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Part of every journey into parenthood involves becoming the protector of our children. This job has become more difficult since our parents’ time because of a little thing called social media.

Social media is awesome because we no longer need to confine our genius insights to shoeboxes. We can share our lives with hundreds or thousands of people within seconds. Hooray!

But then comes the idea of keeping ourselves – and more importantly our kids – safe on the internet.

Read: Parents on average post 973 photos of their kids to social media before their kids have turned 5; 17% admit they don’t check Facebook privacy settings

The Surprising Math Behind Who Sees Our Photos Online

I’ve always thought that I had a pretty good handle on internet safety. I keep my Facebook and Instagram profiles private and I’m extra careful on public platforms like my blog and my Twitter. My goal was basically to minimize the number of eyes on my life.

But then I began to consider this numerically. (I was a Math major in college, after all.) Let me paint a picture here for you of what I mean:

Say I share a photo on Facebook of my son in a pumpkin suit for Halloween. The photo is now visible to my 500 Facebook friends, who I know pretty well (okay, aside from a few random people I met at parties or classmates from high school to whom I no longer speak).

My cousin Jane sees the photo and, mid-audible-squeals, shares it on her own timeline, with the caption “OMG look at my cousin’s baby! Isn’t he just the sweetest?!” The photo is now visible to Jane’s 500 friends as well, who have all confirmed that my son is, indeed, the sweetest.

Now we are at 1000 viewers.

Jane and I have 57 mutual friends., but I’ve never even met the remaining 443 of her connections. So now, out of the 1000 people who can see my son in a pumpkin suit, I know only 557 of them.

Take that one step further and account for a few (I’m not going to be too paranoid here) incidentals, like people showing their friends, looking over each others’ shoulders in line at the bank, getting their phones stolen, or leaving themselves logged into their Facebooks in their crowded dorm rooms, and all of a sudden I’ve never even heard of nearly half of the people who have seen my photo. And that’s just from one family share.

But my son looks effing adorable in this fictional pumpkin suit so I’m looking at closer to two or three shares, plus a few family members tagging themselves in the photo so it appears on their timelines.

Strangers here and strangers there.

I’ve lost count.

This is when I start to panic a little bit.

My rule for internet safety has basically been to remain in control of the numbers. But obviously, when I really consider things, I know that it only takes one creepy person looking at my kid for me to feel like I want the photo I put out there back.

I want it back on my desktop; I want it back in my hands; I want it back in my shoebox.

A recent breach of my own security measures left me wanting to get serious about internet safety when it came to my kids. Because the truth was that, especially as a writer, I had always wanted to open my life up to others. I struggled a lot with sharing things on the internet because, while on the one hand I wanted to keep my personal things safe, I also really wanted to use the internet in a positive way: to make new connections and share ideas with a lot of people at once.

“It’s so unfair!” I would shout to my husband as I removed several cute baby photos from my blog posts. Hurumph.

Then I was inspired by a post made by one of the bloggers I have been following, a very cool mother/traveler/videographer named Hailey Devine. (Check it out here, if you’re interested, but be warned that it’s not for the faint of heart.)

I wanted to establish better rules for my internet life.

So I talked to my friends at Parent Co., Justin Martin, Edward Shepard, and Sara Goldstein, about what their internet rules are and how they work for them.

Justin mentioned a time a few years back when he learned that his Facebook posts were being viewed by people he wished couldn’t see them. He quickly mastered the Facebook privacy policies and was able to feel more comfortable about posting. Recently, he devised a system for social media sharing that involves using Twitter for mostly work-related things or to get news, while he sticks to Facebook for family-related posts.

That way, he focuses on the security of just one platform when it comes to his kids.

Edward admitted that, like me, he has worried about his kid-based photos, videos, and other media being viewed by people he didn’t know. He said he tries to limit posting those images to social media in general, only sharing on Facebook once or twice a month with “Friends only.” But he adds, “think of all the likes I’m missing out on!” He gets me.

Sara is a photographer and thus loves sharing her art with others. She explained to me that her standards for photography are quite high, which basically means that she posts images that are generally pleasing to the masses instead of more private or personal ones. That, in and of itself, keeps her from sharing things she will regret later. She did, however, detail an internet scare that she experienced a while back, involving a photo she posted somehow ending up on tumblr, and then on someone else’s public Instagram. Thankfully she was able to communicate with those who posted it on Instagram and convince them to take it down, but, as she explains, “it still knocked the wind out of me for a second. It was a wake-up call that anything you put on the internet can end up in the hands of anyone.”

All three of my friends at Parent Co. said that, when it came to sharing those photos and videos that were dearest to their hearts, they really had to take the matter into their own hands (quite literally). It’s no surprise that they all chose to use the program they developed, Notabli, as their main method for maintaining internet safety. The app allows you to handpick friends and family who you would like to see your photos. It acknowledges the fact that some photos and videos (and quotes, notes, and audio clips) are more cherished when shared with a close-knit group than even with one’s hefty Facebook friends list. Plus, the app has tons of storage and backup benefits, which I encourage readers to learn about here.

The folks at Parent Co. offered me many solutions to my internet woes, but there are certainly more out there yet to be explored.

Why not take a second today to consider your rules for internet safety?

What are they – or what do you think they should be? How they are working for you? Ask other parents about theirs as well and share what you learn with others.

Let’s help each other tweak our internet systems for the better,because we all have the same goal in mind: protecting our kids.

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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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