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When my wife gave birth to our first child, it was a surreal experience. We walked into the hospital with nothing but ourselves and a couple of overnight bags, and we walked out with a shrunken old man in silly girls’ clothing.

The first few days with my daughter I was on such a high that I wasn’t even affected by the sleep deprivation, or the sympathy constipation (my body’s way of showing my wife solidarity).

My wife fed the baby, I changed her diapers, and then we put her to sleep – and each of those tasks seemed so special at first. Look at us, we’re actually parenting here, I thought after every successful diaper change.

But it didn’t take long for those tasks – the changing and the burping and the rocking and shushing – to lose that initial magic. In the end, taking care of a brand new baby is a job – a repetitive, sometimes boring, sometimes exhilarating, often maddening job.

Of course, my infant daughter is a beautiful, wonderful gift, and my wife and I are so lucky to have this healthy new baby. But let’s be honest, she’s not bringing much to the table at this stage in her life.

Basically, all I can do is stare at this thing – and looking at your new baby is like seeing the Grand Canyon. It’s amazing, but after a while you’re like, “Ok so, how long am I supposed to just stare at this?”

At least you can get a breathtaking sunset from the Grand Canyon on occasion. The most you’ll get from a new baby is a vague semblance of a smile that’s generally followed by a loud, wet fart, which often means the diaper was unable to contain the flood of excrement said fart ushered into the world.

I understand just how critical the first few weeks with my child are, and I know I need to “enjoy every moment because it all just goes by so fast” – but it’s just as important to find things that’ll keep you from losing your mind.

Here’s my list of those things:

1 | Rediscover great music.

For me, this was an easy one. The day after Emma (she’s the baby I keep talking about here) was born, David Bowie died. I’ve been a fan of Bowie’s since I was kid. Crisp fall Saturday mornings, the feel of the cold hardwood floor on my bare feet as I scurried into the kitchen for coffee and the sounds of “Ziggy Stardust” or “Hunky Dorey” playing through my dad’s three-foot speakers while he issued constant reminders to get ready for my soccer game.

That’s what I think of when I think of David Bowie. My dad, the Norris Hills soccer league, and David Bowie are all gone now, but there are moments when I hear “Starman” or “Life on Mars,” and the memories of those Saturday fall mornings are so vivid it feels like I traveled back in time.

The good news is that Bowie has an insane catalogue of music. In her first few weeks outside of the uterus, Emma couldn’t go through a diaper change without the sounds of The Thin White Duke in the background. We’ve been working our way up to “Blackstar,” but we’re not nearly as far along as we should be thanks to repeated visits with “Aladdin Sane.”

My hope is that 15 or 20 years from now some of the Bowie tunes I’ve been listening to with Emma will allow me to travel back to how it felt to be a brand new dad.

2 | Perform.

I’ve been playing the guitar since I was in the seventh grade, and it’s rare a day goes by without me picking up my acoustic multiple times.

Unfortunately, my performances are usually cut short by my wife. “Can you stop? I’m trying to watch the Wheel [of Fortune],” she’ll say before I even finish the intro to “Interstate Love Song.” Or, “Put that down, we’re leaving in three hours,” when she sees me reaching to pick up my trusted axe to kill some time.

To be fair, I’m not that good. My guitar playing peaked in the 10th grade, and I’ve pretty much been playing the same six-song set list ever since. But Emma doesn’t know that. I swaddle my infant daughter, throw her in the Rock ‘n’ Play, and make her to listen to me.

Even if you’re not an average or slightly below-average guitar player, you can still hold performances with your new baby using the instrument each of you can play to some extent: your voice.

I can’t sing in tune, but that doesn’t stop me from singing along to the seven full songs I know on the guitar. I even downloaded the Sing Sharp app in an attempt to make these sing-a-longs enjoyable for Emma, before she figures out what out-of-tune singing is.

Added bonus: according to some science somewhere, singing helps children retain information more quickly.

3 | Eat like you just got sent home from “The Biggest Loser.”

Right after our friends Dan and Talia had their first kid, I remember asking them: “How’s everything going?” Talia didn’t hesitate to tell me all about the perks of being a new parent: “It’s great, people keep coming over and dropping off delicious casseroles for you.” The thought of a steady stream of visitors bringing me warm, delicious food was one of the major reasons I wanted to have a kid. That’s not exaggeration.

And I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Ever hear of the “baby blues” and wonder what causes that postpartum depression? Studies have proven that the pure joy of food deliveries from friends and family is so powerful that, when it is suddenly stops, the brain experiences a hormonal swing and drop in serotonin levels resulting in moderate to severe depression, depending on the quality of the food.

I definitely overdid it with the comfort food. One day, I followed a heaping bowl of baked Ziti and bacon with a General Tso combination platter and chased it with a chocolate fudge Sunday and Root Beer float, and my entire left arm went numb. I remember lying there in my dog’s bed, contorted in a modified fetal position and thinking, “You’re so stupid. You took it too far, and now you’re not even going live long enough to see Emma’s one-month photo shoot.”

But like all things, it eventually passed.

4 | Catch up on all the TV you missed when you were out living a life.

Can you believe I never saw “Silicon Valley” until a few weeks ago? There are plenty of life-changing shows just like Mike Judge’s masterpiece I simply haven’t gotten around to watching. Now I can.

The single best part of having a new baby is that these tiny creatures require a ridiculous amount of sleep. That leaves plenty of free time for TV-watching. I recommend watching half-hour shows. It’s the perfect length for the new baby situation.

After all, if your little bundle starts wailing halfway through a 30-minute show, it’s easy enough to tough out those final 15 minutes. When the same thing happens during an hour-long drama, it’s much more difficult to tune out the awful sound of your baby’s selfish tantrum.

5 | Unburden yourself.

At first I was reluctant to talk to the baby. Instead, I’d babble a bunch of nonsense in this horrible voice I thought you were supposed to use around babies. But at this point, she doesn’t even really register my tone, and she sure as hell doesn’t have any clue what I’m talking about.

That’s why I use those precious moments when I’m rocking my sweet little munchkin back to sleep to unburden myself of all the stress I’ve been carrying and get things off my chest. Unlike adults who respond to me baring my soul with comments like, “When I was in a situation that was similar enough to your current situation for me to shift the focus and make this conversation all about me, I [insert triumphant story],” Emma just listens patiently and farts in agreement.

I’ve even calmly confessed to Emma that her mom and I were going to have to have a talk with a certain visitor about the importance of boundaries, because said visitor was starting to feel a little too much like a roommate – the type of roommate very, very unlucky people sometimes get stuck with during their freshman year of college.

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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.


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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