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As a certified nurse midwife, I take a lot of time with my women to explore the challenges they’ve overcome in their lives and to channel that energy if they face obstacles during labor and birth. I have them go back to their power. I want their mind to shift from thinking “Birth is going to be really difficult” to “This is challenging, but wow—this is incredibly empowering. I can do this!”


Part of the challenges women face in preparing to give birth is that we separate ourselves from other birth stories we’ve heard, or other experiences we’ve taken on as our own—specifically from the women typically closest to us, like our mothers, sisters and best friends.

As providers, we need to strive to have close relationships with our patients. If that’s not necessarily possible, then we must at least be intuitive and listen well. I work with women and hear what they say, paying close attention to the language they use.

Here are 6 questions I often get from women about their mothers’ experiences with labor and birth.


1. My mother had complications during labor. Will I have them, too?

She’s your mother and you love her, but you don’t need to unconsciously re-create her birth story—especially if it was a difficult birth. Our minds are very powerful, and we can cleverly re-create the trauma our own mothers experienced. But your mother’s birth(s) had to do with what was going on in her day-to-day life at the time—what her health was like, her relationship with her doctor, what was going on in her personal life, etc.

If your mom has mentioned that she experienced complications, ask her exactly what they were and what possibly caused them. It’s not enough for her to tell you, “This happened to me.” You have to ask her specific questions.

Let’s start with one example. If your mother had preterm labor, will you?

Well, what was her amniotic fluid like at the time she went into preterm labor? What was her stress level? Was she working a job that required her to be on her feet 40 hours a week? That can certainly trigger preterm labor. There are specific reasons why your mother had the complications she did, and it doesn’t mean you will, too.

2. My mother had a C-section. Will I have one?

So many women have asked me this question. The answer is no, not necessarily. Do you and your mother have the same body type? Is your mother 5 feet tall and your father 6 feet tall? Did your mom have a baby who weighed 10 pounds?

A situation when the baby’s head circumference may be too big for the diameter of the mother’s pelvis size and shape is called cephalopelvic or fetopelvic disproportion. If this occurs and a baby is unable to descend through the pelvis due to a narrowing of the mid-pelvis or pelvic outlet, then a medically indicated C-section is appropriate.

There are four types of pelves, but we often see a mixture of characteristics. So even if you have the same type of pelvis as your mom, the size and position of your baby will be unique for you—so you can understand how we can’t let your mom’s delivery outcome predict yours.

Many women ask me whether their pelvis is an adequate size. Forty-one to 42% of women have a gynecoid pelvis, with diameters quite optimal for vaginal childbirth. An extremely narrow pelvis, also referred to as male or android, where the front of the pelvis is narrow (about 32.5% of white and 15.7% of nonwhite women have this type) does make it more difficult for a good-size baby to navigate through. The rare platypelloid pelvis, which occurs in less than 3% of women, is characterized by a wide front diameter and shallow depth from front to back. It makes a vaginal delivery unlikely. The good news is that labor and birth are about movement, and babies are resilient, with heads designed to mold through delivery.

When the health care provider understands the mother’s pelvic size and structure as well as the baby’s position and size, the timing of labor and repositioning the mother in a knee-chest or left side-lying position can make all the difference in assisting the baby through.

A woman needs to labor and be pushing for several hours to determine whether the baby is unable to emerge under the pubic arch. This is definitely a subject to discuss with your health care provider. It is difficult to know all the circumstances of your mother’s C-section that contributed to her outcome.

3. Can I prevent any of the complications my mother experienced?

Yes. Make sure you’re eating well, staying hydrated and communicating openly and often with your health care provider. I also recommend seeing a chiropractor to make sure your pelvis is aligned. This gives the baby more room to move and adjust.

I had a woman transfer to me late, at 33 weeks—her baby was high and she wasn’t doing any exercise. I recommended she visit a chiropractor regularly. And sure enough, when the time came, she had a three-hour labor where her baby descended nicely.

4. Can my sister’s birth experiences tell me anything about what mine will be like?

Yes. Not necessarily physically, but psychologically.

I had a client in labor who kept saying things like, “I can’t believe it, I know I’m going to need a C-section.” I looked at her and asked her why she was talking out of such fear. It all finally clicked and I said, “This isn’t you you’re talking about, is it?” And she told me it was her sister she was talking about. She was subconsciously taking on her sister’s negative birth experience as her own. So I worked with her in labor to guide her through extreme birth counseling.

When we talked about her relationship with her sister, I learned she didn’t even like her sister’s ideas about birth. So I asked what made her different from her sister. She said she was holistic, and her sister was not. I asked her to repeat after me—“I am holistic. I am not my sister.” And that is what her birth mantra became.

With this mantra she was able to validate that she was different from her sister, and just because her sister had Pitocin and then a C-section didn’t mean that she had to have it too. She did have Pitocin to augment her contractions, which had spaced out, but I helped turn the face-up baby and then she had a beautiful vaginal birth.

This could happen with any woman you’re close to—your mother, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, best friend, etc. That’s why it’s so important to have the right provider guiding you.

5. My mother/mother-in-law had big babies. Could that determine my babys size?

While there could be some genetic connection for large gestational size babies, what I really believe is that your mother or mother-in-law could have been eating lots of carbs or foods high in sugar, and she might have had undiagnosed gestational diabetes. You have to know your clients, and quite often I have to be a sneaky detective to find out what she’s eating.

But keep in mind: I would much rather deliver a 9-pound, 5-ounce baby than a 6-pound, 5-ounce baby. Bigger babies are often well positioned—they don’t get into unusual positions that could cause complications. For example, a smaller baby can spin around during labor and cause a longer labor, and if you’re in a more conservative hospital or have a more traditional health care practitioner, they may not let you wait around to progress from 4 cm to 8 cm and instead suggest a C-section. But it all comes down to understanding fetal positioning.

6. What questions should I ask my mother?

I always ask the women I work with: What messages has your mother given you about birth? Does she talk openly about it?

If you’re pregnant and your mother seems to be avoiding talking about her own pregnancies, it’s likely for one of these reasons: She had a traumatizing experience; it’s just her nature not to share; or she doesn’t want to interfere because she doesn’t want to scare you.

If you’d like to talk to your mother about her birth experiences, here are a few questions to review on your own and with your mom.

Reflect on personally...

—Do I have the same pelvis as my mother?

—Do I have the same build as my mother?

—How do I differentiate myself from my mom and/or my sister(s)?

Discuss with Mom...

—What was the position of your baby? Was I/were my siblings face-up or posterior?

—Did you have a C-section? Do you know why?

—Were you stressed during your pregnancy and/or labor? What was going on in your life at the time?

—How much weight did you gain during your pregnancies?

—Do you remember the name of who delivered me?

—How long did you push?

If you have fears that aren’t alleviated by talking with the women close to you and reflecting personally, talk about them with your health care provider or find a therapist who specializes in pregnancy. If you don’t talk about your fears, they can surface during labor and delivery and possibly sabotage your birth experience. A prepared birth is best.

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Starting your child on solids can be a daunting process. Between the mixed advice that seems to come from every angle ("Thanks, Grandma, but pretty sure one dessert is enough…") to the at-times picky palates of our little ones, it can be tough on a mama trying to raise a kid with a sophisticated palate.

But raising an adventurous eater doesn't have to be a chore. In partnership with our friends at Raised Real, here are eight tips to naturally encourage your child to nibble and taste with courage.

1. Keep an open mind. 

As the parent, you set the tone for every bite. So stay positive! Raised Real makes it easy to work new and exciting ingredients into every meal, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice modeling open-minded eating. Instead of saying, "You might not like this" or "It's okay if you don't like it" from the start, keep your tone upbeat—or simply serve new dishes without any fanfare at all. (Toddlers can smell a tough sell from a mile away.) Either way, let your child decide for themselves how they feel about new dishes.

2. Show mealtime some respect. 

Spend less time in the kitchen and more time together at the table with Raised Real meals, which come prepped and ready to steam and blend. They're even delivered to your door—because they know how busy you are, mama. Think about it: Do you enjoy a meal you've had to rush through? Keep meals relaxed and let your child savor and taste one bite at a time to take any potential anxiety out of the equation. (This may mean you need to set aside more time than you think for dinner.)

3. Serve the same (vibrant) dish to the whole family.

Don't fall into the "short-order cook" trap. Instead of cooking a different meal for every family member, serve one dish that everyone can enjoy. Seeing his parents eating a dish can be a simple way to encourage your little one to take a bite, even if he's never tried it before. Since Raised Real meals are made with real, whole ingredients, they can be the perfect inspiration for a meal you serve to the whole family.

4. Get kids involved in prepping the meal.

Raised Real's ingredients are simple to prepare, meaning even little hands can help with steaming and blending. When children help you cook, they feel more ownership over the food—and less like they're being forced into eating something unfamiliar. As they grow, have your children help with washing and stirring, while bigger kids can peel, season, and even chop with supervision. Oftentimes, they'll be so proud of what they've made they won't be able to wait to try it.

5. Minimize snacking and calorie-laden drinks before meals. 

Serving a new ingredient? Skip the snacks. Hungry kids are less picky kids, so make sure they're not coming to the table full when you're introducing a new flavor. It's also a good idea to serve in courses and start with the unfamiliar food when they're hungriest to temper any potential resistance.

6. Don’t be afraid to introduce seasoning!  

Raised Real meals come with fresh seasonings already added in so you can easily turn up the flavor. Cinnamon, basil, turmeric, and cumin are all great flavors to pique the palate from an early age, and adding a dash or two to your recipes can spice up an otherwise simple dish.

7. Make “just one bite” the goal. 

Don't stress if your toddler isn't cleaning their plate—if he's hungry, he'll eat. Raised Real meals are designed to train the palate, so even a bite or two can get the job done. Right now the most important thing is to broaden their horizons with new flavors.

8. Try and try and try again. 

Kids won't always like things the first time. (It can take up to 20 tries!) If your child turns up her nose at tikka masala the first time, that doesn't mean she'll never care for Indian food. So don't worry. And be sure to try every ingredient again another day—or the next time you get it in your Raised Real meal box!

Still not sure where to start? Raised Real takes the guesswork out of introducing a variety of solids by delivering dietician-designed, professionally prepped ingredients you simply steam, blend, and serve (or skip the blending for toddlers who are ready for finger foods)—that's why they're our favorite healthy meal hack for kids.

Raising an adventurous eating just got a whole lot simpler, mama.

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

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I wasn't supposed to be a stay-at-home mom.

Or, to put it another way, I wasn't supposed to be a year-round, stay-at-home mom. My husband and I live in Los Angeles, and our rent and monthly bills require two paychecks.

By the time our son Ryan was born, I had been teaching for seven years. And there was no question that I'd continue to teach. Other teacher-moms told me that teaching was the "perfect" career for parents.

"Once he starts school, you and your son will have the same hours each day."

"You'll always be available when he's got a random day off from school."

"You'll spend vacations together."

"You know what your schedule is year-round. It's not like other jobs, where your schedule changes on a weekly basis."

Like my husband's schedule. Paul's retail career didn't provide the same consistent schedule, week after week, that my teaching career did. While Paul's schedule could be erratic, I would provide Ryan with a reliable, fixed routine.

And my colleagues were right.

Aside from a few exceptions, such as Parent-Teacher Conferences and Back-to-School Night, Ryan and I would have dinner together each night. I imagined us doing "homework" together each afternoon—Ryan doing actual homework, me grading my students' homework.

Because there are 180 school days, theoretically, that means that the other half of the year, I'd spend with Ryan. But again, there were some exceptions. I usually spent quite a bit of time each summer attending conferences, workshops, and professional developments. I always returned to my classroom several days before the start of the new school year to get everything ready.

Still, teaching would continue to provide our family with a needed second income, feed my passion for teaching, and allow me the opportunity to spend considerable time with my son each day, all year long.

If Ryan attended the same small, local elementary school where I taught, I'd never have to choose between my students and my son. We'd come and go to school together, I'd watch him walk with his class in our school's Halloween Parade, and he'd watch me walk with mine. I'd hear him and his class sing holiday songs during our winter performance, and he'd hear my class.

That was the plan.

But while Ryan was a preschooler, the plan changed.

I got sick with a "mystery illness" that took doctors almost a year and a half to diagnose. Eventually, my rheumatologist determined I suffered from Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease, an autoimmune disease. I tried to pretend that my disease didn't impact my life or require any major lifestyle changes. But I couldn't keep up the pretense. So, in 2013, after a 12-year teaching career, I retired due to a disability.

I wasn't merely forced to give up my career. I had to give up my passion. I was now thrust into the role of year-round, stay-at-home mom, and I wasn't completely sure how to do it.

Thankfully, my disability check would continue to provide us with some income and the matching schedules Ryan had grown accustomed to would continue as well. But there were a lot of changes.

I had never before been the person to take Ryan to preschool. That job had always fallen to either our nanny or Paul. Now, I had to learn the timetable for breakfast, and the morning routine of getting washed, dressed, and out of the house.

I also had to figure out what to do after preschool. When I was teaching, I came home in the late afternoon. Ryan and I had some play time and shortly after that, we would begin our nightly evening routine. Now, with preschool ending at two o'clock each afternoon, we would have hours together before it was time for dinner.

How would I fill that time?

I knew how to lesson plan for a class of 30-plus students. I knew how to fill school days with a mix of whole-group instruction, independent work, and cooperative group work. I had a pacing plan to adhere to, standards and concepts that I was mandated to teach on a

timetable to prepare my students for periodic assessments and yearly standardized testing. But how would I organize a single day that involved just Ryan and me?

Many colleagues told me to find the silver lining. I had a disability, but I had also been given a gift—the opportunity to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom. While that was true, it came at a price.

I felt confused because I wasn't accepting my new role with complete enthusiasm and pure delight. I alternated between feelings of guilt, anger, and frustration because it wasn't my choice. My doctor and the state of California told me I could no longer teach. And when someone tells you that you can or cannot do something, it means something entirely different than when the choice is your own.

While I love my son and am honored to be his mother, I didn't know how to reconcile the fact that mothering had now become my primary job every day. I wasn't sure how to accept and make sense of my new identity. Disabled woman. Former Teacher. Stay-at-home mom.

I've slowly come to realize that I'm still a teacher, but now my student roster consists of one, my son, and my classroom isn't always a room. Sometimes it's the library. Sometimes it's our kitchen. Sometimes it's our backyard.

Sometimes it's enough. Sometimes it isn't. But it is always an adventure.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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Jessica Simpson will soon join the mom of three club! The singer-turned-fashion mogul announced on Instagram today that she is expecting a baby girl.

"This little baby girl will make us a family of five," said Simpson, who shares 6-year-old Maxwell and 5-year-old Ace with husband Eric Johnson. "We couldn't be happier to announce this precious blessing of life."

The news may come as a surprise to Simpson's fans, considering she's been pretty vocal about feeling as though her family was complete. "I have two beautiful children, and I'm not having a third," she told Ellen DeGeneres in 2017. "They're too cute. You can't top that."

Earlier this year, Simpson revealed to Entertainment Tonight she had developed a case of baby fever, but said it would "definitely have to be a miracle" to have a third baby. Today's joyful announcement is proof that plans can change and that's part of the fun of life. All that really matters is that Simpson's family—including the two big siblings—certainly seem excited.

Besides, the designer of a line for Motherhood Maternity shouldn't have any problem with being just as fashionable as ever through her third pregnancy. 😉

Congrats to the growing family!

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Pumpkin spice lattes are here and the weather is getting chillier. That can only mean one thing—Halloween is near! Whether you're a fan of the holiday or not, there's simply nothing more precious than dressing up your baby or toddler in an adorable costume.

Today only, Target has up to 40% off Halloween costumes for the entire family. We rounded up the cutest picks from the baby + toddler departments—check 'em out. 😍

Toddler Halloween Costumes: Shark

Shark costume, $15.00 (was $25.00)

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