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If you're pregnant and confused about what you're allowed to eat, you're not alone! A recent study by American Baby surveyed over 2,300 women and found out the following:

  • 80% have consumed sushi, alcohol, or other off-limit foods
  • 84% indulge often in unhealthy foods
  • 63% don't eat enough fruits and vegetables
  • 61% are anxious about gaining too much weight
  • 42% say figuring out what to eat is stressful

Who hasn't doubted themselves when it comes to eating during their pregnancy? Whether it's following a "do not eat" list, incorporating a healthful variety, or satisfying any kind of food cravings, it's a lot of questions ALL the time and for most, it's difficult to find a good balance.

Taking the plunge into pregnancy is stressful enough! Every day is an unknown and the world of motherhood is several unknowns. Being educated is only half the battle; once you know, then you have to "do," and that is A LOT of pressure. Even as a dietitian, there are days where I don't have the time to put together a salad to eat. And it's simply because I'm tired and I don't feel like it. Soon after this decision, a cloud of guilt follows me with the following thoughts:

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"I should have just spent 10 minutes and prepped my salad." (Because my feet hurt from running around all day and just thinking about standing to cut vegetables makes me tired.)

"It's so easy to make a smoothie and throw fruits into a blender, why couldn't I just do it?" (Because cleaning and washing the blender sounds painful.)

Here's the deal: Don't be so hard on yourself. I call it the 80/20 rule. Try to make healthier decisions 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, whether you want to or not, you'll have to let go. You'll end up eating pizza at a kids birthday party. You'll end up drinking a bottle of wine just because. You'll end up ordering a burger and fries instead of making a salad with grilled lean protein. And guess what? It's ok!

Whether you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or well into motherhood -- try to follow the 80/20 rule and I promise you -- you'll feel better about things and be a lot happier!

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

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

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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