Pregnancy Positivity

Finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting moments of your life. But almost immediately after that plus sign appears, the fear sets in. Oh no, I was drinking last weekend! I went into the sauna at the gym this morning! My friends are going out for sushi, but I’m not supposed to eat raw fish! These are just a few of the fears American women are taught go hand-in-hand with pregnancy. Not to mention: no soft cheeses, deli meats, active sports, or alcohol of any kind during the “precarious” nine months. Let me start this off by stating that I am not an expert. I am not a nutritionist, nor a doctor. What I am is a mother of almost three kids, a woman who loves long-distance running, a person who believes in a healthy, natural diet, and someone who does not see pregnancy as an affliction. Will that deli meat, Grade A sushi, blue cheese or glass of wine really hurt my baby? Most likely no. Over the last 6 years of having children, I’ve made a lot of “extreme” pregnancy decisions (according to the people who list all of things you shouldn’t do while pregnant) that felt right to me. Here’s a few: 1) I don’t take prenatal vitamins. I tried. Because basically everyone believes that somehow these little capsules of processed material will make or break your baby’s health and brain. I didn’t experience extreme nausea, constipation or any of those “common pregnancy issues” -- except for when I took the vitamins. The process of breaking down that tiny pill of manufactured nutrients was so hard on my body, that I decided I would just aim to actually eat the foods that are being supplemented in the pills. Imagine that! 2) I drink alcohol. I’m not ashamed to say it. I drink a glass of wine with dinner, or a half pint of Guinness at my husband’s bar. I’m never drunk, or even tipsy. But I enjoy the taste of it, and it helps me relax, and probably even sleep better. I’ve done this through three pregnancies, and at a rate far less than our mothers did in the 70’s and 80’s (hello?!!), and so far, my children are perfectly normal. In fact, they are fantastic. 3) I continue to eat from the "Don’t" list. About 8 weeks into my first pregnancy, my husband and I took a trip to visit my father in Greece. There I am sitting at a cafe, in front of this plate of fresh Feta cheese, and I’m thinking: how can this be bad for me when it’s completely natural and was made down the street? Don’t all the pregnant women of the world continue to eat their native cheeses? For that matter, don’t the women in Japan eat sushi, and don’t the ladies in Italy still drink espresso? Aren’t each of these things a thousand times more healthy for me and baby because they’re natural whole foods as opposed to McDonalds or a processed/packaged food? Yes!

The author, at 26.2 weeks pregnant.

4) I continue to exercise. I had just completed the Brooklyn Half Marathon and was halfway through training for the NYC Marathon when we found out we were pregnant with our third child. For about a minute I cried and mourned the loss of yet another attempt at my first full marathon (I was part of the 2012 crowd whose marathon was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy), but almost immediately my husband said, “You can still run it. We’ll do it together.” And just like that, I decided to continue training, listen to my body, and go for my goal. In my research, I found a lot of people saying that you “shouldn’t do anything extreme like run a marathon while pregnant,” but I didn’t find any actual documentation saying why. With my doctor’s whole-hearted blessing, we continued training, albeit at a drastically slower pace, often run/walking the long distances and stopping frequently for food/drink/bathroom along the way. And on November 3, 2013, my husband and I ran/walked the NYC Marathon. All 26.2 miles at exactly 26.2 weeks pregnant. As I sit here typing, we are counting the last few days down to the birth of our third baby. I don’t think I’ve made any bad decisions. In fact, I think I’ve done a really great job listening and responding to my body. I eat what I want, but I try to keep it to “real” foods. I partake in the occasional glass of wine. And I luckily have a very supportive and non fear-mongering doctor who was more impressed by my glucose tolerance test results than my 18-mile run to his office. So remember this: You don’t have to live in fear and stop your life from moving during your pregnancy. Continue to do what you love to do, you may just have to modify how you do it. Surround yourself with people who say yes instead of no. That positivity is incredibly beneficial to you and your baby. And above all, be your own judge, listen to your inner voice, your body, and your intuition, and trust that you can do much more than you are lead to believe. *Editor’s Note: Andriana gave birth to a handsome, healthy boy last month. Congratulations mama!

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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