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This is birth: Bekah Martinez's serene + empowered waterbirth

There are so many ways that birth can happen, but growing up many of us only saw one version of it played out again and again in movies and television. There's a woman in a hospital bed, screaming. And while many moms do certainly experience birth in a hospital bed, many don't. And many times the act of giving birth is very different from how it's been portrayed in popular media.

That's why we started our This is: Birth film series—to give representation to the many varied ways women give birth. That's also why we love how former Bachelor star Bekah Martinez shared video of her water birth with her followers and with Motherly. Unlike the versions of birth we often see on television, Bekah's wasn't quick and it didn't happen in a maternity ward. She laboured for at home for 28 hours before heading to the birthing centre to welcome baby Ruth into the world.

We applaud Bekah for sharing this experience with her followers, because a recent survey published in the journal Reproductive Health journal found one out of six moms in the United States experience things like "loss of autonomy; being shouted at, scolded, or threatened; and being ignored, refused, or receiving no response to requests for help." while giving birth, and Bekah's video shows moms (and care providers) that there is another way to do this. And it is beautiful.

Watch Bekah's birth film here:

While we always say that birth plans can change, it is good to know what you want and don't want, and to prepare in ways that make sense to you. Bekah did a lot of prep for her birth, she basically trained for it (which makes sense, giving birth is harder on the body than running a marathon!) so when the hard parts came, she was ready.

"Strangely enough my favorite part of the birth experience was the long hours on contractions. I had 'trained' so hard — hypnobirthing classes, meditating, reading TONS of Ina May's writing — that when the time came I was able to fully relax and surrender my body to do its job," Bekah tells Motherly. "People have commented on how in-control I appear, but it was quite the opposite. I surrendered all my control and it made the experience so much more peaceful."

For Bekah, this beautiful birth was the result of many hours of contemplation and. even more importantly, conversation with those who could support and advocate for her when the time came.

"I do encourage other women to be VERY straightforward with their doulas about their expectations— at what point do want them to arrive? How hands-on do you want them to be? Draw up a specific plan with your doula about the extent and timing of their involvement."

Mom stepped in to be Bekah's doula 

Like we said, we always say that birth plans can change, and Bekah's did. Her own mother ended up taking a more active role in Ruth's birth than originally planned, and Bekah was so grateful to have here there.

"I always knew I wanted my mother there, though I had no idea how involved she would end up being. We had initially hired a doula, but unfortunately she was far less present at the birth than we anticipated, so my mother became my doula instantly and I couldn't have asked for better support. Her presence was so comforting and reassuring. I found so much strength through her."

At the moment of Ruth's birth, three generations of women shared an experience that represents the beginning of a new life, not just for Ruth but also for her mama and grandmother.

You can advocate for yourself at any age 

There's been a demographic shift in the United States in recent years when it comes to motherhood. The average age of first-time mothers in America is now older than 26, and Bekah was just shy of 24 when Ruth was born. This obviously did not stop Bekah from advocating for herself and her baby, but some younger moms do find that people don't take them seriously, which is all the more reason to understand that you are in charge of your body and birth and that medical care providers need to respect and listen to you.

Bekah suggests that moms know what they want going into birth, because that makes a woman less vulnerable to interventions or treatment she doesn't want.

"I think it's so important that women are aware of their options and the situations they're going into. Know the possible risks and outcomes of 'routine' procedures. Educate yourself on your provider's policies. Listen to your gut. Always remember that YOU have the final say in what happens to your body and child. You are powerful and more capable than you think!"

Bekah's power is so evident in this video.

Thanks Bekah!

Check out more inspiring birth films in our curated "This is: Birth" film series.

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

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

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

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.

$23

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.

$20

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.

$12.50

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.

$47

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.

$25

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.

$59

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.

$36

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.

$99

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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