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Why American moms are the most stressed out moms in the Western world

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Motherhood is so much at once. It's loving looking into your child's wondering eyes, but sometimes also wishing that they could just shut them for a couple of hours. It's creating a safe, supportive home for your children while also trying to stretch a dollar that used to finance one or two lives to support three or four. It's passing out juice boxes with one hand while taking a work call with the other.

Motherhood is love in action, but it is also really, really hard. And in her new book, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, sociologist Caitlyn Collins suggests that for American mothers, it's more challenging than it should be.

According to Collins, it's harder to be a mom in America than in any other developed country, and "women's work-family conflict is a national crisis."

Collins came to this conclusion after studying the lives of American mothers and their counterparts in other nations and finding that America's lack of supportive public policy has created a society in which mothers who have no paid leave, no minimum standard for vacation and sick days, a high gender wage gap, a lack of affordable childcare and an unsustainable stress level.


Collin's thesis is no surprise to us. Last year Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood Survey asked 5,700 moms if society does a good job of understanding and supporting mothers.

Nearly three quarters said no, with 49% suggesting stronger government policies around paid family leave and childcare would help, and 20% suggesting the USA should shift toward flexible work culture.

American moms are overburdened and feel unsupported, and are coming home after work to do more work, but as Collins points out, it doesn't have to be this way. She interviewed 135 middle-class working mothers in four countries: Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States, and believes that work-family conflict does not have to be inevitable for mothers.

In Berlin, for example, working mothers feel the culture is supportive of them working. Many moms there work part-time or telecommute after taking a full year of parental leave. When moms go back to work they have access to universal childcare, something that is a hot topic stateside as we gear up for the 2020 presidential race.

Policies like universal childcare and paid family leave would certainly go a long way to reducing the stress levels of American mothers, but Collins wants people to look beyond what policies the country is lacking and also consider how America's history and cultural beliefs about individualism, men and women have led us here.

Collins suggests that the sky-high stress levels American moms have can't be fixed with policy alone. She's calling for lawmakers to support families and mothers, but also for America to redefine what motherhood, work and family look like.

That is something that we at Motherly are proud to do every day.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Collins said something else that we wholeheartedly agree with. She wants American mothers to understand that they are not to blame for how hard this all is. "I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That's just not the case," she told Dr. Alison Escalante.

We can't fix this by working more or sleeping less. But this generation of mothers can lead the way by calling for the support we need and redefining motherhood as something that works for us. Something beautiful and complicated and fulfilling, but hopefully a lot less stressful.

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I honestly can't remember how I used to organize and share baby photos before I started using FamilyAlbum. (What am I saying? I could never keep all those pictures organized!) Like most mamas, I often found myself with a smartphone full of photos and videos I didn't know what to do with. My husband and I live states away from our respective families, and we worried about the safety of posting our children's photos on other platforms.

Then we found FamilyAlbum.

FamilyAlbum is the only family-first photo sharing app that safely files photos and videos by date taken in easy-to-navigate digital albums. From documenting a pregnancy to capturing the magical moments of childhood, the app makes sharing memories with your family simple and safe. And it provides free, unlimited storage—meaning you can snap and snap and snap to your heart's delight without ever being forced to choose which close-up of your newborn's tiny little nose you want to keep.

Try FamilyAlbum for Free

And, truly, the app is a much-needed solution for mamas with out-of-state family. Parents can share all their favorite memories with friends and relatives safely within the app without worrying about spamming acquaintances with every adorable baby yawn the way you might on a social network or a long text thread. (Did I mention I have a thing for baby yawn videos? I regret nothing 😍) It's safe because your album is only visible to the people you share it with. The app will even notify album members when new photos have been posted so they can comment on their favorite moments and we can preserve their reactions forever. It's also easy for my husband and I to share our photos and videos. All of our memories are organized in one place, and we never have to miss out on seeing each other's best shots.

And because #mombrain is real, I especially appreciate how much work FamilyAlbum takes off my plate. From automatically organizing photos and videos by month and labeling them by age (so I can skip doing the math in my head to figure out if my daughter was five or six months when she started sitting up) to remembering what I upload and preventing me from uploading the same photo four times, the app makes it easy to keep all my memories tidy—even when life feels anything but.

FamilyAlbum will quickly become your family's solution for sharing moments, like when you're sending a video to the grandma across the country. Grandparents need only tap open the app to get a peek into what is going on with our girls every day. When my sister sends her nieces a present, the app has become where I can share photos and video of the girls opening their gifts so she never feels like she's missing a thing. The app will even automatically create paper photo books of your favorite shots that you can purchase every month so you can hold on to the memories forever (or to share with the great-grandma who has trouble with her smartphone 😉). Plus, you can update the books with favorite photos or create your own from scratch. No matter what, the app keeps your photos and videos safe, even if your phone is lost or damaged.

But what I love most about FamilyAlbum is that it's family-first. Unlike other photo sharing platforms, it was designed with mamas (and their relatives!) in mind, creating a safe, simple space to share our favorite moments with our favorite people. And that not only helps us keep in touch—it helps us all feel a little bit closer.

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This year marks FamilyAlbum's 4th anniversary! Click here to celebrate and learn more about their "Share your #FamilyAlbumTime" special promotion running until March 31, 2019.

It may seem like there are more recalls than ever these days, but that's actually a good thing for parents. It means fewer potentially dangerous products are making it to our dinner tables and medicine cabinets.

According to food safety experts, the spike in recall notices for everything from broccoli to baby toys in recent years suggests companies are doing a better job of self-reporting, and we're actually safer than we were in the days when recalls were rare.

"It reflects a food industry that takes contamination and foodborne illnesses seriously. Increasingly companies are willing to recall their products rather than expose customers to potential harm," Dr. William Hallman, professor and chair of Rutgers Department of Human Ecology, said in an interview with Food Drive."So more companies are taking a cautionary approach."

Here are the recalls parents need to know about this month:

 Henry Avocado Corporation's California-grown avocados 

Henry Avocado Corporation's California-grown conventional and organic avocados sold in bulk in Arizona, California, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin are being recalled due to potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Listeria causes one of the most serious types of food poisoning, listeriosis.

No one has reported becoming ill, but it's important to know that "pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis than the general population," according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, so check your avocados, mamas-to-be.

Kids, the elderly and those with weak immune systems are also at greater risk.

Non-organic avocados will have 'Bravocado' stickers and the organic ones are labeled "organic" and include "California" on the sticker, like in the image above.

You can return avocados or call Henry Avocado at (760) 745-6632, Ext 132.

Dollar General baby cough syrup

The FDA announced a recall of 2-fluid ounce (59 mL) bottles of DG/health NATURALS baby Cough Syrup + Mucus sold at Dollar General stores.

The manufacturer is recalling lot KL180157 because the medicine is possibly contaminated with Bacillus cereus, which can lead to two forms of gastrointestinal illness and cause vomiting or diarrhea.

"Most often, illnesses are mild and self-limiting, although more serious and even lethal cases have occurred. Individuals at risk for more severe forms of illness include infants, young children, and others with weakened immune systems," the FDA notes.

So far, no babies have become ill after taking this product, but if you have it in your home you should return it to the store or call 1-844-724-7347.

Dollar General Baby Gripe Water

The above cough syrup recall follows another recall of a Dollar General product. Last month the FDA issued a recall notice for "DC Baby Gripe Water herbal supplement with organic ginger and fennel extracts" after the company received one report of a one-week old baby who had difficulty swallowing the product, and there were three other complaints "attributed to the undissolved citrus flavonoid."

The FDA says "the product should not be considered hazardous but could result in difficulty when swallowing the product for sensitive individuals."

Basically, it's not harmful if swallowed but the undissolved flavonoid makes it a choking hazard.

The gripe water was sold at Dollar General stores in four ounce bottles with the UPC code 8 5495400246 3.

69,000+ pounds of Tyson chicken strips are being recalled: What parents need to know 

Another chicken product is being recalled. On March 20, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a recall classified as high risk. Some 69,000 pounds of Tyson frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip may be contaminated with pieces of metal.

Earlier this year Tyson recalled 36,420 pounds of nuggets for a similar reason.

All the recalled products have a use-by date of November 30, 2019. The recall includes the following varieties:


"The problem was discovered when FSIS received two consumer complaints of extraneous material in the chicken strip products," the agency notes. "There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider."

If you have these chicken strips, throw them away or call Tyson at 1-866-886-8456.

[A version of this post was originally published February 21, 2019. It has been updated.]

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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.

Luka was born in a hospital, while Banks was born at home, and Duff recently shared a video of that amazing day on Instagram.

Sharing this video clip isn't the first time Duff has opened up about her home birth. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast released last fall, Duff admitted 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," but she says she's so glad she did it this way and would totally do it again.

During her first pregnancy, Duff says she started out wanting an elective C-section (although she did not end up having surgery). 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. She was really scared.


More than five years later, during her pregnancy with Banks, Duff was way more confident as a woman and a mom. She 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'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," Duff tells the host of Informed Pregnancy, prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin.

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.

With the family around and the TV on, Duff's labor progressed a little slower than she'd imagined.

"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.

The birth

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 channeled all her energy into pushing, Duff let her team hold her legs and arms while she pushed.

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."

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

[This article was originally published November 14, 2018. It has been updated.]

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More than 120 million American adults live with chronic illnesses, and millions of those people are parents. But when we picture someone with a chronic illness we don't usually picture a mom, but some high-profile Hollywood actors are changing that.

In a recent essay for Shondaland, mom of two Jamie Lynn Sigler explained how multiple sclerosis impacts her family, but that living with a chronic illness doesn't make her any less of a mother to her sons.

"MS — any chronic illness, really — becomes your whole family's disease, not just your own. It affects our daily choices, and while sometimes I resent that, it has also made me see how strong I am. I have two little boys now. Beau is 5-and-a-half, and Jack is 14 months. I am there for them each and every day. I walk Jack every day in his stroller, around the block, no matter how long it takes me. I take Beau to hockey and karate and baseball, and sit on my chair and cheer him on. I am definitely participating in life the way I always dreamed, but it's not without challenges," she writes.

Sigler was diagnosed with MS before becoming a mom and notes that while her disease has been stable for more than a decade, pregnancy still terrified her.


"A million thoughts ran through my head. What if he runs off and I can't chase him one day? What if I can't carry him up and down the stairs? What if he won't want to play with me because I can't be the 'fun mom' who runs on the beach with him, or chases him around the house?"

Sigler says she does have days where she doesn't move fast and needs help up the stairs, "but in the face of the daily fears that I have of not being enough, my two little boys give me all the love and reassurance I'll ever need. They only know this one mommy."

For Sigler, her life-changing MS diagnosis came before motherhood, but for her friend and fellow actor Selma Blair, it came afterward. For years Blair struggled with unexplained exhaustion and pain and felt ignored by doctors who attributed her experience to being worn out by single motherhood.

"Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up and didn't know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal," she told Good Morning America. "And I was self-medicating when he wasn't with me. I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn't always drinking, but there were times when I couldn't take it."

Thankfully, Blair is now getting the help she needs for her illness, and like Sigler, she's being open about her journey in the hopes of helping other parents who are dealing with MS and other chronic illnesses.

"I'd drop my son off at school a mile away, and before I got home, I'd have to pull over and take a nap. And I was ashamed, and I was doing the best I could, and I was a great mother. But it was killing me."

Thankfully, Blair is finally getting the help she needs. She famously walked this year's Oscar red carpet with a cane, but as she wrote in a recent Instagram caption, waking with an aid doesn't change her relationship with her son: "I am still the mom."

Chronic illness doesn't define these mothers, and it shouldn't define all the other moms who are dealing with health issues but still raising their families.

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Mindy Kaling has two huge projects coming up. Her new movie Late Night hits theaters in June and she just announced that she's working on a comedy for Netflix. Clearly, becoming a mother did not slow Kaling's career down at all and she's okay with that—now. In recent interviews, Kaling explains how hard it was to come to terms with balancing work and raising her daughter Katherine, born in late 2017.

Her advice for new moms? Accept that you are enough (and accept help when you need it).

Before Kaling welcomed baby Katherine into the world she thought she would be working less after becoming a mom, but as her current career trajectory indicates, that didn't happen. "I used to tell myself when I was full-time on The Mindy Project and I was acting all day, 'Well you know what, I won't be doing that when I have my daughter. And I'll feel like I see her all day every day,'" And Kaling thought that would be enough. "But it's never true. I literally think there's no world where I would always feel like I bond with her enough and was not shortchanging time with her," Kaling told the Hollywood Reporter.

"I am seeing her more often, but it's like unless I was just seeing her 100% of her day, you always feel like you're missing out. So I kind of wish I had known that. [There's] a low-key feeling of not being quite adequate enough and being happy with that and thinking, 'Okay, I'm coming to terms with that,'" Kaling says.


It's a feeling that we all need to come to terms with, because whether you're spending time away from your baby because you're working on a cool new Netflix show or spending time away from them because you're also raising their siblings, we need to know the hours we are with them are enough, something Kaling is learning and thinks new moms should know.

It took some time for Kaling to recognize that, but she was quicker to recognize that no mama can do it all alone and there will be things she needs to ask for help with as a parent. After Katherine was born Kaling did not become a breastfeeding expert overnight, so she reached out to an expert. "And I actually hired a woman who came over to my house, who's like the lady in Los Angeles who teaches women how to breastfeed, and she came over and gave me a lesson. So, I really asked for help which was key for me," she recently told PureWow.

Motherhood changes us, but it doesn't make us superhuman or infallible. We're just humans trying to raise other humans and we only have so many hours in the day. We don't need to spend 100% of our time with our kids to love them with our whole hearts.

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