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Walmart is offering paid leave to *all* parents who are full-time employees 👏🏻

It’s no secret that policies supporting parents still leave much to be desired in the United States. But thankfully companies like Google and Netflix have stepped up to provide paid parental leave to their employees—and have played a role in shifting workplace culture in doing so.

Now, the largest employer in the country is following suit: Walmart will now provide 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid paternity leave to full-time hourly associates.

The new and improved parental leave policies will affect the company’s more than one million hourly associates, and the benefits don’t stop there. Walmart is also providing financial assistance for adoption to full-time hourly and salaried associates to the tune of $5,000 per child, which can be used for adoption agency fees or legal costs.

In fact, all Walmart employees can look forward to some improvements: Beginning in February, Walmart’s starting wage will increase to $11.

“It’s our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families,” says Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillan in a press release.

The United States is still one of only four nations in the world to not guarantee paid maternity or paternity leave. As a result, far too many parents still don’t have access to paid leave.

According to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health, about 273,000 American women take maternity leave each month. But fewer than half of those women have any paid benefits.

While there is still much work to be done when it comes to supporting parents in the workplace, we’re glad to see more companies like Walmart stepping up to bridge the gap.

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When you become a mama, your definition of a smooth morning undergoes a complete evolution. Now, you consider it a win if your real alarm wakes you up and you get to drink coffee while it's still warm. The not-so-smooth mornings? Well, let's face it, that's a rough way to start the day.

When the wake-up call comes early and the coffee has been forgotten in the microwave, it may seem absolutely impossible to carve out any time for yourself. But a centered, confident mama is a happier mama, and there are some simple ways to sneak self-care into your morning to ensure you're putting your best face forward.

Specializing in quick, easy and (we must say) beautiful morning makeup routines, Woosh Beauty understands busy mornings, and has created an 'everything-in-one' makeup palette that is our new secret weapon for feeling like we made the effort to center ourselves, too.

Inspired by Woosh Beauty, here are five ways we've given our morning beauty routines a self-care makeover.

1. Make time (and space) for calm

As moms, time is priceless and that's especially true in the morning. Even if you're racing against the clock, it's worth it (trust us) to hit the pause button for just five minutes before tackling all the to-dos on your list.

With The Fold Out Face from Woosh Beauty, you have all the makeup you need (coverage and color) in one compact, portable palette. That means no scrambling to find your concealer. No opening, closing, then reopening and closing eyeshadows and powders.

Most importantly, no need to set up shop in front of your vanity/bathroom mirror/designated makeup space while keeping one eye on a constantly moving child. The Fold Out Face goes wherever you go and gives you everything you need in the flip of one flap—so you really can focus on yourself.

2. Create rituals that boost confidence

Even if you're going on your third day with the same yoga pants (they're so comfy!), it's important to make time in the morning to do something that will put a confident pep in your step.

While makeup has likely been part of your routine for years, motherhood can take a toll on your skin in new ways—which is why having 13 full-sized cosmetics, made from luxurious high-performing mineral-based formulas, allows you to erase the appearance of under-eye circles, perfect any imperfections and give yourself an effortless glow—all in less than five minutes.

So even if you don't have time to meticulously apply makeup, you can look and feel like you did. 😉

3. Allow our minds to drift 

For most of us, mornings mean going from zero to 60 in about five seconds flat. Before fully immersing yourself in the obligations of the day, it's nice to have just a few minutes to allow your mind to drift away from the to-do list. Woosh Beauty makes having mindspace while checking off "put on makeup" possible by numbering the order in which the cosmetics in The Fold Out Face should be applied.

4. Savor little luxuries

Before you go spend the morning driving kids around to the tune of nursery rhymes and eat a lunch of PB&J crusts, it can make a world of difference to your outlook to lavish in something that is all yours.

We love that Woosh Beauty makes that simple with The Essential Brush Set, a luxe collection of double-ended brushes that are numbered to correspond with the steps in the Fold Out Face, and come in a soft storage bag to keep them away from kids who may mistake them as paint brushes.

5. Be kinder to ourselves

Sometimes, a healthy self-voice for the rest of the day starts with rituals that remind us we're doing good for our bodies, too. By using Woosh Beauty products in your morning beauty routine, which are free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance—not to mention they are animal cruelty-free—you aren't just applying makeup, you're applying products and using tools that you can feel good about.

In the morning, a seemingly little thing like taking a few minutes for self-care is really a big thing that will continue to pay off with a beautiful outlook throughout the day—and with The Fold-Out Face from Woosh Beauty, it pays off with a beautiful look throughout the day, too.

Motherly readers can receive a 20% discount site wide using the code MOTHERLY at checkout.

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

No pregnancy and birth are exactly the same. Each of us has a unique story, and so do our babies. As Hilary Duff proves, a mother's second birth story isn't a just a rerun of her first.

Motherhood changes people, and for Duff welcoming her second child, daughter Banks, at age 31 was a very different experience than birthing her son, Luka, when she was 24. She went from a hospital to a home birth she explains in a two part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast.

And although Duff admits that at some points in her home birth she was scared and asked herself why she wasn't in a hospital "with all the drugs," she says she's so glad she did it and would totally do it again.

She's opened up about how she came to want a home birth, what surprised her about it and what helped her during her labor—and it's quite a birth story.

Looking back

During her first pregnancy, Duff says she started out wanting an elective C-section. She was 23 when she and ex-husband Mike Comrie found out they were expecting, and she didn't have a lot of peers who were having kids.

Her mom had C-sections for Duff and her siblings, and Duff thought that's what she would do, too. But in her second trimester she decided that she would try delivering first. She had an epidural for Luka's birth but he was born without a C-section.

More than five years later, during her pregnancy with Banks, Duff watched Ricki Lake's 2008 documentary "The Business of Being Born" and started considering a different kind of birth plan the second time around.

"I just started thinking that I wanted a different experience," Duff tells the host of Informed Pregnancy, prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin.

"I'm older now. I love motherhood more than anything—I never thought I would be this way, I never thought I could be so happy and so fulfilled. It's not easy, because being a parent is not easy, but it's just a joy. And I thought to myself that I want to like fully get the full experience of what it is like to bring a baby into the world."

Having support from Matt, Haylie and her mom

When Duff brought the idea up with her partner, Matthew Koma, he "was amazing," she explains. He had some questions, but was down to support Duff in her birthing choices.

Duff says she thinks her mom Susan and sister Haylie were "nervous to think about not being in a hospital" at first, but once Duff explained things a bit and got to talk to them about her doula and midwives, Haylie got really pumped about the idea.

"She was so supportive and amazing. I think my mom was a little more worried but she got behind me," Duff recalls, adding that because her mom had C-sections herself, even seeing Duff deliver Luka vaginally in a hospital was a bit of a different experience for her, so being there for the home birth was taking things to an unfamiliar level.

"The first time she saw me having a contraction in the house she was cooking bacon for Luka," Duff explains, adding that she had to pause the conversation she was having and squat down during the contraction.

"My mom was like, 'Oh no, oh no, oh no' and I was like, 'Mom, you can't do that all day...She got used to it. She's my mom and just having the comfort your mom brings was important to me."

Having her mom and her sister there was important to Duff, who was able to labor upstairs (where Koma had dragged the birthing pool out of Luka's room, where it had been temporarily used as a trampoline, and got it set up in Duff's room) when she needed to and then come downstairs to chill with her mom, sister and son when she could.

Even though she started feeling the contractions in the middle of the night, she still wasn't in active labor by the time her mom was cooking bacon for Luka in the morning.

"I think that was the most surprising part for me, thinking that it was going to progress a lot faster than it did and it just didn't," she explains, adding that at one point she went back downstairs and her son was watching a Marvel movie on TV.

"When I pictured my birth I didn't picture watching Guardians of the Galaxy on TV. Luka was like explaining the characters to me," she explains.

Her birth team 

Duff's partner, son, sister and mother weren't the only ones in the house with her the day Banks was born. She had a doula, a birth photographer who is also a doula and three midwives. "I definitely got through some contractions alone," says Duff "[But] I needed a tribe of people.

Her people helped her in the moments when things got really scary. Like when she worried she wasn't progressing fast enough, or when the pain was intense.

Duff found squatting, sitting on a birthing ball, and using a heating pad were all helpful at different points in the process. "Also some oils, I smelled a lot of clary sage oil and that felt really good," she explains. "I don't know why it felt really good to me."

What didn't feel good was being told to relax. "Any time someone would tell me to relax I felt like I would punch them in the face," she says, adding that Koma used the phrase one too many times.

"He was like, 'just relax babe', and I was like 'you're gonna die if you say that'!"

At the suggestion of one of her midwives, Duff started imagining herself melting into the bed with each contraction, and found that was helpful, too.

And although her contractions never got as long or as close together as her team expected them to, one of her midwives eventually gave her the good news that she was progressing.

"She looks at me and she's like, 'you want to go get in the tub?' and I just started crying," Duff recalls. "It was such a happy moment."

In the tub

Duff says when she was moved to the birthing tub, her brain really let her body take over. After the birth she estimated she was in the tub for about 30 minutes, but Koma told her it was really more like 90. "My brain disconnected," she says. "I remember telling myself that I don't need to be here for all of this."

At one point, she looked at one of her midwives and said, 'I'm really scared right now." Exhausted and unable to hold her body up as she channelled all her energy into pushing, Duff let her team hold her legs and arms while she pushed.

Having a baby

When Banks' head emerged, it didn't feel quite like the birth videos Duff has seen.

"Honestly, when I got her head out I was shocked by the feelings," she told Dr. Berlin. "I've seen women reach down and pull their baby out, and I couldn't do that…I was like, okay I'm there, I'm there, I've got to finish this job, but it was like really intense. It wasn't pleasant at that point. I think I wasn't fully in my headspace, my body was doing what it needed to do. It wasn't until her body came out that I could like want to grab onto her and bring her up out of the water."

Baby Banks needed some breaths from a midwife when she was first pulled from the water, but because her son Luka was also born looking a little blue, Duff says she wasn't freaked out. Once she figured out how to breathe, little Banks did "the most amazing thing," her mama recalls.

"They hand her to me, and I'm looking at her—and you know, babies are like floppy little worms, they just don't have any control—and she reaches up both of her arms right at my neck as to give me a hug. It was so clearly a hug."

Duff says the hug made her feel like baby Banks was saying something: "Like, good [teamwork] mom, we did it."

After the birth, Duff's team made her a smoothie using a chunk of raw placenta (a practice that the CDC recommends against, but many women choose to partake in).

She says she's not trying to push her choices on anyone else, and that she wants mothers to feel supported in whatever choices they make for themselves. "It's a very personal choice and it's not for everyone, that's for sure, she says.

Duff says that although she was at times overwhelmed and scared, she's so happy that Banks' birth story unfolded at home, and she would do it all over again.

To hear the whole interview, check out the Informed Pregnancy podcast.

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As much as we love our homes, the walls around us are not nearly as important as the people within them. Sometimes, natural disasters mean the place where we feel safest isn't safe anymore, and families are forced evacuate their homes at a moment's notice.

As those who fled the California wildfires know all too well, getting your children to safety when minutes and seconds count is incredibly hard, and when you have to leave with only the clothes on your back the days to come can feel even harder.

But there is something we can all do—today—that will help keep our kids safe if a disaster strikes tomorrow, next month or a year from now. Whether the threat comes from a wildfire, a hurricane, a landslide or a flood, whether or not we have an emergency plan is the one thing parents can control in an uncontrollable situation.

Unfortunately, many families don't have a disaster plan, and don't know what they would do if they had to flee their home. According to a recent survey by Farmers Insurance, 60% of American households don't have a disaster plan, but 70% of those surveyed have experienced a natural disaster as an adult.

Millennials are the most likely to have an emergency plan, the survey found, and as the images out of California continue to underscore the importance of this issue, more millennials may want to get prepared. Right now, 44% of millennials Farmers surveyed said they have an emergency plan and 49% have an emergency kit.

If you are among the half who don't have a plan, don't worry. It's easy to make one and it could make things a lot easier—and safer—for your family should you ever need it.

Here are five steps to make sure your family is ready to leave home should you need to:

1. Pack ahead of time

The Red Cross, FEMA and CAL Fire all recommend packing emergency evacuation kits to make leaving home in the event of an impending hurricane, wildfire, flood or other disasters safer and less stressful.

Emergency planners recommend taking a three day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person in a tote or wheeled tub that can be easily lifted into your vehicle.

You can also pre-pack a backpack or small bag for each member of the family, with changes of clothes, extra diapers or pull-ups for young children and toiletries, hygiene products and extra contact lenses or glasses for older family members.

Along with the personal belongings and food and water, a pre-packed evacuation kit should also contain the following items:

  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • An extra set of car keys
  • Credit cards and cash (in case ATMs don't work)
  • A fully-stocked first aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Pet food, crates, collars and leashes if you have animals in your family
  • Copies of important documents
  • Mobile phone, chargers and extra battery

If you don't want to keep your important documents and prescriptions in your emergency kit, consider storing them in a place where you will be able to grab them easily in the event of an evacuation.

2. Plan to reunite

Sometimes natural disasters and evacuations happen in the middle of the day, when parents are at work and kids are at school. This can be very stressful for families, but FEMA suggests discussing this possibility with children so that they are prepared.

Let kids know that in the event of a natural disaster during the school day they need to follow their teacher's instructions and that they may be picked up by an emergency contact, like grandma or a trusted neighbor, instead of you. Plan for a scenario where your family is not able to go home, but let your kids know that you or another adult will meet them wherever they are evacuated to from the school, like a designated emergency shelter or the home of a family member in another city.

Adults in the family also need to talk about these things beforehand as communications systems can go down in natural disasters. Let your partner or co-parent know that if your community is evacuated you'll be heading for your sister's house in the next state, or whatever designated location your family has decided on.

3. Designate an out-of-town contact

Plan to have a family member or friend who lives far enough away that they will not be impacted by the same event be your family's out-of-town contact.

Make sure your children know who this person is and have their contact information. Put it in their emergency bags and school backpacks and teach them the phone numbers and email addresses of the contact.

This person should ideally be someone you trust, who could advocate for you and take you in if needed.

4. Research accommodations out of your area

If your out-of-town contact is a few states away you could have a long drive ahead of you. Get to know the hotels on the route you would take to get to your family member or friend's place, or that you could stay in if they were unavailable.

If you have pets the Red Cross recommends keeping a list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters along your evacuation routes in your phone.

5. Know your routes

If you're asked to evacuate, it's best to do so as soon as possible, as traffic can quickly become congested when entire communities need to go. A couple times a year practice leaving your community as you would in an emergency (bring the kit and everything) and plan some alternative routes in case your usual route becomes blocked.

Program routes into your GPS and stash a paper map in the car just in case.

In the event of a disaster, don't try to take shortcuts or drive on closed roads.

We can't control what happens in a disaster, but we can prepare for them. The one shortcut we can take is packing and planning now.

Your family may never need your emergency kit, but you'll be so thankful for it if you do.

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Joanna Gaines had a very busy weekend after her husband Chip let it slip that the couple are working on a return to TV. And while we absolutely can't wait to see what a cable network devoted to all things Magnolia looks like, we totally understand why Jo needed to take it easy on Monday.

When you have a baby as cute as Crew and a bed as comfy as Jo's, the network meetings can wait.

Jo took off her media mogul hat and went into mama mode for some quality time with baby Crew this week, posting a sweet pic of the two of them in bed together, noting, "Today's been a 'cancel all your meetings and stay in your sweats' kinda day."

Clearly, Jo needed some downtime—and by taking it, she's showing all the mamas who consider her #goals that it is okay to say you need a break.

We live in a fast-paced world where hustling is praised and people wear their busyness like a badge of honor, but as Joanna showed us this week, we all need to slow down sometimes.

In her Instagram Stories she showed off her sweatpants and top-knot style, noting and that she and Crew hadn't moved from her bed all day. "I'm just fine with that," she noted.

Joanna Gaines is one of the most influential women in our culture right now, and hopefully, she'll influence more mamas to take time off when they need it.

It's okay to skip Gymboree this week if you just need to rest with your baby.

It's okay to spend your Saturday in bed instead of in the laundry room.

And it's okay to use one of your sick days at work to just focus on your mental health, mama.

Joanna Gaines took a mental health day to focus on herself and her baby—because you can't hustle if you're burned out. We all need to recharge once in a while. Thanks for the reminder, Jo.

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A royal baby announcement is certainly headline-worthy, but when Kensington Palace announced Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child, many headlines focused on the least shocking aspect of the story: the Duchess' age.

At 37 years old Markle would not be out of place in any British maternity ward, where more than half of all babies are born to mothers in their 30s and up. And yet many news outlets have focused on Makle's so-called "geriatric pregnancy"—a label once often used by doctors to describe pregnancies in women over the age of 35.

Now, however, it's less likely to hear doctors throwing around the term "geriatric pregnancy," largely due to its outdated and inappropriate connotations. It's much more common to refer to pregnant women over the age of 35 as being of "advanced maternal age", and mothers who can be categorized as such as very common, too.

The average age women have children is increasing

The Duchess of Sussex is part of a much larger movement in which more and more women are waiting longer to have children, at least in the United States. Between 2000 and 2014, in fact, the number of first births from women 35 years of age and over in the United States grew by 23%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous research suggests that this shift is largely due to the fact that significantly more women have entered the workforce and are now prioritizing their careers, higher education and financial security.

Advanced maternal age pregnancies do come with certain risks

"When you're young and you release an egg, the egg quality is great—most probably that egg is going to take and it's going to implant. When you get older, the egg quality gets much poorer," Dr. Shahin Ghadir, a board-certified OB-GYN and assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Keck School of Medicine at USC, told Healthline.However, as women age and put off having kids, their egg quality deteriorates and, consequently, their fertility declines.

This decrease kicks off around age 30 and speeds up around 35, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Women of advanced maternal age have a higher risk of experiencing high blood pressure during pregnancy—also known as preeclampsia—along with gestational diabetes, a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough insulin to regulate sugar during pregnancy, Ghadir said.

Miscarriage, multiple pregnancy, premature birth and cesarean delivery are more common complications as well. Furthermore, while the risk of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome, is small, the chances of having a baby with a missing, damaged or extra chromosome does increase with age.

Be as healthy as possible before getting pregnant

Women ages 35 and over shouldn't be overly concerned, though, as many in this age bracket give birth to completely healthy babies without complication.

"Trying to be the healthiest you is one of the most important things [to do] before anyone gets pregnant, especially if you're over 35," Ghadir said.

Don't skip out on your annual physical exam, and be sure to get your blood sugar, blood pressure, thyroid and uterine cavity checked prior to conceiving, Ghadir advised.

Taking prenatal vitamins such as folic acid, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help minimize complications as well.

Women have more options than ever

It's imperative for all women over 35 to undergo prenatal screening tests to determine their risk of having a baby with a birth defect or genetic disorder. If doctors suspect you may be prone to a complication or infertility, there are plenty of treatment options available to help you get pregnant.

"Advancements in the area of maternal fetal medicine, which is also known as high-risk obstetrics, have allowed women with advanced maternal age to have successful pregnancies and carefully monitor women during their pregnancies," Ghadir said.

For example, if infertility or genetics are an issue, in vitro fertilization (IVF)—a procedure in which sperm is combined with a woman's eggs in a laboratory—can help you get pregnant at any age.

Additionally, if you're well into your 30s and have no immediate plans of having children, Ghadir recommends freezing your eggs. This process allows women to harvest their healthy eggs and store them for later use.

Freezing your eggs at a younger age could significantly increase your chances of having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy later on in life, he said.

Sure, pregnancies in women of advanced maternal age are riskier, but as long as the pregnancy is closely monitored and well cared for, most women will be able to give birth to happy, healthy babies.

Originally posted on Healthline.

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