A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

In a perfect world, a woman’s pregnancy would be the happiest time of her life. Birds sing, flowers bloom, and everything seems full of possibility.


Except, sometimes it isn’t.

Growing a person is often stressful and uncomfortable, and all the unknowns can be enough to send even the most pragmatic mothers-to-be into a tailspin.

Finding happiness and appreciating the process can feel like one more to-do on an ever growing list. But it’s not hard to do if you know where to look.

You can’t control everything, but you can control (a lot of) your mental wellbeing during pregnancy

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a behavioral psychologist, has spent her career studying how genetics, intentional activity, and circumstance affects the happiness variance within a population.

FEATURED VIDEO

Life circumstances, like money, have very little long-term impact on our happiness.

Lyubomirsky found that if two, magically identical people suddenly faced different circumstances – one won the lottery, for example – then, over time, the lottery winner may only experience up to 10% percent more happiness than the other.

On the other hand, our lifestyle is almost as important as our genetics when it comes to happiness.

 

Influences of happiness

40% Intentional Activity
50% Genetics
10% Circumstance
12 proven intentional activities to improve happiness

Express Gratitude | Cultivate Optimism | Avoid Social Comparison | Practice Kindness | Nurture Relationships | Create Coping Strategies | Forgive | Practice Flow Experiences | Savor Life’s Joys | Commit to Goals | Seek Spirituality | Physical Wellness

65 intentional self-care practices for a happier pregnancy

 

Develop your coping strategies

Three main Stressors of New Parenthood

Feeling Overwhelmed?
Develop and maintain a balanced partnership
Feeling inadequate?
 Simplify your life and your expectations
Feeling Lost?
Continue to prioritize what gives you an identity

You’re likely trying to absorb a mountain of information as you prepare for the new arrival. Instead of spinning your wheels in the world of possibilities, try to devote your efforts to the most probable stressors, and then plan accordingly.

13 intentional self-care activities for coping:

Have a discussion with your partner about...as much as you can.

Be sure to cover labor, birth, and postpartum support. The list below can help you get started:

Be sure to cover labor, birth, and postpartum support. The list below can help you get started:

Be sure to cover labor, birth, and postpartum support. The list below can help you get started:

New wearable technology can help you track pre-labor contractions at home.

New wearable technology can help you track contractions at home and increase your confidence during pre-labor.

New technology can help you learn about what contractions feel like to you and automatically track and time contractions so you can feel more confident on the big day.

Create a “postpartum help schedule” with your friends in iCal.
Hire a Doula.

They can be your advocate and help you to assert your wishes during labor.

Simplify and Streamline

Clean out your email inbox. Organize your paperwork. Take a trip to Goodwill (don’t come home with anything, unless there’s a great crib, or something).

Clean out your email inbox. Organize your paperwork. Take a trip to Goodwill (don’t come home with anything, unless there’s a great crib, or something).

Clean out your email inbox. Organize your paperwork. Take a trip to Goodwill (don’t come home with anything, unless there’s a great crib, or something).

Set an auto email response to go live after your due date.
Find a good therapist – maybe someone who specializes in post-partum support.
Take a parenting class with your partner.
Strategize ways that you and your partner can each continue to pursue your hobbies and passions.
Take inventory of your commitments and politely excuse yourself from the ones that aren't necessary or gratifying.
Start reframing your perspective.

Rid yourself of useless stress and focus on the things that truly matter.

Rid yourself of useless stress and focus on the things that truly matter.

Rid yourself of useless stress and focus on the things that truly matter.

Reset expectations and learn to be okay with complete versus perfect.
Find a community of mothers to support you.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

Bloomlife sponsored this piece because they believe in the empowering value of information while partners make the exciting transition into parenthood.

Express gratitude, cultivate optimism, and savor life

30% of Our thoughts are wandering elsewhere. 
People are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering – regardless of activity.

Matt Killingsworth’s Happiness Study has shown that a wandering mind can ruin even the most enjoyable activities. Instead of spending now thinking about later or before, focus on what you’re doing this very moment. Habits of mindfulness are linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

12 intentional self-care activities for gratitude:

Keep a gratitude journal and record one thing that made you thankful each day.
Jot down 10 things you’re thankful for and keep the list by your bedside.
Envision your ideal birth. Think it through in detail. Repeat often.
Slow down and focus on being present during your morning routine.
Go watch the sunset alone. No music, friends, partners, or distractions.
Buy flowers for yourself. Or better yet, go pick some.
Wake up with an affirmation.

Take a minute to frame an achievable goal for the day, like: Man, this day is packed full, but I’m going to handle it by being decisive. Or: Today will be better than average. Be as realistically optimistic as you can be.

Instead of reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up, take a minute to frame an achievable goal for the day, like: Man, this day is packed full, but I’m going to handle it by being decisive. Or: Today will be better than average. Be as realistically optimistic as you can be.

Instead of reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up, take a minute to frame an achievable goal for the day, like: Man, this day is packed full, but I’m going to handle it by being decisive. Or: Today will be better than average. Be as realistically optimistic as you can be.

Go see a live performance or exhibition. Find inspiration, awe, or laughter at a concert, gallery, or comedy show.
Breath deeply.

Slow, deep breathing techniques actually stimulate our body’s parasympathetic reaction and calm us.

Slow, deep breathing techniques actually stimulate our body’s parasympathetic reaction and calm us.

Slow, deep breathing techniques actually stimulate our body’s parasympathetic reaction and calm us.

Turn up the radio, roll down the windows.
Wear something that you may reserve for a fancier occasion. Look good. feel good.
Make it a habit to redirect negative thoughts.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

Practice acts of kindness

Regular volunteering has been linked to a 22% reduction in early mortality rates, along with multiple other health benefits.

Helping others will make you happy, too – even up to a month later. “The How of Happiness” study found that subjects who kept a kindness journal were happier than the control group up to six months later. This same research showed that a variety of small good deeds go a long way. In fact, multiple acts of the same kindness can quickly become a chore.

12 intentional self-care activities for kindness:

Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line at the cafe.
If you’re not totally exhausted, take your friend’s kids while they go on a date. Eventually, they can graciously return the favor.
Give more compliments. Especially to strangers.
Send a thank you note to someone for something simple that would usually go unnoticed or be taken for granted as a gift.
Check in with an old friend just to see how they’re doing. Call them. On the phone.
Tell a parent that they’re doing a great job with their kids.
Save someone from a parking ticket by dropping a quarter in their meter
Tell a coworker’s boss about how great they’re doing.
Pick up two pieces of trash, while you can still bend over.
Put a nice note in your child’s lunchbox or your partner’s car.
Send a note to your parents and recount a favorite family memory. Thank them for being great.
Make it a habit to redirect negative thoughts.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

 

Nurture relationships

 The Gottman Institute found couples who focused on their relationship and worked together as new parents saw:
Relationship Satisfaction

Increased father involvement and satisfaction

positive impacts on baby development

Prioritize your partnership during this exciting time. After all, it’s what got you here. Be transparent about your stress, hopes, and fears. Make sure to check in on your partner frequently, too. Partners are also at risk for postpartum depression, and this risk increases when the mother experiences PPD.

Tell loved ones that you value their presence after the birth. The initial flood of visitors will eventually slow to a trickle – often when exhaustion, stress, and depression begin to set in. A study from Arizona State University found that even when women are satisfied with their partners, their friendships still had a more powerful effect on their well-being and stress levels. Having good friends may even help to “sustain the marital relationship by reducing the burden on the marriage to fulfill all of one’s emotional needs.”

12 intentional self-care activities for relationships:

Schedule alone time for your first post-baby date. Consider lining up a sitter now.
Discuss ways that your partner wants to be involved with the new baby.

Baths, bottles, and burping are all great ways for fathers to become involved. And you can always reserve a diaper or two – you know, for the bonding.

Baths, bottles, and burping are all great ways for fathers to become involved. And you can always reserve a diaper or two – you know, for the bonding.

Baths, bottles, and burping are all great ways for fathers to become involved. And you can always reserve a diaper or two – you know, for the bonding.

Fit in lots of quality time with friends. Go for a sunrise walk with your morning coffee.
If you have other kids, make them feel special. Go for a pedicure date, or drop in on them during their school lunch.
Spark a great conversation with your kids

Get the convo started with one of these 60 unique questions for your kids.

Get the convo started with one of these 60 unique questions for your kids.

Get the convo started with one of these 60 unique questions for your kids.

Try a few therapy sessions with you partner.
Read “The Five Love Languages” with your partner.
Initiate sex.
Do some karaoke. You know what’s awesome about karaoke? It combines laughing, music, and friends. Terrible at singing? You’ll laugh harder.
Call your parents.
Foster healthier friendships.

Complement your friends while together in a group. Engage everyone in the conversations. Don’t gossip. Encourage understanding.

Complement your friends while together in a group. Engage everyone in the conversations. Don’t gossip. Encourage understanding.

Complement your friends while together in a group. Engage everyone in the conversations. Don’t gossip. Encourage understanding.

Be a good friend to yourself.

Do you have any friends that follow you around saying mean things to you? No. You don’t. Because that person would be an asshole. So why do you do it to yourself? If that concept doesn’t resonate, try this: If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Do you have any friends that follow you around saying mean things to you? No. You don’t. Because that person would be an asshole. So why do you do it to yourself? If that concept doesn’t resonate, try this: If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Do you have any friends that follow you around saying mean things to you? No. You don’t. Because that person would be an asshole. So why do you do it to yourself? If that concept doesn’t resonate, try this: If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

Lose yourself in what you love

Multiple studies have found engaging in hobbies results in:
Better overall mood | less stress | lower heart rate

Engage in “Flow Activities.”  The man who coined this term, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes Flow as those challenging, yet enjoyable activities that focus our attention, push our limits, and force us to become immersed in the present. The happiest people fill their day with a variety of intentional activities that provide them with gratification and small, frequent doses of passive pleasure as a reward.

Start making your passion a habit now so it will be easier to pursue your hobbies once the baby arrives.

Five intentional self-care activities for finding “flow”:

Keep a journal. Express yourself.

Use writing prompts to get ideas flowing.

Use writing prompts to get ideas flowing.

Use writing prompts to get ideas flowing.

Doodle or color.

Lucky for you, we live in a time of adult coloring books. What a time to be alive!

Lucky for you, we live in a time of adult coloring books. What a time to be alive!

Lucky for you, we live in a time of adult coloring books. What a time to be alive!

Learn something new.

Check out this list of places to learn something new online.

Check out this list of places to learn something new online.

Check out this list of places to learn something new online.

Block off time on a real calendar to focus on what you love to do.
Struggling to identify your passions? Limit your inhibitions, listen to your gut, and try that thing that’s been in the back of your mind.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

Prioritize wellness

The Frequency of wellness activities improves happiness more than quality or duration.

When thinking about physical care for mental wellbeing, it’s important to remember that the frequency of wellness activities improves happiness more than quality or duration. A study found that a massage was perceived to be more enjoyable when there was a break in the treatment. Prioritize two 30-minute rubdowns over one longer one.

10 intentional self-care activities for wellness:

Find water. Swim in it. (Break into a hotel pool. No one will tell a pregnant woman to leave.)
Go outside.

The Germans have a specific word for the “feeling of being alone in the woods”: Waldeinsamkeit. Find that feeling.

The Germans have a specific word for the “feeling of being alone in the woods”: Waldeinsamkeit. Find that feeling.

The Germans have a specific word for the “feeling of being alone in the woods”: Waldeinsamkeit. Find that feeling.

Acknowledge your feelings.

Say them out loud to yourself, say them to a pal. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel irritated. Say it.

Say them out loud to yourself, say them to a pal. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel irritated. Say it.

Say them out loud to yourself, say them to a pal. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel irritated. Say it.

Let go.

You know that thing that’s been bugging you? That thing you can’t control and yet continue to obsess over? Visualize picking it up, putting it a box, and setting the box on fire. Never look back.

You know that thing that’s been bugging you? That thing you can’t control and yet continue to obsess over? Visualize picking it up, putting it a box, and setting the box on fire. Never look back.

You know that thing that’s been bugging you? That thing you can’t control and yet continue to obsess over? Visualize picking it up, putting it a box, and setting the box on fire. Never look back.

Get enough sleep. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and you’ve gained an hour.
Seek out an ASMR response.

Try this quiet reading of Alice In Wonderland.

Try this quiet reading of Alice In Wonderland.

Try this quiet reading of Alice In Wonderland.

Indulge in a luxurious wind-down routine.

Wash the sheets, take a bath, get in bed at a laughably early hour and just read, journal, or relax.

Wash the sheets, take a bath, get in bed at a laughably early hour and just read, journal, or relax.

Wash the sheets, take a bath, get in bed at a laughably early hour and just read, journal, or relax.

Add a fancy non-alcoholic “mocktail” to your luxurious wind-down.

Try one of these recipes.

Try one of these recipes.

Try one of these recipes.

Ask for help. Can you do all the things yourself? No. You can’t. Ask for help.
Get rid of the word “should.”

Make a decision. Then make another. And another. Overthinking is holding you hostage. Pick something and do it.

Make a decision. Then make another. And another. Overthinking is holding you hostage. Pick something and do it.

Make a decision. Then make another. And another. Overthinking is holding you hostage. Pick something and do it.

Arrow
Arrow

Slider

Bloomlife sponsored this piece because they believe in the empowering value of information while partners make the exciting transition into parenthood.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

walmart-best-baby-carseat

When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

SHOP

Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

SHOP

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

SHOP

Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

SHOP

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

Our Partners

Nannies and early childhood educators do incredibly important work. Parents and children need these workers, they are vital to families and our economy. And they are woefully underpaid.

On average, nannies in the United States make less than Amazon delivery drivers, and day care workers earn less than either.

According to Sittercity's most recent data, the typical hourly rate of nannies in 2019 is $17.50 per hour. According to Amazon, most delivery drivers earn $18 - $25 per hour. And day care workers make only a couple dollars more than they would working in fast food, earning $11.17 per hour on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

FEATURED VIDEO

What does it say about our society that we value the delivery of consumer goods more than we value care work?

Yes, parents are struggling to pay for childcare, but those caring for our children are struggling to pay their bills, too, and it is hard to retain talented professionals when there is more money to be made in other fields. "It is stressful. Everybody loves these children, and that's why they're there, but the love can't pay their bills," day care operator Danielle Frank told KSNB News this week.

Frank owns Smiling Faces Academy in Kearney, Nebraska, but the problem of high turnover and low wages in the childcare industry is an issue all over the United States. This isn't a uniquely American issue, either. In Japan, day care workers are desperately needed, the New York Times reports, but childcare workers there earn about a third less than workers in other industries and report struggling to cover the basic necessities.

Back in North America, this week day care workers in Nova Scotia, Canada who are frustrated with low wages have threatened to walk off the job, a move similar to one made by YMCA childcare workers in Chicago last year. "I make $15.50 an hour, and I have a BA in early childhood education with a certification in infants and toddlers," childcare worker Tahiti Hamer told WGN last year.

From Nebraska to Nova Scotia to the story is the same: Parents pay a lot for childcare while workers make very little, even though some licensed day cares require employees to have training in early childhood education, or even a bachelor's degree. And when you've got student loans, maybe carrying Amazon packages starts to look better than caring for children.

According to a recent study by the Indeed Hiring Lab, the childcare industry has two big problems right now.

"As the labor market has strengthened in recent years, more workers need child care. At the same time, growth in interest in child care jobs has slowed," Indeed Hiring Lab economist Nick Bunker notes. He suggests low-wage earners who work in childcare have more options these days, and employers should consider raising workers' pay.

It's easy to see why the industry has a hard time keeping workers, especially as other lower-wage job sectors (like Amazon delivery) expand. Unfortunately, for many childcare centers, paying workers more is just not doable without some help from levels of government.

And help is needed, not just to ensure that parents have access to quality, affordable childcare, but also to ensure that those providing it aren't living in poverty.

A study out of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, found childcare workers' earnings are not keeping pace with increases in similar professions or with the costs of childcare and living. "Childcare workers have also experienced no increase in real earnings since 1997, and, as was true in 1989, still earn less than adults who take care of animals, and barely more than fast food cooks. Those who work as preschool teachers have fared somewhat better; their wages have increased by 15 percent in constant dollars since 1997, although their wages remain low. In contrast, parent fees have effectively doubled," the researchers note, highlighting that many childcare workers earn so little they actually qualify for public assistance.

The researchers continue: "While there are no available data to explain this glaring gap between trends in parent fees and teacher wages, it is abundantly clear that families cannot bear the burden of addressing the imperative to provide more equitable compensation for their children's early childhood teachers."

Speaking to the Education Writers Association last year one of the reports' writers, Marcy Whitebook, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, said the problem is that our society devalues the work of looking after and educating children under 5, even though it is as demanding and important as teaching those ages 5 and up.

"Americans aren't used to funding early childhood care and instruction like they do K-12 education," Whitebook said. "We don't look at it as education. And we don't look at it as education everyone should have access to."

That may change in the future, as presidential candidates float plans for universal pre-K and childcare, but right now, having access to childcare is a privilege. And those who are privileged enough to employ a nanny should pay them fairly if they want to keep them, says Elizabeth Harz, CEO of Sittercity. "It's also worth noting that when parents are proactive and offer systems and official paperwork that give nannies protection in the relationship, it goes a long way," says Harz.

You might also like:

News

Children with autism open our eyes and our hearts to growth, beauty and love in unexpected, marvelous and deep ways that expand our humanity. But, an autism diagnosis is a moment that stays with a parent.

Some parents might have trouble understanding what's happening. Others may worry or have a sense of relief that there's a name for what they've noticed in their child. Regardless of your emotions, there's not a right or wrong way to feel.

Here are seven areas to cover after receiving an autism diagnosis:

1. Line up great medical care.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids with autism often have other associated medical issues such as gastrointestinal issues, language delay or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Depending on where you live, your medical choices might be sparse or specialist-rich. Getting good, consistent healthcare is invaluable and establishes important baselines, routines and trust. How do you know which specialists or family doctors have the skills you and your child need? Ask those who have gone before you.

FEATURED VIDEO

Medicaid provides services for children on the spectrum but there are simply not enough providers who accept Medicaid. Waiting lists in some states can be as long as 15 years. If Medicaid is part of your family's life, get your child on the waiting list as soon as possible. While you wait, look into attorneys and advocates for additional support. A good advocate will ensure you have a primary role in your child's education, regardless of the insurance plan you may or may not have.

If you don't qualify for Medicaid, the ACA marketplace (also known as the exchange) offers affordable coverage for those who qualify. If your family has private health insurance, call to see what your benefits are so you're prepared.

2. Understand your insurance coverage.

Autism is a medical diagnosis and should be covered by health insurance, but it's not that simple. Many health insurance plans do not cover therapeutic treatment for autism. From 2005 to 2015, Autism Speaks battled within state legislatures to make sure autism treatments were covered under health insurance. Through those efforts, 47 states passed related legislation. But many of those laws address only traditional insurance programs not self-insured companies (which cover most workers), and some have been weakened by loopholes exploited by insurance companies. Make a call to find out exactly what kind of coverage you have.

3. Find a community.

Autism can feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be. There are many autism support groups, some formal like chapters of the Autism Society of America or Autism Speaks and some unaffiliated groups of parents who have bonded in mutual support along the autism journey. Learn from others. Share your story. Find communities of support in churches, parks, restaurants and stores that have a heart and respect you and your child.

4. Start support.

Autism is highly variable. There are a number of decades-long treatments that address autism such as Floortime, Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children (TEACCH), and the Early Start Denver Model. The most research-backed treatment is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and it's therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. It focuses on improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading and academics as well as adaptive learning skills. It is practiced by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and is the most common treatment approach covered by insurance. There are less than 30,000 BCBAs in the nation, but it is a rapidly growing profession with increasingly greater access for families in need of ABA.

5. Find a good support system if you need a break.

Make sure you have loving and qualified family, friends, or professional childcare providers who can stay with your child so you can have an established date night or occasional weekend away. Such activities are important for all parents of young children but they can be especially critical for parents with children on the spectrum. Finding people who understand your child's needs, routines and sensitivities is vital to offering you an evening out while keeping things balanced on the home front. The important thing to remember is having an autisic child is beautiful and it's okay to reach out for help if you need it.

6. Contact your local school district.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) school districts, often in coordination with the public health office, are responsible for providing services from birth. Part C of IDEA mandates that schools conduct "Child Find" to locate children who need help. Among other things, Part C services can provide speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapies to your child, often delivered in your home, and at no expense. It is part of the commitment of special education to assist families in having their children ready to learn by the time they start school. For help, call your local school district and request a meeting to begin the journey of getting the assistance your little one needs.

7. Establish a financial plan.

Many children with autism will grow into healthy self-sufficient adults, but some may require varying levels of support. That is why having a financial and assistance plan that looks after their long-term needs is essential. It's tough, but having important conversations with your partner and members of your family will help your little one in the long run. If you need advice, look into Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) to assist with creating a tax-advantaged savings account to pay for qualified expenses.

The bottom line is simple: This is hard and there will be challenges, but you've got this, mama. There will also be more beauty in this journey than you can ever imagine. The main thing to remember is that your child has you as their mother, which means they're already doing great.

You might also like:

Learn + Play

It's time for Halloween! And you love dressing up. Or you hate dressing up but your family or friends or next door neighbor really want you to dress up. Oh, and also you're pregnant. 🤰🏽So what the heck are you supposed to be?

Don't sweat it, mama. We spoke to Pinterest to find out their top pinned maternity Halloween costumes, and there are some fun (and funny ideas) in the mix.

Whether you're 8 or 38 weeks pregnant, you'll be sure to find some Halloween inspiration right here. Time to get spooky!

1. Mummy-to-be 

www.pinterest.com

Via Womans Day

Bonus points because this punny costume looks super easy to DIY.

2. Your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Via Pinterest

Besides it being an easy costume to make, you get to eat pizza all night. Win-win!

3. Gumball machine 

www.pinterest.com

Via Brit+ Co

This one requires a glue gun and some extra craftiness, but the result is a sweet treat.

4. Kangaroo 

www.pinterest.com

Via The Spruce

Grab a stuffed baby kangaroo and you're halfway there.

5. Mommy to BEE 

www.pinterest.com

Via Redbook

Buzz buzz. You look bee-utiful.

6. Violet from Willy Wonka

Via Pinterest

Can be a family costume or a stand alone, just make sure you have tons of make up remover handy before going to bed.

7. Mama bird 

www.pinterest.com

via Brit + Co

What kind of a mama bird will you be? A flamingo? A peacock?

8. Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. 

www.pinterest.com

via Buzzfeed

Grab a spare shirt and your crafting skills to turn yourself into a literal monster.

9. Mother earth 

www.pinterest.com

via Darian Davenport

You've got the whole world in your hands... and belly.

10. Pregnant Beyonce

Via Instagram

You get to be Queen Bey for a day.

11. Baseball player 

www.pinterest.com

via the Bump

You come prepared with your own bat, and ball.

12.  Prego 

www.pinterest.com

via Brit + Co

Come on. You knew this one was coming...

13. Snowman

www.pinterest.com

Via Ashley Engel

If you have black leggings and a white top, you're already winning Halloween!

14. Juno

Via Costume Works

Such a classic, plus you will get to wear your comfy maternity jeans all night long.

15. Pregnant unicorn

Via Pregnant Mama

Requires very little purchasing and prep.

16. Troll

Via Brit + Co

This one can easily turn into a family costume if everyone is down for a big wig and a sparkly belly button.

17. A magic 8 ball

Via WeBegToDiffer

You can spend the night answering everyone's questions.

18. An emoji

Via Brit+Co

Just pick your fave!

19. A beach ball

Via Instagram

Only for those mamas in warm weather!

You might also like:

Life

I will confess: I am a car seat safety fanatic. Some people might call me an advocate, but let's be real. I verge on crazy status.

I kept my kids rear-facing well past the age of two. I've schlepped their car seats on and off of airplanes more times than I can count. I've checked their installation again and again until it is JUST RIGHT. Yes, I am that mama. But, I make no apologies. Why should I? If there's one thing I'm crazy about, it's my kids' safety.

That's why I was surprised—no, shocked—to discover that a car seat safety rule exists that I didn't know about. As a result, I was unknowingly putting my son in an unsafe position.

FEATURED VIDEO

You're probably already familiar with the LATCH safety system. LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and is the preferred method for installing your car seat. These are the anchor points in your car that allow you to clip your car seat directly into the frame of your car's existing seat.

For years, since my oldest was born, I have been obsessive about always using the LATCH system. When we shuffle the car seats around, I always situate the kids' in the seats with a LATCH system, even when it makes for undesirable seating combinations, like adults jammed into middle seats while my toddlers lounge like kings in the captain's chairs.

Recently though, a fellow mom (who also happens to be a Car Seat Safety Technician) shared a car seat installation rule I'd never heard before: The LATCH system in most vehicles is only built to accommodate a load of 65 pounds.

Sure, no problem, I thought. My oldest is nowhere near 65 pounds. But, she pointed out that 65-pound limit includes the weight of the child restraint, a.k.a. car seat. Do you realize how heavy car seats are these days? In order to use the LATCH system, the sum of the child's weight and the weight of the car seat must be no more than 65 pounds. Since most car seats weigh upwards of 20 pounds now, many manufacturers recommend that you stop using the LATCH system when a child reaches 40 pounds. I had no idea!

Now my son's car seat is secured with the seat strap. When he's done with the five-point harness and transitions to using the seat strap himself, we can return to using the LATCH system. At that point, the straps are made to absorb his impact in the event of a crash, and the LATCH system would then only be used to keep the seat from catapulting through the car. For a list of LATCH weight limits by manufacturer, refer to your car's manufacturer.
Parenting
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.