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Our children’s fingerprints are all over everything – on the mirror in the bathroom, the fridge we just cleaned, and in places we didn’t even think they could reach. I pretty much follow my kids around the house with a roll of paper towels and glass cleaner.

What if those adorable little smudges could help our schools become more secure and efficient?

Biometric technology – technology that uses our unique biological traits, such as fingerprints or retina scans – is popping up everywhere. It may even be on your child’s school-issued device or laptop right now.

Bayometric, a company that makes biometric verification technology, suggests that using biometrics can provide greater security, accuracy, and efficiency in schools. It’s an easy sell. Who wouldn’t want their child’s school to be safer and more efficient? Bayometric’s marketing materials play right into the worries many parents have about their children:

  • A bully could steal your child’s lunch card and eat her lunch.
  • Your child might forget his PIN and not have time to eat lunch.
  • If your child loses her lunch card, the delay it creates could prevent other children from having enough time to eat lunch.
  • Attendance cards can be lost – will your child be counted?
  • Proxy attendance isn’t always accurate, which creates a security risk.

By the time I was done reading Bayometric’s reasons why we need their technology in our schools, my anxious mama-mind was in full tilt. Had a bully ever stolen my child’s lunch card? Had he ever been overlooked during attendance taking? What if he didn’t have time to eat because someone forgot their lunch card? After taking some deep, cleansing breaths and watching a few cat videos, I was able to think calmly again.

Despite its supporters’ claims of extra security and increased efficiency, allowing our schools to use biometric technology could be a step in the wrong direction. Here are some reasons I found that dissuade me from the use of biometric technology in schools.

The laws around biometric data aren’t clear

Biometric data collection is serious business. When a government body wants our fingerprints or DNA, it must demonstrate a reason for that collection and it usually requires a court order. There’s a reason for that: biometric data consists of a small number of unique identifiers that is irreplaceable. If our data gets stolen, we can’t call a toll-free number and request a new set of fingerprints.

Voluntarily handing our child’s biometric information over to a private company is risky. Laws controlling how corporations use biometric data vary from state to state. Our data may be protected by some general privacy laws and guidelines, but biometric data is essentially uncharted territory. Where they exist, current laws lean in the direction of protecting our children’s data. This may not always be the case. Therefore, our children’s biometric identifiers, and the data associated with them, may not be as secure as we’d like.

Once you give it up, you have no control

In addition to laws, biometric data is also controlled by the contract between the technology provider and our child’s school. So, for example, there may be a clause in the contract that permits the corporation to sell our children’s lunch-buying habits to marketers in exchange for more favorable contract terms. There might be a provision permitting the school to disclose data to health insurance providers, which could have repercussions if your child has issues such as diabetes, ADHD, or allergies.

Even more worrisome: at the bottom of the contract, in very fine print, there may be a clause that permits the technology provider to modify the terms of how it uses the data collected at any time. While this sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, consider that AncestryDNA did exactly this to its customers. It’s also not unreasonable to foresee that schools might determine that there is an efficiency advantage to linking school lunch purchases to food inventory needs. This kind of statistical data may seem innocuous at first, but remember that all of it is permanently tied back to our children’s identity.

As consumers and technology users, we routinely provide corporations with information about our purchasing habits. When we do, it’s typically by using email and a password or by connecting to our Facebook page. By using biometrics at the point of sale in the school cafeteria, we are permitting our children’s lunch purchases to be linked to them, specifically, as opposed to that data being linked to a disposable or replaceable identifier such as an email address.

We simply can’t be sure how the data collected might be used in the future. Once data is associated to our children’s fingerprints, there’s not much that can be done if laws change or information is stolen.

Your child might learn less

Data security is a huge concern. However, of even bigger concern are the opportunities to learn social and problem-solving skills that our children lose when their lunch purchases are automated. Using biometrics in the cafeteria deprives our children of opportunities to develop skills they’ll need for the rest of their lives.

Many of our students already use PINs and meal cards for buying lunch. When our children buy their lunch, they learn how to make a purchase appropriately by waiting their turn, moving their food safely down the lunch line, and then completing the transaction by interacting with the adult who takes their payment. They also have an opportunity to practice their manners in during social interactions.

Throughout their lives, our children will be required to keep track of their belongings and memorize small pieces of information. Keeping their lunch card safe or memorizing a PIN is a low-risk way to begin teaching those skills. When our child loses her card or forgets her PIN, she’ll learn problem-solving skills such as figuring out who to ask for help. Or, to use an example provided by Bayometrics, he may learn how to handle a bully who’s trying to steal his lunch money. We need to let our children try and fail. Making mistakes is the key to learning and developing resiliency.

In an increasingly digital world, teaching our children how to manage their personal information safely is an important job.

If this concerns you, here’s what to do

If you’re concerned about your school’s use of biometric technology, there are a few important things you can do.

  • Familiarize yourself with the data privacy laws in your state.
  • If you can, start attending school board meetings. If you can’t be there in person, meeting minutes are typically posted online or available by email. It’s always a good idea to stay abreast of school board goings-on, and with the rapid increase in technology use it’s doubly important.
  • If the school board has biometric technology on their agenda, write letters to your school board members and speak up at the meeting. Encourage other parents to join you.
  • If your school district is already on the path to bringing biometric technology into the district, request a copy of the contract and read it closely. The district may not want to provide a copy of the contract to you, so you may need to learn how to request public records in your state.
  • During school board election season, ask your candidates where they stand on biometric technology.

Don’t ever be afraid to advocate for your child by speaking up, writing letters, or making phone calls. If you have concerns about the use of your child’s biometric data, there is nothing wrong with being that parent and opting out of its use.

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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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