A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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The transition to motherhood is the wildest adventure of all time. In the blink of an eye, everything is just so different! While it is impossible to sum it all up, here are 10 important truths to remember about the fourth trimester:

1. You are doing a great job

This needs to be the first one because it's the most important—and the easiest to forget. You really are doing a great job.

I know you don't believe me. You glossed over reading those words, believing they were meant for someone else.

But, Mama, they are meant for you. You, who has been thrust into the thick of parenthood. Who has more questions than answers. Who feels totally overwhelmed. Despite all that, and maybe because of it, you are doing a great job.

Take a moment (or a lot of moments…) to appreciate the magnitude of what you have done—and are doing. It's amazing, just like you.

2. You are not going to enjoy every minute, and that's okay

Somewhere along the way, we absorbed this idea that motherhood should be one blissed-out-so-in-love-with-my-child moment after another. While those moments do exist—and they are wonderful—they are not always the constant.

Caring for a newborn is an all-consuming roller coaster ride, and some of it just isn't fun. It can be boring, hard, stressful and overwhelming. Not enjoying every moment does not make you a bad mom—it makes you a normal one.

If you do feel like the hard moments are coming frequently, speak to your provider about the possibility of postpartum depression.

3. Babies aren't good or bad, they're just babies


We often say things to new mothers such as, "Is the baby a good sleeper?" or "What a good baby you have!" These are well-intentioned comments, of course, but they can put unrealistic expectations on the baby—and on you.

There is a wide range of normal when it comes to babies.

Just because your baby isn't acting like that "perfect" baby next door, doesn't mean they aren't doing just fine. If you are concerned, ask your pediatrician for sure. But try not to stress too much about what type of baby you have.

4. You'll be confused by your body

Our pregnant bodies change a ton of course, but in a lot of ways I think we're prepared for it—and we have regular medical appointments where we can get answers, and assurance.

This is not the case for all the changes that happen after birth. Everything feels different and quite weird, to be honest. Your breasts may seem like foreign bodies for a while. You may have vaginal bleeding in ways you didn't expect. And then, of course, there is the incontinence that no one warned you about…

And you are not spared physical reminders of your newborn if you've adopted or had a baby via surrogate. The tiredness, the twinge in your arm from constant baby-holding—you have that too.

It can feel pretty odd to be living in a body that doesn't seem like yours.

But just because it's confusing, doesn't mean it's not something to be immensely proud of. No matter how a baby comes into your life, your body will change because of it. It's molding and changing to accommodate the new life that it is supporting. It may be healing and doing one hundred things to keep you healthy too.

How powerful is that?

5. There is no such thing as "bounce back"

The term "bounce back" really just needs to go. There is this assumption in our society that the moment we have a baby, everything returns to normal—our waistline, our kitchen counters, our sex life. And when it inevitably doesn't, we feel bad about ourselves, like we have somehow failed.

Mama, nothing about you is failing in any way. It can be hard to come to terms with all the ways your life is different than it used to be—and you are allowed to have feelings about that. But guilt should not be one of those feelings.

YOU ARE A GODDESS! Look at everything you have done, and are doing! You are not going to bounce back because you are way too busy soaring forward. Look at your wings, mama! You don't need to bounce anywhere.

6. "Success" is different now

Before parenthood, success is somewhat easy to measure: Study hard—get a good grade. Train hard—run a 5K. Work hard—finish that big project or get a promotion.

Fourth-trimester success is totally different—and often really hard to see. Every time you take a step forward, it seems like you have another setback. You spend all day keeping this helpless human fed, dry, rested and moderately content, only to receive an evening scream-poop-puke all over you as a note of appreciation.

In the hard moments, it can feel like the most unimportant, thankless work on this planet.

But know this. To the baby who has consumed your world, you are the world.

All the thousands of things you do for your baby matter so much. You won't see results immediately, but all your hard work, love and concern are there— growing this baby into an amazing human being, little by little, day by day.

Now, "success" is a baby that sleeps the soundest when curled up on your chest.

Success is when they outgrow their first set of onesies.

Success is when you trust your intuition.

Success is that first coo, smile and laugh.

Success is so different now, but so, so awesome.

7. You are not alone

The first months of motherhood can feel a little isolating, but mama, you are not alone.

From a village of other new mamas out there to lactation consultants, from your child's pediatrician to a therapist, there are people who are able to—and want to—help you. So please don't hesitate to reach out.

8. Your plans may change

Before having a baby, it is next to impossible to imagine what it will really be like. So if you find that your pre-made plans are suddenly not the right fit anymore, that is completely okay.

Maybe you planned to return to work after maternity leave but now want nothing more than to stay home.

Maybe you planned to stay home, but now find yourself yearning to be back at work.

So much can change now—your relationships, your priorities, your goals. And that is all okay. Be sure to check in with yourself from time-to-time to make sure that you are living the life that feels right and works for you. Because it is okay to pivot.

9. You are your baby's expert

New motherhood is incredibly vulnerable. You are going through massive physical and emotional changes and taking care of a newborn—it's natural to second guess yourself and have some doubts. So when (well-intentioned) people start giving you all kinds of advice it can sometimes feel like they know better than you.

But no one knows your baby like you do.

So listen to what they have to say (or don't), but ultimately—you have to trust yourself. You are allowed (and encouraged) to listen to your gut. You may be very new at this, but you possess profound wisdom.

10. Self-care is not selfish

New mom guilt would have us believe that every waking second should be spent taking care of our babies. But having a baby doesn't make you suddenly unimportant, or un-human. Quite the opposite! You need more care than ever before.

So please, please do not feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Regularly. Self-care should be woven into the tapestry of your daily life. You are so important—to your baby and to the world.

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


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


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Learn + Play

Adele's albums have soothed many hearts through hard times, and now she's going through a big relationship transition of her own.

The singer is separating from her husband Simon Konecki, the father of her 6-year-old son, Angelo James.

"Adele and her partner have separated," Adele's people wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Our hearts go out to Adele. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone any further explanation or discussion of her separation, but by announcing it publicly, she is shining a light on a family dynamic that is so common but not talked about as much as it should be: Co-parenting.

Parenting with an ex is a reality for so many mothers. According to the Pew Research Center, "the likelihood of a child – even one born to two married parents – spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is on the rise."

Angelo James' experience will be similar to many of his peers.

"Increases in divorce mean that more than one-in-five children born within a marriage will experience a parental breakup by age 9, as will more than half of children born within a cohabiting union," Pew notes.

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Adele and Konecki already know a thing or two about how co-parenting works, as Konecki has an older child from a previous relationship.

They can make this work because so many parents are making this work. The reality is, two parents can still be a family, and be a team for their child without being romantic partners.

Decades ago, co-parenting after a divorce wasn't the norm, and a body of research (and the experience of a generation of kids) has changed the way parents do things today. Today, divorce isn't about the end of a family. It's about the evolution of one.

Research suggests joint physical custody is linked to better outcomes for kids than divorce arrangements that don't support shared parenting and that divorced couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse"(so, are friends, basically) are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Co-parenting is good for kids, and clearly, Adele and Konecki are committed to being a team for Angelo James.

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News

If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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News

A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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News

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success. In 2017, he implemented free two- and four-year public colleges for New Yorkers, and now Cuomo is adding a budget proposal that would provide on-site childcare at community colleges.

Under the proposal, single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring and help when applying to four-year schools. It's the kind of idea that could be a game changer for parents in New York state.

Currently, childcare centers are subsidized for student-parents but can still cost parents $50-$60 a week; under Cuomo's budget proposal, childcare would be free. Students who are already enrolled in similar programs acknowledge that the benefits are enormous.

"As a single parent of two children going to school full time, I wouldn't be able to come to school and afford for childcare," says Michelle Trinidad, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and parent to a 4 and 5-year-old. "Thank goodness for BMCC Early Childhood Center that is very much affordable. It gives me the opportunity to advance my career and be confident that my son is in good hands. School is hard enough on its own, having reliable child care means a lot to me and my children."

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The plan is a part of Cuomo's 2019 women's justice agenda, legislation that addresses the gender wage gap, as well as economic and social justice for all New York women. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, which has doubled since 2000. Additionally, that same study found that 4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their dependent care obligations.

"This is an exciting initiative for New York that addresses a critical need, and if implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of society, especially for the next generation," says Ryan Lee-James, PhD an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University. "I view this initiative as both a direct and indirect pathway to address the well-documented achievement gap between children reared in poverty and those growing up with higher income families, as it provides moms, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, to further their education and thus, afford their children more opportunities."

Additionally, many view campus childcare as a safe haven for college students. "During my 18 years working in campus childcare, I have witnessed how the student-parents can complete their courses and stay focused by having childcare on campus," says Sori Palacio, a Head Teacher at BMCC Early Childhood Center. "Parents usually express how thankful they are for having their children traveling with them to school as well as having their children nearby while they complete their degree. They concentrate in academic work without worrying about their child's wellbeing. This service helps the entire public by preparing more people to serve the community."

Parents have so many barriers when it comes to accessing higher education, but free childcare could be a game changer that benefits multiple generations.

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