Join pediatric nurse, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor Diana Spalding as she answers your frequently asked labor and delivery questions.
What should I do if my water breaks?
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
What is a 'gentle' C-section?
Can I be dilated before labor begins?
Can I breastfeed after a C-section?
What can I expect during a scheduled C-section?
What do contractions feel like?
Do epidurals take away the pain of childbirth?
What happens when you're induced?
How do I prepare for an unmedicated birth?
What is the 'ring of fire'?
How can I prevent preterm labor?
Is it common to tear during birth?
Can I induce labor naturally?
Will I poop in labor?
When should I go to the hospital during labor?
Can I have a vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC)?
What happens during a C-section?
How long does it take to recover from a C-section?
What are the three stages of labor?
Can I eat and drink during early labor?
When do I lose my mucus plug?
What's the difference between false labor and early labor?
Motherly stories are intimate, mom-to-mom reflections about the most formative moments and challenges faced by real moms. They reflect the diversity of the modern mother, and the universality of so many of our experiences.
Battling breast cancer: For your family and yourself
"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first thing you think of is—my daughter. How is this going to affect her? Having a child who is your whole heart and your whole world—it makes this infinitely harder, but it also makes it infinitely easier. There's something to fight for. There's always something to laugh about."
Infertility is a silent struggle—and more common than you think
"I know what it feels like to look at a pregnancy test for the 10th time and have there be nothing there."
Feeling the call of motherhood—and the magic of pregnancy
"It wasn't until we went for the first ultrasound that it really hit us. We're going to become parents and it's happening now, so you better get ready, " one mama shares her story about the magic of pregnancy.
Facing grief + finding strength through pregnancy
One mama shares how she found strength through her pregnancy despite a devastating family loss.
Finding hope after loss and secondary infertility
If you've been anywhere near the internet this week, you've probably come across this seriously heartwarming clip.
Casually seated on the couch, a dad and his 18-month-old son have a full-on conversation. The son might not form many actual words—but his hand gestures, mannerisms and expressions are all *entirely* on point.
Watch the adorable viral video here:
It's a precious moment to behold—and the internet could barely handle it.
Since it was posted on Tuesday night, the video has been viewed over 39M times. I even saw it pop up in Will Smith's IG feed.
We caught up with proud parents DJ and Shanieke Pryor, who were appropriately blown away by the public reaction to this clip that sat in Shanieke's camera roll for about a month before she posted it. They've been touched by how the captured moment has resonated and spread joy to so many.
The Pryors say their boy has been a character from day one—often cracking his parents up with his expressions and hand gestures. Shanieke, who is a full-time RN and a full-time mom, says, "With the joy that he's bringing—and the laughs that are in the house—it could be the littlest thing, but he honestly just amazes us, this little mind."
DJ continues, "I know every parent probably thinks this—but seeing his growth every day and how he interprets what he sees—it's thrilling to me."
We love how this video captures such a sweet and hilarious moment shared between father and son. DJ is a comedian as well as a dad, and it seems clear that Kingston inherited some of his father's timing. Shanieke says she sees her husband in her son every day. "I just love their bond overall with each other. I look at Kingston and think, he acts just like you—some of it he hasn't even learned yet, it's just within him. It's a beautiful thing to watch."
Shanieke's initial video post included the hashtag #HeNeedsHisOwnShow. We agree. And if it gets greenlit—we'll be here for it. 😍
You may also like:
This is birth: A surrogacy journey shares the incredible story of how one surrogate came to carry four children for a couple, and how they all became like family to each other in the process.
We had the honor of catching up with surrogate Jessica Pretz to learn more about how this incredible story came to be.
Five years ago, when surrogate Jessica met intended parents Sharon and Lake, she felt an immediate click. "It was like going on a first date and meeting with someone you knew you were supposed to be aligned with. We all just felt that connection."
Jessica had given birth to three of her own children, and had recently finished her first journey as a surrogate, carrying twins for another couple. Jessica agreed to be a gestational carrier for Sharon and Lake.
Throughout that first pregnancy, the intended parents, Jessica and her family all became very close. Jessica, who is currently a Surrogate Coordinator for Circle Surrogacy, clarifies that this is not always the case with surrogacy—this particular connection is unique.
"The relationship I have with Sharon and Lake is quite different than the one I have with my first intended parents. I respect the level of contact and communication that each intended parent desires. Their family was very involved with the pregnancy and wanted to take part in as many appointments as possible, help with fundal height measurements."
Watch their surrogacy journey captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography here:
Sharon and Lake were by Jessica's side throughout the birth of their first child, Campbell, and even "caught'" her when she was born. When they asked if she wanted to carry a sibling for her just moments after Campbell was born, Jessica says she didn't need to hesitate before saying yes.
"There was no doubt in my mind that I would love to carry another for them. They are everything I could ask for in intended parents and they are a joy to go through pregnancy with."
Less than two years later, Jessica gave birth to Sharon and Lake's second child, Sailor, in what Jessica describes as an "amazing, fast water birth."
After carrying two of their children, she initially hesitated to take on another surrogacy journey.
"I knew after the second journey that they had remaining embryos left. I had six pregnancies under my belt at that point, all of which were vaginal and unmedicated births. I had no complications as of yet, and I was fearful of something going wrong. I tossed up the idea of them using another surrogate to carry their remaining two over the course of two more journeys. I only would have done one more pregnancy as I was ready to not be pregnant or pumping breastmilk and spend time focusing on my own family."
But after some discussion and consulting with her family, Sharon and Lake, her birth team and reproductive endocrinologist, they all decided to do one more journey together—and transfer the last two remaining embryos. Both took— and they became pregnant with twins. In their birth film, you can see the emotional moment when the twin pregnancy is confirmed, while Jessica is on the phone with Sharon and Lake from the ultrasound room.
Initial fears aside, Jessica explains how the decision itself was, ultimately, second nature: "Deciding to carry all four of their kids really wasn't a hard decision. I am a big part of their lives and most importantly their kid's stories. It would have been odd for me to not help them complete their family."
Watching the birth film, it is truly powerful to witness the love, support and familial connection between Jessica, Sharon and Lake while their twins are born. In one sweet moment, Sharon is embracing Jessica during labor as they both cry.
Even after the birth of their twins, Sharon, Lake, Jessica and her family have all stayed close—even vacationing together. Jessica says she and Sharon are close friends who talk about parenting, marriage and life in general. "It's really a beautiful connection we share."
On how it feels to be a surrogate, Jessica shares, "The best part of being a surrogate is getting to see a couple become a family and the look on their faces when they first see their baby or babies. It is truly an honor to carry these babies and be entrusted with their care."
As a mother of four children herself, we wanted to know more about how Jessica's family has reacted to her surrogacy journeys. "My family is extremely supportive of my surrogate pregnancies and quite proud of the joy I have been able to bring to others through surrogacy. The intended parents I have carried for have become family to us and my own biological family regularly communicates via social media with them."
She continues, "My kids are little advocates and educators on surrogacy. I feel that my children have learned selflessness and sacrifice through my journeys. I always say that while it is the woman who is pregnant, the journey of surrogacy takes the whole family's support."
We're so thankful to both of these families for allowing us to share their incredible surrogacy story.
This is birth: A Surrogacy Journey was captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography.
We started our This is: Birth film series to give representation to the many varied ways women give birth. Watch more curated birth films here.
You might also like:
This video has been popping up all over our feeds this week—and with good reason.
It's a stack of felt, crafted into a handmade demonstration of what *actually* happens during a Cesarean birth. And it is nothing short of incredible!
Watch it here:
We caught up with the creator, Jesse Franks, a blogger, International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) advocate and mom of three. She has been shocked and humbled by the feedback the project has received.
"People have said that they are thankful it exists, that the actual surgical videos have been too gory for them to watch. One mom said that it was the first time she smiled while imagining her child's birth. (That one made me teary eyed!)"
Originally inspired by a childbirth education tool she came across years ago, Jesse wanted to make her own version to help with her ICAN advocacy journey. "How better to explain the seriousness of Cesareans than something you can touch? To be able to look at and touch all those layers," shared Franks.
We love how Jesse created a tactile, accessible tool to help spread awareness + educate mothers about how so many of our babies enter this world. Diana Spalding, a midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, elaborates on the impact these kind of tools can have: "Birth education is such an important and empowering part of the pregnancy journey. ALL women deserve to have access to information about their birth, regardless of how their baby will be coming into the world."
Because regardless of how we meet our babies—all mothers are strong. And our awe-inspiring bodies are worth celebrating. 🙌