A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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Women have always struggled with the mythical monster called work-life balance. It has taken center stage in many important discussions, strategies, policies, conferences, and political campaigns around the world.


In many ways, starting a conversation around it has been the best advancement on the issue, because today, several iconic companies design and promote family-friendly policies for parents around the world. Many of these companies insist on equal parental responsibility policies, but we all know the primary beneficiaries are women.

Yet, here is a startling statistic: 43 percent of all women leave the workforce after having children and struggle to get back. The good news is that women are not taking it lying down. Women have taken up the mantle of entrepreneurship, with 36 percent of all businesses owned by women. Today, women are masters at rocking the cradle and the business world with equal deftness.

Still, it’s no secret that women face systematic personal, social, and financial challenges while starting a business.

Here are eight phenomenal women who stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship and business out of frustration. These wonderful businesses started when women went looking for a product/solution/service that they needed but could not find. These women are so badass that they decided to develop those products themselves, helping scores of other people in the process.

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My interviews with them offer a peek into their entrepreneurial journey, while taking their families along.

Bittylab

Bittylab started when founder was a stay-at-home mom with a colicky child who would cry for hours on end. Her first few months of motherhood turned unpleasant with a screaming baby, a body recovering from a C-section, and frustration about not finding a solution anywhere.

Her research led her to find out that the air her baby ingested while feeding from a bottle can cause severe pain, gas, and colic, amplifying conditions such as acid reflux and overfeed for the baby. All she needed was a bottle that won’t allow gas to pass through the nipple, but she couldnt find one.

Most baby bottles feature air-vents to allow air inside the bottle while baby feeds to compensate for negative vacuum buildup. She decided to try a few initial prototypes based on syringes, replacing the needle with a nipple.

She succeeded, and Bare air-free was born. Bare is a feeding system that allows the user, through an air-plug seal (piston), to expel all the air out of the bottle before feeding the baby. The air-plug feature makes it possible to dispense air-free milk in any position.

Polished

Polished founder Selena Famularo turned every new mom’s nightmare into a wonderful opportunity. After she was blessed with twins, her life spun around them and she had to get almost everything done with the help of service apps like Amazon Fresh for groceries, Neighborly for tasks around the house, Wag to walk the dog, and many more.

When the twins were six months old, she realized that she hadn’t had a haircut or a manicure in all those months. When she looked for an app offering those services, she couldn’t find any. Bingo!

Her company, Polished, is a service company that connects busy people with beauty professionals for on-site beauty services. Customers can open the app, choose their service, their location (home, hotel, office, etc.), and hire someone to come do what they need!

Her unique challenge was to keep up the quality of the service providers; applicants only have a 25 percent chance of being a part of Polished.

The Medical Mommas

As a physician assistant by trade, Tiffany Bailey came to observe a trend where people end up with loads of medications for every ailment. Having grown up in a home where “old fashioned remedies” were more trusted, Tiffany found the medication trend disturbing.

At around the same time, Tiffany and her friend, Holly Jenkins, were looking for affordable and effective products that could help both their families with severe eczema. They failed because every lotion was packed with chemicals and fragrances that made it worse. Moreover, they found essential oils products so expensive that they could not afford them for everyday use.

Tiffany posted an article on her blog to put some feelers out and gauge the market. She asked why these sorts of products were not available, and one person replied, “because it’s not possible to have things that are affordable and quality.” The Medical Mommas was born. Since that day, they have made it their top goal to make their products both high quality and affordable.

Once they entered the wholesale market, their products started getting noticed, and several retailers contacted them with requests. The products are made with oil combinations designed to help with specific everyday issues most people can relate to. Their rollerball products are particularly popular because they’re easy to carry and spill-proof.

Miracle Salve, a product they use to help with Eczema, is their top-selling product today.

BubbleBum

Bubblebum Founder Grainne Kelly was looking for a solution to solve her recurring problem when BubbleBum shaped up. As a mother of two, Grainne was frequently traveling between her native Ireland and England to visit a sick relative and always had to transport cumbersome fixed booster seats back and forth on the plane due to the lack of car booster seats available from car rental companies. She came up with the idea for an inflatable booster seat, which became the BubbleBum.

Grainne’s primary goal was to offer travelers a safe way to transport their kids. Weighing less than one pound, BubbleBum can deflate in minutes, making it simple to throw in a backpack or large purse. BubbleBum includes belt-positioning clips in place of armrests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a vehicle, making it the perfect travel companion for road trips, everyday use, vacations, cab rides, fly-ins, and more. Kids also love the stylish black and pink chevron designs.

BubbleBum is a hot favorite among child safety products. It won GOLD in the 2014 National Parenting Publications Awards and is proud to join the exclusive winners circle selected by the PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) Media Awards. BubbleBum was also announced the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) “Best Bet” in their booster seat evaluation report, where they’ve branded BubbleBum as one of the best for safety!

Whole Wide World Toys

After living overseas for nine years in Germany, Poland, Egypt, and India, Laura Barta and her family moved back to the U.S. As a family, they loved living overseas and being immersed in fascinating cultures as they could see the many different ways people live.

Laura wanted their kids to continue to explore world cultures even after they moved back to the States. As a product development engineer, Laura conducted consumer research, including countless in-home interviews. She became fascinated by the vast array of cultures across countries and within a country.

In her search for toys that celebrate the wonder of world exploration, she discovered only language and geography toys. So Laura began to develop toys that gave kids a chance to explore new cultures from home by immersing them in fun, cultural details that would spark their curiosity to learn more.

World Village Playsets capture the wonder of exploring new cultures through fabric play mats, wooden puzzles, travel journal books, and story cards with story prompts. They encourage kids to tell their own stories, incorporating what they see. When ready, kids can read the corresponding storybooks to learn more about all the little details. These award-winning, unique play sets bring the world home to play.

Kleynimals

Kirsten Chapman’s idea for Kleynimals came from her second child, who was putting everything in his mouth, especially her keys. She looked high and low for a safe, clean alternative, but could only find ‘non-toxic’ plastic products. Stainless steel keys seemed the obvious choice to her, and was surprised to learn they didn’t already exist! And so, Kleynimals were born.

The success and relevance of a product such as Kleynimals put her on the Martha Stewart show. Parents were relieved to learn that they could satisfy their child’s desire to play with metal keys without the hazards of lead contamination, sharp edges, or the daily grime that come with keys in the bottom of their diaper bags. Not to mention, each Kleynimal is tested to ASTM/CPSIA standards for babies six months and up by a third party laboratory.

Thinkerella

Cherie Melancon Franz threw a spa party for her 11-year-old daughter. She watched as they got their hair, makeup, and nails done, and a thought crossed her mind: “These are bright young ladies, and surely, I should be teaching them that there are more important things than being pretty.”

She decided to get them lab coats instead of bathrobes and safety goggles instead of spa masks. Her husband handed her their $2700 tax return to start her business. The name for her venture came to her in a dream, and the next morning, she filed to trademark the name.

Currently, Thinkerella runs birthday parties for Thinkerellas and Thinkerfellas, Girl Scout and Boy Scout sessions, and general workshops on weekends. They travel for in-school field trips, team up with local businesses for outreach and educational sessions, and have developed an after school program for the Greater New Orleans area, with expansion to other areas on the horizon.

Thinkerella employs teachers as independent contractors and have paid out well over $50,000 in supplemental income to teachers over the past three years.

Primal Life Organics

As a nurse anesthetist, Trina Felber was always conscious about her health. Despite living a very healthy lifestyle, Trina miscarried her first child. After this devastating incident, Trina started paying attention to her surroundings and environment for anything that might be causing her health to go astray.

One day, during the course of her second pregnancy, as she was slathering on her “organic” moisturizer, she stopped to look at the ingredients. To her horror, she recognized several of them as harsh chemicals that could wreak havoc on the skin. As a medical professional, she knew that toxins put on her skin could be directly absorbed into the body and affect the baby.

That incident triggered her journey into the world of safe, natural skin food – primarily for herself and her baby. Her acne disappeared at an extraordinary pace. She passed her first couple of products around and received great feedback.

When her daughter arrived, Trina started making safe baby products. Primal Life Organics now has a range of safe, natural, paleo products for women, babies, children, and especially pregnant women.

Trina’s products have seen an extraordinary response. And Trina’s daughter, at the age of six, has started her own line of safe oil-based products, especially for pets.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

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

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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