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Formula feeding mamas don’t feel supported—and that needs to change

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It's an amazing substance that provides our babies with the nutrients they need, and mamas hate to waste a drop. We could be talking about breastmilk, or we could be talking about formula, but it doesn't really matter because they both feed babies and are both amazing in different ways.

What does matter is that In 2018, mothers are no longer being grouped based on whether they feed their babies with a bottle or breast. The social media conversations around infant feeding— once known for being divisive discussions—are changing, and more and more moms are feeling included and supported in their infant feeding choices, even by moms whose choices aren't the same as their own.

Now, though, it's time for those who support mothers—physicians, midwives and those leading mom and baby support groups—to offer "solid, sensitive, personalized advice" to all mothers. This, says Suzanne Barston, the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't, is the key to creating a shame-free infant feeding experience.

"My hope is that that will be the next frontier. I think we've conquered the social media thing," says Barston, who has witnessed the evolution of online discussion of infant feeding go from "beast is breast" to "fed is best" since launching her blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder nearly a decade ago.

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Times have changed

"I think it's a very different experience being a parent who uses formula now than it was when I started doing this work back in 2008," Barston tells Motherly. "I've actually seen quite a positive turn I would say in the last two years."

According to Barston, moms who physically can't breastfeed or who don't produce enough milk are more supported now than ever before, thanks in large part to the efforts of organizations like The Fed is Best Foundation and its co-founders, Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi and B. Jody Segrave-Daly, who advocate against formula stigma in an effort to protect babies from dehydration and starvation.

There's been a big shift in how people speak to and about moms who choose to supplement with formula, but according to Barston, what hasn't changed is the perception that moms should at least try to breastfeed before switching to or supplementing with formula. "There is support for people who cannot breastfeed, who have physical limitations, but I still don't think people look at choosing to formula feed from the get-go as a legitimate choice," she says.

Mom is qualified to choose

While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, it also officially recognizes that a baby's mother "is uniquely qualified to decide whether exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding or formula feeding is optimal for her and her infant."

Unfortunately, some moms still don't feel like they're being supported if they choose to use formula, says Barston, who believes health care provides are still approaching infant feeding education as if breastfeeding needs to be sold to mothers, but she believes it's not a lack of education, but a lack of societal supports that contribute to low breastfeeding rates.

"Whether you're feeling physically uncomfortable from your birth or you have to make dinner for your two other kids or you have to go back to work in three weeks, those are all very real issues that women have to deal with and no amount of awareness or education about breastfeeding changes," she explains.

And even if we woke up tomorrow to find paid parental leave and lactation break rooms were the standard and not the exception, some moms would still still choose to use formula from birth, and that choice should be respected, according to Barston and the ACOG's official position.

In 2018 the online conversation about infant feeding isn't about breasts and bottles as much as it's about moms supporting other moms. Barston hopes 2019 will be the year health care providers and those leading support groups for new mothers join that conversation and replace 'breast is best' messaging with something more inclusive. Bottle, breast or both, mama's choice is best.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


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

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Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.

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While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

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If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."


If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.


These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

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We teach our children to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs, brush their teeth to prevent cavities, and we take care to make sure they get they get the sleep that is critical for healthy child development. But we also know that not every child in America can wash their hands, brush their teeth, or sleep without bright lights shining down on them. The children inside Border Patrol detention facilities don't have access to things like hygiene supplies or beds, and it is keeping many American mothers up at night.

As the Washington Post reports, lawyers for the U.S. government argue that it should not be required to provide detained migrant children with toothbrushes, soap, showers or conditions conducive to sleep. This is concerning many Americans, especially after a report from The Associated Press painted a bleak picture of unsanitary conditions for children detained at Border Patrol facilities, some with no parent to care for them.

For many, this isn't about politics, but about compassion. Last week Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated that it is "within everybody's common understanding that if you don't have a toothbrush, you don't have soap, you don't have a blanket, those are not safe and sanitary [conditions]," and many parents around the country agree.

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The children who are reportedly getting sick from unsanitary conditions need voices like Tashima's, but you don't have to be a judge to speak for them.

Here are 5 powerful ways to help these kids:

1. Call your representatives

You can follow Tashima's lead and let your reps know that your definition of "safe and sanitary" includes access to hygiene items and sleep.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers.

Just tell the congressional staffer who picks up the phone that you want to see soap, toothbrushes and beds for detained children right now.

Consider saving those direct numbers in your phone so that you can follow up with more calls in the future.

2. Use digital tools and data

You're probably reading this on your phone right now, so obviously calling your rep isn't the only way to get their attention. We all have powerful computers in our palms these days, and you can slide into your reps DMs or amplify this issue by tagging them in a tweet or Facebook post.

The internet hasn't just given us the ability to connect with our politicians, it has given us unprecedented access to information and science, and in this case, the science is pretty simple: Handwashing is "a win for everyone", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study after study after study backs the CDC up. Handwashing can keep kids alive by preventing everything from diarrhea to the flu.

The scientists at the CDC say that "washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them.

So it is vital for these kids to have access to hygiene and sanitation as influenza is common in the detention centers.

The same challenges that make it hard to control communicable disease transmission and outbreaks in jails and prisons—high turnover rates of staff and the detained, a population vulnerable to illness—put these children at risk, and while the New York Times reports some guards at the detention facilities have taken to wearing paper masks to keep them from catching what the kids have, it is totally possible that someone who works around these detained kids will get sick, and that could put a population outside of the facility at risk.

Giving detained people access to sanitation should be a public health priority.

3. Keep talking about this + encourage others to make their own calls

This conversation comes nearly a year after ProPublica released audio reportedly recorded inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility and mothers across America cried listening to the sounds of those children crying.

Now, the conversation has shifted to sanitation, but it's important to remember that soap, toothbrushes and showers aren't all these kids are missing—they're missing their families, too. Children continue to be separated from their families, something that will impact them for the rest of their lives, whether those lives happen in America or elsewhere.

There are a lot of debates going on about how to solve this crisis, but one thing that many groups, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree on is that these facilities were not designed to house kids.

Something's got to change, and the more people that are calling their reps, the better.

Tell your friends that you're talking to your representatives about this and ask them to call, too. A lot of people have never called a politician's office before, so let those in your circle know about how the ACLU will route their call and pass on the short script for those who get flustered on the phone.

4. Donate to organizations that will help migrant families


There are many organizations working to get and keep children out of detention centers so that they will not have to live in the kinds of conditions being reported. All of the following organizations are trying to help children caught up in this crisis.

American Immigration Council: This organization gets on the ground at detention centers helping families, documenting conditions of detention and bringing lawsuits to challenge them.

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Provides "emergency legal aid to refugee families".

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services: Provides "free and low cost immigration services".

Families Belong Together: Is a group effort that "includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.

Justice for Our Neighbors: Provides low-income families with "affordable, high quality immigration legal services".

Kids In Need of Defense: According to its website, KIND "partners with major law firms, corporations, law schools, and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings."

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: States it is "dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: The faith-based organization "works with refugees, children, and migrants to ensure they are protected and welcomed into local communities throughout the United States."

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): A joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ProBAR "is a national effort to provide pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas by the United States government. "

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): A non-profit that aims to reunite families and help kids feel safe, this Texas-based nonprofit aims to "directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings" and "ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts."

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights: Provides independent Child Advocates to stand up for unaccompanied immigrant children and "champion the child's best interests".

5. Teach our children kindness and compassion 

We can't change what has already happened, but we can teach our children to change the future.

By instilling empathy, compassion and kindness in the next generation we are planting the seeds for a kinder world, and those seeds desperately need to be planted.

Caring for these children is not a partisan issue, it's an issue many parents all over the political spectrum are grappling with. Many have differing opinions about how to resolve the issues at the root of this problem, but many parents can agree that if their child was in this position they would want them to be shown some kindness.

As much as many parents would love to scoop these children up, draw them a bubble bath and find them a safe, warm place to sleep, we can't. But we can do those things for our own children, and in doing so we will teach them about love and kindness.

And hopefully, future generations will not be having the conversations.

[Last updated July 24,2019]

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[Editor's Note: This is the beginning of a new weekly series where we'll round up our favorite "Good News" stories that went viral. Enjoy!]

It's Friday, mama! We made it! There has been a ton of heavy news to digest this week, but there have also been some amazingly good news stories to come out of the last seven days.

If you need a little positivity to carry you into the weekend, check out the headlines that made us smile this week.

This mama got her rainbow baby after 13 pregnancy losses 🌈

British mama Laura Worsley is living her dream with her baby daughter Ivy after losing a heartbreaking 13 pregnancies, People reports. She had her first miscarriage in 2008, and sadly, many more followed. "Eleven of Laura Worsley's pregnancies ended in the first trimester but she also lost two boys at 17 and 20 weeks," BBC News reports.

Eventually, Laura learned she was suffering from Antiphospholipid syndrome, a condition that was making it impossible for her to carry a baby. She also had Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis happening in her placenta, which makes was causing her placenta to die in places, according to Worsley.

Finally, doctors got her on a medication to improve the lining of her uterus, and Worsley and her husband conceived baby Ivy. "I thought if there's that one bit of hope, I had to try again," Laura told BBC News. "I spoke to Dave about it and he felt the same. I told myself, 'this is the last time I'm doing this.'"

On their 14th attempt (with the help of steroids and medications to suppress Worsley's immune system and allow the pregnancy to progress) Ivy came into the world.

"Even now, nine months on, I can't believe she's actually mine," Worsley told BBC News.

That adorable dad + baby from the viral video booked a Denny's commercial 

Remember that dad and the adorable babbling baby in the viral video we featured on our Facebook page earlier this month? Well, now they've book a Denny's commercial! (Talk about a quick turn around!)

That original viral video surpassed 2 million views within 48 hours of being posted, so it's no wonder the marketing team at Denny's thought, We've gotta get this guy!

The cuteness is too much and the new commercial shows the dad, comedian DJ Pryor, and his 19-month-old (ADORABLE) son Kingston having a chat in a booth at Denny's over breakfast food.

We love it and we love that it is part of a wider trend of companies showing dads in caring roles in advertising.

One woman's color-coded grandkids are going viral 

This is too cute! Mom Chrissy Roussel posted this photo of her kids and their cousins a couple of years ago (there's been a couple of additions since!) to show all the grandkids her parents have.

"The photo was my sister's idea," Chrissy, who has three brothers and two sisters, told POPSUGAR. "Having a big family means lots of noise, laughter, and, most importantly, love. Between the 17 cousins, there's always someone to play with and have fun with. They have a ball together. I loved having a big family growing up, and I'm so happy that my kids have the same experience."

In a recent Facebook update this week, Rossel reacted to the continued vitality of her colorful photo.

"I have to say we had NO IDEA this picture would be shared so much and resonate with so many people. We just thought it would be a fun pic to take of all the cousins while we were at the beach. My sister Maryellen suggested the shirts, and my amazingly talented SIL Katie (Annabelle Rose Photography) took the pics," Roussel wrote in on her Facebook page.

Parents are loving these potentially life-saving seat-belt straps! 

Australian mom Natalie Bell is going super viral for her seat belt steps for special needs kids. She runs Personalised By Nat, a company where she creates personalized stuff and came up with the idea to make seat belt straps that can inform first responders of a child's issues in the event of an accident.

"I always wonder what would happen if I was in a car accident with my daughter in the car and I was unable to let the doctors know that my daughter could not have a MRI due to having a cochlear implant, now I don't need to worry about that with these seat belt covers," she wrote.

"These can be made for any special needs that the medical team will need to know if you are unable to tell them."

As Yahoo News reports, overnight the post went viral and parents were talking about what a great idea it is.

"My husband is part of Fire and Rescue and said that this is a brilliant idea," one comment wrote.

"Such a valuable piece that provides a lot of information clearly so that [responders] involved can approach situations with knowledge and care," said another.

The Rock can't build a doll house 😂

We love The Rock's dad moments. He consistently cracks us up, and this week he had an epic dad problem. His little daughter, Jazzy, (seriously, look at this kiddo, she's too cute) got a dollhouse which is "assembly required" and The Rock does not have the toy assembling skills to meet that requirement.

"My 'On my way out the door to get my morning workout in before work and my 3yr old Jazzy says Daddy can you put together this Barbie house please' look," The Rock captioned the above photo.

We totally get you, Dwayne. All those little plastic parts can be a challenge, even for someone who swings from skyscrapers. 😂

Apparently, Jazzy's mom, Lauren Hashian, is the chief dollhouse builder in that household.

Young boys are wearing Women’s National Team jerseys, proving that hero athletes can be any gender 💪

Okay, so the Women's National Soccer team is killin' it, but as the Washington Post reports, the women's team is still not paid equal to the mens' team (even though they are winning more and attracting more fans).

But, as Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens writes, young male soccer fans clearly understand how awesome the women's team is because boys are starting to rock women's team jerseys in schools!

While young girls often walk around in jerseys with male athletes names on the back, it's new to see boys wearing the names of women athletes on such a large scale.

This is a big deal for girls and boys, and it's awesome.

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