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When I decided not to return to work after having my first child, a trusted colleague advised me to still “do something” while I was home. She suggested I work part-time, attend conferences, or volunteer – really, anything that would fill the unsightly gap in employment on my resume.

While she supported and respected my choice to be home, she warned that many of her friends who made the same decision struggled to re-enter the workforce. They had to take steps back in their careers and salary because employers found their break from the paid workforce unattractive. She wanted me to avoid this, advising that my skills and time are valuable, and I should be paid accordingly, even if I’ve chosen to exit the fast track for a while.

With this in mind, I took a big gulp and pressed pause on my career, and I don’t yet know how my personal story will go. I hope, when I’m ready, I’m able to press play right where I left off, but I know I may have to rewind to a more junior role to get my foot back in the door. I also know that my situation is not unique.


Paying the price for exiting the fast track

According to the Harvard Business Review’s widely circulated 2005 study “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps:  Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” over a third of “highly qualified women” reported voluntarily leaving their careers at some point, and the number increases to 43% among women with children. Almost all of the women surveyed (93%) intended to re-enter the workforce, but only 40% found full-time employment. Others worked part-time or became self-employed.

The authors concluded, “The implication is clear: Off-ramps are around every curve in the road, but once a woman has taken one, on-ramps are few and far between – and extremely costly.” Even with a relatively short break of one to two years, women lost, on average, 18% of their earning power. Unsurprisingly, the longer women stayed out, the larger the penalty. The authors updated the study in 2010 and did not find significant differences in their results.

So, my colleague’s advice to me was sound. As I enter my third year out of the workforce, I can’t help but take another big gulp, wondering just how much money I’m leaving on the table and just how hard it will be to get back to work when I’m ready.

Of course, having a choice of whether to work is a privilege that few American women have. Nonetheless, there’s a group of us who put our professional careers on hold, only to find that the years we invested in schooling and work don’t help very much when we want to get back in the game, and that’s pretty frustrating.

But, employers are feeling pain, too, in the form of talent shortages and the desire to balance gender representation in their workplaces, so they’re taking notice of the “roughly 2.6 million educated mothers of prime working age who are not in the labor force.”

On-ramping with a returnship

The Chicago Tribune reported in February 2016 that seven STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) companies are set to launch re-entrance programs this year for professionals who want to get back into the workforce after taking an extended career break (usually two or more years). These paid internships serve as an outreach opportunity to a pool of talent that, until recently, may have been overlooked because of their break from work.

IBM, GM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel, Johnson Controls, Cummins, and Caterpillar committed to pilot programs in cooperation with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the consulting firm iRelaunch, which calls itself “the return-to-work experts.” The hope is that more companies in STEM will sign on to start programs of their own in the coming years.

The concept is not new. Goldman Sachs led the pack in 2008 with its Returnship program , and Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan followed with similar programs. Several big law firms started their own, too, and some companies have expanded their programs globally. According to iRelaunch’s comprehensive list of re-entry programs, there are about 90 active programs across industries.

The details of the programs vary by company, but they generally offer paid internships that last anywhere from nine weeks to an entire year and rotate participants through various departments or roles. Participants receive support through mentorships and workshops, have opportunities to network with other professionals, and adapt their skills for a work environment that may have changed since they’ve been gone.

The programs are competitive and do not guarantee a job offer at the end. At Goldman, 1,000 applicants vied for 19 spots in 2013, and about half of all graduates of the program have received job offers.

The highest users of these internships are women who stepped out of the workforce to raise families, but it’s not exclusively for them. As adults have the burden to care for their aging parents or take leaves of absence for other personal reasons, these programs offer a way to re-adjust to life at work, as The New York Times highlighted in 2014.

Are they really necessary?

Since my background is in human resources, when I first learned about these programs I was intrigued, but as a stay-at-home mom who assumes she’ll have a career again one day, I was miffed. Had I really become so untouchable that I’d need a special program to get back to work? These internships validate the assumption that candidates with a gap in employment are less capable than candidates who’ve continuously worked, and I’m not convinced that’s fair.

In that Harvard Business Review study, women lost earning power after one or two years out of work. How much does one’s professional skill set really diminish over two years, and does it actually justify putting them in a more junior role than the one they left? Does it really take longer to bring them up to speed than any new employee on-boarding into a company?

I was chatting with a friend from my old job, and she filled me in on the latest news from our company. It was kind of like watching a soap opera that I hadn’t seen in a few years. Things had changed, but I could still follow the storyline pretty easily. Surely, I could jump back into my old role after three years of being away. So, then, how big of a disadvantage would I really have at a different company compared to any other new hire?

I channeled my grad school research days and scanned through hundreds of studies on JSTOR looking for data on this — the success and turnover rates of people re-entering the workforce after a career interruption compared to new employees with no such break. I couldn’t find any research on the topic. If you have facts on this, please share them because I really want to know whether the perception is justified that job candidates with a break in service are a high risk hiring decision.

I want more than anecdotes of a mom getting cold feet as she starts a new job. Because for every one of those, I know a woman who hit the ground running at the same speed as any other new employee. Sure, these ladies found the transition mentally taxing at first, but this didn’t diminish their contributions to their new employers. Everyone starting a new job has a learning curve and no one has an absolutely perfect skill set. We all have strengths and weaknesses, regardless of whether we’ve always worked or took a break.

If such research doesn’t exist, then I know what I’ll study for my PhD dissertation when I can’t get a job due to my apparently unbridgeable gap in employment. Because, I actually think I’ll be a better employee than when I left. Motherhood has made me an all-around more competent person. I’m a better advocate for others and a better leader, more mindful of when and how to steer the ship where it needs to go.

In fact, another friend of mine, who’s an attorney, said that early in her career, the lawyer interviewing her noticed she had been a preschool teacher in college. The lawyer told her that if she could successfully negotiate with two- and three-year-olds, then she would have no trouble arguing with opposing counsel. She got the job.

On top of the professional skill set that I’ve retained (and still use, just in different ways), I’m bringing an entire set of experiences that people who’ve always worked don’t have. I may have unique and beneficial insights to share with my new company, and it’s disheartening that it’s not always looked at this way.

I’m not alone in taking offense. Stacey Hawley’s article on WorkingMother.com called returnships a “bad idea” that “take advantage of women who feel less confident after being at home for a few years.” She argues that companies “PLAY on this PERCEIVED lack of expertise or skills. They promote the low self-confidence some people feel after being out of the workforce and use it to their advantage. Under the guise of helping people get up to speed and allowing employees to ‘see if it is the right fit,’ they get a no-risk trial and can fire you.”

Certainly things change over time. New technology, industry innovations, and workplace trends create a learning curve that steepens the longer one’s been gone, but lumping everyone with a gap of two or more years into one group, assuming they need extra help just to function in a workplace, and then funneling them into highly competitive programs that don’t guarantee employment lets companies off the hook of evaluating resumes of career re-launchers in an unbiased way.

But maybe they’re helpful

As I worked myself up into a lather over these re-entry programs, I reached out to my former colleagues still in the trenches of human resources at a variety of well-known and respected companies. They calmed my righteous indignation because they’re not only skilled professionals but also young mothers who know what it feels like to actually make that transition back to work (something I have yet to do). 

They know firsthand how hard it is to transition their mindsets back to work after time off, even if it’s only a four-month maternity leave. “It’s still a very big mental shift to get your brain re-trained to be focused on the business, strategies, etc. To go from family being the number one, to family being one of a few different priorities, it’s a juggle,” Kelly Jones, an HR Business Partner at The Clorox Company explains. Re-entrance programs offer less of a commitment on both sides, which is good if the candidate decides she’s not quite ready to go back to work.

I also talked with Estrella Parker, Chief Human Resource Officer at Satellite Healthcare WellBound, for her take on these initiatives. Her company does not have a re-entrance program, but she sees value in them as an opportunity to rebuild the confidence of people coming back to work, not to take advantage of them.

She explains, “It’s all about transition. How do you support them to prepare for a competitive environment, so they can reintegrate into those [higher] level positions [that they left]?” Even more importantly, she says, these programs offer access to professional networks that may be hard for individuals to tap into on their own. The old adage of, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” often still holds true for career progression.

Getting your foot back in the door

Whether you think a re-entrance program is right for you, or you want to find other ways to get back to work, think first about what you really want to do. “When you take a break, it changes you, and you might not want to get back into work where you left off,” Parker notes. You’ll be most successful if you find the right fit, even if it’s in a different company, industry, or profession than where you were before. IRelaunch offers numerous resources to get you prepped for returning to work.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

Introducing the concept of re-entrance programs to desired employers may be tough.

Developing and running programs like these takes time and money, and employers aren’t likely to do it for a single job candidate. Your best bet is to convince them that you already have what it takes to be hired straight away. If you’re set on getting one of these schemes in place, work with current employees inside the company to develop a business case for it. You’ll need to understand where they have talent gaps, demonstrate how these programs can help close those gaps, offer suggestions for program design, and estimate the return on investment the company can expect.

That’s a lot of work, so maybe… 

Consider contracting assignments to ease back in.

Often, companies need extra help from experienced, highly-skilled professionals for specific projects or seasonal work and will contract with temporary agencies and consultants to fill this need. It’s a common re-entry point that provides flexibility and less commitment, but gets a foot in the door and can lead to full-time employment.

Networking is the key.

It really is all about getting that chance to prove you’ve still got it, and often that’s about who you know. Make it vocal to anyone who will listen that you’re ready to return to work. You may be surprised at your own connections.

Bottom line

I’m not convinced that everyone who takes a break from work requires a special set of hoops, like these internships, to prove that we’ve retained our business acumen, technical, and communication skills. I’m afraid that, with the creation of these programs, companies are never challenged to examine their bias against career re-launchers as already-legitimate job candidates. However, since I haven’t transitioned back to work, I don’t fully understand what it takes, and I have to trust my colleagues who have done it.

I do believe these programs were designed to be mutually beneficial to companies and career re-launchers alike, so I support them. Because, really, whenever a company invests time and money into people, it’s a good thing.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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I was as prepared as I could be for my body to run the marathon that is childbirth, yet it turned out to be more like a sprint.

You see, I gave birth in a car—and I felt invincible.

During pregnancy, I chose to create a positive experience. I sought all the research I could. I watched birth videos and documentaries, read birth stories, learned about the stages of labor, recorded coping techniques, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and ate all the dates. I sought care, prepared my cookies and teas, gathered breastfeeding cream, a pump, and belly bind. I folded baby's diapers and clothes, praying for those important first weeks.


Perhaps the most important thing I did was to join a due date group with like-minded mamas to learn and grow with, and to share all the information, research and tips we could.

Much of my preparation was mental and spiritual prep-work. I read tons of books about birth, including faith-based books about labor, a practical guide to an "emergency" birth, and a natural pregnancy and childbirth guidebook. (And yes, I did end up using knowledge of each of these resources!)

Each of my two births were very different. With my first child's birth, I did not know much about birth or my options. My water broke at the onset of labor and I labored grudgingly in the one hour car ride to the hospital. Once there, I begged for an epidural.

This time around, though, I approached labor differently.

I chose to experience unmedicated labor, even though it isn't an easily understood decision. There were so many unsolicited opinions from people about what I should do with my body, and it was hard to not feel bombarded with all of the negative talk surrounding birth. But by having the support of the due date group and learning the wisdom that has been passed down in generations about childbirth, I wasn't deterred in my decision.

I knew that I needed to focus on not being overtaken by the potential overwhelm of birth. I remembered that I had a right to informed consent and that I could find kind of positive help I needed to give birth the way I knew I needed to. I chose to memorize biblical and positive affirmations to recite during birth to help calm myself through the contractions, and focus on what's at hand, rather than panic.

Labor began

The day my son came, I woke up before the sun at 4am and headed for the bathroom. I felt nauseous and achy like I was going to throw up and have diarrhea all at once. It was a very distinct, disgusting feeling throughout my body. Yet even with that feeling, I was in denial that labor was really starting.

My water was intact, and I was expecting my water to break at the onset of labor, as it did with my first. I was having some contractions, although extremely erratic. They were not consistent with clockwork, but they didn't stop, either. I would have a contraction that lasted five seconds, then a break for 20 minutes. Another contraction, this time for 20 seconds, and a break for seven minutes. I tried using an app to track and time the contractions for a bit, but ultimately that proved to cause more anxiety than peace.

So I turned the app off, and focused on being present. I was so calm. I let the contractions come and go. My family didn't even know I was in labor until they woke up with the sunrise! (I didn't want to wake everyone up—silly me, being in active labor!)

I was grateful to labor on my own in a quiet house in the early pre-dawn hours before the house and outside world woke up. I kept my composure, breathed through contractions, read and prayed, and let the birth process happen on its own.

When the contractions did not stop, I realized this was the real thing.

Once everyone was awake, I realized that I should probably be doing more to prepare, like get to help! We haphazardly packed a bag and rushed out the door to drive an hour to the place chosen to have our baby. I was not excited for that long car ride. I remember laboring in the car before, and it was miserable for me. I also knew how quick my past labor had been, and had this deep feeling, perhaps a mother's intuition, that we wouldn't make it to our destination in time.

I knew that this labor was progressing very quickly, and the baby was going to be born soon. Yet we went.

Giving birth in the car

My family got into the car and we drove, planning to meet more family at the hospital to take over the care of our toddler for a few days.

I labored in the car for 40 minutes until the ring of fire came. I knew what this meant: He was crowning, and we had to park. I tried to get into the best squat position I could, facing the seat, relieved that the car had stopped at this point. I repeated my affirmations over and over, and tried to focus on staying as calm as possible.

And he was born in the car, in the back of a small town grocery parking lot.

My baby was 6 pounds and 6 ounces, born at 9:15 in the morning, as I was facing the seat backward and squatting in the passenger seat of the car.

I didn't really push. A combination of by body's contractions and gravity seemed to do all the work. I was squatting upright, and the baby to just sort of plopped out. Head first into the car seat, with my hand to guide his head down, and a bit of the cord and fluids followed.

I attempted to squat fairly awkwardly in the seat to hold my fresh son and rub the vernix into his sweet skin. We were in love, and I felt invincible. I immediately felt relief of all the pain and tension. The rush of oxytocin and hormones from birth made me feel on top of the world. (In that moment, I almost forgot that my toddler was in the backseat watching, eyes wide open—he was so quiet!)

The ambulance was called, we were checked out, and all was well. I waddled to the ambulance while the EMTs held towels around me and baby. They needed to take me to the hospital to make sure we were okay. I sat in the back of the ambulance stroking my baby, relieved to have more space to stretch out.

At the hospital, we sat in a room for a while until they figured out what to do with us, since the baby was already here. We stayed overnight and I reflected on the birth as I could.

Reflecting on my car birth

In some ways, I was sad. This is not what I wanted first moments with my son to be like. Although I was prepared for birth and felt incredible afterward, I felt sort of exposed to the world during the process. My body was depleted—and ultimately, my baby was born in the car (not exactly something that was on my bucket list).

I felt grief for the way (or rather, place) that my labor happened. But I was also thankful for a powerful, unmedicated birth. I grieved the loss of expectations, while being thankful for the reality. And that's okay.

I did it. We did it. This birth was a sprint, not the marathon so many women talk about.

Nothing about my labor and contractions were predictable. I did not have much knowledge about birth before I was pregnant, but the preparation during my pregnancy helped me feel more at ease. Despite the situation, I didn't feel that it was challenging. I felt able, or at least as able or prepared as any mother can be, for labor.

The feeling of being in labor is indescribable—the juxtaposition between pregnancy and postpartum, the time in labor where you are in the hyphen of here and there, a time that forever changes your life and family.

It was truly vulnerable and powerful—an unusual presence of two feelings that left me over-the-moon. As soon as my son was born, the feeling of pain was gone, just like that. And in its place was exhilaration; a rush of adrenaline and awe. I did it completely on my own, in the front passenger seat of the car!

Our bodies are absolute miracles. I grew into a mother of two that day, and with that, my new mission was born: to help other mothers learn and experience the feeling of being empowered by your birth and labor, not in fear of it. I decided to become a birth and postpartum doula, to empower, coach and be alongside other mothers in their own journey in birth and motherhood.

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For starters, this article is not to be confused with 10 ways to win a power struggle. I know, I'm disappointed too, but there is no way to win a power struggle with a 3-year-old. They can refuse to put on their shoes all day—they have nowhere better to be!

More importantly, you don't necessarily want to win a power struggle. Sure, you may occasionally triumph in a battle of the wills with your child, but I doubt either of you will emerge from the experience feeling good about yourselves or your relationship.

Plus, as nice as it would be to have our children just do what we ask without argument, our goal isn't to raise little people who blindly follow orders. Rather, we want to raise children who are able to compromise, accept advice and guidance and follow a trusted authority.


What we can think about is how to make the most of the inevitable power struggles we find ourselves in with young children, and how to come out of them with our relationship intact.

Here are 10 ways to turn power struggles with your toddler into a win:

1. Demonstrate how to compromise

One of the best ways to teach children how to be kind and reasonable in their interactions with others is through modeling. I know, no pressure, right?

Instead of standing over them and yelling at them to pick up their toys while they sit there with their arms crossed giving you the evil eye, try offering to put away the blocks while they put away the dolls. Or, try offering them five more minutes before clean up time. Extend the olive branch and see if you can gain their cooperation rather than their obedience.

In time, you can involve your child more in coming up with the solution. Say something like, "I want you to clean up your toys and you don't want to. What's a compromise we could use here?"

2. Model empathy

It can be really hard to show empathy for something that seems completely ridiculous to us. Can you really have empathy for someone refusing to eat their breakfast because you gave them the blue spoon? Maybe not.

But you can show empathy for how hard it is to not get what you want, or to not have the control you wish you had over your own life. You can say something like, "I know the red spoon is your favorite. It's hard for you when it isn't clean."

This shows our children that we see and care about how they're feeling, and it is often enough to help them move on.

3. Show the strength of your relationship

Perhaps the most important win that can come out of a power struggle is a stronger relationship. Power struggles are incredibly draining for us and for our children, and it can be hard not to emerge from it angry and tired.

Once you've recovered, spend some time repairing your relationship and let your child know that, no matter what, you still love them for exactly who they are.

4. Model how to apologize

At some point you will inevitably lose your temper over a power struggle you have with your child. It's almost impossible not to. When this happens, it is a great opportunity to show your child how to apologize.

While making children say "I'm sorry," doesn't teach them remorse, when we apologize it teaches the importance of admitting when we do something wrong.

You might say something like, "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. I was so frustrated when you wouldn't put on your shoes and we needed to leave, but yelling wasn't a good choice. May I give you a hug?"

5. Teach them to read their bodies

Children frequently become argumentative when they're tired, hungry or thirsty. They are not good at reading their own body's signals, yet the way they feel physically dramatically affects their behavior.

When you find your child buckling down and refusing everything you ask them to do, teach them how to pause and scan their body. Explain to them that when they are feeling this way, it is sometimes because they haven't eaten or rested in a while.

Teaching your child to be in tune with their body is a lesson that will last well beyond the stage of power struggles.

6. Let them learn from natural consequences

Many power struggles center around things we ask our children to do for their own good. We ask them to bring a coat so they won't be cold. We ask them to use the potty so they'll be comfortable. We ask them to do their homework so they don't get in trouble at school.

Next time you feel a power struggle coming on, ask yourself what would happen if your child didn't do what you asked. Is there a natural consequence that would be meaningful, but not harmful? If so, let the situation unfold.

You might say something like, "I think you should wear a coat so that you're not cold, but it's your body, you can decide."

Later, when they're too cold and have to leave the park, you can talk about what happened. Sure, your child will be mildly uncomfortable for a while, but you will avoid a daily power struggle about coats.

7. Show them it's okay to change your mind

Some rules are really important and we simply cannot back down. Other times, you may make a minor request in passing, only to set off a monumental power struggle. Do you have to stick to what you said simply to avoid backing down to your unreasonable child?

No, of course not, what message would that send?

If something isn't important to you, simply tell your child that you've changed your mind, not out of exasperation, but simply because it's not important to you.

Say something like, "Wow, I can see this is really important to you. You know what, now that I think about it, I'm okay with it if you wear your princess dress to the park, if you're okay with it getting dirty."

This demonstrates that it's okay to give in to what someone else wants sometimes, we don't have to be in a power struggle just to avoid backing down at all costs.

8. Teach respectful disagreement

Power struggles can be an excellent opportunity to teach our children how to disagree, respectfully. After all, there is nothing wrong with our children having a different opinion, we just don't want them to express it by flat out refusal or laying on the floor screaming. You can explain this to your child, offering them an alternative way of expressing their opinion.

Say something like, "Wow, I asked you to get dressed and you really don't want to. You could say 'I'm not ready Mom, may I wait five minutes?'" If your child is already emotional, try having this discussion later when they've calmed down.

9. Practice problem solving skills

Involve your child in coming up with a solution for ongoing power struggles. Do they argue every day about what's for breakfast? Invite them to look through a healthy cookbook with you and choose a new recipe to try.

Do they say no and run away every time it's time to leave the park? Sit down with a pen and paper and involve them in coming up with a good solution for when it's time to go.

This is a great exercise in creative problem solving and children are far more likely to go along with a solution they helped create.

10. Show them they can trust you

In the midst of a battle of wills, it is generally useless to use logic, to explain your reasoning to a child who has already decided that they are, under no circumstances, backing down.

Later though, when all is calm and you have both recovered, sit down with your child and explain why you were asking them to do something.

Explain that you asked them to get in their car seat because it's so important for safety and you care about them. Explain that you asked them to put their toys away because it's important for your family to have a nice and tidy home to live in.

Explain to them that you always, always, have their best interests at heart, that they can trust you.

The best way to handle power struggles is to avoid them. Still, you are human, and you are likely to get dragged into some power struggles from time to time. When that happens, just try to make the best of it.Your child will likely try to initiate many power struggles, but you don't have to actually join the fight every time. Remember that protecting and repairing your relationship is more important than winning any battle.

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Learn + Play

Meghan Markle is opening up about some of the challenges of pregnancy and life as a new mom. While most of us can't relate to her status as a royal we can totally relate to some of her feelings about motherhood.

Markle was recently interviewed by ITV News at Ten anchor Tom Bradby—and when Bradby asked her how she was doing she kept it real.

"Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes," Markle said.

ITV News on Instagram: “'Not many people have asked if I’m ok... it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.' Meghan reveals to ITV’s @tom.bradby…”


Many moms can relate to this, and it's something we at Motherly have often commented on. People always ask how the baby is doing, but don't always think to ask mama how she is. Of course, we want the people around us to care how our babies are doing, but mom needs to be cared for, too.

Bradby pressed on, asking Markle if it would be fair to say she is " not really OK?"

"Yes," she replied.

The most famous new mom in the world is saying that she is not okay. We applaud her for that because by telling her truth she is no doubt inspiring other mothers to do the same. We don't have to pretend that motherhood is free from stress and struggle. It is hard, even for someone with the resources Markle has.

The Duchess of Sussex has a lot of financial resources, but she has also been highly scrutinized during her pregnancy and early motherhood, which has added to her stress.

"Any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging," Markle says. "And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it's a lot. So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It's um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Media coverage of Markle's pregnancy and personal life were a factor in Prince Harry releasing a statement on the matter earlier this month.

"My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences—a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," it reads, in part. "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face—as so many of you can relate to—I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."

As Prince Harry suggests, there are certain things about Markle's struggle that many of us can relate to. Pregnancy and life with a newborn are hard, and trying to pretend you're okay when you're not (or as Harry calls it, putting on a brave face) can make it even more stressful.

Here's to it being okay for a new mom to say she's not okay.

The rest of Bradby's interview with Markle (and conversations with Harry) will air during the upcoming ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, this Sunday in the UK. Stateside, the doc will air Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Johnson & Johnson announced on Friday that it's initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of Johnson's Baby Powder due to low levels of asbestos contamination. In a statement posted to its website the company explained this is a "voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination (no greater than 0.00002%) in samples from a single bottle purchased from an online retailer."

The recall is only for one lot of 33,000 bottles of baby powder. If you have a bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB stop using it and contact the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Care Center at www.johnsonsbaby.com or by calling +1 (866) 565-2229.

Johnson & Johnson stresses that this recall is a precaution and that it can't yet confirm if the product tested was genuine or whether cross-contamination occurred. The voluntary recall comes after years of allegations about asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder-based baby powder.

As Bloomberg reported in July, the Justice Department and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Johnson & Johnson due to concerns about alleged asbestos contamination in its baby powder. This came after numerous lawsuits, including a case that saw Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer. In July 2018, St. Louis jury ruled the women were right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks. Way back in 1981, the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates. In 1998, Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the variety of baby powder involved in the The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission's investigations and the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks.

In a statement on its website, Johnson & Johnson states that "talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world."

When Motherly requested comment on the recall and the safety of talc a spokesperson for the company issued the following statement:

"[Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc] has a rigorous testing standard in place to ensure its cosmetic talc is safe and years of testing, including the FDA's own testing on prior occasions--and as recently as last month--found no asbestos. Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos."

Bottom line: If you have one of the 33,000 bottles of Johnson's Baby Powder from Lot #22318RB, stop using it.

If you are going to use baby powder other than the recalled lot on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

[A version of this post was originally published July 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Recent updates

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