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Swimming

Swimming is super fun, right? WRONG. Swimming is TERRIFYING. Swimming is trying to keep incompetent, pathetic child swimmers from DYING IN THE WATER. And there’s always that one kid who just looks like he’s drowning because that’s his own personal style of swimming. WHY DOES HE HAVE A PERSONAL STYLE OF SWIMMING? They’re called swim lessons, parents. Get them.


This is me enjoying the refreshing summer pastime called swimming: OK OK, look left aaaaaaaand no one’s drowning. Back to the right, aaaaaand all heads counted. Look to the left again and everyone’s still alive. Aaaaand sweeeeep the area, is everyone breathing? Yup. Ok, good. Ok, great. So great that everyone is alive. I love it when the swimmers stay alive!

I should write about this, where’s my phone? How come I can’t keep track of my phone? Jesus Christ, Autumn, FOCUS. Ok, how may kids? Three kids and that one who always looks like he’s drowning. But he isn’t. But he looks like it. Wait, is he? Nope. He’s not. There he is. I’m gonna buy that kid a life jacket. I’m gonna order it right now. Where’s my phone? I bet they have them on Amazon. Amazon is so crazy. But where is my phone though? OMG WOMAN. Just WATCH the children. How many are there? Four? Yes, four. They need sunscreen. Look left. Look right. Hey, he’s cute, who’s that dad? Aaaaaaaaand sweep. Wait. WAIT. Is she ok?! HEY, IS SHE OK?!? She’s what? WHAT DID YOU SAY? Oh, she’s doing the butterfly stroke. Right. Looks just like drowning.

Outdoor concerts

Concerts are the best! Music, friends, freedom, love, peace, sex, drugs, rock & roll. And THIS summer, your favorite band is finnnnallllyyy touring again. This band changed your life. This band changed EVERYTHING. You freaking LOVE this band. Yessssssssss! You’re so making this happen!

Cool. You need a sitter. Call the sitter. Sitter is unavailable, she’s also going to the show. She wants to know if you have any pot. You tell her you don’t. Even though you totally do. But she can’t know. Even though she totally does. Whatever.

Call another sitter. She answers. She’s so so sorry but she can’t help you because she’s entirely exhausted from working three days in a row – count them, THREE – and she just really needs to chill, man. You understand, right?

You cross her off the babysitter list with a thick, black Sharpie and call the last resort sitter. He’ll do it. He demands $18/hour because he has to change his plans. The plans that he had to jam with his friends in their basement. Which is what he does every night. And all day. And all the time. But still, you reluctantly agree. You kinda hate him. Just not enough to miss this sick show.

It’s concert day. You are PUMPED. The babysitter calls. He can’t come. He ate wheat and he’s down for the count. Bullshit. Everybody knows his ex-girlfriend is in town tonight and he thinks he’s gonna get laid. He knows you know it. He doesn’t care what you know.

So, ok. FINE. You’ll bring the kids. You’ll show them how to rock OUT. You’ll provide their inaugural concert-going experience. You are NOT missing this show.

FINALLY. You’re at the show. You, your wife, aaaand your kids. You missed the opening band. Who cares? You parked, you’re in, you have time. You won’t miss the first song. You HATE missing the first song. But your kids are hungry. Again. They just ate. It sorta hits you that your kids are actually with you, and yet you still think this will be an epic night.

Fine. Feed them – kettle corn, fried dough, Pepsi. You might as well set your wallet on fire cuz your money’s gone now. Invested in cotton candy and glow sticks. Glow sticks that would be way more fun if you were shrooming. Which, because you are delusional, you still hope to do.

Shit. Your son has to pee. Again. You take him to the bathroom, you have PLENTY of time before the first song. You have an eternity! You’re in the bathroom. You hear the audience FREAK OUT. OMG NO! NOT YET! Yes, yet.

The band in onstage and you’re in the bathroom with your son who is describing what he wants for his birthday which is exactly eleven months from now. You hear notes played, guitars strummed. You look down at your son, he is inexplicably STILL peeing and also smiling up at you. He loves you so much. You’re his dad! You’re the cool dad who loves music who brought him to this show.

Your son loves this show for a full six songs before he begins to flop around in your lap like a fish on a dock. He waannntssss to go to bedddd. He wants tooooo riiiiight nowwwww. Your wife is giving you the signal, it’s time to go. You have to go. You have to beat the crush of traffic. Your family squeezes their way along the aisle, down the stairs, out of section D204 and into the parking lot.

Just as soon as you lose sight of the very band that changed your life, they start playing your favorite song. The one they’ve never played live. You look at your wife. She sees you. She knows you. She gets it. She really does. But…kids. Kids all day. Kids all night. If you’re lucky, it’s kids from now until you’re really old. When you’re old, though, you can eat all the mushrooms you want.

Growing a vegetable garden

Hahahahaahahahaaaaaa. Hahahaha ahahahhaaa. Hahahahhahahaaaaa.

Oh God. I’m sorry. I just- I- hahahahhahahhaahahahaaaaaa.

Hang on hang on.

BAHAHAHAAAAAAAA. Hahahahaaha hahahaaaa. HOOOO-wheeeee! Damn. Oh God. Ok ok ok ok ok.

I’m so sorry.

Yes, yes, I KNOW you tried. I KNOW. I tried too. I try every year. And by try I mean buy beautiful, expensive, organic starters and leave them in their little trays until they are mostly dead. And then, in a flurry of utter inspiration (*drunkeness) just as the sun is about to set on June, just as the thought of seven pathetic cherry tomatoes and two anemic raspberries seems like a veritable bounty, I fire every single one of those goddamned plants into the ground with precision and focus. And then? Well, then I fall to my knees and pray. Pray for them to live? Nope.

Pray for them to teach my children about life cycles? Nope. Pray that I remember to water them? Nope. No. I pray that when the shit hits the fan and the revolution comes, I know someone – ANYONE – who can actually grow food because otherwise my family will definitely starve.

Bike rides

Bikes are SO awesome. Wheels and gears in beautiful, mechanical motion. All powered by you! You pump and pull and push and sweat. You go fast. You feel like you can fly. You consider watching the Tour D’France – such exceptional athletes, such grit. Except you don’t have cable. Cable is expensive. Aaaaand so are bikes.

There are three people in your family. You, the single mom. Your kid, the quirky and excellent seven-year-old nerd. And your cat, Beaner, the one with three legs and screaming halitosis. You consider fashioning a wheel for Beaner’s missing leg. You know…so she can feel like she’s also riding a bike. You entertain this idea for about 3 minutes before you remember you have ADD and forgot to take your Ritalin.

Meanwhile, if the kid rides a bike, she’ll die. Mostly because she can’t actually ride a bike. Real Talk: any bike ride you go on requires one of those tag-along things. The kind where you do all the work of lugging around your own human self + another human. Ok, so maybe it’s a little human. But it does absolutely zero work back there and it freaking talks. It talks so much OMG. It gives you a play-by-play of The Lego Movie exactly as you labor up this stupid, giant hill. It whines, it’s hungry, it yells that you’re NOT GOING FAST ENOUGH. You might as well be the ox in a yoke with a bitter old farmer beating yo’ tired ass. You know what? Bikes are for when the car breaks down and you can’t get to your second job. Fuck bikes. Cats can’t even ride them. Let’s just walk.

Imagining the kids back in school

This activity, this idea, this process, here in late-July, is exactly as it should be. Exactly as hard as letting go of something you love so much. Exactly as much relief as you feel knowing routine is on its way. Exactly as much accomplished as forsaken in the green and golden months almost behind us. Exactly as bittersweet as the one chubby and ridiculous cucumber I grew in my garden.

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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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