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“Hey, Mom,” Delia yelled from the other room. How many times in the past 17 years had I heard those words? The nurse and my sister said she shocked the hell out of them by crying “aay ma” just after being born, although it would be later that day before she called me mom for the first time.


I waddled into the doctor’s office and looked around for an empty chair that would hold my nine-months-pregnant body. There were two open and the one by the window looked the sturdiest. Unsure, I slowly lowered myself holding the arms until I could feel the fabric brushing my behind. “Ms. Little,” the nurse called. All that work for nothing; now I had to get up.

“How are you feeling?” my doctor asked a bit too cheerfully as she pressed her cold stethoscope against my belly. My inner voice answered, “It takes me an hour to shower and dress, I pee every five minutes, I’ve gained 50 pounds and I haven’t seen my feet in three months. How the hell do you think I feel?” But my actual voice answered, “Great. Just fine.” Coward.

We eased into friendly conversation as she started the examination and I lay back looking forward to seeing my daughter’s latest escapades. Last week she was sucking her thumb. Suddenly, my doctor’s smile vanished and her eyebrows rose and knitted together, “Excuse me for a minute.”

My eyes opened to two sets staring back at me. It’s never a good thing when you have two doctors staring at you. “What’s wrong?” Silence. “Is my baby okay?” Silence.

“We want you to go to the hospital.” Finally my doctor spoke. “We can’t find the baby’s heartbeat, but that could be because she’s already in the birth canal. We think its best you get to the hospital so we can get you hooked up to a monitor.”

It was the middle of January, but my forehead was damp. I took a deep breath and headed up the stairs to my apartment. “Mom,” I cried to the familiar voice on the other end. “They’re sending me to the hospital.”

I guess he drew the short straw because a male doctor met me at the hospital. “Are you comfortable,” he asked. I leaned back against the pillows and pulled the covers up to my neck. I was cold and hot at the same time and shivered in the thin hospital gown they made me put on with the opening in the front. “Let’s take a look,” he said.

I heard the rubber glove snap as he grabbed the covers. I assumed the position, eyes on the ceiling. “Not quite there yet. Any questions?”

“Can I eat?” All that worrying made me hungry. Honestly, I lived in a perpetual state of hunger – which accounted for my enormous girth and anxious cashiers and fellow customers urging me to go ahead of them in the supermarket checkout line.

“I guess so,” he answered.

On cue, my sister-in-law Linda walked in. Forgetting the pleasantries, I blurted out, “Can you get me a turkey sandwich, chips, and a raspberry Snapple?” Without a word, she turned and left. She returned 15 minutes later with a huge turkey sandwich and a 32-ounce raspberry Snapple. I tore off the plastic wrap and dug in; total bliss ensued until, “I’m here to insert your IV,” the nurse said. Are you kidding me – NOW – you have to do this NOW, my inside voice screamed. “Is this really necessary?” I barked.

She ignored me and tied a rubber band around my left arm and started tapping and pushing on my veins. Ten minutes later, I had track marks from my wrist to my elbow. “Hey! You’ve got one more stick and that’s it!” I said, spewing bits of turkey. “This isn’t wildcat drilling for oil!”

She rolled her eyes and went about her business and I went back to my sandwich. No sooner than she left, two very perky female doctors came in, ponytails swinging and rubber gloves at the ready. I headed them off. “My doctor’s already been here,” I firmly stated. I wondered if they roamed the maternity ward searching for fresh meat.

Again, I was alone with my sandwich until… “You’re eating!” my younger sister hissed as she sped into the room. I guess she was pissed not to find me in the throes of labor.

“Mom told me to get down here and be with you. I almost got a ticket.” My baby sister, Lillian, (affectionately nicknamed “Leadfoot Annie” by our father) normally made the 1 1/2-hour trip from Easton, PA to the Jersey Shore on the weekends in 40-45 minutes. I was impressed she’d done it today in rush hour traffic.

Further chastisement was halted when a nurse entered pushing a fetal monitor. “We’re running behind,” she said matter-of-factly. “We have to get you hooked up.” She roughly pulled the sheets down and pushed my gown open exposing my pregnant belly. She squirted on a cold gel and started strategically placing electrodes on my enormous middle. She’d done three when she stopped. “Before I put all of these on do you have to go to the bathroom?” She eyed my 32-ounce Snapple.

“No,” I replied, taking a big swig.

###

Buzzzzzzzzz. “Yes, what do you need,” a voice crackled in response.

“I have to go to the bathroom and I need help.” My 32-ounce Snapple was now gone and I was ready to bust.

“Didn’t I ask you if you had to go before I put all these on,” the nurse pointed to the electrodes. She helped me swing my legs to the ground and stand up. I grabbed the IV pole as she bent down and unplugged the fetal monitor. Wrapping the monitor cords around my neck, she barked, “Okay. Let’s go.” Clutching the IV pole with one hand and holding my gown closed with the other, I rolled into the bathroom.

I slid down on the toilet and my hand went to the cords wrapped around my neck. Water and electricity didn’t mix and as thoughts of Looney Tunes characters with smoke coming out of their ears floated around my head.

A drop of pee hit the water. Plop, plop. Several more. No smoke. Plop, plop, plop. No twitching so I let her rip. Ahhh. Relief. Just as I was about to flush, a chilling thought paralyzed me. What if all that fluid wasn’t the Snapple? What if I stood up and…?

Unexpectedly, a strong contraction propelled me off the toilet sending the IV pole one way and the monitor another. The racket of me being torn in different directions with cords flying every which way finally caught the nurse’s attention. “You okay in there?” She rushed in and steadied the two machines and helped me over to the sink. Panting loudly, I supported my belly on the sink and let her wash my hands. Finally, I emerged from the bathroom. As she put me back in bed and readjusted the electrodes, the nurse seemed even more peevish; if that was possible.

I squinted to see the clock on the wall in the semi-darkness of the room. I was wet. I must have wet the bed; the peevish nurse would be none too happy. A sharp pain sliced through my body and my teeth chattered. A rushing river was between my legs and I was doing my best to hold it back. Buzzzzzz.  “Get the doctor!” I screamed, “My baby’s coming!”

The voice answered me back through the remote, “Oh no honey, you’re fine. I see you right here on the monitor and everything is okay. The doctor is sleeping and I don’t want to wake him unless it’s an emergency.”

Before I could answer, several sharp pains hit, leaving me breathless. I wish I had taken those stupid Lamaze classes, I thought as I panted.

Buzzzzzz. “My baby is COMING!” I screamed, enunciating as best I could. Again the same patronizing voice answered. Defeated, I let the remote slip from my hand and onto my belly. Minutes later, buzz…buzz…buzz. I held the button down. “Get that ***** doctor in here, my baby is coming!” (I normally don’t curse, but enough is enough).

Still reeling from my rant and racked with pain, I became aware of rushing footsteps and then the room lit up. “Oh my God, she’s crowning,” the doctor called over his shoulder. “Why wasn’t I called earlier?” He glared at the nurses.

“I told them to call you,” breathlessly adding my two cents and receiving dirty looks in exchange.

“Get ready,” he instructed. “On the next contraction I want you to push.”

I pushed my back into the bed, raising myself on my elbows to get into position when one of the nurses pushed me down. Talk about holding a grudge. I tried to sit up again, and she pushed me down – AGAIN. Now I might be pregnant, and in labor, but I was no punk. I pointed at her, “Push me again and it’s you and me!”

Everything stopped as they all stared at me. I had no further opportunity to throw down the gauntlet, because another contraction hit and the doctor commanded, “Push!” I did – three times. Relief! Wailing filled the air and someone said, “Would you like to see your new daughter?” I barely had time to count fingers and toes before they whisked her away.

Later that afternoon as I came out of my Demerol haze, a bassinet rolled into my room. Expelled from the nursery, Delia loudly protested her innocence. “She’s the loudest, the dirtiest, and the hungriest,” the nurse alleged.

Two black eyes stared at me from the bassinet. They seemed to be saying, “so you’re the one I’m stuck with.” At that moment it didn’t matter that I changed the diapers of three younger siblings. This was different. Very different. As the black eyes bored into me, I became aware of my appearance. Perhaps she’d feel more confident if my hair wasn’t all over my head.

Slowly rising and walking away, her tiny voice shattered the silence, “aay ma.” I stood perfectly still just like the time four months ago when the first fluttering of life stirred inside of me; wondering and willing it to happen again. It did, and louder this time. “Aay ma. Aay ma,” she cried. I stumbled over to the bassinet and lifted the loosely swaddled bundle to my chest. With tears in my eyes I answered, “Yes, my love. I’m your mommy.”

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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