness." —Lindy A.

2. "That the work is endless, and that sometimes it might take a while for your partner to 'get it' and share the load almost equally, but it'll be amazing when she or he does, and it'll be amazing to see them be as close to the baby as you are." — Michali K.

3. "They gag on mucus right after birth and they pause in between breaths, both of which are terrifying. 😩" —Christen A.

4. "The first night home is the worst." —Kentuckysunshine

5. "Take lots and lots of pictures of yourself with the baby! You'll have 100 photos of baby and dad but not with yourself!!" - Kiran Z.

6. "That it is okay to bottle feed. My oldest was intolerant and had to be switched from breastfeeding to expensive formula at 5 weeks old. I felt like somehow I failed even though he cried hours less and finally gained weight."—FredaMae C.

7. "Anxiety! They said to look out for depression but anxiety was never discussed. I was blindsided."—Ann Ross E.

8. "You will think your newborn is adorable and only gets cuter... But when you look back on those candid newborn photos you will see what everyone else saw, a wrinkly pink alien baby 😂" —Farren R.

9. "That it's okay to have an 'easy' baby! Not every baby is super fussy and a bad sleeper! My son was practically sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old and I was freaking out thinking something is wrong because everyone told me to expect sleepless nights, lots of tears and trouble with breastfeeding but that isn't the case for everyone." —Lexi P.

10. "The importance of skin to skin and the golden hour for those lucky enough to keep their babies with them after they're born ❤️" —Laura T.

11. "So so so much laundry! You'll be amazed at how many loads of tiny tiny clothes, blankets, burp cloths, etc you'll wash!"—Valerie C.

12. "I'm telling you, you can't 'spoil' a baby with cuddles. No matter how many people tell you that you will. Cuddle them, they're only small for a short time ❤️❤️" —Zoe L.

13. "That it is okay to restrict the amount of visitors at the hospital and the first few weeks at home. It's okay to be selfish and want that time to spend as a new family and bonding and getting used to the new baby! My husband and I were so overwhelmed with visitors. I was learning to breastfeed, had just been cut open and had a new baby! Those first few days as so special for the new parents!" —Heather S.

14. "That clipping their tiny nails would be a traumatic event."— Shannon A.

15. "All. The. Poop. Like up the back, out the sides, all over the sheets, in the hair kind of poop and how many onesies would be ruined." —Renee N.

16. "Until you get adjusted to your new life, you will probably cry just as much as they do." —Sarah S.

17. "That you're going to look/feel like a zombie the first 12 weeks until you get used to it. 😬" —Elyse C.

18. "They go through so many changes and will likely have a peak fussiness period around 5-7 weeks but just keep going it get better at 8 weeks. ❤️" —Jera L.

19. "'Success' must be redefined to be realistic. Everyday ask yourself two questions: Is the baby alive and well? Are you alive and well? If you can answer yes to both of those questions... BOOM, SUPER SUCCESSFUL PARENTING STREAK ACTIVATED! The dishes in the sink, laundry in the dryer, and general mess will always be there. Stop letting tasks determine your worth, ladies! Crushing it no matter what the backseat of your car looks like or if you've got some pile of wrinkly sheets on a couch somewhere!" —Melissa S.

20. "A lot, but the weird noises they make, and the quivering, the weird skin rashes like cradle cap or baby acne... I spent the first 6 weeks thinking my child was seizing and developing diseases all to find it's all normal newborn stuff." —Autumn G.

21. "Getting to shower IS your 'break'. The sleep while the baby sleep advice is silly, how feeling out of control emotionally is normal. I could go on and on." —Robin L.

22. "I wish someone taught me how to be assertive towards people who criticized me in that first year; I wish someone had told me how to believe in myself and trust my heart and guts as a new mom. I wish someone had told me that I was courageous strong and that no matter what unfolded to always remember that I am good and will always be good enough for her." —Chele Y.

23. "How afraid you are of holding or even touching your tiny human! I would just stare at my son and think what am I supposed to do with this fragile little creature like why was I allowed to take him home from the hospital?" —Sarah P.

24. "How easily and quickly postpartum depression can sneak up on you with your firstborn. I was able to recognize the signs the second time around and my heart is with every Momma that has ever had to go through it .💜" —Lekeitha W.

25. "It's okay to not feel this unconditional love the first time you see them. It takes time for some people. (But it does eventually happen!) I felt very ashamed of these feelings until I started talking to other moms about it." —Daylen H.

26. "It's okay to ask for help! It's normal to be stressed out. And it's not always possible to 'sleep when the baby sleeps.'" —Britanii H.

27. "How truly gassy they are. My little one would wake up crying in pain due to gas troubles. I felt sooo bad for him!" —Ashlee S.

28. "How lonely it can feel staying home with a tiny baby. Friends and family seem to disappear once you are home from the hospital." —Catrina B.

29. "It's normal for their soft spot to pulse." —Shea H.

30. "Just go topless with lots of nipple cream, get your water and Gatorade, some good shows, and be prepared to sit on a comfy chair all day and night!! Once I knew this was normal, life was so much easier than 'waiting' to get up every five minutes." —Lauren F.

31. "The fourth trimester, how much this little person needs all your time, witching hour." —Janice B.

32. "Wearing them is sanity-saving, and they love it (usually)." —Bridget N.

33. "They don't need A LOT OF STUFF! Most of it is waste of money and just a hype." —Caren A.

34. "That your friends and family will express so much excitement before baby but offer no real help after baby arrives. I didn't fully prepare to do it alone, but that's the way it turned out to be. I wish I'd hired a doula for birth and postpartum." —Dusty S.

35. "The people that bring you food and meals and stay for 20 minutes so you can have a decent shower are the best people ever!" —Georgia E.

36. "That the first week is the hardest! Breastfeeding is hard!" —LaTrease N.

37. "That the whole 'newborns nurse eight times a day, every 3 hours' doesn't apply to all newborns, and that you'll have to schedule your life around feedings for a long while." —Michali K.

38. "How much they want to nurse especially when they are building your supply. So many hours. Nipples were so raw. Also how THIRSTY I'd be and unmotivated to cook." —Rachel K.

39. "I didn't know how hard breastfeeding would be, physically and mentally. Those first 6 weeks it's a full-time job if your baby nurses often and it's really draining. Once you're past that hard stage though it's the best thing ever and so worth it." —Shanielea M.

40. "That they lose that 'newborn' look in just a few weeks. If i have another, I'll say no to the constant visitors and really take those first few weeks in because it was over too fast!" —Megan H.

41. "Forget the normal baby shower gifts someone else will cover that. Get the new mom MAID SERVICE, help her prepare crockpot meals, or even stop by and help do laundry. The daily chores is what I struggled with most in those early months." —Lauren C.

42. "You don't have to enjoy every moment. It's hard!" —Emily G.

43. "How to change your newborn son without getting peed on. After a few weeks in a friend was over and she showed me. I was so thankful!!" —Natalie W.

44. "How helpful the swaddle is! Once we used it correctly sleeping happened way more often." —Rebecca C.

45. "Not necessarily about newborns, but how totally amazing your mommy instinct is once it kicks in. Cant explain it but you'll feel it in your gut when something is wrong and sometimes it will help guide the tough parenting choices. Trust it!" —Jessica H.

46. "They grow up so quickly, and you'll miss the newborn phase. They did tell me, I didn't listen!" —Sarah L.

47."How much of your day is taken up by winding the baby! Used to take so long to get a burp!"— Indy C.

48. "They're a lot easier than toddlers." —Rachel H.

49. "I wish I knew more about safety measure for newborns. I found today that I used to do a few things in a wrong manner. Some mistakes could have been deadly. Thank God my kids are safe and healthy 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼" —Majida A.

50. "How much of your time is consumed by one little person." —Tosha G.

51. "The witching hour! That period of a few hours every night when they'll most likely want to nurse/eat all the time and just generally be inconsolable. We didn't learn about that until a few weeks into parenthood. 😅" —Tara Q.

52. "That literally everybody around you, from your family and friends, is giving you non requested advices on how to breastfeed, what you should be eating, how to hold or not hold the baby and how to make him sleep. But that at the end of the day the baby is yours and you know him better than anybody else, so just do as you feel like!" — Elisa B.

53. "It's pretty hard to break them! I was so nervous with our baby when she was first born, but they aren't as fragile as they seem and there was no reason to be SO paranoid!" —Dominique M.

54. "Babies can get acid reflux, making sleep very difficult and almost non-existent for baby and parents!" —Alyssa G.

55. "Don't [be mad at] your partner for not doing it your way (albeit the correct, highly-researched way 🤣) by kid #3 you won't care that they mismatched the outfits or gave your kid mashed peas for three meals in a row." — Alexis M.

56. "Yes, they sleep a lot, but it's not always at night. And for some babies, it's never, ever, ever anywhere but someone's arms. I never realized how much time I would spend just holding a sleeping baby and sitting." —Jillian E.

57. "That newborns and babies cry and scream for no apparent reason and it will feel like someone is flushing your intestines out and cutting your heart up with a scalpel and everyone just gives you 'that's The way the cookie crumbles with a baby', but no one tells you how much it hurts your new mothers heart... 😓" —Anita H.

58. "Take turns with your SO (if available/an option) at night so you can get rest. Even if you breastfeed, have your SO burp, change the diaper, and put baby back to bed so you can get more rest." —Jenna S.

59. "You'll be SO tired and yet your heart will be so so full." —Jenna S.

60. "How loud they are when they sleep!" —Mallory D.

61. "They normally don't want to sleep in a bassinet or crib! They want to be snuggled 💜" —Olive M.

62. "That it's okay if you don't bond with your baby immediately. It doesn't mean you are a terrible mother or that you don't love your baby. Some things take time. We had a traumatic delivery and it took me a couple of hours to really fall in love and I know friends where it's taken much longer but it wasn't for want of trying. We now all love our babies fiercely but it took time for some of us. ❤️" —Marissa J.

63. "How noisy they are! The grunting, snuffling, heavy breathing, crying and how their breathing is not regular just to scare the heck out of you at 2am when they decide to hold their breath. 😳" —Vicky B.

64. "The growth spurts, sleep regressions... currently six weeks and she didn't sleep at all last night! And how much coffee I would drink in a day." —Angela H.

65. "They are very in tune with your lifestyle even starting in the womb!" —Niccole A.

66. "That everything is always an experiment! I can't tell you how many things I ordered at 3am to try them out to see what worked best for our baby. Also, that you will need Amazon Prime because you're not leaving the house as quickly as you used to before." —Emily P.

67. "Never understood 'I love you so much it hurts' until I had my babies. It's a love that can't be explained but with that love is a worry I will never worry for anything or anyone the way i worry about my kids. You hear people say all this but you have to have kids to truly feel it." —Amanda M.

68. "Just that it's over way too quickly, so cherish every moment even the stressful ones because they will soon be in school before you know it and then that's it, it's gone... my baby is now an adult and I would love to be able to do it all again." —Ceriann F.

69. "That the newborn phase goes way too fast. 🥰" —Rachel

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

News

At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

$4.89

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Beauty + Style Shopping Guides

We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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It's been more than a decade since federal guidelines were implemented to ensure nursing mothers have the time and space to pump at work, but as Motherly has previously reported, many mothers still find it extremely challenging to maintain a pumping schedule in the workplace.

This week a new study out of the University of Georgia showed that while most women report having access to private spaces and break times for pumping there are still significant "gaps in access to workplace breastfeeding resources" and the researchers recommend employers take action to reduce breastfeeding disparities.

"We know that there are benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant, and we know that returning to work is a significant challenge for breastfeeding continuation," says Rachel McCardel, a doctoral student at UGA's College of Public Health and lead study author. "There is a collective experience that we wanted to explore and learn how can we make this better."

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The challenges of breastfeeding in 2020

There is a lot of pressure on mothers to exclusively breastfeed, but nearly half of mothers feel like they must make a choice between breastfeeding and keeping their job. A baby's mother is the best person to decide whether the infant should be breastfed, formula-fed or both, but it should be her choice. When workplace supports for breastfeeding are not in place many mothers feel like they don't have a choice at all.

Public health campaigns and social norms reinforce breastfeeding as the best choice, but a recent survey from Areoflow found that 1 in 3 people (31%) "do not believe employers should be required to provide a lactation room" but at the same time, 90% of those surveyed stated that they believe women should be allowed to pump at work.

For too many women, those contradicting messages mean that pumping at work is an uncomfortable experience, something they need to do nearly in secret. It's an example of the many ways in which mothers are supposed to parent as though they don't work but pretend they aren't parents when at work.

Calling for change in 2020

Half the states in America explicitly protect the rights of nursing parents in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and federal law also provides protections to nursing workers under the Affordable Care Act. Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act—but millions of working mothers are not covered by those protections, and the new research out of the University of Georgia's College of Public Health suggests that even mothers who are need more support from their employers.

Heather Padilla is an assistant professor at UGA's College of Public Health and the co-author of the study. She recommends employers "designate a person who is responsible for making sure that women who are preparing for the birth of their baby understand what resources they have available to them when they return to work," she said.

Supervisors or HR directors could fill this role, and would fill a gap between company policy and personal experience. Padilla and McCardel found that many women "said they hadn't expected to get much help from their employers, and there was a general lack of communication about the resources available to them."

The work Padilla and McCardel have done reinforces the work we at Motherly are doing: In 2020 we are calling for change, and demanding support for mothers feeding their babies.

Mamas need to work + babies need to eat

For many American mothers work is not a choice, it is a necessity. Mothers are increasingly the breadwinners for their families and it is very hard for mothers, even those with working partners, to be a stay-at-home parent in 2020.

We need paid family leave and protection from breastfeeding discrimination. We need employers to support working mothers who choose to pump, and we need to reduce the stigmatization of formula feeding.

Mama, we see you pumping in your office and mixing formula bottles to take to day care. We see how hard it is and we support you. Know that no matter what your baby is eating—bottled breast milk, formula, or some combination (because breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing)—we know you are working so hard to provide it.

We have declared 2020 the #yearofthemother. Join us, and call for change because McCardel is right—this is a collective experience and it is one we can make better for the mothers who come after us.

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