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As a breastfeeding mother, the desire to share the realities of breastfeeding—the good, the bad, and the painful—led me to begin this project where I ventured into over 50 Boston-based families' homes and lives to document their typical breastfeeding routines. I'd strap my baby boy into a wrap (often nursing him while I photographed) and would talk with families about how breastfeeding fit into their lives. Below, you'll see the highlights of our days and will hear directly from the person in the picture about what breastfeeding means to them.

It was my overall goal that these photographs could empower families and make the barriers of breastfeeding more manageable. It is my hope that this project will continue to normalize breastfeeding and, in turn, help new parents feel more prepared, more informed and more supported throughout their breastfeeding journey.

As I began to nurse my second child, I found breastfeeding to be a great deal easier for me due to my experience with having already breastfed my older child, but also because of the confidence and support these families gave me. I am forever grateful to them and this body of work.

Monica, Marlin, 16 months and Simona, 3 years old

Gina Marie Brocker

Monica: "As I sit here multitasking at afternoon pick-up with my older daughter occupied and my baby Marlin happily suckling in my lap I realize that breastfeeding isn't always 'beautiful' in the aesthetic sense.

"What I love about it is the raw immediacy. A procrastinator and unplanner by nature, breastfeeding fits my lifestyle perfectly. Nothing to remember, nothing to clean just my ladies and my baby. It's not uncommon for me to have Marlin in the wrap or sling feeding while playing with big sister Simona at a playground or while running errands.

"Breastfeeding provides me with that sort of freedom and also empowerment. I don't think it was by mistake that God designed our bodies to be sufficient. When all is stripped away I am still enough for my babies and that is powerful. That feeling of empowerment is what continues to propel me through the unknowns and trials of parenthood with confidence."

To see more of Gina Marie Brocker's photographs from the series Latched On, please visit her website.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.

While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.


Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).


Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.


Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!


Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.


Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!


Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.


Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!


Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.


Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.


Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.


Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.


Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!


Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.


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

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I've never had a great relationship with my body. When I was younger I wanted to be skinnier than I was. Then when college came around, I wanted bigger boobs and butt because that's all I saw in magazines. I wanted my hair to be straight instead of wildly curly and maybe 10 shades lighter than what my south Italian heritage gave me. Eventually, when I hit my 30s I started loving my body as it deserved. I'll admit I took a bunch of photos in tiny swimsuits for everyone else to see because finally, I was into myself.

And then I got pregnant.


Initially, I was absolutely fascinated by what my body could do. It was growing a human, eyes, nails, hair. It still blows my mind when I stop to think about it. I would take a lot of selfies of my tiny growing bump. But as the pregnancy progressed and I got bigger and bigger—as expected—and more and more uncomfortable—also as expected—I started not loving my body again.

I compared myself to other pregnant people, both around me in real life and on social media. I felt bigger than everyone in places I shouldn't be. I hated walking because I could feel my thighs rubbing against each other, reminding me they were not what they used to be. But sitting down wasn't fun either, because I could feel my boobs touch my belly, something they had never done before and I didn't like either.

I would sigh and frown and struggle getting dressed every single morning because I felt there was nothing that could make me look good. Maybe I should go into hiding, I often thought.

My husband, however, saw it in a totally different light. He was completely in love with my growing body.

He would rub my belly every night while I loafed on the couch, out of breath and out of energy. He would—without any prompts from me—tell me how beautiful I looked almost daily. When I sighed disappointed that I didn't look like I did in my 20s he would tell me that I was right, I looked even better now.

And it didn't stop when the baby came. Postpartum was really hard for me for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that my body still felt foreign even after the baby was earthside. I expected to "bounce back" like all the magazines told me I would as if I were a basketball in the middle of a court.

My belly felt like a deflated balloon, my boobs allowed gravity to pull them down, my legs were covered in cellulite, my hair was falling out in chunks and I think even my feet might have changed shape.

I cried every time I tried to fit into pre-baby clothes because they wouldn't fit, and then when they started fitting I would cry looking at photos of myself because I looked like a stuffed sausage. But not to my husband.

I would find him staring at me, with almost cartoon-like heart-shaped eyes. We grew closer, our love intensified, and even though I couldn't see what he saw, even though I really really really would love to be able to see myself through his eyes to see what he sees when he looks at me, his love and support have helped me start loving my body again.

Slowly I appreciated that it was able to grow our son for almost nine months, every organ, every feature, every little detail that makes him the love of our lives. That it was able to nourish him— with the help of a pump because breastfeeding is hard—for months and months. That my own organs found their way back to where they belong even after being squished in places they shouldn't have been in the first place. The scar left in my body, which at first caused a lot of anger and disappointment, is now a reminder of how strong I can be. Sure, I didn't bounce, but I'm not meant to.

Now I'm pregnant again, and some of those feelings are slowly creeping back especially because this time around I'm carrying twins and I feel like my body is really being put to the test. But every time I start spiraling into self-hate, every single time, I find my husband's eyes and touch and they bring me back. And for that, I will forever be thankful.


Our culture is currently obsessed with "bouncing back" and the need to "reclaim" a certain body type immediately post-birth.

As the CEO and Founder of The Bloom Method, a globally recognized pre and postnatal fitness method, and an expert contributor to The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey, one of my missions is to help inspire a new kind of attitude around the concept of 'mom bods'. To reclaim our new bodies in ways that spark a level of strength that's both mind and body-related.

I understand why many women want to jump back into that pre-baby exercise routine, but as a specialist in this field, I see again and again that true healing and recovery is a process. Mama, it takes time. The more willing you are to take the time to rehab your core and pelvic floor, the stronger you will be well into your motherhood journey.


Two questions I often encounter are, "What should be the first exercise women do postpartum?" and "When can I start exercising again?" The answers are the same and yet are surprisingly simple:

Just breathe.

That's it. It's that easy.

Okay, fine—not really, but the point is that many women expect the answer will be some fancy exercise move that gets them sweaty and addresses concerns around about the postpartum core. But it's not.

Diaphragmatic breathing is the first and best postpartum technique that women should do immediately after birth. Correct breathing lays the foundation for healing and restrengthening your inner core. With breath, you begin the healing process postpartum by simultaneously rehabbing both the deep core and the pelvic floor. Being able to "just breathe" in the early days postpartum also allows you to truly honor your body and your current experiences.

Pregnancy and birth have the ability to show us what real strength is, and how we treat our bodies in the days following this incredible journey sets the stage for our level of self-love for years to come. I want to help women feel capable and strong in their bodies while honoring what their bodies have accomplished. The need to "get our bodies back" has to shift to a mindset of "embracing the newfound strength that is a gift from pregnancy and birth."

So whether you are trying to heal diastasis recti or want to rehab your core in a smart and efficient way, the process starts with the breath. You can do this if you had a vaginal birth or Cesarean birth. And the best part is that tapping into your breath can begin immediately post-birth—just get the green light from your provider, and you are on your way.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

The diaphragm is the muscle below your lungs. To learn how to do diaphragmatic breathing, try this:

  • Sit comfortably, and place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
  • Envision the diaphragm muscle moving up and down as you breathe.
  • When you inhale, allow your belly to expand as your lungs fill with air, and your diaphragm moves down to accommodate your full lungs.
  • When you exhale, feel your belly contract as your diaphragm moves upward.

You want to use diaphragmatic breathing as your main means of inhalation and exhalation. Not sure exactly what we mean by that? You can see in the illustration below that there is movement happening both internally as well as externally. Pregnant bellies do a beautiful job of visually displaying this action, so this can be a very helpful visual even for our non-pregnant mamas.

When we properly breathe via our diaphragm, we incorporate our entire inner core unit, which includes our transverse abdominal muscle (our corset shaped muscle) and the pelvic floor. This approach to core rehab truly sets the stage for rebuilding and restrengthening in the most supportive of ways. It addresses both the deep layer of abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor together, and it allows new moms to build the core foundation they need for daily movements and their favorite workouts.

What are the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing?

Aside from providing functional core strength, some of the other benefits that diaphragmatic breathing can offer are:

  • Maintaining a more relaxed state by tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system. (Think de-stressing breaths with each inhale and exhale.) This technique alone can provide incredible support.
  • Providing a level of holistic healing and restoration to your inner core unit, as this form of breath can help drastically in assisting with the re-aligning of your organs back into their natural positions.
  • Aiding in the overall healing of the core and pelvic floor can help to reverse common pregnancy-related injuries such as diastasis recti, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Allowing mom and baby to connect in an extremely calming environment. (Think of the connection to your breath as a form of meditation.) Mom and baby are so deeply inner-connected in the days following birth that this help can foster a deeper connection as these two (or more) settle into life together.

Diaphragmatic breathing should be part of your daily life. However, if you happen to be like most adult women where breathing in your chest has become your new normal, repatterning your breath to be more consistent in your diaphragm is a simple shift that happens with a little extra awareness.

Am I doing diaphragmatic breathing correctly?

When first tapping into this breathing technique and feeling into the natural movement that takes place, there is a high probability that the sensations you're looking for will feel off or that you'll spend some time overthinking what you're hoping to accomplish. The beauty of this diaphragmatic breath is that your body knows exactly how to breathe this way. In fact, your inner core system was designed to move harmoniously with each inhale and exhale of a diaphragmatic breath. It often just takes a little time to remind the body how to get back in-sync with the breath and movement.

Once you're breathing via your diaphragm, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it feel as though your breath and inner unit are in fluid motion with one another?
  • Does the pelvic floor move with the transverse abdominal muscles and the diaphragm during each breath?
  • Does all of this bring about a calming and natural sensation versus a stressed and more forced action?

Diaphragmatic breathing sets the foundation for true core function, healing and strength. Think of this simple form of breath as the building blocks to a strong core. This is why it is the first, and perhaps most important, exercise a mother can do after having a baby.

Once your breath is re-wired or turned on, you can progress your core awakening through deep core-based activations, functional movements and smart core-based exercises. You'll feel supported, empowered and strong in as little as a couple of weeks postpartum.

So, remember to "just breathe" in the days or weeks following your birth. Enjoy the early days of motherhood, release the pressure of getting back into those pre-baby skinny jeans, and trust that something as simple as the breath can bring about foundational results that will keep you strong and moving optimally for life.


As someone who is currently pregnant with not one, but two girls, I'm really excited for when the time comes to buy hair accessories and help them create fun hairstyles. At the top of my list of things to buy? The Wunderkin Co hair bows, not only because they are absolutely adorable but also because they're already a celeb favorite.

The list of fans includes Jessica Alba, Hailey Duff and more importantly, Chrissy Teigen's daughter, Luna, who is the ultimate fashionista. They are beautiful, made super well and come in a huge array of colors, but you won't break your bank account while buying them. Win-win-win!

Besides all the Wunderkin Co products being pretty, they are all handcrafted by women around the U.S. and are 100% guaranteed for life. So if your little one ever breaks their clip or the bow comes undone, you can send your product back to the team and it will be replaced at no charge. How amazing is that?

Luna has been spotted on Instagram rocking these three adorable accessories:

Petite schoolgirl headband


This absolutely adorable headband comes in a rainbow of different colors to match any outfit. Plus, the headband comes in three different shades to coordinate with different color tones. The soft nylon allows it to fit all heads, too.


Midi fable bow


This bow is simply perfection. It's attached to a right-side alligator clip, which won't allow it to slip out of place even with littles running around. It also comes in a bunch of different solid colors and prints and your kids can choose between two bow lengths.


Flower clip


These hair clips feature four flowers in a row, which can be easily mixed and matched with solid clips or other colored flowers to make the perfect hairstyle. Bonus: They look great on mama's hair, too.


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


Good Morning America Time can be so unfair, mama! It feels like we were just spending summer days watching little feet leave prints in warm sand, and now we're watching little handprints turn into turkeys. Yes, Thanksgiving is happening NEXT WEEK!

We can't believe it either and we also can't wait to tuck in to some turkey. If you've been busy planning your holiday schedule this week, don't worry—we've been keeping an eye on the news so you don't have to.

Here are the headlines that made us smile this week:

Almost half of this school's teachers just had babies—and their picture is going viral

Something amazing happened at Oak Street Elementary School in Goddard, Texas: Seven of the school's teachers were pregnant at the same time. Talk about a baby boom!

Back in April we brought you this story, but back then all the teachers were holding bumps, not babies! Since then these teachers navigated pregnancy together—and now, they've entered mom life together as well. The seven mamas and their eight babies (one set of twins!) all got together and it was the sweetest moment.

The mamas gave birth over an eight-month period, during which principal Ashley Miller had to coordinate substitute teachers to accommodate seven maternity leaves. Now, the principal is hard at work to manage multiple pumping schedules, as the last mom to deliver recently returned from maternity leave.

The mothers opened up about the experience to Good Morning America about the experience. "We went from giving each other high-fives as we waddled down the hallways to now going to each other for tips and talking about our babies," says Nicole Lauer. "It's nice to have so many women that you can go to for baby advice."

Ashley Graham is pregnant + fearless 

It's easy to look at someone like Ashley Graham and think she's totally at ease in her skin. After all, Ashley is one of the most beautiful people in the world, a mega-successful supermodel and a leader in the body positive movement. But as the pregnant model admits, even she struggled to embrace her body's changes.

The mom-to-be opened up during an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' EllenTube series, Fearless. Ashley, who made headlines after posting a nude photo displaying her pregnancy stretch marks, revealed that sharing the photo was difficult for her.

"The reason I had posted that original photo, I had just announced that I was pregnant and I thought then I was going to feel good, and I didn't. I felt, I just felt terrible," the visibly emotional model shared. "That morning I was like, 'get it together, Ashley.' There's other women out there that are going through the same thing as you. Why don't you have a dialogue with them?"

"This is a new body that I'm walking into, why don't I just put myself out there with this new body?" she added. "I felt so isolated, I felt so alone."

But ultimately, Ashley realized the power in her photos—and a fellow guest on the show admitted that Ashley's body positivity helped her embrace her own shape. And we know so many mamas out there feel the same way.

How one dad supported his daughter through her first period and went viral

When Maverick Austin's daughter called him in the middle of the school day to say she feared she'd pooped her pants, he did what most parents would do. He ran to her school with a change of underpants. But a few hours later, when his daughter called to say it had happened again, the dad knew he had a different issue on his hands: His daughter's first period.

This is one of those coming-of-age moments that can be tough for teen girls to deal with. Luckily, this dad totally stepped up the plate for his daughter.

"I run in the office and she's standing there very calm looking at me and says "Dad.... I officially started my first ..." and I stopped her and said "I already know Avi... it hit me a few minutes after I hung up on you," the dad wrote in a Facebook post. "The stress of raising a daughter."

But the story took a very sweet turn. "Later on she says "don't I get something like when a tooth falls out," he added in this post. "So I snuck off to the store and when she got out of the shower I told her "The Period Fairy" brought you something."

The dad presented his daughter with flowers, chocolate, ice cream and a card. Talk about #dadgoals!

This mama survived two heart attacks while pregnant with twins

Being pregnant with twins can be such a cool experience, but it is also considered a high-risk pregnancy because carrying multiples puts a lot of strain on the body.

Twin mama Krystle Evans knows this all too well. Evans, who welcomed boy/girl twins in October, suffered two heart attacks while expecting her babies, but this strong mama survived and her story is going viral.

It started when Evans was eight months pregnant. She felt pressure in her chest as she struggled to catch her breath—and while the symptoms were alarming, she chalked it up to typical pregnancy stuff. As we know, carrying a baby can make you feel strange sensations, and Evans guessed one of her babies was applying the pressure she felt. "I honestly felt my twins were just in a place where they were sitting on my ribs and causing me to lose my breath," Evans tells an NBC news affiliate.

But the next day, it happened again...only this time, the sensations were even more intense. "I started getting very nauseated. Then my whole left arm went numb," Evans tells Today. "I was in a whole bunch of pain. My husband said, 'You need to call the doctor and let him know what's going on.'"

When she followed her husband's advice, she received some shocking news: Evans had suffered two separate heart attacks. This is pretty wild, especially when you take a snapshot of Evans' health into account: The mom was just 30 and in great health, with no family history of heart disease.

The mom was in the hospital for two weeks, where she was closely monitored. She gave birth to her twins, Shiloh and Sage, just weeks after the episode.

Doctors who have commented on Evans' scenario in the news say what happened to her extremely rare and that moms should not be scared that they will have the same experience.

With that being said, heart disease is the leading cause of maternal deaths, according to ACOG's guidelines, which were released earlier this year.

"Pregnancy is a natural stress test," says James Martin, M.D., chair of the Pregnancy and Heart Disease Task Force, according to ACOG. "The cardiovascular system must undergo major changes to its structure to sustain tremendous increases in blood volume. That's why it is critical to identify the risk factors beforehand, so that a woman's care can be properly managed throughout the pregnancy and a detailed delivery plan can be developed through shared decision making between the patient and provider. Moreover, we must think of heart disease as a possibility in every pregnant or postpartum patient we see to detect and treat at-risk mothers."

The bottom line? Being pregnant—even if you're pregnant with twins—certainly doesn't mean you need to stress over the possibility of suffering a cardiac incident. But, Evans' story is an important reminder: It's so, so important that we advocate for ourselves and our doctors about every concerning symptom.

This mama raised awareness about her late son's condition while feeding NICU babies

As Good Morning America reports, one amazing mother is honoring her son's memory by pumping 500 ounces of milk for other NICU families.

Sierra Strangfeld's son Samuel was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a genetic condition with a high rate of pregnancy and infant loss. Only 50% of the children diagnosed with Trisomy 18 live beyond a week.

"We found out our diagnosis about 25 weeks," Strangfeld tells Motherly. "I opted for the C-section at 30 weeks so we could meet Samuel alive. Had we not done that, he would have passed in utero."

Samuel lived for 3 hours.

"His hands were clenched, his feet were clubbed, he was small," his mom told GMA. "But he was so perfect. He fought so hard to be able to meet us. Our baby boy was put on this Earth for a reason."

Strangfeld had been planning to breastfeed Samuel and decided that she would donate his milk to other families in need. She pumped 500 ounces over 63 days and on his due date she walked into the NICU milk bank to deliver her gift.

"Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing," she wrote in a viral Facebook post. "And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me."

In an update to the post, Strangfeld explains that while she never expected her story to go viral but is glad that her post spread and that GMA shared her story as she wanted to raise awareness of Trisomy 18.

Strangfeld is a hero, an advocate and one strong mama.

When this boy's mama died of cancer his teacher adopted him ❤️

Special education teachers are amazing people, and Kerry Bremer is extra amazing. Four years ago Kerry became Jake's teacher. Now she is his mom.

Jake, now 14, has Down syndrome and met Kerry when he was 10 and he and his his single mom, Jean Manning, moved from Florida to Massachusetts. A few months later, Kerry and Jean were having a heart-breaking conversation, Today reports.

Jean had terminal cancer and no one in her life who was in a position to care for Jake when she passed. That's when Kerry offered.

"I said, 'I may be overstepping here and forgive me if I am, but my family and I would like to offer guardianship for Jake if you need a backup plan,'" Kerry, 52, told Today Parents.

According Kerry, Jean said "I'll sleep better tonight than I have in a very long time,'" after the conversation. The two women agreed Jake would become Kerry's son after Jean's death.

"We would take Jake to appointments together and celebrate holidays together. Jean called him 'our son,'" Kerry says. "That must have been so hard for her, to be planning for her death, but she did a beautiful job. She was so courageous."

On November 13, Jake lost his first mom to cancer and moved into Kerry's house, becoming part of the family with Kerry's husband Dave (the couple share 3 other kids, too, ages 21, 19 and 16).

"We never thought twice about it. I loved this kid so much. He has done more for us than we could ever do for him."

We're so happy for Jake. This kid has been blessed with two wonderful moms.

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