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To my girls,

You’re growing up so quickly it’s scary.


As your mum, I feel like it’s my responsibility do the best job I can to provide you with the tools to prepare you for the most fulfilled life you can possibly have.

When I was a child, I enjoyed living in the moment and didn’t think about the future. In my teens, I started to think about what job I’d do and what my husband might be like. But it’s only in the last few years that I’ve thought about how much the decisions I make affect my life – things I wish I’d thought about more when I was younger, in hindsight.

I’ve learned some lessons and had experiences growing up that I want to share with you when you are able to understand. I hope they help you in some way to develop into the wonderful women I know you’ll become.

So here goes:

Dream big

Discover your passions and pursue them. My hope for you is that you end up with a job you enjoy, one that fulfills you. Think carefully in school about what you would like to do. You may want to be anything from a lawyer to an air hostess or a counselor. Weigh all your options and ask questions.

Be kind

Think of others. Wonder why someone acts a certain way and try not to judge him or her for it. If you can, try to be there for that person. Everyone – and I mean everyone – faces a private battle you will know nothing about.

Count to 10

I’ll never forget hearing your gran say this to herself when things got tough. It allows you to take a moment before you react to something, and in many cases, it can stop you from saying something you might regret.

Be proud of your body

It is unique. No one body is the same as another, so please don’t compare yourself with others. Look after your body. Don’t look at it in the mirror and pick fault. It’s so much more important to be strong and healthy. Eating well and exercising are the most important things you can do to achieve this. You may have flaws and imperfections, but they make you you. Your body shape does not define you.

Don’t follow the crowd

As a schoolgirl, I found there were so many little cliques. Popular, geeky, clever, or sporty. You may feel you need to try and fit into one of these to be accepted. Choose friends who accept you for being you. Develop your own sense of style.

Peer pressure is a tough one to deal with. I remember quite a few friends trying smoking and drugs. I flat refused, knowing these things were wrong for me. Even though it made me feel like I didn’t fit in as well, those friends later said they admired me for standing my ground. And I was healthier for it. Do what you know is right for you and not because everyone else is doing it.

Be a good friend

Friends will come and go throughout your life. Don’t lose touch with the ones that matter. Just because they may be experiencing different things from you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be there for each other. Take time to really listen to them. They may need a good friend to support their decisions.

Look out for your sibling

You may not remember, but, Millie, you were an amazing sister when Eve was born. You’ll find your sister annoying at times, but when you’re older, I hope you’ll be best friends, like me and your aunties. There’s nothing that can compare with the experiences you share with each other. Family is important. Be there for them. Don’t let arguments or misunderstandings cause divisions. Life’s too short not to spend with those you love.

Don’t bottle things up

Cry if you need to. You will experience highs and lows. You need to share these with someone, good and bad. Talking is the best thing you can do. It can help you work things through and decide your next action. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you have to say, even if you feel vulnerable. You should always feel you can talk about anything with people you trust.

Don’t judge or hate others

The world can be a cruel place. It starts in school. Kids can be mean. You may experience it yourself or see it happening to your friends. People do things for a reason. They will pick on others or start wars because they are scared and insecure or jealous. Feel sad for them. If you find yourself caught up in the middle of anything, tell someone. Don’t let others make you feel inadequate, and don’t retaliate.

Love yourself and find those who love who you are

You need to be happy with who you are. Be proud and surround yourself with people who accept you. You will meet the right partner in time. You are unique and wonderful. Don’t ever pretend to be someone you’re not.

Go with your gut feeling

Sometimes in life you need to make tough decisions. Weigh your options, but in the end, go with what you feel is the right thing to do.

Don’t over-pluck your eyebrows or bleach your hair

Both fairly permanent disasters. I should know! In particular, steer clear of Sun In. I had to have my hair dyed for years until it finally grew out. It’s good to try different things to see what suits you, but I promise, these won’t.

Look around and above

Look at the stars. Always wonder. The world is so much bigger than us. Take time to appreciate it. If you ever feel down or need space to think, take time for yourself and enjoy your own company. Go for a walk in a park or the countryside. Surround yourself with nature. It gives you the time and space you need to reflect.

Open your heart

Don’t be afraid to put your feelings out there, whether for a friend or partner. You may get hurt, but it’s all a journey in helping you find the right people in your life.

Get off your phone and talk

There is nothing better than a good chat. Seriously, texting and emailing can be quick and easy, but so much less personal. Don’t lose that face-to-face contact. It allows you to truly see how someone is feeling.

Maintain a good work/life balance

Join a club, take up a sport, learn a different language, have fun with friends. Whatever you choose, do something that makes you feel happy.

Enjoy time at home with your family

You’ll soon leave on your adventures, and I hope you have plenty. (Unless you choose to stick with us, in which case, be prepared to pitch in!) I know we’re not as cool as your friends, but don’t forget, we know you well and will always be here for you, no matter what. Home is the place you should feel safest.

Never stop learning

At school, you’re made to learn. Once you leave, you can choose to keep your mind open or let it close. You could learn anything – a new language or painting or drawing or learning about the past. Keep your brain active.

Pick your battles

There will be times when you should stand up and say something. There will also be times when you shouldn’t. Have faith that you’ll know the difference.

Save money

It’s easy when you’re young not to think about your future and spend your money on the moment. There are so many things you will have to pay for…a car, a house, holidays. Don’t get caught out. (And don’t want be like your mum and spend loads on clothes just because they’re discounted!) It only makes you feel good temporarily.

If you experience unrequited love, you’ll be okay

If you’re like me, you’ll probably have a crush or two in school (and after). Unfortunately, your crushes may not feel the same way. It will feel like the end of the world (I feel your pain!), but don’t feel too sad about this. You will meet the boy, and then the man, who deserves you. It’s all part of growing up and discovering who and what you like, which is never a waste of time.

Have no regrets

Better to do something you reget than regret something you didn’t do. Take chances and seize moments. It doesn’t matter if things don’t work out. At least you tried. Be proud of that. Look forward, not back.

Have children when and if you feel ready

Enjoy your life before you have kids. Being a mum is a game changer. It can be pretty exhausting (way beyond the pregnancy and newborn days), and you’ll experience lots of challenges. But your kids will be the most precious people in your life. Treasure the wonderful times, and don’t feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed. It’s perfectly normal. Anyway, you can always ask grandma for help!

Always be honest

Tell the truth about what you are doing or how you feel. Lying and covering things up will catch up with you eventually.

Enjoy your life

We only get to live it once. Just remember that. Go out there and make your mark on it. I know you’ll make us proud.

My hope is that you can talk to me and your dad about anything. We’ve gone through so many happy and sad times, individually and together. We understand what it’s like to grow up. We’ll never judge and always be there for you, no matter what.

Most of all, though, I want you to be happy and feel loved. I can already see the amazing adults you’ll become and can’t wait to follow, love, and support you on your journey.

Love always,

Mum xxx

This piece originally appeared on the author’s blog.

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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.

Coverage:

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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