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I’m the mother of a toddler in Brooklyn and a small business owner. My pregnancy, back in 2013, wasn’t easy. My husband and I conceived faster than we expected, right after we bought a house in a neighborhood I was apprehensive about, and I was now unable to enjoy my beloved glass of wine at the end of a long day. It was all so quick and overwhelming. Exercise always calmed me, but in my first trimester, I was too exhausted emotionally and physically to even get off the couch, let alone to lift and tuck at barre class.

That’s when meditation came along. In November 2013, I participated in Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. After just a few weeks, I was hooked. I found meditation to be a very important tool to help me simply be and to accept the physical and mental discomforts of pregnancy. “Mindfulness is meeting our lives one moment at a time and that is something we can always do,” explains Melissa McKay, teacher at MNDFL Meditation Studio in New York City.


Meditation lets us be kind to ourselves and is a crucial part of self-love. Though it won’t necessarily change the intensity or frequency of pregnancy symptoms, it can alter your approach and reaction. Here are 5 ways meditation can help with some of the most common pregnancy struggles.

1. Morning Sickness. Let’s first acknowledge that “morning sickness” is actually a catchall term for sickness that occurs throughout the day. According to Simple Habit meditation teacher Andy Hobson, you can use meditation to cultivate more awareness and to work with morning sickness in the same way you would with any other unpleasant feeling or sensation in the body. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted and sit comfortably for 5-10 minutes. Hobson suggests starting with a curiosity about where your morning sickness shows up in your body, how it moves, how it changes in intensity at different times. Then mentally give it a shape or a color to better acknowledge its existence. With practice, this awareness really will lead to a new kind of acceptance.

2. Insomnia. Sleeping during pregnancy isn’t comfortable. Period. You find a comfortable position that works one hour, and then your baby moves, or grows or both, and you’re uncomfortable again. We also struggle to fall asleep because we have so much to think about. And to make it worse, everyone preaches, “Sleep while you can!”. Clearly this cycle won't make us sleep better or more; but meditation and cultivating awareness can give you the mental tools that you need to reground yourselves. Just focus on your breathing and on feeling your physical body resting in bed. My favorite meditation before bed is a simple body scan: concentrate on different areas of your body, and tense and release. Depending on how deep of a sleeper your partner is, you can also do a cleansing audible “ahhhhhh” exhale -- similar to a lion’s breath in yoga. It will allow you to sink deeper into the present moment.

3. Depression and anxiety. Pregnancy messes with our hormones in unimaginable ways, and it’s difficult to isolate the variables when it comes to our prenatal moods. When we are able to meet our lives one moment at a time through meditation, as McKay says, we learn to experience the impermanence of emotions -- even the most intense ones. I love to think about flying in an airplane. Regardless of the weather below, when you’re flying above the clouds it’s always sunny. The clouds are our emotions, and they are present in our journey, but do not have to define it.

4. Heartburn. Heartburn is incredibly common during pregnancy as a result of increased acid reflux and less space in the stomach. Deep breathing is the foundation of any mindfulness practice, and it activates the relaxation response that massages the digestive organs. Try taking a long and slow inhalation, starting with a count of 4 or 5, and take an even longer exhalation. As you repeat this, try to increase the counts so that every time you’re exhaling longer and longer. Relax the belly and envision bringing the breath all the way down to your core. You will likely feel your mind quiet after just a few rounds.

5. BONUS TIP: Labor + Delivery Pain. My meditation practice, which was highly influenced by Nancy Bardacke's Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, was incredibly helpful during my labor and delivery. I was able to be present and find joy in the stillness between contractions, as opposed to anticipating what is ahead. Yes, a lot of my labor and delivery is a blur at this point, but I distinctly remember those moments in between my late (and intense) contractions and my serene focus on the calm.

If you want more information or practice in the art of meditation, check out Simple Habit Meditation App (iOS + Android, free with in-app purchases) and, for New Yorkers, MNDFL Meditation Studio.

Janna Meyrowitz Turner is the founder of Style House, a lifestyle communications, content, brand strategy and PR firm in New York City that was recently honored by Observer.com as one of New York’s Top 5 Specialty PR Agencies for Beauty. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Ethan, and their son Harley.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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