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Forget the nursery and sonogram appointments to prepare for the baby, you have to prepare to be a mommy! As much as we would like to believe we come equipped with natural motherhood as soon as the baby ejects itself from our bodies, we cannot possibly be completely aware of how to be a “mom.” Here’s a list of things that you can practice before you birth your baby so that you don’t go insane. It will also help maintain a sense of self when you’re suddenly alone with a newborn all day. (It’s not like you thought it would be, it’s more.)                                                       


1 | Perfect a quick and simple makeup routine that makes you look like you sleep regularly. Remember what it was like to be 22, hungover, and someone told you, “You look great!” and it made you feel like you were really nailing life because you hadn’t even gone to bed yet!? Wearing makeup after having a baby will provide that feeling again. The early days of a newborn feel like a beautiful hangover with all the emotions of being intoxicated, so if you’re able to put on your face, you’ll feel like a spritely 22-year-old who can party all night again.

2 | Learn how to crown braid your hair. It’s out of your face and it looks impressive and when you take it down it creates perfect beach waves. Again, impressive. People will be all, “How did you do that! You look stunning! You have a baby and amazing hair! You are incredible!” Plus, when your hair starts falling out a few months after you’ve given birth and you want to shave your head, a crown braid eliminates the opportunity for your baby to grab fistfuls of your shedding locks.

3 | Practice doing everything efficiently and with only one hand. Peeling hard boiled eggs, wiping yourself after you pee, brushing your teeth, washing your face, texting, typing, holding a book, putting on socks, and much, much more. You’ll want to be good at the one-handed everything before you don’t have a choice because you’re holding a baby. When it seems impossible – say when you’re peeling a carrot – just remember that your body made a baby, so you can do anything.

4 | Embrace eating everything with a spoon. It’s the only way to make sure the food successfully travels from plate to mouth without spilling on baby’s fuzzy head. Some food might look silly on a spoon, but you don’t want to introduce lasagna to your newborn just as she’s mastered latching onto your nipple.

5 | Accept that you will need help from people and you actually cannot do everything alone. This took me the whole of the nine months to realize and, once the baby was born, I had a little trouble when it seemed I could do nothing for myself in the first month and had to ask for help non-stop. “Pass me my phone, fill up my water glass, turn on that lamp, not that lamp, the other one. No, that one. I know, I have a lot of lamps! I like lamps!”

6 | Start saying exactly what is on your mind. Your husband or partner is going to say the wrong thing at two am when the baby is screaming and neither of you knows what to do. Tell them your feelings are hurt so you can have a little disagreement now instead of waiting and having a big argument later.

Also, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some arguments. No one is immune to disagreements and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have procreated with this person. You might think they’re overreacting when they insist on using a special kind of bamboo washcloth but, then again, you might be overreacting when you sit on the toilet, screaming, “I’m an inadequate human being!”

7 | Relish being slow. Everything is going to take longer than you thought it ever could once a baby is in your life. Practice reminding yourself that taking your time is necessary and attempting to move at your pre-pregnancy speed is just going to result in dropping things, like your baby.

Whether writing an email or getting to the doctor, take your time. This may result in more time spent in transit getting to those sonogram appointments. Then again, when was the last time you stopped rushing around and simply enjoyed the journey?

8 | Talk to yourself. Every other week there is an article about how good it is to talk to your baby. Trouble is, babies don’t say much in response beyond gurgles and coos. However, if you are comfortable talking to yourself, you can get things done. That novel you’ve been meaning to write? Dictate it. The podcast you’ve imagined hosting? Record it. A voice-over career voicing cartoon characters? Start it.

Before the baby comes you’ll be glad you got so much done. Once the baby arrives you’ll be comfortable talking to a little human who doesn’t respond with words.

9 | Make up songs. Babies love music and, of course, you could just bone up on the lyrics to all your favorite songs or just turn on your iTunes, but getting comfortable improvising songs will keep your brain active. Bonus: you’ll feel like a creative genius when you haven’t slept and come up with an impromptu song rhyming “cheeks” and “bespeaks.”

10 | When you cook, pretend you are on Cutthroat Kitchen. Ingredients you have in your fridge will vary widely due to the very occasional trips to the supermarket once the baby is born. Challenge yourself to imagine what you would do with one wrinkled red pepper, ¼ of an onion, two old lemons, a little yogurt, and the end of a banana bread someone made for you. If you imagined ordering takeout, you are correct!

Still, if you are lucky enough to be able to stay home with the baby while your partner works, you may feel the desire to pretend you are a 1950s housewife who can take care of a baby and have dinner on the table when your partner comes home. The time you have in between breastfeeding and baby crying to be held will be limited and sporadic, so creativity with ingredients and timing are good things to practice now.

11 | Start wearing post-pregnancy clothing before you tell people you are pregnant so that it doesn’t look like you have given up your style in exchange for a family. Leggings and oversized shirts were good enough for you when your body was going through puberty in the 90s and they can work for you again as you learn to love your expanded womanly life-giving form. Make sure you show off that cleavage with low cut tops now so that you can enjoy the seamless transition to pulling out a boob to feed your child later.

12 | Lastly, practice not judging other women. You’ll find it is a useless waste of time when you end up doing the thing you balked at for years. Case in point: prior to getting pregnant, natural home birth was “gross and insane,” cribs took up too much space, and having “Mom” friends was unnecessary. Naturally, I gave birth to my baby in my apartment’s tiny tub, bought a crib, and love every Mommy Group I can find.

Ultimately, we must practice patience with ourselves and with the mothers in our lives as we turn into mothers. Moms say weird things. Practice nodding and saying thank you. You are about to join their club and they’re excited for you. And guess what? You’re going to say weird things eventually too.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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