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Rallying the whole family for an epic walk is perhaps one of the most adventurous ways to spend an afternoon. It’s one of the few simple activities the family can do together that combines quality time, health benefits, and the chance to discover or learn something new.


In our hometowns, we all have our go-to routes. We know which coffee shop to duck into, the most scenic overlooks, and even the cleanest bathrooms for guaranteed emergencies. But when you’re visiting a place you’ve never been, it’s helpful to have a little of that insider intel.

We’ve asked awesome families from all over the U.S. to map out their favorite walking paths in both urban and rural areas. So bust out a stroller that’s up to the task, lace up your sneakers, and head out on your next great adventure.

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〉Map Tip: Tap the icon in the top left of the maps listed below to see route details and map options.

Seattle, WA

West Seattle

Grab a Hawaiian-style lunch at Marination Ma Kai then walk along the Alki path towards Alki Beach or even Alki Point Lighthouse. If the walk doesn’t sound great after all those tacos, you could rent a SUP, kayak or bike next to Marination.

Queen Anne

Grab ingredients for a picnic at Trader Joe’s, Queen Anne Ave. Walk or drive to Kerry Park. This viewpoint is one of the most famous in the city and it gets crowded – but the combination of the city skyline and Mount Rainier is worth the stop. For a more relaxing and equally gorgeous place for a picnic, continue 10 minutes down the ritzy road to Marshall Park. Before you leave Marshall Park, pop into the tiny rose garden across the street.
Make your way back to Molly Moons for some amazing ice cream. It’s fun to take a meandering route past all of the beautiful homes along the way. (Try to find the cool hidden stairs that connect certain streets together.)

Seward Park

Loop around the park for a great waterfront stroll. The path is paved, wide, and great for strollers.

After your walk, make the pretty drive along Lake Washington Blvd. to Mioposto Pizzeria for some breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Local insight provided by Katie W.

Austin, Texas

Children’s museum, park, and ice cream

Thinkery Children’s Museum | This hands-on museum focuses on STEM exhibits that change frequently. Bring a change of clothes so the kids can take full advantage of the water features. Park on the north side of the building to make use of a free parking garage.

Mueller Trailer Eats | Check out the rotating food truck options. On Sundays between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., you can catch the farmers’ market across the street in the Browning Hangar.

Mueller Lake Park | Once the site of the old airport, the Mueller redevelopment is now a mixed-used metropolitan dream. Check out the playground, watch the ducks, and cruise around the many trails after lunch.

Sculpture garden, food trucks, and a spring swim cooldown

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & MuseumKids are free to touch the sculptures in the outdoor garden and the paths are accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Admission may be free when you visit – depending on donor contributions – but otherwise, adults are $5 and children under 12 are free!

The Picnic Food trucks | This melting pot of food trucks has something for everyone. There are plenty of shady tables, fans, and restrooms. BYOB if you want any adult beverages. Check the website for up-to-date truck selections and hours.

Barton Springs Pool | Cool down quickly at this large 3 acre, spring-fed pool, which stays a brisk 68 degrees year-round. Food, alcohol, and airborne toys like footballs and frisbees are prohibited. Lifeguards are on site from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. There is a free section of the pools, but the $4 admission is worth it. Tip: bring cash to avoid the long lines at the credit card kiosk.

Riverwalk boardwalk and tacos

Lady Bird Boardwalk | This new boardwalk (2014) offers great views of the river and city skyline. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles and birds along the shore and stop to check out the 36 bronze belts on the boardwalk railings created by artist Ken Little to commemorate well-known Texas singers and songwriters.

Taco joint | Refuel after your river stroll. This quick taqueria serves up a wide variety of large, cheap, delicious tacos and more (Tip: try the El Cubano Bolillo) – don’t miss the sauce station. This place can get busy during prime lunch hours when the college kids are in town.

Local insight provided by Zaeli K.

Los Angeles, CA

Runyon Canyon

Park three blocks away near Blackwood Coffee Bar on Sunset Ave. for a specialty cup of caffeine to sip on while you make your way to the trailhead. The main trail is wide and paved, but you’ll want to make this trek an out-and-back as the trail at the summit narrows and gets rocky. There are no restrooms in the park. You may want to re-visit Blackwood Coffee Bar 😉

Griffith Park – Near the old L.A. Zoo

Visit the park rangers before you head out and get the skinny on other trails you might want to check out!

Reward your stroll with a ride on the merry-go-round after your walk. Open weekends through the year and during the week through the summer 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Picnic in the Lion’s Den at the Old Zoo or at Shane’s Inspiration and enjoy the universally designed playground.

Solstice Canyon

Drinking from the stream is not such a great idea – fill your water bottles at the drinking fountain in the parking lot.

Post-hike hunger? Swing past Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe for a no-frills fish ‘n’ chips spot with ocean views.

Local insight provided by Andy B.

Washington D.C.

Georgetown

Start with lunch at the cute, environmentally-conscious and tasty Luke’s Lobster. If you’ve left any room, swing by the famous Georgetown Cupcakes before using Cady’s Ally to make your way to the historic C&O Canal Towpath. This historic waterway runs parallel to an 184-mile path that will take you from D.C. into Maryland.

Take the Towpath east and make your way to the Georgetown Waterfront Park for great views of the river.

Dupont Circle

The blocks between 14th and 20th on Q St NW showcase the variety of residential architecture found in the city. Take a leisurely stroll down this quiet street and pop into the quirky Mr. Yogato for great frozen yogurt and amazingly friendly service. If you participate in their trivia and games they’ll discount your yogurt!

Finish your walk at the Dupont Circle fountain.

Local insight provided by Zoe R.

Portland, Oregon

Burnside

Fuel up at Heart Coffee Roasters before the walk. Grab sandwiches to go at the Laurelhurst Market and head over to Laurelhurst Park. The park has lots of greenery, paved trails, tennis courts, and even a dance studio in the middle of the park (you can sign up for classes through Portland Parks & Rec).

Music Millenium is a fun spot to buy records and other musical accouterments. It’s also infamously known for a “Keep Portland Weird” mural on the side of the building. Make a bathroom break at Whole Foods Market.

Don’t miss the ice cream at Cheese & Crack Snack Shop. The dark chocolate ganache at the bottom of the ice cream cone is the happiest ending you’ll ever know. Take your cone through the quiet and pretty neighborhood around NE Davis St. Your walk could be expanded throughout all of these windy little roads.

If you’re hungry again, stop by Ken’s Artisan Pizza for really, really good pizza, or Canteen for the best smoothies (ever), good coffee, or a healthy lunch.

If it’s a rainy day, or you’re ready to rest your legs, check out show times at the Laurelhurst Theater. This cheap theater ($4) serves alcohol, pizza, and popcorn.

North Portland

Begin at Peninsula Park. The parks rose gardens are amazing and the playground, maintained trails, and fountains make it easy to explore for a couple of hours.

Swing through Multnomah County Library (North Portland) for a bathroom or a little quiet time.

Hit up Sweedeedee for the wonderful atmosphere and great food. I recommend brunch or lunch.

Afterward, you can pop into the Portland Museum of Modern Art – this is really more of a gallery (which is even a stretch). They host a free family tour for kids under 17 Sundays at 12:30 p.m.

If you need any groceries, stop by Cherry Sprout Produce for good produce and supplies. And round out your walk at Albina Press for some really good coffee.

Southwest Portland

If you’re in town Saturday, check out the huge Portland Farmers Market.

Portland is known for its food trucks. Nong’s Khao Man Gai serves delicious Thai food out of their truck and their brick & mortar location in the southeast. Great for lunch.

Spend some time meandering through the shelves at the mother of all bookstores: Powell’s City of Books.

There’s so much great food in this city, it’s hard not to eat every hour. Grab some fancy-pants donuts at Blue Star Donuts, or great ice cream at Ruby Jewel. If you’re ready for lunch.2, get takeout from The Whole Bowl, or sit down at (vegetarian/vegan)  Prasad. This restaurant was the filming location in “Portlandia” with a “smokers’ lounge” of sorts for customers to go toot-toot. The food is good, I swear.  Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House is a great kid-friendly place to grab a beer.

End by the cool sculptures & fountains of Jamison Square. Hop on the Max to end the walk.

Local insight provided by Hannah M.

Make your family walk smoother with the stroller that allows for three-stage expansions with 30 configurations.

Parent Co. partnered with Austlen Baby Co. because the most fun adventures often happen on foot. 

San Francisco, CA

Presidio

Loop One: Lover’s Lane and Inspiration Overlook Point

Start at the Presidio gate at the corner of Pacific Ave. and Presidio Blvd. Take the old “Lover’s Lane” trail on your left. Keep your eyes peeled for “Wood Line,” an art installation by Andy Goldsworthy, located in the eucalyptus forest just east of the trail.

Once the trail ends, turn left onto Barnard Ave. and connect to the Ecology Trail. Follow this trail up to Inspiration Overlook. Once you’ve taken in the view, use Mountain Lake Trail to get back to the gate where you started.

Loop Two: Ocean and Goldengate views from Lincoln Blvd.

Start at the north end of Lincoln Blvd. and make your way south along the path that runs parallel to the road. You’ll get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city, and the ocean. Once you’ve reached the intersection with Bowley St. you can hop on the free Presidigo Shuttle for a quick ride back up the hill.

Mission District

The Mission’s many great restaurants and shops make it a great place to explore on foot. After checking out Valencia St, head to Foreign Cinema for dinner and a movie, which is projected onto the wall of their patio. The menu is a bit upscale but they offer a great kid’s menu. Once dinner’s finished, walk over to Smitten Ice Cream for individually flash frozen servings.

Local insight provided by Lydia S.

Miami, FL

Fruit and gardens

Before your walk, grab a fresh smoothie, juice, or milkshake at Pinecrest Wayside Market. They also sell prepared saladssandwiches, locally made jamsmuffins, as well as fruit and produce.

Walk over to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and explore the beautiful gardens. The gardens have a couple of cafes on site if you have a snack emergency. Look for the glass sculptures throughout the gardens.

After the gardens, walk or drive to the Red Fish Grill for an amazing sunset view. The food can be a bit pricey.

Eat your way down Espanola Way

Espanola Way is less hectic than some of the other pedestrian streets in Miami. The street is known for its variety of authentic cuisine, slow-living, and people watching. Take a leisurely stroll and have an early dinner before the street turns into more of a party scene.

Havana 1957 Cuban Cuisine serves wonderful Cuban food along with their famous mojitos. If you’re in more of a French mood, sit on the airy patio of A La Folie for casual and authentic French fare. Italian Hosteria Romana is on the pricier side, but the food is good and the service is friendly. Tapas & Tintos serves great sangria, tapas, and lively dancing gets going in the evenings.

Local insight provided by Eric S.

Chicago, IL

Millennium Park | Whether you take the train into the city or park your car in Millennium Garage, beginning your Chicago trip at Millennium Park is a good way to start the day. You’ll want to get your required selfie by Cloud Gate (or “The Bean” by the locals’ terminology). The fabulous “face” fountains are great for kids to splash in and get cool. Other cool features of Millennium Park: the clamshell stage, the Lurie garden, and easy access to the Art Institute. Millennium Park is always busy with a constant lineup of events (especially in summer) so be sure to check the monthly schedule.

Chicago Children’s Museum | The Chicago Children’s Museum has an exhibit for every child: From blanket forts to a tinkering lab to an art studio just for kids, your kids are guaranteed to find something they love. Even babies and tots have their own safe place to crawl and play. For the super adventurous family, combine your museum admission with the SeaDog, the super speed boat experience.

Ferris Wheel| While you’re at Navy Pier, soak up the Chicago skyline while aboard the Centennial Wheel. Newly updated to be completely enclosed, each Ferris wheel bucket is safe and secure for even the littlest of littles.  

Ghirardelli Chocolate Café | Ghirardelli Chocolate Café is a must-do. Their menu is heaven for both ice cream and chocolate lovers alike, and I can’t get past the World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae.

Billy Goat Tavern | Walk to Billy Goat Tavern for some dinner.  Yep, ice cream before dinner because, hey, Chicago’s fun and we can do that. Popularized by an SNL skit, you’ll know that you can only order “cheeps, no fries.” Get in the Chicago spirit and order yourself a “Cheeseborger” and dig in.

Garrett Popcorn | No Chicago trip is ever complete without a trip to Garrett for popcorn. Sure the lines might be as a long as a ride at Disney, but as soon as you taste the oddly delicious “Chicago Mix” (cheddar/caramel), you’ll see why.   

Intelligentsia Coffee | After a day this intense, it’s time for a coffee break for the parents. You’ve come full circle on your walking Chicago tour, as the Randolph Street location is near both Millennium station and the parking garage. The inside décor is post-industrial and reflects the art of Millennium Park itself.

Local insight provided by Kathryn T. 

New York City

Central Park (the scenic route)

Central Park ZooThis small zoo is home to more than 100 animals from all over the world, including sea lions, penguins, and snow leopards – sure to be a hit with the kids. It also hosts a small petting zoo where you can feed barn animals from dispensers.

Conservatory Water | Remote-controlled model sailboats are a huge draw here (hint: for kids who love to read, this is a plot in Stuart Little!). The water is surrounded by statues of fictional characters kids will love including Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen. Going in the winter? Instead of model sailboats, the water is lowered for free ice skating!

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain | Considered the heart of Central Park, Bethesda Terrace is frequented by talented street performers and NYC residents looking to escape the hustle and bustle. This is a great spot to grab a hot dog or pretzel from a street vendor and people-watch.

Belvedere CastleThis miniature castle designed in the late 1800s is a hidden gem. The kids will love exploring the inside of the castle full of historical exhibits and information on local wildlife. At the top of the castle, the landmark offers some of the best scenic views in Central Park.

American Museum of Natural HistoryWhile technically across the street from the park, this is one of the largest museums in the world.  The museum’s exhibitions explore humanity and the natural world throughout the ages. Taking up four city blocks, you may want to pick and choose which areas of the museum you spend the most time in!

 

Downtown Manhattan (Landmark Route)

Brooklyn Bridge | A little more than a mile long, walking the Brooklyn Bridge will give you some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. It takes close to an hour to walk one-way across the bridge with kids. Unless your family is ready for a long walk, you may want to start on the Brooklyn side, or only go halfway and double back starting from the Manhattan side. 


South Street Seaport | This area of Manhattan is one of the oldest parts of the city, featuring renovated original mercantile buildings, sailing ships, and modern tourist malls. It’s the perfect spot to stop and grab some lunch from gourmet street vendors before continuing your tour of downtown Manhattan.


Staten Island FerryAn all-day trip to explore the Statue of Liberty may be out of the question depending on the age of your kids, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing the NYC landmark! Hop a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry for a break from walking. Make sure to scope out a good spot on the railing for some great family photos when the ferry passes the Statue of Liberty.


Charging Bull / Fearless Girl | The financial district may seem like a different type of city entirely, but there are great photo opportunities by the statues of the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl.


9/11 Memorial and Museum | Located at the site of the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum pays tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon with artifacts from the day, stories of hope, and reflecting pools where the towers once stood.

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket | Open Saturdays Year Round, market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Located at the northwest entrance to beautiful Prospect Park and just steps from the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store | This store showcases an ever-evolving collection of well-curated goods for home, gifts, and kiddos – and a great backyard area for play and special events.

The Old Stone House | Originally built by Dutch settlers in 1699, the homestead later became significant in the Battle of Brooklyn. The small, kid-friendly museum only requires about 30 minutes and can be entered by donation (suggested $3).  The House is situated at the center of Washington Park and JJ Byrne Playground – which has separate play spaces for toddlers, elementary and middle-school aged children. Open Friday 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company | If you know of someone in need of capes, masks, anti-gravity gel, or x-ray goggles then this is a must! This volunteer-staffed store is actually benefitting a non-profit supporting kids’ literacy! Warning, the volunteer staff may be out saving the world when you want to visit, so call before you go to make sure they’re open.

Puppetworks | Founder Nicolas Coppola is passionate about engaging kids in his marionette puppet shows . Kids sit on mats at the front for short and charming adaptations of well-known plays while parents can enjoy themselves on benches in the back of the small theater. Child: $9, Adult: $10. Reservations are suggested: 718-965-3391 | Credit cards aren’t accepted. 

Brooklyn burger and beer | This elevated, kid-friendly (and overall friendly) burger joint serves up great grass-fed burgers and milk + cookie with their kids’ meals. Monday – Friday you can get a burger (two toppings), a side, and a cookie for $13. Great cocktails, too!

Local insight provided by Tara P.

Boston, MA


USS Constitution Museum/ HarborWalk | While you might find yourself itching to jump right to Quincy Market, I suggest beginning a little on the outskirts, in charming Charlestown. There are multiple parking garages which offer cheaper rates than most central city lots. You may even get lucky and find street parking to avoid paying fees altogether.  

The Boston Navy Yard and Marine Barracks set the backdrop for your visit to the USS Constitution Museum and “Old Ironsides.” Over the past five years, the museum has gone through some major renovations to create a fun and interactive experience for children of all ages. 

Charlestown/ Long Wharf Ferry RideClimb aboard the modern-day Charlestown Ferry for a ride to Long Wharf through the Boston Harbor! The ferry is the quickest way to the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall. You can enjoy the ferry from inside the cabin or take in the views of the cityscape from the top deck. There’s a snack bar inside the cabin where you purchase your tickets ($3.50 per person). 

The Greenway Carousel | Once at Long Wharf, head on over to the carousel located at the nearby Rose Kennedy Greenway. This beautiful carousel includes native species like a turtle, rabbit, and lobster. The carousel has been designed to be accessible for children with physical disabilities. Rides cost $3 per ticket or $25 for a pack of 10 tickets.

After, stroll on over to Emack & Bolio’s, on 100 Legends Way, and cool down with an ice cream cone or sundae. There is plenty of shade and a nearby splash pad that children (and adults) of all ages can appreciate! If you’re not quite ready for a sugary treat, there are plenty of food trucks that frequent this area with decently priced options. The infamous Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also close by. Be warned: The market is packed around noon and can be difficult to navigate with a stroller.

Boston Common Frog Pond Spray Pool & Fountain/ Tadpole Playground | Burn off some steam at the spray pool and fountain in the Boston Common. The shady trees surrounding the area make a great spot to lay a blanket when it’s time to dry off. Frog Pond Café is open in the summer, but many locals pack a picnic lunch to enjoy. Check the park’s calendar to catch a magic show, face painting, and other fun activities for kids!

If it’s a cooler day and you’ve had your fill of splash pads, head on over to the Tadpole Playground. Remember to wear your water shoes! This playground has fountain frogs that like to squirt water.

If time allows and your family isn’t quite ready to go to dinner, head to the Boston Public Garden for a photo-op with the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues or Swan Boat rides on the man-made pond. Boat rides cost $2 for children between the ages of two and 15. Kids under two are free! Bonus!

Delicious brick-oven pizza at Antico Forno Once you’ve had your fill of adventure, it’s time to head over to the famous North End. On weekends and during the busy summer months, you should call ahead and make reservations. The North End boasts many fabulous Italian eateries but only a handful are truly family friendly. Antico Forno is sure to please with their artisan brick-oven pizza – which can be ordered online ahead of time for pick up. 

Bova’s Bakery in Boston’s Historic North End | Be sure to end the night at Bova’s Bakery. If you’ve dined at a restaurant in the North End that served bread with the meal (basically everywhere in the North End), you’ve tasted Bova’s. They offer a selection of traditional Italian cookies, the best cannolis the city has to offer, and they’re open 24 hours. You’ll also avoid the touristy lines that Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry typically bring. Keep cash on you. None of the three bakeries mentioned above accept credit/debit cards.

Local insight provided by Elise K.

 

Parent Co. partnered with Austlen Baby Co. because the most fun adventures often happen on foot. 

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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I was as prepared as I could be for my body to run the marathon that is childbirth, yet it turned out to be more like a sprint.

You see, I gave birth in a car—and I felt invincible.

During pregnancy, I chose to create a positive experience. I sought all the research I could. I watched birth videos and documentaries, read birth stories, learned about the stages of labor, recorded coping techniques, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and ate all the dates. I sought care, prepared my cookies and teas, gathered breastfeeding cream, a pump, and belly bind. I folded baby's diapers and clothes, praying for those important first weeks.

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Perhaps the most important thing I did was to join a due date group with like-minded mamas to learn and grow with, and to share all the information, research and tips we could.

Much of my preparation was mental and spiritual prep-work. I read tons of books about birth, including faith-based books about labor, a practical guide to an "emergency" birth, and a natural pregnancy and childbirth guidebook. (And yes, I did end up using knowledge of each of these resources!)

Each of my two births were very different. With my first child's birth, I did not know much about birth or my options. My water broke at the onset of labor and I labored grudgingly in the one hour car ride to the hospital. Once there, I begged for an epidural.

This time around, though, I approached labor differently.

I chose to experience unmedicated labor, even though it isn't an easily understood decision. There were so many unsolicited opinions from people about what I should do with my body, and it was hard to not feel bombarded with all of the negative talk surrounding birth. But by having the support of the due date group and learning the wisdom that has been passed down in generations about childbirth, I wasn't deterred in my decision.

I knew that I needed to focus on not being overtaken by the potential overwhelm of birth. I remembered that I had a right to informed consent and that I could find kind of positive help I needed to give birth the way I knew I needed to. I chose to memorize biblical and positive affirmations to recite during birth to help calm myself through the contractions, and focus on what's at hand, rather than panic.

Labor began

The day my son came, I woke up before the sun at 4am and headed for the bathroom. I felt nauseous and achy like I was going to throw up and have diarrhea all at once. It was a very distinct, disgusting feeling throughout my body. Yet even with that feeling, I was in denial that labor was really starting.

My water was intact, and I was expecting my water to break at the onset of labor, as it did with my first. I was having some contractions, although extremely erratic. They were not consistent with clockwork, but they didn't stop, either. I would have a contraction that lasted five seconds, then a break for 20 minutes. Another contraction, this time for 20 seconds, and a break for seven minutes. I tried using an app to track and time the contractions for a bit, but ultimately that proved to cause more anxiety than peace.

So I turned the app off, and focused on being present. I was so calm. I let the contractions come and go. My family didn't even know I was in labor until they woke up with the sunrise! (I didn't want to wake everyone up—silly me, being in active labor!)

I was grateful to labor on my own in a quiet house in the early pre-dawn hours before the house and outside world woke up. I kept my composure, breathed through contractions, read and prayed, and let the birth process happen on its own.

When the contractions did not stop, I realized this was the real thing.

Once everyone was awake, I realized that I should probably be doing more to prepare, like get to help! We haphazardly packed a bag and rushed out the door to drive an hour to the place chosen to have our baby. I was not excited for that long car ride. I remember laboring in the car before, and it was miserable for me. I also knew how quick my past labor had been, and had this deep feeling, perhaps a mother's intuition, that we wouldn't make it to our destination in time.

I knew that this labor was progressing very quickly, and the baby was going to be born soon. Yet we went.

Giving birth in the car

My family got into the car and we drove, planning to meet more family at the hospital to take over the care of our toddler for a few days.

I labored in the car for 40 minutes until the ring of fire came. I knew what this meant: He was crowning, and we had to park. I tried to get into the best squat position I could, facing the seat, relieved that the car had stopped at this point. I repeated my affirmations over and over, and tried to focus on staying as calm as possible.

And he was born in the car, in the back of a small town grocery parking lot.

My baby was 6 pounds and 6 ounces, born at 9:15 in the morning, as I was facing the seat backward and squatting in the passenger seat of the car.

I didn't really push. A combination of by body's contractions and gravity seemed to do all the work. I was squatting upright, and the baby to just sort of plopped out. Head first into the car seat, with my hand to guide his head down, and a bit of the cord and fluids followed.

I attempted to squat fairly awkwardly in the seat to hold my fresh son and rub the vernix into his sweet skin. We were in love, and I felt invincible. I immediately felt relief of all the pain and tension. The rush of oxytocin and hormones from birth made me feel on top of the world. (In that moment, I almost forgot that my toddler was in the backseat watching, eyes wide open—he was so quiet!)

The ambulance was called, we were checked out, and all was well. I waddled to the ambulance while the EMTs held towels around me and baby. They needed to take me to the hospital to make sure we were okay. I sat in the back of the ambulance stroking my baby, relieved to have more space to stretch out.

At the hospital, we sat in a room for a while until they figured out what to do with us, since the baby was already here. We stayed overnight and I reflected on the birth as I could.

Reflecting on my car birth

In some ways, I was sad. This is not what I wanted first moments with my son to be like. Although I was prepared for birth and felt incredible afterward, I felt sort of exposed to the world during the process. My body was depleted—and ultimately, my baby was born in the car (not exactly something that was on my bucket list).

I felt grief for the way (or rather, place) that my labor happened. But I was also thankful for a powerful, unmedicated birth. I grieved the loss of expectations, while being thankful for the reality. And that's okay.

I did it. We did it. This birth was a sprint, not the marathon so many women talk about.

Nothing about my labor and contractions were predictable. I did not have much knowledge about birth before I was pregnant, but the preparation during my pregnancy helped me feel more at ease. Despite the situation, I didn't feel that it was challenging. I felt able, or at least as able or prepared as any mother can be, for labor.

The feeling of being in labor is indescribable—the juxtaposition between pregnancy and postpartum, the time in labor where you are in the hyphen of here and there, a time that forever changes your life and family.

It was truly vulnerable and powerful—an unusual presence of two feelings that left me over-the-moon. As soon as my son was born, the feeling of pain was gone, just like that. And in its place was exhilaration; a rush of adrenaline and awe. I did it completely on my own, in the front passenger seat of the car!

Our bodies are absolute miracles. I grew into a mother of two that day, and with that, my new mission was born: to help other mothers learn and experience the feeling of being empowered by your birth and labor, not in fear of it. I decided to become a birth and postpartum doula, to empower, coach and be alongside other mothers in their own journey in birth and motherhood.

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Life

For starters, this article is not to be confused with 10 ways to win a power struggle. I know, I'm disappointed too, but there is no way to win a power struggle with a 3-year-old. They can refuse to put on their shoes all day—they have nowhere better to be!

More importantly, you don't necessarily want to win a power struggle. Sure, you may occasionally triumph in a battle of the wills with your child, but I doubt either of you will emerge from the experience feeling good about yourselves or your relationship.

Plus, as nice as it would be to have our children just do what we ask without argument, our goal isn't to raise little people who blindly follow orders. Rather, we want to raise children who are able to compromise, accept advice and guidance and follow a trusted authority.

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What we can think about is how to make the most of the inevitable power struggles we find ourselves in with young children, and how to come out of them with our relationship intact.

Here are 10 ways to turn power struggles with your toddler into a win:

1. Demonstrate how to compromise

One of the best ways to teach children how to be kind and reasonable in their interactions with others is through modeling. I know, no pressure, right?

Instead of standing over them and yelling at them to pick up their toys while they sit there with their arms crossed giving you the evil eye, try offering to put away the blocks while they put away the dolls. Or, try offering them five more minutes before clean up time. Extend the olive branch and see if you can gain their cooperation rather than their obedience.

In time, you can involve your child more in coming up with the solution. Say something like, "I want you to clean up your toys and you don't want to. What's a compromise we could use here?"

2. Model empathy

It can be really hard to show empathy for something that seems completely ridiculous to us. Can you really have empathy for someone refusing to eat their breakfast because you gave them the blue spoon? Maybe not.

But you can show empathy for how hard it is to not get what you want, or to not have the control you wish you had over your own life. You can say something like, "I know the red spoon is your favorite. It's hard for you when it isn't clean."

This shows our children that we see and care about how they're feeling, and it is often enough to help them move on.

3. Show the strength of your relationship

Perhaps the most important win that can come out of a power struggle is a stronger relationship. Power struggles are incredibly draining for us and for our children, and it can be hard not to emerge from it angry and tired.

Once you've recovered, spend some time repairing your relationship and let your child know that, no matter what, you still love them for exactly who they are.

4. Model how to apologize

At some point you will inevitably lose your temper over a power struggle you have with your child. It's almost impossible not to. When this happens, it is a great opportunity to show your child how to apologize.

While making children say "I'm sorry," doesn't teach them remorse, when we apologize it teaches the importance of admitting when we do something wrong.

You might say something like, "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. I was so frustrated when you wouldn't put on your shoes and we needed to leave, but yelling wasn't a good choice. May I give you a hug?"

5. Teach them to read their bodies

Children frequently become argumentative when they're tired, hungry or thirsty. They are not good at reading their own body's signals, yet the way they feel physically dramatically affects their behavior.

When you find your child buckling down and refusing everything you ask them to do, teach them how to pause and scan their body. Explain to them that when they are feeling this way, it is sometimes because they haven't eaten or rested in a while.

Teaching your child to be in tune with their body is a lesson that will last well beyond the stage of power struggles.

6. Let them learn from natural consequences

Many power struggles center around things we ask our children to do for their own good. We ask them to bring a coat so they won't be cold. We ask them to use the potty so they'll be comfortable. We ask them to do their homework so they don't get in trouble at school.

Next time you feel a power struggle coming on, ask yourself what would happen if your child didn't do what you asked. Is there a natural consequence that would be meaningful, but not harmful? If so, let the situation unfold.

You might say something like, "I think you should wear a coat so that you're not cold, but it's your body, you can decide."

Later, when they're too cold and have to leave the park, you can talk about what happened. Sure, your child will be mildly uncomfortable for a while, but you will avoid a daily power struggle about coats.

7. Show them it's okay to change your mind

Some rules are really important and we simply cannot back down. Other times, you may make a minor request in passing, only to set off a monumental power struggle. Do you have to stick to what you said simply to avoid backing down to your unreasonable child?

No, of course not, what message would that send?

If something isn't important to you, simply tell your child that you've changed your mind, not out of exasperation, but simply because it's not important to you.

Say something like, "Wow, I can see this is really important to you. You know what, now that I think about it, I'm okay with it if you wear your princess dress to the park, if you're okay with it getting dirty."

This demonstrates that it's okay to give in to what someone else wants sometimes, we don't have to be in a power struggle just to avoid backing down at all costs.

8. Teach respectful disagreement

Power struggles can be an excellent opportunity to teach our children how to disagree, respectfully. After all, there is nothing wrong with our children having a different opinion, we just don't want them to express it by flat out refusal or laying on the floor screaming. You can explain this to your child, offering them an alternative way of expressing their opinion.

Say something like, "Wow, I asked you to get dressed and you really don't want to. You could say 'I'm not ready Mom, may I wait five minutes?'" If your child is already emotional, try having this discussion later when they've calmed down.

9. Practice problem solving skills

Involve your child in coming up with a solution for ongoing power struggles. Do they argue every day about what's for breakfast? Invite them to look through a healthy cookbook with you and choose a new recipe to try.

Do they say no and run away every time it's time to leave the park? Sit down with a pen and paper and involve them in coming up with a good solution for when it's time to go.

This is a great exercise in creative problem solving and children are far more likely to go along with a solution they helped create.

10. Show them they can trust you

In the midst of a battle of wills, it is generally useless to use logic, to explain your reasoning to a child who has already decided that they are, under no circumstances, backing down.

Later though, when all is calm and you have both recovered, sit down with your child and explain why you were asking them to do something.

Explain that you asked them to get in their car seat because it's so important for safety and you care about them. Explain that you asked them to put their toys away because it's important for your family to have a nice and tidy home to live in.

Explain to them that you always, always, have their best interests at heart, that they can trust you.

The best way to handle power struggles is to avoid them. Still, you are human, and you are likely to get dragged into some power struggles from time to time. When that happens, just try to make the best of it.Your child will likely try to initiate many power struggles, but you don't have to actually join the fight every time. Remember that protecting and repairing your relationship is more important than winning any battle.

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Learn + Play

Meghan Markle is opening up about some of the challenges of pregnancy and life as a new mom. While most of us can't relate to her status as a royal we can totally relate to some of her feelings about motherhood.

Markle was recently interviewed by ITV News at Ten anchor Tom Bradby—and when Bradby asked her how she was doing she kept it real.

"Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes," Markle said.

ITV News on Instagram: “'Not many people have asked if I’m ok... it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.' Meghan reveals to ITV’s @tom.bradby…”

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Many moms can relate to this, and it's something we at Motherly have often commented on. People always ask how the baby is doing, but don't always think to ask mama how she is. Of course, we want the people around us to care how our babies are doing, but mom needs to be cared for, too.

Bradby pressed on, asking Markle if it would be fair to say she is " not really OK?"

"Yes," she replied.

The most famous new mom in the world is saying that she is not okay. We applaud her for that because by telling her truth she is no doubt inspiring other mothers to do the same. We don't have to pretend that motherhood is free from stress and struggle. It is hard, even for someone with the resources Markle has.

The Duchess of Sussex has a lot of financial resources, but she has also been highly scrutinized during her pregnancy and early motherhood, which has added to her stress.

"Any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging," Markle says. "And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it's a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It's um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Media coverage of Markle's pregnancy and personal life were a factor in Prince Harry releasing a statement on the matter earlier this month.

"My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences—a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," it reads, in part. "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face—as so many of you can relate to—I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."

As Prince Harry suggests, there are certain things about Markle's struggle that many of us can relate to. Pregnancy and life with a newborn are hard, and trying to pretend you're okay when you're not (or as Harry calls it, putting on a brave face) can make it even more stressful.

Here's to it being okay for a new mom to say she's not okay.

The rest of Bradby's interview with Markle (and conversations with Harry) will air during the upcoming ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, this Sunday in the UK. Stateside, the doc will air Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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News

Johnson & Johnson announced on Friday that it's initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of Johnson's Baby Powder due to low levels of asbestos contamination. In a statement posted to its website the company explained this is a "voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer."

The recall is only for one lot of 33,000 bottles of baby powder. If you have a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB stop using it and contact the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Care Center at www.johnsonsbaby.com or by calling +1 (866) 565-2229.

Johnson & Johnson stresses that this recall is a precaution and that it can't yet confirm if the product tested was genuine or whether cross-contamination occurred. The voluntary recall comes after years of allegations about asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder-based baby powder.

As Bloomberg reported in July, the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Johnson & Johnson due to concerns about alleged asbestos contamination in its baby powder. This came after numerous lawsuits, including a case that saw Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer. In July 2018, St. Louis jury ruled the women were right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks. Way back in 1981, the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates. In 1998, Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the variety of baby powder involved in the The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission's investigations and the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks.

In a statement on its website, Johnson & Johnson states that "talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world."

When Motherly requested comment on the recall and the safety of talc a spokesperson for the company issued the following statement:

"[Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc] has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe and years of testing, including the FDA's own testing on prior occasions--and as recently as last month--found no asbestos. Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos."

Bottom line: If you have one of the 33,000 bottles of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB, stop using it.

If you are going to use baby powder other than the recalled lot on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

[A version of this post was originally published July 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Recent updates

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