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7 Steps To a Body Positive Birth Experience

These tips will prepare you to trust your instincts during labor.

7 Steps To a Body Positive Birth Experience

Whether you love being pregnant or hate it, pregnancy and birth can be a profound opportunity to re-investigate your relationship with your body. While managing pregnancy can feel like an endless list of restrictions and to-do’s, it’s also a chance to experience your body in an entirely new way. Here are 7 steps to a body positive birth experience.

  1. Know your history, know your triggers. Take an inventory of your body history. Identifying what has been a trigger in the past can be useful as you navigate the changes to come. Do weight checks at doctor appointments set off a critical voice? How about comments about your body (i.e.“you are carrying so small” or “you must be due any day now”)? Identifying your triggers can enable you to anticipate what might arise and put a plan in place for additional support where it is needed. For example, if you have a history of disordered eating or negative body image, connecting with a therapist or support group early on in your pregnancy can help you navigate the transformations that your body with go through during pregnancy in a balanced way.
  2. Find a body positive provider and birth team. Taking an active role in your prenatal care is a wonderful way to participate in your and your baby’s health. Talk with your care provider about your history with disordered eating and/or body image and ways they can support you in your pregnancy. If going on the scale is triggering, ask for weight checks to occur on alternate visits or without showing you the number on the scale. If your OBGYN or midwife is insensitive to your body history or shames you around weight, it is important to know that care occurs on a spectrum; a different provider may be more sensitive and body positive. If you don’t like your care provider’s approach, seek out a better fit.
  3. Call the doula! A labor doula can be an important addition to your birth team in your pursuit of a body positive birth. As a member of your team, your doula can help you navigate conversations with your care provider, access evidence-based information and be mindful of your body history during the birth.
  4. Surround yourself with a positive community. Stay connected with the people in your life who make you feel good about the body you are in right now. If you have a friend who frequently engages in fat-talk or a co-worker who is always talking about a new diet they are on, set your boundaries and ask for what you need. If you can’t seem to avoid body negativity, develop a mantra that you can use when the people around you engage in body bashing. For example, “their body hatred is not mine. I am strong, and my body is just right for me and my baby.”
  5. Practice intuitive eating & movement. Staying active and eating diverse, nutritionally dense foods during pregnancy is important. Check in regularly with yourself and ask what your body is needing. Are you hungry? What are you hungry for? Or, do you need to be active right now or put your feet up and rest? Tuning in to your instincts around food and activities is a great way to practice honing your intuitive wisdom for labor and for when baby arrives. Remember, the key word is “practice.” Intuitive eating and exercise is a process of trial and error as you relearn how to honor your body’s innate cues and signals.
  6. Contextualize your negative body thoughts. If you find yourself spiraling into the realm of negative body thoughts, don’t panic. It happens! You don’t live in a vacuum. Negative body thoughts do not come out of the abyss, and they are certainly not personal failures on the part of your body or mind. We live in a culture that breeds body insecurity with unrealistic beauty ideals, and being pregnant, sadly, doesn’t give you any break from these messages. Curated and posed photographs of celebrities and models with their “perfect” baby bump and their speedy weight-loss postpartum abound. Surround yourself with images that are positive to you! Check out some of the body reclamation projects documenting prenatal and postpartum bodies such as the 4th Trimester Body Project. Or snap a picture of yourself feeling and looking great and share it with your friends and community.
  7. Become a scientist. Try to explore the changes in your body from an objective, curious perspective. If a negative body thought pops up, investigate what its purpose might be. What happened right before that thought? If it were not a negative body thought, what other thoughts or feelings might have come up? Give yourself permission to not love all the changes in your body. Body positivity does not mean you can’t have days where you feel bad in your body. But challenge yourself to be non-judgmental and curious about negative thoughts; there may be all kinds of interesting feelings around parenthood and this enormous life transition hidden underneath.

Photography by Sofia Lynn for Well Rounded NY.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$40

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.

$120

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.

$30

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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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