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Most of us don’t give much thought to what motherhood will look like until we’re pregnant (or trying to get pregnant). But Katie Sobel’s been prepping for nearly a decade, as one of the first employees at Plum Organics. Currently Plum’s Vice President of Brand Engagement and Marketing Communications, Katie helped develop the brand’s food philosophy, which is uniquely focused on palate development and supporting baby through the first 1,000 days. Now that she’s expecting her first baby, she’s putting her health and baby background to good use, honing her own pregnancy diet and prepping to feed her baby the healthiest way she can. Below, she shares what she’s been eating (and craving!), and opens up about the food moment she’s most looking forward to sharing with her own baby. What’s your pregnancy diet been like? As with many pregnancies, some of my digestive issues have flared up and it’s been challenging not to be able to turn to my usual tinctures and herbal concoctions given some of risks associated with adaptogens and herbs when you’re pregnant. I have instead tried to focus on warming foods (bone broths, cooked vegetables and tons of ginger tea) when I’m feeling a little out of sorts. I also believe that my clean diet has helped me to maintain good energy throughout my pregnancy. How has a decade in the baby industry helped prepare you for pregnancy? Well, it’s been great hands-on training, that’s for sure! I don’t know if I can officially claim that I’ve earned my MBA (“Masters in Baby Affairs”) but I’ve sure earned some credits. It’s been incredible to have a front row seat as the baby industry has evolved over the last decade, and to know that Plum team has played a big part of that shift. Back when I first started, the category was completely stagnant with the same bland baby food jars that had been around for 50 years. Today, there are so many amazing brands focused on the things that I value: beautiful design, reliable performance, clean ingredients & a strong mission. At Plum, we use a Human Centered Design process for all of our innovation, which means we take an empathic approach and really listen to our consumers. Over the years, I’ve had the benefit of having incredibly unfiltered conversations with new parents and it’s provided me with some eye-opening insights! How has being pregnant impacted your work at Plum? My background in culinary nutrition gives me a unique perspective when it comes to the products we develop and meeting the needs of our littlest consumers. I’m also one of Plum’s very first employees, so I’ve been able to rely on my deep knowledge of the brand. But for me, there was always a piece of the puzzle missing ... and that was being a parent. My pregnancy at Plum feels like a full circle moment. It’s been a bit surreal. I value empathy and try to operate from that place when it comes to our communications; my pregnancy has just made me that much more connected and aware. What have you been craving most during your pregnancy? I was fortunate that I never had bad morning sickness – just a few weeks of feeling queasy and having a strong aversion to what, at times, felt like almost everything! When I came out of that phase, the only specific craving I had was for an everything bagel with dill cream cheese. I don’t eat a lot of processed food and am gluten-free, but I was able to find this delicious product called Pagels. If you toast it realllllly well and use some of Ben’s famous cream cheese, it’s almost like the real thing. Does that count as indulgent? What’s been your daily pregnancy food go-tos? I’ve tried to focus on key nutrients during each trimester. Some weeks I’ve been successful, others have been harder. Now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m focusing on healthy fats. Baby’s brain is doing a lot of growing during this phase and essential fatty acids are critical. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m incredibly picky about where my meat comes from, so keeping my protein up has been one of my biggest challenges this whole pregnancy. Luckily, my husband is an eager cook so he works hard to keep wild salmon, pasture-raised chicken and grass-fed beef in the dinner rotation. What's it been like learning to dress your body during this pregnancy? My pregnancy style is not too different from how I was dressing before. I like to keep things practical, which usually means a great pair of jeans and tops that can be layered and dressed up or down. Though I stick to simple, neutral toned pieces, I add components that offer a little bit of edge like a funky bracelet or interesting sneakers. And when I have an excuse to dress up, I look for good design and something unexpected like a unique shape or pattern. Every stage of pregnancy has brought its own set of style challenges. I’m petite so it’s easy for me to get lost in clothes if they’re not the perfect fit – and when you’re pregnant, you aren’t going to spend the money to get something tailored. I’ve also noticed that just when you start to feel good in your skin and embrace your new shape, it changes on you. I try my best to focus on the positive, which for me are the moments when I feel the most feminine. What food experience are you most looking forward to sharing with your baby? I am really excited to breastfeed. Every day I put it out in the universe that that will be something that comes easy for our family. I’m so fascinated by the communication that is happening between mother and child during this stage of nourishment; how the body on a daily basis is adjusting the composition of the breast milk to account for baby’s immunity and needs at that given moment. It’s so intricate and simply miraculous. Beyond that, I can’t wait for first foods. Even with so many new guidelines and progressive minds out there, too many parents still worry about mixing flavors and separating the introduction of new foods. My personal philosophy and Plum’s food philosophy is that complex flavors help thwart picky eating. In our house, we plan to use herbs and spices and mix and match as often as possible. I know how dedicated you are to nontoxic, healthy products. How has that impacted your baby prep? I feel confident I’ve got the food angle covered, but I’ve definitely learned a ton while searching for clean products outside of the food aisle. While they tend to be more expensive, I am impressed with how many great companies are making non-toxic & Green Guard Certified products and prioritizing communicating these benefits, which makes the whole industry more accountable. When shopping for products that will go on our baby’s skin, my go-to is definitely the EWG and their thorough rating list; I then scan first hand products reviews and write ups from some of my favorite lifestyle experts and natural parenting authors. For bedding, furniture and clothing my priorities are limiting extra chemicals (like flame retardants, formaldehyde etc.) and looking for natural organic cottons. Give us your top 5 registry essentials. 1. DockATot baby lounger: my friends have not stopped raving about this! 2. SNOO: my biggest fear is not sleeping, so here’s hoping! 3. Anything from BitteShop.com – all of their non-toxic toys (love the Oli & Carol rubber boats) and adorable clothing 4. Guava Family Lotus Bassinet and Pack & Play: love that it’s a travel system and is Green Guard Certified 5. Keekaroo changing table: easy wipe & clean surface that’s BPA-, PVC-, latex and phthalate free Katie is wearing: ASOS Maternity dress Dansko shoes Botkier bag & Other Stories hat (similar style) My husband, Aaron. Longtime love who is exceptionally good at carrying my things! Photography by Ren’ee Kahn Bresler for Well Rounded. Shot on location at Whole Foods in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

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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.

$69.95

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).

$79.95

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.

$135.00

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!

$79.95

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.

$69.95

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!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

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

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

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

$9.95

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.

$79.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

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

$59.95

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.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

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

$39.95

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!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

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

$59.95

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

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:

Kindness

Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.

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Responsibility

Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.

Patience

Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.

Politeness

Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.

Flexibility

Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.

Empathy

Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.

Cooperation

Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.

Gratitude

Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.

Respect

As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
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Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

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This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.

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Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).


Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

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  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


ORDER A BOX

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My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.

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But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Life
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