We’ve been hearing the buzz about activated charcoal for a little while now, but what about activated charcoal for pregnancy? While we’re excited about the prospects of this cutting-edge wellness trend -- cleansing, toxin-removing, complexion-improving and more -- when it comes to pregnancy, it’s not always best to be on the cutting edge. “There are very few studies investigating the safety of charcoal use in pregnancy, and it hasn't been assigned a FDA pregnancy category for safety,” says Cara Dolin, MD, OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow at NYU Langone Medical Center. (Activated charcoal is basically common charcoal that’s been heated to help develop internal spaces to trap chemicals.) But she continues, “Since charcoal isn't systemically absorbed it probably doesn't result in any significant exposure or harm to your baby if you eat or drink it. There is even less potential exposure if you use it in cosmetics or toothpaste.” Below, we dig into the safety and effectiveness of activated charcoal for pregnancy, both on and in your body. And as with any health or wellness trend, talk to your doctor or midwife before giving it a try. Digestive Cleanse Product to Try: Dirty Lemon Raw Detox, which is made from a mixture of activated charcoal, pure, cold-pressed lemon juice, dandelion extract, ginger root extract, and filtered water. $65/1 weeks’ worth of juice. What it does: Absorb and soak up toxins and other materials and pull them out through the digestive tract. The ginger and dandelion root can help with morning sickness or nausea, too. What the experts say: “The source of the activated charcoal (in Dirty Lemon) is organic coconut shell, so you can feel safe and comfortable with its sourcing; along with the raw, cold pressed organic lemon juice," says Dr. Laurie Brodsky, Naturopathic Doctor and expert for Dirty Lemon. "As with any cold pressed, unpasteurized juice, it is wise to be aware of the theoretical risks while pregnant, considering a weakened immune system against all kinds of foreign invaders. That being said, the dosage of charcoal is very low, yet highly therapeutic in the sense that in small, spread out dosages, you will still greatly benefit from its powerfully absorbing and cleansing mode of action." How to use it: “If pregnant and planning to use it as a simple, cleansing part of your routine, then it is best to drink it in small dosages (through a straw!) throughout the day to see how you feel. I usually recommend sipping the juice away from food, medications and supplements by at least a couple of hours, but depending on your diet and how often you eat/snack, that may vary,” says Brodsky. “As with all pregnancies, I suggest that you tune into your body to see how you feel physically upon sipping.” Verdict: Sure, but with caution. Since charcoal binds to other substances in your stomach, it will decrease the absorption of your prenatal vitamin (or anything you eat around the time you take it), notes our OBGYN friend Dolin. Also, look out for unpleasant side effects, she says, such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation and even possible bowel obstruction. Teeth Whitening Product to Try: Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal Capsules, $6.99 What it does: While activated charcoal won’t change the natural color of your teeth, it is said to help remove surface stains from coffee, tea, wine and even plaque. The fine powder is odorless, tasteless and safe to ingest. How to use it: Pick up some activated charcoal tablets, then break them into a cup. Mix with a tiny bit of water to form a paste-like consistency. Dab it on your teeth then wait a few minutes and rinse. But don’t scrub! What the experts say: “People don't know how abrasive this stuff is and that it causes damage to the enamel if you brush with it. And there's not enough information out there that convinces me that this really works. I haven't seen anyone with major staining try it. I personally wouldn't use it,” says Melissa Labbe, a registered dental hygienist at the Dr. Louis Spiegelman dental practice in New York. When it comes to pregnancy, she continues, “activated charcoal can have side effects when not used properly if ingested. Why take that chance of having problems during your pregnancy?” Verdict: Probably not. The American Dental Association has not approved it as an official tooth whitener, and the effects are still iffy. Why bother? Skin Detox Product to Try: SoapBox Elements Black Body Wash, which is made from activated charcoal, coconut oil, olive oil, aloe, and essential oils $8.99 What it does: In this body wash, activated charcoal serves as a super-porous element that attracts toxins and purifies skin. Activated charcoal has been known to improve complexion and clear up acne, issues that can plague pregnancy skin. What the experts say: “Activated Charcoal absorbs toxins and draws it out of your skin,” Ildi Pekar, facialist to lovely ladies like Miranda Kerr and supermodel Irina Shayk. “This, in turn, helps it to heal.” How to use it: Scrub yourself down in the shower. Go ahead, give your belly a little extra massage. You deserve it. Verdict: Yes! Homepage image source.
Jessica Pallay is the director of event programming & operations at Motherly and the co-founder of the pregnancy community Well Rounded, which was acquired by Motherly in 2019. She's an experienced writer, editor and content marketer, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue.com, Cheddar and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her two daughters, Libby & Elsie, and her husband Andrew. You can follow her here.
Creating your baby registry is one of the most exciting getting-ready-for-baby tasks a mama takes part in (other than, you know, growing a life). But even though sorting through adorably teeny this and itsy bitsy that can be loads of fun, that doesn't change the fact that there are SO many products from which to choose—not to mention slight variations in version for each. And how do parents know if you even need that *very specific* item to begin with, since each baby's likes are so different? It helps to have an expert guiding you through the what's-actually-worth-it process, whether it's veteran parents in your life who will likely offer up suggestions, or stores like buybuy BABY that handpick the must-have options and make registry building super easy for you.
From strollers to car seats and swings (because you'll definitely be needing a swing at some point), here are our top picks for first-time parents of the items you'll be glad you put on your baby registry, trust us.
UPPAbaby VISTA stroller
The best recommendation is the one from someone you trust and if you ask around, it won't take long for you to learn that UPPAbaby® is one of the most beloved stroller brands by new and seasoned moms alike. The VISTA is their crème de la crème, and it comes with all sorts of high quality features (think an ultra-sturdy frame and all-wheel suspension to help absorb all those bumps on the road) that will keep your babe comfortable no matter where your walk takes you. Plus, it comes in a bunch of great colors and transitions to a double as your family grows.
Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat
When it comes to keeping your little one safe, a car seat is probably the most important piece of gear you'll buy. While you'll hopefully never need to test it out, the KeyFit® seat keeps your little peanut extra secure with things like side impact protection—plus, thanks to handy bubble indicators, installing it correctly doesn't require a rocket scientist[JS9] . It's all about making your life easier while helping you breathe easier, too!
4moms mamaRoo classic infant seat
All hail the infant swing 🙌. Whether your cute new bundle is generally calm or has more of a defiant streak, chances are there'll be a time when you need some hands-free soothing. Enter the mamaRoo, a beyond useful swing that looks as cozy as it is. Strap the nugget in, choose one of five distinct motion patterns, and let yourself enjoy that moment of solitude on the couch (without leaving baby unsupervised, of course).
HALO Bassinest premier series swivel sleeper
Being a new mom is all about snuggles and, if we're being honest, surviving those sleepless nights. And since the American Association of Pediatrics' current recommendation is to have your baby sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months of life anyway, why not have your little one spend his or her early nights snoozing in a bedside bassinet to save some time in the middle of the night? The HALO Bassinest is designed to nuzzle right up next to your bed, too, so you won't even have to get out from under the comforter during those 3am feedings.
Graco Table2Table premier fold 7-in1 convertible high chair
Spoiler alert: Your little babe is going to grow up fast. While it may seem like they'll be in that just-learning-how-to-eat phase forever, they'll outgrow the full-fledged high chair in a blink. While you can definitely buy a variety of different seating apparatuses for them, you can also buy one that'll last with your growing baby. With seven different configurations ranging from an infant reclining high chair to a toddler table and little chair, this is the only one you'll ever need.
Fisher-Price 4-in-1 sling 'n seat bath tub
Bath time is arguably one of the cutest elements of parenthood. So rather than concentrating on holding your slippery little baby safely in the sink while also, you know, washing them, do yourself a favor and invest in an infant tub with an adjustable sling. It'll help make the bonding time fun of bath time more secure so you can focus on enjoying those beautiful sudsy moments.
Hatch Baby Rest sound machine night light + time-to-rise
Technology has brought us a lot of advantages, but one of the best? The ability to comfort your little one without ever leaving bed. The Hatch Baby Rest offers sound- and light-control from your smartphone so you can use the power of noise to help them back to sleep if they fuss in the middle of the night without requiring you to drag your tired self out of bed. Plus, when the toddler years come around, it doubles as a time-to-rise clock so that ball of energy knows when it's appropriate to barrel into your room.
Fridababy baby basics kit
Fridababy has made a name for itself with its cheeky (but incredibly practical) products like the congestion-fighting NoseFrida® and the less-than-pleasant Windi. With this basics bundle, you can get four of their most popular—for nose, behind, scalp and nails—in one convenient package. It's not glamorous, mamas, but it's parenting at its finest.
Graco 4Ever all-in-one convertible car seat
Whether or not you choose to purchase an infant car seat for the first months, you will eventually need a convertible car seat as your kiddo gets bigger, and the best options will grow with them. The Graco® 4Ever All-in-1 accommodates children up to 40 pounds facing backwards and up to 65 pounds facing forward. Plus, it can be used as a booster seat up through the age of 10. One less thing to buy until then, mama!
Skip*Hop explore + more 3-stage activity center
Insider parenting tip: Invest in a few great toys that serve as a great way to help your baby learn and explore and stay safe (read: unable to crawl away when you turn your head for a split second). An activity center serves both of those purposes—keeps them entertained and contained fabulously. Even better, the SKIP*HOP® Explore & More 3-Stage has an extra-long shelf life as it converts to an activity table when they outgrow the harness. Plus, there's a snack bowl attachment, and as every mama knows, snacks mean victory.
This article was sponsored by buybuy BABY. Thank you for supporting the brands that support mamas and Motherly.
With the start of a new year, it's important to reflect back on the prior year, assess what went well, what didn't and decide where you want to go next. It takes a lot of mental toughness, self-love and discipline to create the life you want. Simply coasting along on cruise control reacting to life can lead to a victim mentality and stagnation.
In doing so, you don't have to swear yourself to resolutions and feel like a failure if you don't achieve them. Just think about the life you want to create and take small steps.
Here's how to get mentally fit for the new year so you can move forward successfully:
1. Clear clutter.
Look at your surroundings. If you have junk drawers galore, a messy car, countertops and cabinets that are full of stuff you don't even use, it's time to clear the clutter. Cluttered spaces reflect a cluttered mind. If you want to wipe the slate clean to allow room for new people and circumstances that serve you, you must get your mind clear. Many of my patients who describe themselves as anxious, stressed or even depressed say they feel better when they start clearing up their physical space.
2. Eat mind-boosting foods.
Mental fitness also has to do with how well our minds work. A loss of memory or the ability to concentrate or focus can easily shift with an improved diet. Research finds that along with other benefits, foods rich in Omega-3, such as some fish and nuts, as well as those full of antioxidants can help protect the brain from memory decline. Eating more fish such as salmon and add fruits such as blackberries and blueberries to your diet can help. The good news is that brain-boosting foods include delicious options such as chocolate, guacamole (avocados) and sunflower seeds.
The adult coloring book bandwagon is a good one to jump on because coloring requires a total focus on the present. The repetitive motion of coloring provides relief from stress and anxiety by entering a meditative state. Not everyone can sit still and breathe for 15 minutes per day, but they certainly can color. It's absolutely a fun way to achieve mindfulness and shake off the day.
4. Apologize + forgive.
A fast way to mental fitness is forgiveness. Carrying around resentments and guilt wears us down and can lead to serious illnesses such as cancer or stroke. If you experienced a tough break-up, divorce or perhaps the political climate led to arguments and lost friends, reach out, apologize and seek forgiveness to help you move on.
Remember, forgiveness doesn't mean you condone hurtful behavior. Forgiveness frees you and the other person, making it easier to move forward.
5. Learn something new.
Challenge your brain by doing something new: Learn a new language, cook a new recipe, try your hand at painting or explore doing Tai Chi. Pick something you think would be interesting or useful to learn and try it. The more we can activate the cognitive functions of our brains the better our short and long-term memory and hand-eye coordination will be.
6. Plan + prepare more meals at home
Instead of committing to a strict diet, incorporate more home-cooked meals into your repertoire. Research shows that food made at home has less fat, calories and sugar than meals eaten out, even if you're not specifically trying to prepare and eat healthier meals.
7. Set a goal to make one new friend a month
As we get older we tend to get stagnant with our friendships and not reach beyond our formed circles anymore. Make an effort to engage the person you always see at your spin class or pass every day in the hallway at your co-working space. Bringing new people into the fold can add spice and variety to your life.
8. Do something that scares you
No, this does not mean putting your life at risk. If public speaking has been a thorn in your side, take a class in it, and then put your lessons to use. If you would love to try snow skiing but have been too timid, take a lesson. Has the travel bug bit you but you don't have a companion? Throw a dart at a map and travel (safety first!) wherever the dart lands. It does not matter what you do, however big or small as long as you try something previously out of your comfort zone. One completed victory will give rise to another.
A healthy baby.
Isn't that what we all want? It's a common response to the question every expecting mother gets asked: Do you want a boy or a girl?
"It doesn't matter as long as the baby is healthy."
But what if that doesn't happen? What if something doesn't go quite right?
I'll admit that sentence came out of my mouth when I was pregnant with both boys. I didn't care if it was a boy or girl as long as the baby was healthy and could thrive. While our first was born by emergency C-section, after a little while they handed me a "perfectly healthy baby." We were thrilled, what a relief! And then along came our tiny fighter.
He wasn't and isn't healthy. He falls under the 'not healthy' category. Your child may fall under that as well.
What if instead of newborn cuddles you got a photo to look at while your baby is fighting for their life?
What if instead of that beautifully planned out sibling meet, they "meet" over FaceTime?
What if instead of hearing their sweet, peaceful breathing and see that sweet gassy smile you hear monitors, nurses, doctors and see tubes, wires, and machines?
When we throw that sentence around, it makes it seem that unhealthy babies and children are worth less, aren't as special, harder to love.
They are still loved.
They are still valuable.
They are still beautiful.
They are still precious.
You are their mom/dad, and for a reason. They are not defective, they're different and different is okay.
No, they're not a burden.
Their little heart may be broken, but that broken heart will fill yours with more than you ever imagined was possible.
They can give hope to someone who is looking for a miracle.
They may make a medical staff's day, brighten up the dark hospital room.
No one asks for "not healthy" but sometimes that's the card that gets played. We all want "healthy." Truth is, we can't all have that. A lot of us will have babies that fight, struggle and teach us more about life than we thought we could learn from such a small person.
Some children will fight, win and thrive. Some will fight for a long time and their struggle will be more long term. Some will fight and unfortunately, lose their battle.
But trust me, those kids are loved.
Having a healthy baby is not everything. It's something, it's important and we all want our children to be healthy. There's nothing wrong with longing for a healthy baby. It's our natural instinct. No one is saying that when that sentence leaves our mouth it means you won't love this child if they're not healthy.
But just remember, next time you say, "As long as the baby is healthy" ask yourself, "What if the baby is not?"
This article was previously published here.
There are so many things to do this time of year and for most of us, gift wrapping is one of them. Some people love doing it and devote whole rooms in their homes to the art of wrapping and others just wrap as fast as they can and move onto the next box.
If you're in the second category you may have worried about how your presents are perceived by their receivers, but we have good news: No one cares if you are a sloppy wrapper, in fact, they kind of love it. This is according to a new study from the University of Nevada which found imperfectly wrapped gifts are more pleasing to receive than flawlessly wrapped presents.
Sloppy gift wrapping makes people happy so stop making yourself feel guilty about it.
"When we receive a gift from a friend, we use the wrapping as a cue about the gift inside and form expectations," says Jessica Rixom, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno. "If it's wrapped neatly, we set high expectations, and it's hard for the gift to live up to those expectations."
According to Rixom and her colleagues, giving a friend or family member a sloppily wrapped gift is a good idea and will actually make them like the present more...but if you're giving a gift to someone you don't know well the wrapping should be neater. When we get gifts from acquaintances we perceive the wrap job as an indication of how important the giver thinks of relationship is. The researchers say we should take relationship closeness into account when deciding how much time to spend wrapping a gift. The more time you spend with someone, the less time you have to spend on the present.
"It may be wise to go the extra mile with wrapping when giving a gift to an acquaintance," says Rixom.
So if you're giving a gift to the new mom you just met at the playgroup, do a good job on the wrapping this year and by next year she may be your BFF (and then you can wrap her present in a hurry and she'll love it).
Whether you can believe it or not, the holidays are practically here and it's time to kick holiday shopping into overdrive. Maybe you have a white elephant gift exchange coming up, or need to grab something small for your coworker. We have everything you need to win over your friends, family and even that person in your office who has everything. And because the holidays wouldn't be special without smiles from little ones, we have the perfect gifts for them, too. Don't stress mama, you got this.
Here are the funniest and cutest gifts our team loves for under $25:
L’Occitane scented soap duo
Tired of that boring hand soap in your powder room? Add an elegant twist to your guest bathroom with this tried-and-true soap duo that smells like sweet fruit. It also feels great on the skin and isn't overdrying.
Yes, babies have tons of onesies around the house, but do they have one that truly states exactly who they are? No one knows home life better than a newborn and this eco-friendly onesie celebrates that.
Ozeri Nouveaux II electric wine opener
For the mama who likes to host, this wine opener opens up to 60 bottles on a single charge, all with the single push of a button. Plus, it illuminates with a soft blue light when in use and while recharging so you can never lose it among your mountain of kitchen appliances.
Rodeo veggie lunch box
The Rodeo's insulated interior makes cleaning effortless, and its convenient front pocket provides easy access to snacks, because we all know that kids LOVE snacks more than life itself. Plus, the multi-colors make it easy to accessorize all their fall and winter looks.
More Coffee, Less Judgement ceramic mug
Join any mommy group on Facebook and you're bound to see someone judging a mama for the craziest things. It's annoying, and frankly so uncalled for. Gift the mama friends in your life a mug that reminds them to enjoy more coffee and less judgment. It's also the perfect gift for your coffee-loving coworker.
Spin Master Games baa baa bubbles
Make it easy for little ones to be entertained all day. Simply feed the Bubbles the sheep treats when you play and her wool made of real bubbles grows. But be careful: If Bubbles is allergic to what she eats, she'll sneeze, blasting her bubbles and you'll lose your tile.
Good Day kitchen towel
Life has its fair share of challenges, but it's not all doom and gloom. This kitchen towel offers a simple (yet very important) reminder to look on the bright side and have a good day, even when your morning routine feels out of hand.
Fisher-price s'more fun campfire
If you're looking for gifts for the kid obsessed with make-believe, look no further. Let them pretend to roast S'mores with artificial wood sticks, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Bonus: The gift-ready package is also perfect for storage, so that's one less thing you have to worry about.
Typically you don't go to drugstores to find comfortable slippers, but these heated slippers are a cut above the rest because they combine soothing warmth with aromatherapy. When heated, the dried French lavender inside releases a relaxing aroma that's perfect for helping you unwind after a long day with the family.
Elmer’s Color Changing slime kit
Slime is one of those gifts that never gets old. Who can resist the gooey, slimy texture that sparks creativity? What makes this set so fun is that when you shine the included UV light on the slime, it changes colors. It also comes with a glue slime activator that eliminates the need for lens solution and baking soda.
Empowered Women canvas tote bag
An empowered tote is something your bestie will adore but never wants to spend the money on. We like this one because it has an interior pocket (with a zipper!) to house tiny items that seem to get lost and keeps the inside organized. Also, the 18" x 15" size is the perfect size—it's not too small or too bulky.
Tiger Tribe detective set
Looking for new toys for car rides and quiet-time play? Let your little ones use their best detective skills to solve a variety of crimes while learning the essentials of observation, investigation, lateral thinking, code cracking and fingerprint analysis.
Nostalgia grilled cheese sandwich toaster
Who doesn't love the perfect grilled cheese? We're not here to debate you on this, but a grilled cheese that's soft, yet crunchy on the sides, and slightly gooey is the best winter lunch. These toasting baskets hold the sandwich in place while it cooks so you never have to worry about flipping it at the right moment. There are also adjustable heat settings to customize your toast—in case you like yours a bit more on the burnt side.
Olababy silicone steambowl
This bowl is made from toxin-free, food-grade silicone that acts as both a steamer and serving bowl, combined into one. And as one Amazon reviewer noted, it stands up to everything, including both baby and toddler teeth. We're obsessed!
The Astrology of You and Me book
Newsflash: you're not going to like everyone, and everyone may not like you. But, we still have to tolerate each other and this book teaches you how to live peacefully with those around you—no matter their sign. And even if the giftee isn't into astrology, creative minds will still love the beautiful illustrations throughout.
WeeFarers original baby sunglasses
Here's one for the stylish kid who always looks so well put together. These chic, bendable frames include FDA-approved impact-resistant lenses so kids can drop them practically anywhere and they won't break or crack. Bonus: there's a guaranteed free replacement for one year if they are lost or broken! Genius!
Glossier Balm Dotcom lip salve
Dry skin is so real, and when you're in the thick of the winter you need something that's formulated with heavy-duty moisturizers like castor oil, beeswax, and lanolin. Users will love that it leaves lips looking smooth and hydrated, not shiny and tacky.
Tocca crema veloce holiday
What happens when you combine scents of sophisticated fruits and florals? You end up with a trio hand soaps that leave your skin beautifully fragrant. We love that each tube is small enough to fit into a diaper bag or clutch while mama is on the go.