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Why the flu outbreak poses a greater risk to babies + young children

This year, one of the scariest plot lines for any family isn’t in a book or at the theaters—it’s the real-life threat of the flu. Thanks to the strain H3N2, the flu has spread to 49 states this season and cases continue to spike. So far, 20 people have died and thousands have been hospitalized because of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For mamas, the 2017-2018 flu season may feel especially scary. After all, according to the CDC, young children and older adults are most vulnerable to the dangerous H3N2 strain, which had made up 83% of reported cases.

As the CDC explains in their flu guide for parents, “While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long-term health conditions.”

This is because the underdeveloped immune systems in children younger than 5 and especially those younger than 2 makes them more prone to serious flu complications, such as pneumonia. Babies younger than 6 months are the most at-risk because they are too young to get their own flu vaccinations.

But, even with the flu outbreak hitting most of the country, there are still things you can do to keep your kids and loved ones from getting sick this season.

According to public health officials, your best chance to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Studies conducted by the CDC found that, although effectiveness varies, annual immunization can lower your odds of catching the flu by between 40% and 60% when the vaccine is well-matched to the seasonal strain.

Even though this year’s vaccine doesn’t appear to be as well-matched, experts still encourage families to get it—and then further safeguard themselves by following these flu-fighting tips.

1. Wash your hands often

Health experts recommend washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should also help your kids do the same. Soap and water not available? The CDC suggests using an alcohol-based hand rub instead.

2. Wash your hands when cooking

Giving your hands a good scrub is especially necessary when preparing and cooking food, which is an easy vehicle for germs.

3. Clean and sanitize

Disinfect surfaces and objects touched often by people in order to kill germs such as the flu virus. (Think: tables, toys, phones, door knobs, cabinets, refrigerator, etc.) Even though this is a given when someone is sick in the house, you should stay in the habit of doing it before symptoms have time to appear.

4. Keep your hands away from your face

Germs move from our bodies to objects and back again, so avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose. Also teach your kids to do the same.

5. Cover your nose when a sneeze comes on

You can prevent other people from getting sick by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you have to sneeze or cough. You should wash your hands right after you sneeze or cough to kill any linger germs.

6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick

You and your children should keep a far distance away from sick people if you want to stay healthy and prevent illness from spreading. If you can’t avoid contact with someone who is sick, try to limit your interactions until they feel better.

7. If you’re sick, stay home

If possible, stay home from work or school and avoid running errands when you’re sick. Get plenty of rest instead. This will prevent illness from being spread to others. If you can’t stay home, then try to limit contact with other people.

8. Treat your cold or flu

Don’t ride out being sick, especially if you have the flu. Over-the-counter drugs or prescription antivirals like Tamiflu can help reduce your symptoms and shorten the time you are sick, but only if taken upon the first sign of sickness.

Medications also help prevent serious health complications. If your child is sick, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options.

As simple as these precautions may seem, they certainly warrant repeating. Now, go wash your hands just to be safe!

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When model Mara Martin was one of 16 finalists selected to walk in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search show, she was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream. And when she woke up the day after the show to see that she and her baby daughter had made headlines around the world, she was thrilled all over again.

Martin breastfed her 5-month-old daughter Aria while walking in the runway, and the story spread quickly.

"It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least," Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday. "I'm so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can't believe it is a headline is because it shouldn't be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says the breastfeeding moment wasn't planned in advance, but it worked out wonderfully. Day was speaking with the models backstage when she noticed Aria was peacefully nursing away. Having breastfed her own two children, Day recognized this as a powerful moment in the making, according to SI Swimsuit.

"I asked Mara if she would want to walk and continue to nurse. She said 'Oh my gosh, yes! Really? Are you sure?', and I said absolutely! I loved the idea to be able to allow Mara to keep nursing and further highlight how incredible and beautiful women are," Day explained.

Martin hopes that her moment in the spotlight can help other mamas feel comfortable nursing when and where they feel like it, but she doesn't want to overshadow some of the other women who took part in the show.

"One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country," she wrote. "One woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

And thanks to Martin's powerful motherhood moment, now, people are.

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.

Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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When we were kids, family photos shoots typically captured posed moments in a Sears portrait studio, but these days, professional photographers often encourage candid shoots with a more casual vibe.

Casual is hardly the first word that comes to mind when we think of the royal family, but newly released photos from little Prince Louis' recent christening prove why impromptu shots are so popular. Yes, there's still a time for a sit-down, studio-lit family portrait, but it's those fleeting moments of realness that mamas will really want to look back on some day.

Let's take a look at pics from the little Prince's big day.

The extended family sit-down shoot

It's a gorgeous posed photo (and it certainly captures Prince George's adorable smile) but this group pic still feels pretty stiff, even for the royals.

The smaller family photo

This one's a bit more natural, with Prince George flashing an even wider grin and little Princess Charlotte staring at the guest of honor (who appears to be napping) rather than the camera. Both Duchesses look stunning, as they do in all the photos.

Just the Cambridges

A similar pose to last year's Christmas card, this stand up shot of the family of five looks like it was captured just in time. Prince George may be preparing to bold, and Princess Charlotte is about to be lost behind her brother's christening gown.

Mother and son

A stunning outdoor shot, this pic shows little Prince Louis with his bright eyes wide open and his mama staring down at him. Definitely one for Kate to frame for the nursery.

A happy baby boy

That face! This beautiful shot of Prince Louis proves that candid shots can accomplish what posed, portrait studio pics often fail to: Those special, fleeting, moments when our children really show their personality.

Prince Louis, you Sir, are adorable.

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