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Amazon has toy vacuum cleaners that actually work!

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Little kids always want to help, and parents certainly want to foster that helpful attitude, but sometimes—like when you're trying to vacuum the living room—it's hard for kids to assist. Little arms can't lift heavy vacuum cleaners and toy vacuums that don't have suction can seem lame to kids who want to really help out.

Enter the toy Dyson vacuum: A plaything with (a little) suction power, so kids can vacuum alongside dad or mom and actually suck up some dirt.

It's fun, it's practical and if it keeps the kids from playing with your expensive adult vacuum, it's $30 well spent.


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This toy Dyson is made by UK toy company Casdon, but it's available stateside through Amazon, Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond and typically retails for about $30.

It's got a 4-star rating on Amazon with more than 2,700 reviews, and many parents report their kids love it.

Don't expect this toy to vacuum like your real Dyson though, but some parents share that it can pick up little bits of paper, dirt and animal hair, so the kids do feel as though they are really cleaning (and they kind of are).

While most retailers carry the yellow ball style vacuum, Amazon has multiple and there are even toy versions of other vaccums, like the shop vac seen above.

These working toy vacuums are so cool because we know that chores are good for kids, even for toddlers. Practicing vacuuming up a few specks of dirt isn't just helping clean the floor, it's helping develop their motor skills and their sense of responsibility. Kids actually appreciate having responsibilities, and while this toy vacuum is just a fun way to "help" now, it could lead to helping with the real vacuum a few years down the road.

As they say in the UK, happy hoovering!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

[This post was originally published November 28, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Before I had a baby, postpartum depression (PPD) was something I only heard about on the fringes of motherhood. It would occasionally get brought up among mom friends, but only in the tightest of circles and usually in whispered tones conveying depths of shame I couldn't quite understand.

Every so often, I would see a magazine article citing women who admitted (again, in voices heavy with shame) that they didn't immediately bond with their baby. That they felt soul-crushing sadness after giving birth. That they felt wholly unable to mother properly.

When PPD was mentioned (which wasn't often), it always seemed to follow the same formula: a lack of bonding with the baby, followed by extreme sadness that could last for months―or even years after birth. And long before I ever had a baby, it was clear to me that the majority of women I knew who suffered didn't want anyone to know about it.

Years later, and with two births under my belt, I'm grateful to say that I've seen some things change. Slowly, but with increasing pace, I see more and more parenting communities shaking off the stigma of PPD. I see more and more women breaking the silence and coming forward with stories of their own. I see more and more compassion for the one in every seven moms who experience postpartum depression each year—that's over 500,000 mamas.

And, even more surprisingly, I see a greater understanding of just how varied the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety can be. Because, the fact is, PPD rarely looks the same for any mama―and it can be especially hard to explain feelings that feel unique to you. The experts at Allegheny Health Network get it. They've made it their mission to not only bring more understanding to postpartum mood disorders, but also to help every mom break their silence and remove the stigma of postpartum depression and anxiety.

Here's what some of the women they've worked with want you to know.

When I say "I'm feeling lonely," what I mean is... I feel alone in my suffering.

The trickiest part of PPD? You probably look exactly the same on the outside. In many cases, women continue to power through their daily routines so it can be easy to miss their suffering. "You feel like you're drowning," says Heather, a PPD survivor and an Allegheny Health Network patient. "[But] physically looking at me or at anyone that suffers from something like this, you can't see it. That's what makes it so difficult."

How to help: If you know a new mama, don't assume she's doing okay just because her life isn't obviously going up in flames. Check in. Ask about her health, not just her baby's. And let her know you're a judgment-free place to share.

When I say "I'm not feeling how I thought I would," what I mean is... motherhood isn't bringing me joy.

As moms, we're expected to feel an almost blissful happiness every second of pregnancy and motherhood. But for many women, that happiness seems to evade them―and it often doesn't come the moment they're handed their new baby―leading them to feel like they're already failing as a mother. "I felt so guilty because, here I am, I have this new, adorable baby who doesn't cry and is fantastic," says Ashleigh, a PPD survivor and Allegheny Health Network patient. "I didn't want to seem ungrateful."

How to help: Many mothers with PPD feel guilty for it. One of the best ways to lessen the load? Sharing your own story. It's normal not to immediately connect with your baby (you did just meet them, after all!), and the more stories we hear of strong connections that took a bit of time, the easier it will be for new moms to talk about it.

When I say "I don't feel like myself," what I mean is... I'm getting overwhelmed with anxiety and/or anger.

Sadness is just one of the possible symptoms of PPD. For many women, the condition manifests itself as extreme anxiety, OCD (especially worrying about bad things happening to their babies), and even rage. "Before I personally experienced postpartum depression, I thought, that's only for people that feel like harming themselves or harming their children," Heather says. But the truth is, PPD can look different for everyone―and it can affect anyone. "I never thought that I personally would have postpartum depression because I like to laugh and make jokes about everything," Ashleigh says.

How to help: Postpartum depression and anxiety doesn't discriminate―anyone can be affected. Look for signs that your new mama pal is feeling out of sorts. She might say she lost her temper or that she feels extra frazzled, not necessarily that she's feeling sad, but these can still be symptoms of a greater issue. You can have a more objective view of her feelings even when she can't.

When I say "I don't know how I feel," what I mean is…we still have a lot to learn.

So many symptoms of PPD are similar to general depression and anxiety, it can be scary for a new mom who isn't sure what's wrong with her. "I didn't know how to distinguish from it being...depression or anxiety versus it just being motherhood. I think part of the cure was just discovering that I had postpartum," says Chrissy Teigen, who is Allegheny Health Network's partner. "It was just such a sigh of relief that we can fix this."

How to help: Remember that you don't need to fix her symptoms―you just need to be there when she needs you. Be a listening ear, and remind her that there's no shame in needing help.

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Car seats are obviously meant to be used in the car, but in recent years the designs of modern infant car seats have made them so portable many parents keep babies in them even outside of the vehicle. Many parents arrive at a destination, take the whole car seat out and lug it inside so their babies can keep sleeping.

But now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending against this after a new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that a significant number of infant deaths are occurring in car seats that aren't being used in the car, but rather as a substitute for a crib or bassinet, especially when babies are in the care of a childcare provider.

Researchers investigated 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths over the course of a decade and found that 348 (3%) babies died in sitting devices, most of which (63%) were car seats that were not being used for their intended purpose. The remaining deaths happened in bouncers or swings (35%) and strollers (2%).

When the pediatricians looked into infant deaths that occurred in bouncers and swings, they learned most happened when the baby was at home with a parent. But they noted that when it comes to car seats, more babies were under the care of a childcare provider. "There are higher odds of sleep-related infant death in sitting devices when a child care provider or baby-sitter is the primary supervisor," they wrote.

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There have been several highly publicized cases of this in recent years. Ali Dodd lost her 11-week-old son Shepard in 2015 after he was put down for a nap in his infant car seat while at an in-home day care. It was only his sixth day in day care.

Dodd now advocates tirelessly for safe sleep and paid family leave in the hopes of preventing deaths like Shepard's. She's pleased to see the AAP drawing attention to data proving that sleeping in inclined sleepers and sitting devices is dangerous for babies. "The more this is talked about that more likely parents will accept this as fact. Babies should always be placed on their backs, alone in their crib or Pack N' Play for every sleep time," Dodd tells Motherly.

She continues: "If my son had been placed in a safe sleep environment I would likely still be watching him grow up. That's a privilege I want for more American families."

Parents, childcare providers, grandparents and anyone else who watches a baby should be aware that car seats are not a safe place for naps when used outside the car.

Children are going to fall asleep in their car seats while in a moving vehicle from time to time, and parents shouldn't panic about that—the seats are made to be used in the car. As noted in a study The Journal of Pediatrics, when car seats are used as directed by the manufacturer's guidelines, babies have a very low risk of suffocation or strangulation from the harness straps.

The danger is when the seats are used on the floor, a table or a bed. Instead of letting a baby sleep in a car seat the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies nap and sleep "on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet." There should be no soft bedding, pillows, toys or bumpers in the crib.

Bottom line: Car seats save lives when used in the car, but they are absolutely not a replacement for a bassinet or a crib, and everyone who is taking care of babies should know this.

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The routine use of episiotomies has been discouraged for a long time. Yet a recent report by USA Today has found that they are still being done at an alarming rate.

An episiotomy is an incision made at the opening of the vagina and into the perineum—the space between the vagina and the rectum—at the time of birth. The goal of an episiotomy is to enlarge the birth canal, providing more space for the baby to come out.

Episiotomies became very common in the mid 20th century. Providers believed that in addition to speeding up delivery, episiotomies would decrease the risk of vaginal and perineal tearing and injury, decrease the pressure put on the baby's head by the birth canal, and decrease the risk of shoulder dystocias (when a baby's shoulders get "stuck" in the pelvis, leading to a slower birth with high risk for complications).

The thing is: none of these are actually true.

Researchers have spent a lot of time looking at the differences between routine (meaning that they are standard protocol) and selective (used on a case by case, as needed basis) episiotomies.

Here's what they've found:

When it comes to shoulder dystocias, the problem is not happening in the vagina—the shoulders are "stuck" behind the pelvic bones. A larger vaginal opening does not change this.

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Lastly, episiotomies have a significant psychological impact on women—their lasting pain has proven to be a stressor for postpartum women, and I would venture to say that the emotional trauma has lasting effects as well.

Now, it's really important to note that like all interventions, sometimes episiotomies are necessary and really helpful. For example, if a special hand maneuver is needed to help deliver the baby in the event of certain complications, an episiotomy can give the provider more space to perform it. They may also help speed birth in the event that a vacuum or forceps become necessary.

The problem is that, as with many interventions, something that was intended to be used in emergency situations is being used routinely.

The World Health Organization believes that an episiotomy rate of about one out of 10 women may be appropriate, though many providers think it should be much lower still. For example, Kaiser hospitals in Northern California have a 3% episiotomy rate. For reference, I've attended hundreds of birth as a midwife and I have done maybe five episiotomies.

With all of this information then, the findings of a recent investigative report by USA Today are troubling: They found that some hospitals have episiotomy rates of 20 to 40%. A Cochran Review report corroborates this, finding a rate of 28% in some institutions.

To put it bluntly, this an unacceptable.

For a group of professionals who have taken an oath to do no harm, why are we performing an excessive number of harmful procedures? Fear and disconnection are the reasons for this.

Obstetrics is tied (with surgery) for the most commonly sued branch of medicine. And it should be—the stakes are really high. But the constant threat of legal action leads to fear, and it changes the way people work. There is the omnipresent fear that one day, someone will look back at any given birth and say, "Why didn't you do something to prevent this?"

And so we are on a constant quest to do. To speed things up, to use technology, to intervene.

Therein lies the disconnect. We are disconnected from the process of birth that happens on its own, powered by nature. We are disconnected from trusting women. And, we are disconnected from the actual human experience of transitioning into motherhood.

Let me be clear about two things:

  1. Many interventions are necessary. And when they are, it is a tremendously good thing that they exist.
  2. Not all providers are disconnected—most are wonderful, working with the best intentions and most up to date evidence backing their actions.

But the USA Today findings indicate that we urgently need to reevaluate how we are taking care of women.

Now, if you are planning on giving birth soon or in the future, these new findings are probably making you very nervous. Here's what you can do:

  1. Research. Ask your provider (current or potential) what their specific episiotomy rate is, as well as that of the place where they deliver babies.
  2. Remember that you are the "customer." You have a choice. If you went to a restaurant and they served gross food and were rude to you, you would not go back. If you have a medical provider with whom you do not feel comfortable, please do not feel like you have to stay with them. Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings. Choose discomfort over resentment, and find a new provider.
  3. Get clear and what you want, and talk about it. Over and over again. If not having an episiotomy unless absolutely necessary is important to you, let everyone know. If you are writing out your birth plan, write "episiotomy only in an emergency scenario." When you have your prenatal appointments, talk to your provider about how you feel—if there are multiple providers, it's okay to talk to each of them about it. Don't assume that your message will be conveyed. When you are in labor, let your nurse know. If your nursing care changes shifts, let the next nurse know too. And when you start pushing, say it again. You are a lovely, polite person—don't worry about being "annoying" here. THIS IS YOUR BIRTH.

If you've already given birth and had an episiotomy, you may be completely at peace with it. It may have been necessary, and you may be very relieved to have had the experience that you had. If all that is true, then that is awesome!

But if you are concerned about the experience you had:

  1. Ask questions. In the intensity of birth, especially in the event of an emergent situation, there is potential for miscommunication. Call your provider and ask them for a birth debriefing, so that they can go through what happened and answer questions.
  2. Escalate. If you feel that you have been wronged or violated, consider speaking with a local or national patient rights organization. Childbirth Connection is a great place to start.
  3. Find a therapist. It is estimated that 9% of women experience post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after giving birth. So if you are having really difficult emotions regarding your birth, please know that they are real and valid, and you are not alone. Seek out a therapist who specializes in PTSD or women's health (or better yet, both), and get support as you work through this challenge.
  4. Find a pelvic floor physical therapist. If you have lingering pain, incontinence (peeing or pooping when you don't mean to), uncomfortable sex or any other concerns, there is help—this doesn't have to be "the way it is now." A pelvic floor physical therapist can work with you to regain your strength and comfort.

And we have to keep talking about it. Because ultimately this is a human rights issue. We need to do better.

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When you're pregnant there are so many medical appointments, and many moms look forward to each one. We want to know what is going on with our bodies and our babies. But once the babies are born, many moms aren't able to keep their own medical appointments and experts are worried.

New moms are missing key appointments in the critical fourth trimester, or the first three months postpartum, according to a new study from Orlando Health.

Nearly a quarter of new mothers surveyed admitted that they did not have a plan to manage their own health in the first weeks and months postpartum. The numbers are alarming as nearly half of new moms have admitted to feeling their most overwhelmed, anxious and depressed during that time period.

Worse, the incredibly stressful first few days and weeks of their baby's life is the time when many mothers have admitted to feeling the least supported by their doctors. According to a survey from Healthy Women and 2020 Mom, nearly 30% of women have felt "no support" from their health care provider. This even as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has recently adjusted their guidelines to suggest that women see their doctors within the first three weeks after birth, rather than the traditionally recommended six weeks.

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"Seeing your doctor within a few weeks of delivery and sharing any concerns is critical to getting the care and treatment you need," Megan Gray, MD, an OB/GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, told Orlando Health. "The fourth trimester can be difficult and overwhelming for women as their bodies go through physical and emotional changes, and this time deserves the same support and attention as the first three trimesters," Gray said.

Yet, with many women going back to work at six weeks postpartum, up to 40% of moms are missing that first appointment entirely. For most mothers, that represents a rapid and drastic shift in their approach to maternal health care, as prenatal care is full of regularly-scheduled appointments and check-ups. Given that the US remains the most dangerous industrialized country to give birth in, the statistics can't be ignored. As the survey notes, it is impossible for mothers to take care of their babies without taking care of their own health as well.

Still, the onus shouldn't be placed solely on new mothers, who are already riddled with exhaustion and anxiety. With doctors and employers failing to support them, it's hardly surprising that they are struggling to keep up with their appointments or feeling comfortable enough with their doctors to open up about their physical and emotional changes.

In fact, a recent study from Maven reported that as many as 54% of new moms were never even screened for mental health concerns during their pre and postpartum care. Of those who did raise concerns, nearly 30% were not given concrete steps to get treatment.

All of this contributes to the cycle of shame that leads to nearly 60% of new moms experiencing depression and anxiety in silos, only furthering their feelings of extreme isolation. "I thought everything would come more naturally, but it was so much harder than I expected," one mama, Rachel Kobb, told Orlando Health. "Women have been raising babies forever, and I felt selfish for feeling like I couldn't handle it," she said. "I felt very lonely, but I didn't know how to ask for help," she added.

Still, there is hope for new moms, even during those incredibly difficult early months. Medical professionals like Gray and the ACOG are continuing to push for proper training for doctors, midwives and doulas to help new mothers cope with the emotional demands of motherhood, in addition to improved programs for mothers like lowering costs for mental health care and urging companies to provide paid maternity leave for at least the first half of the fourth trimester.

Moreover, simply reminding women that they're not alone is a critically important shift in how society treats new moms who are struggling emotionally.

"There is no perfect mom out there," Gray noted. "Taking some of that pressure off yourself will help you be the best mom you can be and help you better experience the many joys of motherhood."

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Having a baby changes a lot—your relationships, your life and your body. In the earliest days when you're dealing with sleep deprivation and finding your feet as a new parent, having sex with your partner is likely pretty far down your list of concerns.

That's why we are concerned that the results of our 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that nearly a third of Millennial moms (31%) say they had sex with their partner before they felt ready to do so.

When it comes to postpartum sex, no specific waiting period is right for everyone, but many doctors and midwives recommend waiting four to six weeks after a birth, or until the mother feels comfortable resuming sexual activity. The Mayo Clinic says that when it comes to postpartum sex, you should "set your own timeline". Some moms want to have sex at six weeks postpartum, but many don't just yet.

Our survey found that 53% of moms start feeling interested in sex again by the six week mark, and 11% of moms find they're interested in getting intimate before they are six weeks postpartum. Mothers under 30 are more likely to report being ready for sex by six weeks—with 67% reporting they were—while 54% of moms between 30 and 34 felt ready by six weeks, and 44% of moms over 35 did.

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But for a large number of mothers, nearly 40%, it takes a lot longer than six weeks—between six months and a year—to want to have sex again and there is nothing wrong with that. Whether you wait six weeks or six months, what's important is that you feel ready.

"Resuming your sex life, on your terms, after giving birth can be empowering, and let's be honest, fun! If a woman feels ready both mentally and physically to have sex, she should listen to her body and all that she knows about it, and go for it," says Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor.

After reviewing the findings of our survey (which saw 6,457 respondents answer questions online between March 28 and April 11, 2019, and was weighted to align with US Census demographic data), Spalding is concerned about why so many millennial moms are having sex before they want to.

"Having sex after birth before she is ready is troublesome. First, if she has sustained any pelvic floor dysfunction or vaginal, anal, or vulvar injuries from pregnancy and birth, she needs proper medical attention before engaging in sex, which could further injure her," she explains, adding that a lack of education around and attention to birth injuries is an unacceptable shortcoming of our healthcare system.

Spalding wants women to talk to their medical providers about any postpartum healing concerns they may have, and for our partners and society to put less pressure on new mothers to resume sexual activity.

"The emotional ramifications of having sex without feeling ready are significant. Feeling pressured into sex is simply not okay. Healthy and fulfilling postpartum sex is a wonderful thing, but we have to do a better job of conveying to women that they matter."

Yes, mama. You matter. Your comfort matters. Your pleasure matters. Your postpartum recovery matters and your partner and medical providers should understand that.

Research published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests about 17–36% of mothers report experiencing painful sex at six months postpartum and that only about 15% of new moms bring this concern up with their doctor.

Here's the truth: When women are ready for postpartum sex, it can be really fun, but being ready is the key. If sex hurts it is a sign that something is wrong. If a medical provider tells you that this is just normal or the way sex is after a baby, that's unacceptable and you should seek a second opinion.

And if sex isn't painful, but just not something you want to do right now, that's just fine. Resuming sexual intimacy after a baby can be wonderful (if you have the energy for it). If you would rather just cuddle or go to sleep tonight, that's okay, too, mama.

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