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A growing number of moms across the country are packing their bags, kissing their partners and kids goodbye, and going on retreat. Mom-specific and women-only retreats held all over the world are on the rise and gaining popularity with the baby burping, diaper-bag-toting, and bottle-and-breastfeeding masses. While many sign up for these unique getaways looking for nothing more than a little downtime, most find they have gained a whole lot more by the time they return home.


Facilitators create mom retreats for a variety of reasons, but the desire to help women reconnect with themselves is a common thread among many. Shanti O’ Conner is the owner of Rooted & Open in Bend, Oregon and a co-founder of the Sacred Mothers Retreat held at Suttle Lake in Oregon. While working with women as a counselor, pranic healer, and reiki master, she noticed that for many, becoming a mom creates a loss of identity, which impacts their sense of joy and fulfillment. “I wanted to create a weekend where moms could have time and space to reconnect with themselves, their joys, and their passions,” says O’Conner, who is also a mother of two.

Kelsey J Patel is a LA-based spiritual empowerment leader and healer. She offers a variety of wellness retreats including a biannual women’s wellness retreat that takes place on the weekend after Mother’s Day and again in November. She says a large number of moms attend the retreat in May as a gift to themselves after showing up for their partners and children on Mother’s Day. She believes every mother should go on retreat once a year and says, “Getting away for a trip with the girlfriends is amazing, but every mom needs a weekend where she doesn’t need to show up for any other human being than herself.”

 

 

Retreats vary in location, content, and length. Weekend and week-long getaways are common and many include yoga, journaling, group reiki and healing circles, meditation, and hikes. Additionally, massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and cranial sacral specialists are often onsite to provide treatments for those in need.

Attending a retreat means committing time to something other than the family – a difficult hurdle for most moms. But by and large, participants rave about the short and long-term benefits they have received from their experience and say their peers should take the leap and sign up too.

The following are five reasons participants and facilitators say all moms should go on retreat.

1 | Make new friendships and improve the old

Retreats offer participants who are feeling isolated and alone the chance to strengthen existing relationships and forge new connections. Jade Worthington signed up for the Sacred Mother’s Retreat for an opportunity to connect with her friends. “I knew at least six or so of my friends were going and that definitely sweetened the deal,” she says. “As much as I knew I needed some me time, I also felt I needed some time to strengthen and grow my friendships and my support group outside of my home.”

Ashley Johnson also attended the Sacred Mother’s retreat, but without any friend in tow. While she recognizes that this would be difficult for many, she says, “Most retreats are structured to put everyone into various groups from the start…new friendships are forged nearly immediately and attendees feel connected and supported right away.” Johnson also notes that the lineup of activities offered at the majority of retreats rarely allow for awkward alone time.

Ann Rivera, life coach and co-founder of the Sacred Mother’s Retreat, thinks a weekend of self-discovery in the woods while connecting with other women can be the healing combination for a mom looking to take care of herself. “An afternoon lunch with a friend…just doesn’t really cut it,” she explains. “At a women’s retreat…moms find the strength and inspiration to continue forward on their motherhood journey with a new support system, a stronger sense of self and a renewed excitement for life.”

2 | Find a mentor. Be a mentor

A mother’s journey shifts and changes over the course of time. In the retreat environment, new moms often find mentors in older or more experienced peers. On the flip side, mothers and even grandmothers who are in attendance find purpose in their new leadership and support role.

Patel says this dynamic occurs naturally in the retreat setting. She explains, “Older women are starting to question purpose and what they are going to do after their children leave the nest… and connect to how they are becoming a source of inspiration and leadership to other women. The younger moms get to bring that depth of fresh love to the experience.”

Worthington admits that it was important for her to see and hear about the struggles other moms were experiencing. She says, “Some moms struggled with things similar to what I was dealing with, and some moms were dealing with feelings or events that…I could experience further along on my journey of motherhood.” The retreat left her with a new and renewed community of women she could turn to get the support she needs now and down the road.

3 | Release and let go

Retreat attendees are often able to find relief from stressors and fears during and after the event. When moms spend time away from the family surrounded by women in nature, they have the space to find their truth and intuition – which are two of the most important guides in life according to O’Conner. She says, “I wanted to create a space where moms could connect to and release the immense amount of fear and judgment they hold around being a woman and mom.”

Johnson was able to let go of one of her longtime anxieties while walking around Suttle Lake during one of the retreat activities. “I carried a rock representing my fears of the future, and at a certain point, I was able to walk out on a large log, throw that rock out into the lake and release my crippling fears,” says Johnson. “It was such an emotional moment that I lost my balance on the log and nearly splashed into the lake!”

Since returning home, Johnson has replaced the worries that plagued her with a mantra she developed while away. “This life-changing moment only happened because I made myself a priority by attending this retreat.”

4 | Experience transformation

A weekend at the beach with friends is a great way to get some rest, but a weekend on retreat is a chance for real change to take place.

Audra Carmine and Jessica Garay are both moms and the co-owners of Love Hive Yoga Studio in Portland. They run an annual women’s yoga retreat in Mexico. Carmine says that at the Love Hive Yoga Retreat, both her and Garay use the practice of yoga asana to give participants the opportunity to wake up. “When you are in Mexico with a dozen other women, sharing stories, getting sweaty and truly allowing yourself to rest, a transformation is inevitable.”

Retreat participant Stacey Durden was feeling overwhelmed with life – and on a couple of occasions thought she was “losing it” – when she decided to sign up for the Sacred Mother’s retreat. She says, “I felt like I had lost a sense of who I was before becoming a mother and wife.” While she didn’t know what to expect when she went to the retreat, she hoped to get “unstuck” and to come home a different person from when she left.

Durden didn’t regret her decision. She left with a set of goals that continue motivate her each day and has a mantra she recites when her patience is tried. “I have become a more patient, loving and fulfilled because of [the retreat].”

Garay believes that if a retreat is to live up to its potential and really increase the quality of participants’ lives, it must not exist in a vacuum. “Our hope is that women will take the retreat home with them in the form of good self-care rituals,” she explains.” Our retreat ultimately invites our participants to increase the quality of their day-to-day lives through the practices of self-care, meditation and yoga.”

5 | Pause, refill, and reset

Retreats offer moms who feel overwhelmed, depleted, or lost, an opportunity to hit the pause button on life, replenish their energy reserves, and reset their focus before returning to their families. The success of Durden’s first retreat experience turned her into a fan of the process. She says, “If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to rediscover yourself, a retreat is perfect for you.”

Facilitators agree that one of the reasons so many attendees are able to return home with a new approach to daily life is because of the chance they are given to truly hit the “pause button” and re-prioritize the different aspects of their lives so that their needs are met when they return home.

“In short, most moms are struggling and because they do so much they are easily overlooked,” says O’Conner. “We need to remember that as mothers we cannot fill our families cup up when ours in only half full.”

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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