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Given the abundance of opinions about working – or not – once a woman becomes a mother, it’s no surprise that I began wrestling with this decision long before I became pregnant. As is often the case when we think about topics we’ve yet to experience ourselves, I had plenty of opinions about what a woman “should” do.

I had a near-constant monologue running in my head that went something like this: “Your mom has always worked in a ‘big job’, so you should, too. Carry on the family legacy! Remember that neighbor who got divorced? Well, that wouldn’t have happened if she had a job. Look at Sheryl Sandberg – keep leaning in, Elizabeth!!”

Of course I would return to work once I had a baby, whenever that day arrived.

And then one morning, everything changed. Every single thing. My husband was still asleep when I nudged him gently to say “the test is positive.”

Once there was an actual baby to consider, the to-work-or-not-to-work debate both escalated and ceased in my head. On the one hand, I was now actually pregnant and considering actual, not imagined, circumstances. On the other hand, I had a growing sense that this new life would change me in unimaginable ways, and would satisfy and challenge me in ways that no job could.

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I resigned from my job a few days before Ava was born. In the months since, friends have connected me with job opportunities which could be interesting, but something has stopped me from pursuing them. I’ve spent hours half-heartedly browsing job postings and even landed a few interviews, only to find myself longing for uninterrupted stretches of time at home with my baby. Sometimes I see women rushing to work in their tailored suits and heels, and feel pangs of envy about the lives I imagine them leading.

It has taken me almost one year to make peace with the fact that I’m now a stay-at-home-mom. If I’m honest, some days that peace is still elusive. And yet, as we celebrate my daughter’s first birthday, I truly would not change a thing. My journey has been nothing like I imagined, and the pros and cons of being a full-time mom certainly aren’t as black and white as I imagined so many years ago. In fact, it has been better, richer and more rewarding than I could’ve ever dreamed or hoped.

As you consider what your own life might look like once your little one arrives, I encourage you to be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be gentle. Offer grace. Think about the facts, consider your preferences and goals, seek wisdom from those around you, and be brave in making the decision that’s best for you, whatever that might look like. Whatever you decide, and however your journey unfolds, I salute you!

If you do decide to make the leap to life as a stay-at-home mom, here are few tips to ease the transition:

1. Build your mom network and make it diverse. As a new mom -- or as a mom who is new to being at home full-time -- you need other women who are in the same season of life as you. This will come in handy at 3 am when you are trying to rock your baby to sleep and are in need of some sympathy via text message, when you want to discuss the best ways to get your pre-baby body back, and when you want to discuss brands of diapers that don’t leak overnight. You also need women in your life who have been down this road before -- women who will encourage you to savor the newborn moments, even when they feel so very hard; women who will share their experiences with pediatricians, preschools, and babysitters; and women whose own lives have settled down enough that they can breathe some energy and peace into yours. Finally, you need to hold onto those friends who don't have children. Staying connected to your former self not only nourishes your soul but it can keep you from settling into a routine that is totally dominated by motherhood and parenting. These friends will encourage you to get your nails done, meet for a glass of wine, and ditch the ponytail for a night -- all little ways of reminding yourself that you are a dynamic, energetic, interesting woman.

2. Decide what three things you need to do to feel good at the end of the day. That is, make a short list of "must do" items that, when completed, will help you to breathe easy at the end of the day, even if a lot of other aspects of your life are chaotic. For me, it's reading the newspaper, exercising, and spending good chunks of time fully focused on playing with my daughter. The transition to being at home full-time can be challenging as the hours blend together, home-related tasks become your primary "work," and no boss is telling you what to do. This can mean the day may end before you’re aware that it even started, and what is true in the office is true at home: articulating your goals and priorities makes them much easier to achieve.

3. Get out. Get out with your child, get out as a family, get out with your husband. Just GO. Take a class, go to Starbucks, hop on the bus or subway to see an exhibit, try a new bakery or visit a friend. The tendency to stay inside -- especially in the blur of the early days -- can leave new moms feeling isolated and alone. This compounds the feelings of "who am I now that I don't work/have a baby/am a mom?" Getting out of the house is the best way to remind yourself that there is a world out there, beyond nap schedules and burp cloths and late-night feedings. Be brave and try to plan a mix of small and more ambitious outings each week to keep your life -- and yourself -- fresh.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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