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Giving birth means going into debt for some mothers in America, but why?

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For American parents, the reward in childbirth is, of course, the baby. Yet, the existing incentives in the healthcare industry are all backward: Costs for mothers and babies continue to climb as health outcomes worsen. And behind these statistics are real parents who often feel out of control or unprepared for the bills that follow a baby's birth.

That's why when Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion writer at The Washington Post who is currently on maternity leave, tweeted a photo of her hospital bill with the caption "$8,000 to give birth. son of a b", the tweet went viral.

Her mentions quickly filled with photos of other families' hospital bills, stories of impossibly high bills and stories from parents who gave birth in other countries (and walked out of the hospital with a baby and no bill at all).

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With more than 100,000 Twitter followers, Bruenig was perfectly positioned to prompt a conversation about the cost of giving birth in America, and we're glad she did. Because she is far from the only mother dealing with this. Giving birth in America means going into debt for some mothers.

Here are some of their stories:

When she was expecting her second child in 2009, Jessica Pennington was already well aware of the steep costs associated with giving birth in the United States. Hoping to brace for the financial impact, Pennington and her then-husband set aside close to $2,000 to pay the bills that were sure to follow her hospital delivery—despite their private insurance coverage.

"I had no way of knowing the birth was going to be anything but normal," Pennington tells Motherly.

A 2013 report prepared by Truven Health Analytics based on 2010 data shows Pennington could have expected a bill of approximately $3,400 for a standard vaginal delivery or $5,100 for a cesarean birth.

But all did not go according to plan.

Endometriosis further weakened Pennington's uterus after her first birth and the strain of pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, caused Pennington's uterus to "split like a banana peel."

Thankfully her baby was unaffected by the traumatic delivery, but doctors had to fight to first save Pennington's life and then her reproductive system—even though she says a hysterectomy would have been her first choice if she or her husband had been consulted.

"They were using things like brand new technologies they never used before," Pennington says, adding surgeons performed a hysterectomy after exhausting their other options. "One procedure alone was $40,000 and it didn't work."

By the time she was released from the hospital, the costs for her medical care topped $140,000. After petitioning for more insurance coverage, that left Pennington and her ex with a bill of $30,000—an unfathomable amount on their full-time student, part-time employee budgets.

"My education got put on hold so that I could make any kind of money to even buy groceries," Pennington says, adding the couple was initially unable to make the minimum $150 monthly payments. "Now, looking back it doesn't seem like much, but when you're not working and trying to pay for college and trying to raise two kids and maintain a normal house and lifestyle and groceries, it was just unheard of."

Childbirth costs in the United States continue to climb, even as outcomes worsen

Although Pennington's experience was more dramatic than most, even by-the-books deliveries come with growing price tags for American families: According to the report prepared by Truven Health Analytics, out-of-pocket costs for maternal care quadrupled from between 2004 and 2010.

Upon a close inspection of bills, some medical charges may seem exorbitant—such as a single pill of acetaminophen (or Tylenol) topping $30, according to the 2016 Trends in Hospital Inpatient Drug Costs report from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Other charges may even be inexplicable. That was the case for Amy Sallie, a mother of four, who delivered her second baby on the floor of the emergency room minutes after walking into the hospital.

"Here's the fun thing, I got billed for all of the normal expenses," Sallie tells Motherly. "Labor and delivery room, all the normal stuff. And I'm just thinking like, 'I literally gave birth in your hallway. What are you talking about?'"

For parents who are trying to navigate life with a newborn, it can be hard enough to scan the intrapartum bills in detail—let alone figure out how to start debating charges or requesting more insurance coverage. To limit potential surprises, Hector De La Torre, executive director of Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS), tells Motherly that expectant families should consider their health insurance options and make sure they will be in-network for care.

"A substantial subset of millennials do not feel very informed about the health insurance options available to them and find decision making about health insurance plans difficult," he says.

While costs have been rising, outcomes for mothers have been worsening: According to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate in the United States has steadily climbed since the mid-1980s. This gives America the distinction of having the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, according to a 2016 report published in the journal The Lancet.

The current maternal healthcare system rewards complications

The current rate of cesarean births in the United States is nearly 32%, which is more than double the number that is estimated to be medically necessary by the World Health Organization. This single data point is representative of the larger trend of intervention-intensive maternity care, which is often not in the best interest of low-risk mothers—or their bank accounts.

"Birth costs are inflated by probably a lot of things that people don't need and things that can also unintentionally pose harm," says Carol Sakala, Director of Childbirth Connection Programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families, which collaborated with Truven Health Analytics on the 2013 report. "You have a greater likelihood of things like bleeding and infection and so forth when you're taking surgical steps and giving powerful drugs."

While options such as medically inducing labor or offering an epidural are often presented as "not an issue" to mothers, Sakala says these steps may be the start of "a very intervention-intensive birth for a population that is by and large low-risk and healthy."

However, the dominant healthcare structure doesn't actually offer incentives for positive outcomes.

"The essential point is that the fee for service system we have now, adding up all these different fees from all these different services, is not tied in the least to value," Sakala says. "It doesn't matter if you did something that was a good thing to do or not, it doesn't matter if you got a good outcome or not."

'We're heading in the direction' of a better option

Although it hasn't yet been reflected by healthcare costs or outcomes, Sakala says there is reason to be optimistic due to a growing movement behind "bundled" or episode-based care. Currently offered through Medicaid programs in Ohio, Tennessee and Arkansas, as well as with some Cigna plans, this payment structure controls the costs for families and encourages better outcomes from the very start of maternal care.

Unlike the current standard, this system rewards healthcare providers for positive outcomes—such as lower rates of C-sections and higher rates of breastfeeding—or, in some cases, penalizes them for negative outcomes.

"Now it gets their attention that they're not only providing services and business as usual, as we are accustomed to in the current cultural ethos of maternity care," Sakala says, "but they are paying attention to what is going to get the best outcome and trying to work together to do that."

What can expectant parents do to control costs?

For what it says about transparency in the healthcare system in general, it is actually difficult to find estimates for childbirth costs in the United States. De La Torre recommends expectant parents familiarize themselves with their insurance policies from the beginning of maternal care. And tools such as that provided by the non-profit consumer group FAIR Health can help individuals estimate childbirth costs in their own states.

Beyond that, remember you are your best advocate. One surprising finding from the Truven Health Analytics report is that uninsured women paid less on average for childbirth services than mothers with insurance. The reason behind that may be twofold—and comes with a lesson for all families: For one, uninsured women may be slower to accept unnecessary interventions, which lowers their overall costs.

They may also be more proactive about petitioning their bills, which is something all families can do. As Sakala says, "This figure told me that hospitals by and large are ready to negotiate."

Looking back on her experience, Pennington says her insurance company was also easy enough to work with—but it was the pure scope of their debt that cast a shadow over a time that should have been happier.

"To be honest, the whole first year after that was a blur," she says. "It was rough. I think we have everything paid off now, eight and a half years later, but every once and a while something will creep up from 2009 and we're like, 'Oh my gosh.'"

[A version of this story was first published April 17, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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Raising kids is such hard work, but the parents of the internet are inspiring us this week. The viral stories taking over our feeds this week remind us that whether a mama is working hard to deliver her baby, or working hard to teach her child a great work ethic, it all comes down to showing up for the ones you care about...and sometimes that means taking a bit of a creative approach.

These are the stories that made us smile this week:

This emotional viral video has us crying at this dad's commitment to supporting his wife during birth

Earlier this month, Kendall Caver became a new dad and he earned that title by supporting his wife through her a long labor.

In the now viral video which has been watched millions of times. Caver holds up a series of cards while his wife, Jasmine, looks on from her hospital bed. As his wife prepares to have their baby, Carver is flipping through the story of his life with Jasmine and offering words of encouragement.

In his original post to his Facebook page, Caver captioned the video with the sweetest statement. He wrote: "Encouraging my Wife through 2 days of labor 😙☺️ Last night my Warrior Wife gave birth to a beautiful Baby Girl!"

"Breathe, just like we've been practicing," the first card reads.

His cards tell the story of a couple on a 10-year journey, who are best friends who love each other deeply and supported each other through a previous pregnancy loss.

"I would do it all over again to know the indescribable happiness I know today," Carver wrote on one of the cards.

(Are you crying yet?)

"You are my best friend...soulmate...and in just a few pushes...you'll be the most amazing mother our daughter could ever ask for."

Jasmine pushed through, and the couple welcomed their daughter, Sofia, earlier this month.

And this family's beautiful love story continues.

This mom created a household hiring event to teach her kids about earning money

As parents, we're constantly trying to find that balance between caring for our children and teaching them to be independent. We want them to enjoy childhood, of course, but we also want to prepare them for adulthood. And one mother found an incredibly smart, creative way to teach her children about the realities of earning money.

Shaketha Marion McGregor is going viral after sharing a post showcasing her system. We can't say we're surprised: This mama went all out to create a "hiring event" to allow her children to earn allowance money.

"So, my children continue to ask for a new cell phone, an allowance, and to go places," the mom writes in the now-viral Facebook post. "Yesterday I told them that I've heard their requests and that I'll have a surprise for them today when they get home from school. SURPRISE!!! It's a whole hiring event! 😂 If you want it, work for it, earn it!"

Shaketha's photos show the incredible detail involved in her hiring event. She created three positions (kitchen manager, lead housekeeper and laundry supervisor) complete with job descriptor for each one, and scheduled a time for interviews for each position. Her children were asked to fill out applications for each job—and she even set up a credit union!

Let's just say the mama didn't take the job application process lightly. "Well you guys, the interviews are done and I'm still laughing!!!" she writes in a follow-up Facebook post. "I'm going to make my son reapply and interview again because he laughed 90% of the time.My 10yr old would sometimes start speaking in an English accent like that would help her. And my 6yr old surprised me the most. She was super professional."

Shaketha even sent her son a rejection letter to inform him the position he applied to had been filled.

We love this mama's system so much! We know there are huge benefits that come when children do chores, and we can say from firsthand experience that adjusting to the world of job applications and bill paying can be really tough if you've never learned about it.

This mom has found a way to teach her kids some really important lessons while having a little bit of fun in the process...and they'll undoubtedly be prepared to navigate adulthood when the time comes.

This little girl's viral video proves football talent isn't gender-specific

As News 5 Cleveland reports, a third grade student in Ohio is gaining viral fame for the impressive football skills she displayed in a recent gym class. Physical Education teacher Kent Hamilton posted the clip on Twitter. His student, Emma, is a soccer player and the teacher came up with a super cool way for her to practice kicking.

He projected an image of a field goal on the gym wall, and Emma proved it was almost too easy.

Emma's impressive kick has been seen millions of times, and Carli Lloyd, a member of the Woman's U.S. Soccer team who trained with NFL teams, retweeted it.

Emma's gym teacher thinks Lloyd (and Emma) prove professional football may soon include women. "I don't think a female player in the NFL is that far off. This is proof our future is bright for girls," Hamilton said.

It takes a lot of grit for girls to get into the sport as there are few leagues for them, but in recent years more and more goals have been making names for themselves in the boy's leagues.

From the 11-year-old quarterback leading her team in the North Dakota Youth Football League to the Michigan linebacker doing double duty as Homecoming Queen, these girls should be proof to everyone that they have a place in traditionally male-dominated sports.

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We all have pictures in our heads of what birth looks like even before we give birth. Sometimes these pictures are based on births we've witnessed in real life, but often our brains paint these pictures with memories of images we've seen on television or double-tapped on Instagram.

That is why we love how moms are posting their clear drape C-sections on Instagram, showing the world that this new kind of Cesarean delivery can be absolutely beautiful. By posting these pictures, mothers and birth photographers aren't just proving that C-section births are just as Insta-worthy as every other way women deliver, but they are also spreading awareness about clear drape C-sections, which are also known as "gentle Cesareans."

It is important for mamas to know that this is an option you can ask for and it is so beautiful.

What is a clear drape C-section? 

A clear drape C-section can be part of the trend medical professionals call "gentle Cesareans." The clear drape replaces the standard opaque blue one so that mama can look down and see her baby's first moments (although you can still have a gentle Cesarean even if you can't have a clear drape—we'll show you a great photo of what that can look like in a moment).

Basically, the clear drapes are part of a shift midwives and doctors are making to make Cesareans deliveries feel more like births and less like a cold medical procedure. The old standard ways of doing Cesareans have not been working for moms—so birth advocates and medical professionals are working to change that.

Just because a baby needs to be born via cesarean doesn't mean mama can't be a participant in her birth experience.

"Gentle Cesareans are a huge step in the right direction. We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman's lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth," says Motherly's Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

Why the option of clear drapes is so important 

That first time you see your baby is so special and amazing, and most mothers want to see their child as soon as that baby is out in the world. But for many moms an opaque sheet can get in the way. According to the CDC, almost 32% of all births in America are C-sections. In Canada, the rate is just under 29%, and the UK sees a similar rate. A 2018 Instagram poll by Motherly found about 41% of participants had given birth via C-section.

So there's potential to help a lot of mothers feel more at ease in the OR. The gentle cesarean method isn't just about letting mama see her baby earlier, it's also about letting her bond with her baby sooner.

Gentle Cesareans are also about respecting that this isn't just a surgery, it is a birth, too. "When it's time for the baby to be born, the doctors help ease the baby out slowly—head, shoulder, abdomen, and then legs—much like what happens in a vaginal birth. Skin-to-skin bonding is often done right in the OR, and sometimes breastfeeding can even be initiated there too," says Spalding.

The gentle C-section lets mama be present 

Some people don't want clear drapes, but for other mothers, the clear drapes are a way for them to experience their birth from the vantage point they imagined for the life-changing moment. "With the clear drape, the woman has the ability to look down and actually watch her baby be born (don't worry—she won't be able to see much of the actual surgery because her belly will be in the way)," Spalding explains.

Because of the angle mothers aren't getting a close-up look at the surgical part of the procedure, so clear drape cesareans aren't as gory as some would assume. It's really more similar to how a vaginal birth happens in that mom is not seeing everything the doctors are, but is able to see her baby as soon as possible, and that is something to smile about.

C-section births are births and need to be respected 

A gentle Cesarean is a more holistic approach to a standard C-section because it brings the focus back on mom as a person, not as a belly in need of surgery. Often, medical teams try to make gentle C-sections as family-focused as possible, and sometimes are even able to accommodate parts of a mother's birth plan that would be abandoned with a traditional C-section, like incorporating music or other therapeutic, relaxing elements.

It's about making the operating room as pleasant a place as possible and respecting mom.

Gentle Cesareans still happen without the clear drapes

Sometimes, for medical reasons, hospital policy or because mama requests it, the clear drapes are not an option. But that doesn't mean that mom can't have a gentle Cesarean. Even with traditional blue drapes, medical teams are making efforts to help mama and baby bond as soon as possible.

Sometimes, that means there's a little window in the sheet and baby gets passed through to mom for instant skin-to skin-contact. Other times, it looks different, depending on medical need.

We love how mothers and birth photographers are sharing these stories and photos because one thing is as clear as the drapes: C-sections are just as beautiful as every other kind of birth.

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When kids enter puberty we warn them about the change. We tell them their bodies are changing and that it's normal and natural and they're beautiful just as they are. But when women become mothers and their bodies—and brains—change, we are not offered the same affirmations and comfort as adolescents. Society tells children to accept the ways their bodies stretch, grow and shift to carry them through adulthood, but it tells the women who carry these children in their own bodies to fight change at all costs.

Luckily, that is changing. Women are standing up and saying what society should have been telling us all along: Yes, motherhood changes your body, but that change is beautiful.

And now, in a brilliant move that is both excellent marketing and empowering, hundreds of women are putting their postpartum bodies on display. The act is a powerful statement to themselves and to other mothers: Our bodies are meant to evolve and change, and you are normal and natural and beautiful just as you are.

Knix is selling underwear, but the brand is also creating real change with a project called The Life After Birth Project, which saw 250 photos of real moms exhibited in an NYC gallery before rolling into Knix's hometown, Toronto, Canada, this week.

The photos are refreshingly real and exactly what women need to see in 2019.

The Life After Birth Project shows the beauty and reality of postpartum healing 

One of the most damaging myths about postpartum recovery is that it is quick. It isn't. It actually takes about six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. The bump doesn't instantly disappear because it took 9 months to grow. A mother's body needs time to heal after birth, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but too many mothers aren't given that time.

In the United States, so many working moms are back at their job within five weeks of giving birth, and even if paid work isn't a factor, unpaid labor and family obligations can have mothers doing too much too soon.

As Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, has said, "You would never expect someone to clean their house a few days after having surgery, or to run errands when they are getting over the flu—so why do we expect ourselves to snap out of giving birth? Pregnancy and birth are not ailments, but they are the real deal. Be gentle on yourself, and allow your body to heal."

Mothers should not be embarrassed by their changing bodies 

A recent survey found more than a third of women (37%) felt embarrassed by what their body was going through after birth. This is not okay, and it is why we need more projects like the The Life After Birth Project and more companies doing what Knix is doing.

That is why celebrities like Jillian Harris, pictured above, stepped up and shared photos of their own postpartum experiences for the Life After Birth project.

Yes, Jillian is wearing mesh panties and a giant pad in the above photo. But that's part of the journey and nothing to be embarrassed about.

We need to see our stories represented and know that this is normal.

More photos from #LifeAfterBirth

Four pregnancies in four years. This mama has been through so much and has some serious advice: "I wish our always busy culture recognized it more and gave new mothers patience and grace."

So do we Amy, so do we.

See the gallery in person

The Life After Birth Project is currently in Toronto but the next stop is Los Angeles on October 24.

The gallery will keep touring the US, too.

Stops are planned in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. if you want to submit your own photos, tag @lifeafterbirthproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email your photos to lifeafterbirth@knix.com.

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Getting kids back into a school year sleep routine is hard work. There were so many reasons for kids to stay up over the summer, like fireworks, campfires and the fact that the sun itself has been staying up so late.

Incrementally later bedtimes happen slowly over the summer, and at this time of year, parents are looking to reset the clock fast. But when you're six years old and you've spent the last couple months basically living a life of Saturdays, it might take some convincing to get you under the covers early.

Enter the Disney Bedtime Hotline. From September 16 to 30 parents in the United States and Canada can call 1-877-7-MICKEY at bedtime and a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character will tell your kids to go to bed.

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Mickey, Spider-Man, Yoda, Elsa, Princess Jasmine, Woody and other beloved characters are on the line, waiting to tell kids a little story before bed .

The Disney bedtime hotline may sound silly, but getting kids back into a bedtime routine (especially when they've grown used to staying up as late as the summer sun) is serious business.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and when summer ends, kids no longer have the option of sleeping in a bit on weekdays. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes even further, recommending between 9 and 12 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 12 years old. Kids 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hour (including naps).

"Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life," said Wendy Hall, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine panel that made those recommendations explained after their release.

"Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity," Hall, a sleep specialist and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia continued.

"Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better," she explained. "Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a five-year-old who starts school at 8:00am (and needs an hour or so to get ready, eat and commute) should be going to bed at 8 or 9:00pm.

If your child's school starts early, or they have a long bus or car ride to get to school, you may have to call Mickey even earlier.

Thanks for the help, Disney.

[A version of this post was originally published August 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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