A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Right from the start of her pregnancy, actress Claire Holt knew that one of her biggest challenges in giving birth was going to be the lack of control she would have over the process. She was partly right. Her labor and delivery of baby James Holt Joblon in March involved more plot twists than an episode of her former TV show, The Originals.

Through induced labor, a sunny-side-up baby, and a scary situation called shoulder dystocia, Holt faced a number of difficult urgent decisions and a lot more pain than she'd anticipated. She gave a detailed account of it all to prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin for the Informed Pregnancy podcast. For any parents-to-be, this is a vivid example of what might happen when you have to throw that birth plan out the window.

"I'm not great at not being in control," Holt, who also appeared on The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, told Berlin. But after hearing her story, we have to disagree.

To induce or not to induce?

Having suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks just five months before getting pregnant with James, Holt experienced some justifiable anxiety in her first trimester. She had allowed herself to relax later in the pregnancy, though, but the last few weeks were tough for her.

"I was tremendously uncomfortable at the end," she said, describing both physical pain and the return of her anxiety, which kept her up all night watching Netflix comedy specials.

Complicating matters, her trusted doctor informed Holt that she would be leaving for a medical mission in Guatemala by the 39th week of Holt's term. That alone probably wouldn't have been enough justification for her to induce labor early— there are other doctors, after all. But then the doctor said her baby was on track to be 10 lbs at birth, and they weren't able to measure his heart properly in utero.

So, while Holt tried every trick in the book to induce her labor naturally, including walking for miles, bouncing on balls and getting foot massages, eventually she needed the help of modern medicine.

Sunny-side-up and Foley balloons: Not as fun as they sound

Holt is refreshingly open about every measure doctors took for induction. It began with membrane stripping, in which the doctor used her finger to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of the uterus. That was enough to start the process, but not very quickly, so she checked into the hospital for the next steps.

"When I got there they checked me, and they said that he was sunny-side-up," Holt said. This is when the baby is facing in the same direction as his mother, so when she had contractions, his spine was grinding against hers, causing what's called back labor.

The doctors next gave her Cervidil, a vaginal suppository to relax the cervix. After a few hours, they added a mechanical means to dilate her, the Foley balloon. It's literally a balloon inserted into the uterus and then filled with saline solution.

"I like some balloons, I did not like this one," Holt said.

A case for the walking epidural

"I remember saying to my sister, 'I've broken both my feet, I've had compound fractures; this feels like everything breaking at the same time,'" Holt said.

Finally, her doula arrived on the scene, and Holt eventually asked for a walking epidural. As Berlin explained not all hospitals give this form of epidural, which is mild enough to allow patients to feel their feet so they can stand up. Holt was immediately relieved that she had this option. It also allowed Holt's doula to be able to flip her baby to face the right way, easing her pain more.

Still, hours later, Holt opted for the full epidural just before finally being able to push baby James out.

One last twist to the story

At first, this stage went fairly quickly, with his head popping out after several minutes of pushing. But then the final complication occurred: His shoulders got stuck in her pelvis. Called shoulder dystocia, this situation can put the baby at risk of nerve damage or asphyxiation, and it can put the mother at risk of hemorrhaging. Fortunately for Holt, her doctor had it handled.

"She has these really tiny little hands and she got her hand in there and she dislodged his shoulder," Holt said.

After all of this, James was finally out. He weighed a healthy 8 lbs, 4 oz, not the promised 10 lbs. Holt doesn't regret her decision to induce, however.

Motherhood so far has had its challenges for Holt. In April she posted an Instagram of herself after a difficult feed that left her feeling like a failure. "Exhausted, in pain, feeling defeated," she wrote of her emotions at the time. "I've had many moments like this since my son arrived. My only concern is making sure his needs are met, yet I often feel that I'm falling short."

Things have gotten easier since then, she told Berlin. "It's very funny, right when he came out I wanted four [children]," she said. "After the first month, I wanted to give him back. And then, and now I want 10. I just love it so much."

We can't wait for the stories of those births, too!

You might also like:

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

[Editor's note: This article describes one parent's experience with bed-sharing. To learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations please visit the AAP.]

Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself asleep with your child next to you in bed. (🙋🏽♀️)While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, they discourage bed-sharing, particularly in the first four months of a baby's life, due to safety concerns.

But the reality is that many parents fall asleep with their babies next to them in bed. Whether it's because your baby won't sleep without those cuddles, because you've drifted off while nursing, because you didn't have the heart to put a sick baby in their crib, or because your doctor has given you the okay to snooze alongside your babe, bed-sharing is very much a thing.

And Tia Mowry is getting real about her experience with it.

When asked about her most "non-traditional" parenting move, Tia shared that she's a big-time bed-sharer. "My 1-year-old [daughter, Cairo] is still in my bed," the actress said during an interview with PEOPLE. "Ever since she was born she was always in our bed." But this isn't her first experience with co-sleeping: Tia also shared that she slept with her son until he was 4 years old.

FEATURED VIDEO

Tia is hardly alone when it comes to sleeping with her kids. A 2016 study found that only about 44% of survey responders never slept with their babies in bed with them—and that those who slept with their babies were more likely to keep breastfeeding for the recommended six months. Fellow celeb Kourtney Kardashian is a co-sleeper, and many mamas find that while they didn't plan to co-sleep, it is what works for them. That's why there are even special co-sleeping beds big enough for parents and kids.

But as popular as co-sleeping is, it can still be seen as controversial. Even Tia's own mom isn't on board with the Sister Sister star's decision to bed-share with her kids. "[My mom is] like, 'You need to do the cry-out method. Put your baby in the crib. And I'm like, 'No!' I don't want my baby to have any sign of stress whatsoever," Tia explains.

Whichever side of the line you fall on, one thing is clear: Sometimes parents need to do things they never expected to do in the name of more sleep. When it comes to parenting, there's only one absolute: You have to do what keeps your family safe, healthy and happy. And while we'd urge all mamas to familiarize themselves with child safety guidelines, ultimately we all have to make the choices that are best for our families.

You might also like:

News

Last month Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, shared a story no parent would every want to. Their son, River, drowned at their home—and despite attempts to revive him—the little boy died tragically at just 3 years old. But River's parents managed to find some good in this absolutely devastating loss: They chose to donate their son's organs, saving two lives in the process.

River's mom, Amber, opened up about this choice in a heartbreaking Instagram post.

"I've always known I wanted to be a donor if anything were to ever happen to me," Amber writes alongside a photo of River. "Never in a million years did I think I would be making that decision for my baby."

Our hearts hurt so badly for this mama—but we're also amazed by her ability to find a way to turn her worst-case scenario into a lifesaving measure for other families.

Amber shares more about her family's gut-wrenching experience in the post, writing that doctors told Amber and Granger their son had no chance of brain recovery. As shocking as that was to hear, the parents knew they wanted to donate River's organs as there are so many people who need donations to survive.

That choice began a three-day process of determining which organs could be donated and which recipients would be appropriate. Amber shares excruciating details about the night before River's operation.

 River's organs saved two adults

"I spent the night laying in bed with him, crying and talking to him while they kept running tests and taking blood. The next morning family and staff lined the hall for the 'walk of honor.' We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone. Granger and I held each other and cried," Amber writes.

It's all so terribly tragic...but the outcome is bittersweet. Amber and Granger received a letter explaining that River's organs saved two adults, a 49-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man. Amber calls the decision to donate her precious son's organs the hardest and easiest of her life.

Our thoughts continue to be with River's family. We can't even imagine what they're going through, but their strength and grace in the face of all this is incredible—and we hope they'll always find comfort in the fact that little River left a beautiful, heroic, lifesaving legacy behind.

You might also like:

News

Many new parents receive the confusing news that their newborn baby has a tongue-tie. It means the skin attaching their tongues to the bottom of their mouths is longer than normal. And while this condition can cause complications from infancy on, a new study shows that not all newborns need to get surgery to correct it.

The condition is known as ankyloglossia, which occurs in 4-10% of people, usually looks like nothing but an extra strip of skin under the tongue. But because that skin (called the lingual frenulum) acts like a taut rubber band restricting movement, babies with a tongue-tie often have difficulty forming a good latch to nurse. This can mean they don't get enough milk, so they have to nurse for longer. Meanwhile, they're causing their mother a whole lot of pain because their latch is shallower and mostly clamping down on the tip of the nipple.

I speak from experience here: When my son had a tongue-tie, it felt like I was feeding an angry piranha. He was definitely not getting enough to eat, and my milk supply was steadily decreasing.

But this new study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery suggests that not all babies diagnosed with ankyloglossia need to undergo a frenotomy—a simple procedure in which a doctor snips the skin with a pair of surgical scissors.

FEATURED VIDEO

Infants don't usually need anesthesia, because this tissue doesn't have many nerve endings or blood vessels. Their mother is asked to breastfeed them immediately after the snip, to get the tongue moving properly and reduce the chance of the skin growing back. According to the Mayo Clinic, complications from frenotomies include bleeding, infection and damage to the tongue or salivary glands, but they are rare.

What's not rare is the number of patients getting frenotomies: Referrals for the procedure in the U.S. went up tenfold, from 1,200 in 1997 to 12,400 in 2012.

"We have seen the number of tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries increase dramatically nationwide without any real strong evidence that shows they are effective for breastfeeding," study co-author Christopher J. Hartnick, MD MS, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said in a press release.

The researchers looked at 115 infants (between 19-56 days old) who were referred for a frenotomy. Instead of sending them straight into surgery, the babies and their parents met with a pediatric speech-language pathologist for a feeding evaluation. These specialists observed the babies breastfeeding and gave parents feedback and tips to overcome any challenges they were experiencing. After this, 72 (62.6%) patients did not have the frenotomy after all, while 10 (8.7%) had a labial frenotomy (releasing extra tissue from the lips) and 32 (27.8%) had both a labial and lingual frenotomy.

"We don't have a crystal ball that can tell us which infants might benefit most from the surgeries, but this preliminary study provides concrete evidence that this pathway of a multidisciplinary feeding evaluation is helping prevent babies from getting this procedure," Hartnick said.

For now, parents' best bet is to consult more than one specialist to identify the best plan of action. In addition to lactation consultants, children with tongue-ties might need to see speech pathologists later. In some cases, the frenulum loosens over time. In others, they might wind up needing the procedure after all.

Anecdotally, I'll add that I visited with lactation consultants and my son's pediatrician more than once before deciding he should have a frenotomy. It was no fun for me (who wants a strange man sticking scissors in their baby's mouth?), but my kid was fine. It didn't solve all our problems, but feeding was much less painful immediately afterward.

The bottom line here seems to be that not everyone needs to rush into a procedure just because it's easy. Our kiddos deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach to their health.

You might also like:





News

Baby Archie is a busy little guy. All eyes were on him at his recent christening, and when he showed up to watch his dad play at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day he (and his cute cousins) stole the show.

The main event is supposed to be Prince Harry and Prince William facing off as opponents in the charity polo match, but really, Archie was the star.

The newest little royal was comfy in his mama's arms on Wednesday, getting lots of love from the Duchess as the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge played polo.

This marks Archie's first public outing and he wore a cute little white romper for the casual event. His mom wore a simple olive green Lisa Marie Fernandez dress and Givenchy aviator sunglasses. Archie's aunt, Kate Middleton, wore a dress she's worn before, a cute pink LK Bennet outfit with her classic Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Check out all the photos from Archie's adorable day out with the royal family:

Baby Archie was chilling with his mama while his cousin Prince Louis was hanging with his own mama just behind them and seemed to be a lot more active than little Archie.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.