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These are the top 10 cities for working parents

For many families, the whole concept of work-life balance can seem downright mythical. With housing costs to keep up on, long commutes and exorbitant childcare costs, it can feel like the scales are always tipping in favor of working more. But utopias for working families do exist in the United States—according to a new analysis.


In its annual ranking of the Top 10 Cities for Working Parents, financial tech company SmartAsset looked at metrics such as median household income, median housing costs, average commute times, costs of childcare, state family leave policies and even the percentage of the population that puts in more than nine hours of overtime each week.

Their findings? The middle of the country is best for working families.

"East Coast cities score poorly in this study. Residents in East Coast cities, especially in the Northeast, face high costs of living, including childcare costs and housing costs," says Derek Miller, Certified Educator in Personal Finance. "The highest ranked Northeast city is Newton, Massachusetts, at 124."

Meanwhile, only one city on the West Coast—Santa Clara, California—broke the Top 10. Rather, to find an oasis for working parents, this study suggests looking to states like Iowa and Utah.

Here's the Top 10:

1. Ames, Iowa

Up from the second spot last year, Ames had the lowest unemployment rate of every city analyzed. Plus, the minority of workers logged more than 49 hours weekly, which left more time for families.

2. Provo, Utah

Affordable and safe with a low unemployment rate, Provo is a great place for families seeking balance.

3. Iowa City, Iowa

Edging out even Ames in terms of quality public schools, Iowa City also benefits from low unemployment rates and fewer overtime hours. The home of the University of Iowa only received poorer marks because of a slightly higher crime rate.

4. Orem, Utah

With an average commute time of only 18 minutes and low crime rates, Orem is a great place for working families. It was only notched for having the second highest median home costs of the cities in the top 10.

5. Jonesboro, Arkansas

Thanks to low childcare costs (an average $5,700 annually) and low housing costs, this Arkansas town is one of the most affordable on the list.

6. St. George, Utah

Perhaps the nearly non-existence commute times in St. George have something to do with the exceptionally high graduation rates? Less time in the car for parents means more time supporting their students' academics, after all.

7. Wichita Falls, Texas

Like St. George, families in Wichita Falls benefit from average commute times of just 15 minutes and high graduation rates.

8. Santa Clara, California

Although housing prices are much higher in Santa Clara than the other cities in the top 10, so are the average household incomes. Plus, residents of California benefit from stronger family leave policies.

9. Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Residents of Oshkosh enjoy a great balance of higher average incomes and lower housing costs—which means more money in the bank for family activities.

10. Abilene, Texas

Although the state of Texas has some work to do on accommodating families with leave policies, Abilene is still a great place to raise little ones thanks to strong public schools and low housing costs.

This list isn't the first to prove that when it comes to affordability and family-friendly amenities, the middle of the country is the place to be.

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As if new mamas don't have a steep enough learning curve already, one event takes most of us off-guard: that first postpartum period. After what was probably a hiatus of a year or longer, the return of your menstrual cycle isn't just back to business as usual. In most cases, it's initially less predictable and stronger than when Aunt Flo used to come calling.

The good news? By preparing yourself for what is to come, they don't have to be so intimidating — especially if you also stock your drawer with THINX underwear, made specifically to absorb menstrual flow. Every pair of THINX undies is created with their signature 4-layer technology that is super-absorbent, moisture-wicking, odor-fighting, and leak-resistant. Translation? You never have to worry about leaks or stains, even when your period is a surprise.

Here's the DL on those first postpartum periods:

1. When your period will return varies from woman to woman

The biggest factor that affects your period's return is whether or not you are breastfeeding. "If a woman is not breastfeeding, then the first menses usually returns at six weeks postpartum to three months postpartum," says Elizabeth Sauter, MD, Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Among exclusively breastfeeding mamas, Sauter says it can be harder to predict when menstruation will return in full force: It's rare for your period to return until at least six months postpartum (at which point you've probably introduced some solid food to baby's diet), but it may not return at all until you are done breastfeeding a year or more postpartum.

Before you get back to it, whenever that is, it can help to add some new undies from THINX, to your dresser drawer. We especially love the chic and practical Hi-Waist undies for postpartum—or any—bodies.

2. Your first postpartum period will probably be heavier than ever

Whenever your period does return, it will likely be in full force as it's not only the shedding of your uterine lining, but also the shedding of any clots or blood from the delivery process. (And you thought you got past that during the initial round of postpartum bleeding!)

While this can be a less-than-pleasant experience, Sauter says that many women eventually enjoy less painful and intense periods as they get farther away from baby's birth.

Because you are probably already getting up enough during the night, waking up to change a pad or tampon probably isn't high on your list of things you want to do. We love (like, love) that the most absorbent THINX undies can hold up to two tampons' worth of blood.

3. Your menstrual cycle may not be as easy to track

Again, whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding has an impact on how reliable your period will likely be for the first year or so. As Sauter explains, mothers who had regular periods before pregnancy and do no breastfeed often fall back into that rhythm within a few months of baby's arrival.

For breastfeeding mamas, even once your period returns, it may not come back in exactly 28 days (or whatever frequency you were used to). However, for some women, this is a silver-lining.

"Many mothers who had irregular menses prepregnancy in fact start more regular menses postpartum," says Sauter, adding the disclaimer this isn't always the case, especially for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.


Like everything motherhood, soon enough you will be right in the normal routine of life with a period again — only now, with period-proof underwear by THINX, you'll find it's easier than ever to take on your period with confidence.

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

When Gabrielle Union surprised the world with a birth announcement this month after a long struggle with infertility, we were thrilled.

In an Instagram post announcing the birth of her child, Union shared how she and her husband Dwyane Wade welcomed their new baby girl thanks to a surrogate, but there was one detail missing: The baby girl's name!

This week, proud dad Wade (who is currently on paternity leave from the NBA) showed off his baby girl's name, as it is tattooed on his shoulders.

Kaavia James Union Wade is clearly very loved, and we love the story behind her unique name.

When a fan asked Union about the name on Instagram she explained how her daughter's middle name, James, is a family throwback.

"We wanted my family represented in her name," Union wrote. "My godfather is my uncle James Glass. She is named after him.. and then Union...thats... ya know...me."

The origins and meaning of the name Kaavia aren't clear, but a user suggestion on Names.org indicates the name may be Sanskrit in origin and could mean "work of art."

We don't know how accurate that name meaning is, but we do know that Kaavia is going to grow up with lots of love, and her traditionally male middle name is a good fit in a house full of boys. This little girl has four big brothers—Wade's sons 4-year-old Xavier, 11-year-old Zion, 16-year-old Zaire as well as Wade's 17-year-old nephew Dahveon, who has lived with Wade and Union for years.

Little Kaavia has a lot of people who love her, and we just love her name.

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Just weeks after announcing her pregnancy and letting the world know that's she's determined to keep working while she's expecting, Amy Schumer dropped some bad news Thursday.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote, noting that she's had to cancel upcoming shows in Texas due to the condition.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum (also known as HG) is a rare but serious pregnancy complication, and it's really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


It looks like Schumer is getting the medical help she obviously needs. In her Instagram post she wrote, "the doctors and nurses taking great care of me and Tati."

She seems to be getting IV fluids (she's probably super dehydrated) and hopefully her team can find a way to get her some relief with Zofran or another form of therapy.

Schumer says she feels very lucky to be pregnant, but HG can make a mama feel downright unlucky. As Schumer notes in her post, most mamas feel better in their second trimester, but HG can make it feel even worse than the first. "I've been even more ill this trimester," she says.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

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We're entering the holiday season, which is also, unfortunately, the season of viruses.

You may be hearing more about a certain virus, RSV, thanks in part to celebrity mama Vanessa Lachey, who has been speaking out about how the virus took her by surprise when it infected her son, Phoenix, who was born prematurely. Lachey didn't know that his prematurity put Phoenix at an increased risk for the illness.

"So when he was hospitalized for six days for severe RSV disease, I was shocked," she recently wrote on Instagram (in a post sponsored by AstraZeneca). "I wish I had known more about RSV before this traumatic experience."

When Lachey's son got sick during a family vacation, she wasn't informed about RSV, so she didn't expect it. "I actually took Phoenix to the doctor multiple times, and they just brushed it off as a flu-like virus," Lachey told Health. "I knew when his coughing continued, there was wheezing, his temperature was over 100 for a long period of time, and he had bluish nails and lips that something was wrong."

Here are 11 things parents need to know about RSV:

1. RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus

In healthy adults and older kids it usually presents as the common cold. Symptoms include a runny nose, dry cough, low-grade fever, sore throat and mild headache.

Most healthy people are over it in about two weeks, but it can have serious health implications for some infants, especially those who are premature or have other health conditions.

2.  We're in the middle of RSV season

The virus is common in late fall through spring. According to the CDC, in recent years RSV season has started in mid-September to mid-November, with the season peaking in late December to mid-February, and tapering off in the spring (except in Florida, which has an earlier RSV season onset and longer duration than most states).

3. It's super common

According to the Mayo Clinic, most kids will have been infected with RSV by age two. That doesn't mean it's not serious though. It can just be like a cold, but the CDC notes RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger under 12 months old, and it results in 2.1 million outpatient visits in kids under five every year.

4. Some babies require hospitalization

More than 57,000 kids under five require hospitalization due to RSV each year. Bronchiolitis and pneumonia can of course put a child in the hospital, but RSV doesn't have to cause either of those for an infant to require round the clock medical treatment. Sometimes a severe RSV infection without those complications means a baby will require hospitalization so that their breathing can be monitored and IV fluids can be administered.

5. A baby's chest muscles and skin pulling inward is a sign of severe RSV

If you notice your baby's skin and chest are pulling in with every breath they take you should seek medical attention right away. Short, shallow or rapid breathing, coughing, lethargy and not eating as they usually do are also red flags for parents during RSV season.

6. There is no medication for RSV

If your baby is diagnosed with RSV there is unfortunately no medication that can immediately cure them of the infection. Time is the treatment in most cases.

In-hospital treatment can see children receive Intravenous (IV) fluids, humidified oxygen or mechanical ventilation, but treatment at home is often supportive care, so basically keeping them comfortable and full of fluids until the virus is gone.

7. There is no vaccine 

Scientists are working toward developing a vaccine for RSV, but right now, no vaccine for the illness is licensed anywhere in the world.

8. There is a preventative medication for those at the highest risk

Babies who were born prematurely and those who are immunocompromised or have heart defects or other health conditions are sometimes given a series of shots of a drug called palivizumab (also known as synagis) during RSV season. The drug is expensive, and only recommended for when babies meet certain high-risk criteria.

9. RSV is unfortunately pretty contagious

RSV is really contagious, and because it feels like a common cold in healthy adults, a lot of people don't self-isolate when they have it. A child with RSV might be contagious for up to four weeks, even after they stop showing symptoms.

If you have multiple children and one has been sick, it's a good idea to clean shared toys and have them sleep in separate rooms if possible.

10. Prevention is key

If more people were able to stay home when they are sick, RSV transmission could be lowered. If you're sick and you can take time off, do it. It will help you recover faster and prevent the possible spread of RSV to other families.

11. Protecting your family isn't bad manners

People love to hug and kiss babies, but when somebody is sick, it's okay to say "no thanks" to affection for your little one.

It can be tricky to navigate in public when you're trying to protect your baby and everyone in line at the grocery store wants to squish their cheeks, so some parents are putting it in writing—adding little signs to their carts, carseats, onesies and strollers that let strangers know it's not okay to touch the little one.

Bottom line: RSV can be serious, and as we head into the holidays it's important to remember that it's okay to say no to an invitation if you're not feeling well, or to reschedule if a prospective guest tells you they've got a little cold. Sometimes, little colds can turn into big problems for little babies, but if we all work together we can make them safer during RSV season.

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It's one of the most common, and often frustrating questions moms of infants hear: "Is she sleeping through the night?" But new research from McGill University suggests parents shouldn't worry if their child doesn't reach this milestone by six months of age or even a year old.

The study, to be published in the December edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, found a large percentage of developmentally normal, healthy babies don't sleep through the night by a year old, and are not at increased risk for delays in cognitive, language or motor development as a result.

"If there was only one thing I could tell parents, it would be do not worry if your infant does not sleep through the night at six months of age," the study's lead researcher, Marie-Hélène Pennestri told NBC News.

Sleeping through the night, also known as consolidating sleep, was defined in the study as six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. At six months of age, 38% of typically developing infants were not yet sleeping six consecutive hours at night, and more than half — 57% — weren't sleeping eight hours. At 12 months old, 28% of infants weren't yet sleeping six hours straight at night, and 43% weren't staying asleep for eight hours.

So if your baby isn't sleeping through the night you are not alone, mama.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study is dispelling the notion that interrupted sleep in the first year could cause developmental problems. "In the present sample of typically developing infants, we were unable to find any significant associations between sleeping through the night at 6 or 12 months of age and variations in mental or psychomotor development," the study concluded.

The researchers gleaned information from a longitudinal birth survey of mothers and their babies and followed the babies until they were three years old. They looked at surveys of parents of 388 infants aged up to six months, then checked in with 360 of them at 12 months.

While sleep undoubtedly plays a fundamental role in child development, total sleep, including naps, might be more important than getting eight consecutive hours, the researchers wrote.

Child development isn't the only concern however when examining infant sleep patterns. Some parents may worry that lack of sleep increases their risk of developing depression. While it's true that sleep is critical for mental health, the researchers also found no direct link between how often babies woke at night, and the mother's postnatal mood, but rather that overall sleep plays a bigger role.

A mom who is able to catch up on sleep and nap during the day for instance, may be less affected by sleep deprivation even if she is up frequently through the night.

"Maternal sleep deprivation is often invoked to support the introduction of early behavioral interventions, but it may be that mothers' expectations about being awakened at night along with the total number of hours they sleep over the course of a day are better predictors of maternal well-being," the study's authors wrote. "It is something that will need to be considered in future studies."

While it wasn't definitively clear to researchers why some babies slept long stretches and others didn't, the researchers did find that babies who were breastfed were more likely to wake up at least once during the night. "This association was present at six and 12 months of age as measured by both the 6-and 8-hour criteria. It's not clear why and more research is needed," the authors wrote, noting that breastfeeding offers many benefits for babies and mothers.

Sleeping through the night between the ages of 6 and 12 months is widely regarded as an important developmental milestone, but Pennestri says not all infants conform to this classic developmental timeline. While increasing percentages of infants sleep through the night as they grow, they also show major interindividual differences.

"Our findings suggest parents might benefit from more education about the normal development of—and wide variability in—infants' sleep-wake cycles instead of only focusing on methods and interventions, especially for those who feel stressed about methods such as delayed response to crying," she says.

Every baby is an individual after all, and whether they sleep through the night at 4 months or 14 months, they all eventually develop and reach milestones in their own time.

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