This mama’s honest postpartum selfie is powerful + beautiful

"Here I am, day 1 postpartum, in my mesh underwear."

Samantha McSwain postpartum body
Samantha McSwain/@lovvesammay

Mom and YouTuber Samantha McSwain is going viral after sharing her postpartum images with the world and we love her for it.

The Hawaii-based influencer didn't always understand how much a person's body changes during pregnancy, but after three pregnancies she knows that the journey isn't about "bouncing back" but rather moving forward.

That's why she shares her story with more than 139,000 Instagram followers and 180,000 YouTube subscribers. She wants to normalize how pregnancy changes bodies because even now, in 2020, some people are not aware that a "baby bump" doesn't disappear when the baby is born.

"Knowing that we carried a baby for nine months our bodies are unbelievable and we need to remember that," she tells Motherly. "The stretch marks, stretchy skin, cellulite, everything is all beautiful and worth it."

Each of her three pregnancies has been different and her body is different now. And that's normal and cool and beautiful.

During McSwain's second pregnancy she developed stretch marks and skin discoloration and she struggled with diastasic recti (also known abdominal separation). At times she says her itchy skin and the diastasic recti were challenging.

"I felt like my stomach didn't have enough room," she explains. But her body made room for her babies and the world needs to make room for women with all kinds of postpartum bodies and support postpartum recovery. Every postpartum body is valid and deserves acceptance.

McSwain is teaching that lesson to trolls who wander into her comments sections.

"It's so easy to scroll through social media and start comparing ourselves to people in Hollywood and all of a sudden our confidence is gone and we no longer love ourselves because so and so looks better than us," McSwain tells Motherly. I took this photo to show mothers everywhere that we need to love our bodies no matter what it may look like because having a baby is the most precious and sacred moment."

But McSwain knows her body and her mind are strong and she doesn't let the comments get her down.

Her youngest is now 6 months old and she is slowly building up her postpartum fitness regime in a way that works for her and is supported by her medical care providers. Through strength training and abdominal exercise she's moving forward but she refuses to push herself too hard and took a break during the stressful weeks of quarantine.

Her body has changed and that is okay. She wants every mother (and everyone who interacts with mothers) to understand that.

Her journey is her own and her stomach is not up for debate. Her body worked hard to grow three children and she's honoring that act by loving it back.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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20 baby names that mean miracle—and will never go out of style

In these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

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Almost every parent, at some point, refers to their child as a "miracle," though the meaning of the word itself might differ depending on who you're talking to. Miracle is a beautiful word that can double as a name, but there are many other thoughtful baby names to choose from if you're considering giving your baby a name that suggests an extraordinary event, a gift from above or a rare wonder.

Whether you're looking for a familiar name with a miraculous history, such as Aaron, or you're searching for a unique name that means "rare miracle," such as Ender, there are so many choices for both girls and boys that are equally as meaningful as they are interesting. Choosing a baby name with the special meaning of "miracle" is a signal of hope and optimism—and in these extraordinary times, we could all use some small miracles.

Putting a unique twist on a beautiful classic isn't hard with these baby names that mean "miracle."

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