A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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Today's mothers are entering this stage of life from a new perspective than generations past. Many of us are college educated, older, and have a lot more life experience prior to motherhood than our grandmothers' generation.

In many ways we are more prepared for the responsibility of motherhood—I mean we have run companies, taught students or run marathons prior to becoming mothers.

In other ways, however, waiting longer to become mothers may also make the transition to motherhood more challenging. Most of us are used to interacting with co-workers all day, intellectually challenging assignments, and controlling our own schedules.

Add a newborn to this lifestyle and your world can be turned upside down for a while. Your well-designed productive schedule is suddenly thrown out the window. For those of us who choose to stay at home with our kids, this transition can be equally shocking. Suddenly we have hours at home with no set schedule and a newborn who requires constant attention.

Having made this transition from working full-time to staying at home with kids, there are a few ideas that I wished I had known when I started—

1. Find your village.

It may take some time to find the moms that you click with, but once you do, you will know it. They are the ones that don't care if your kid throws a tantrum at a playdate, they understand what you feel like when you are really sleep-deprived. For me, as an introvert, it took years for me to find other moms that I could really feel comfortable around. Once I did, however, the world of stay-at-home motherhood just opened up into something more fun and life-enriching.

Although our culture treats motherhood like it's an exercise in sole proprietorship, historically it's always been a communal activity. As women, we crave that interaction with other moms. Finding your tribe of moms that “get" you will ease the challenges of motherhood and be a wonderful source of friendship for your kids.

2. Know that it's okay to mourn your former identity.

For all of us, becoming a mother inherently changes our identity. Becoming responsible for another little person somehow makes you see yourself differently. It opens up vulnerabilities you never knew you had. If you are moving from a professionally employed role to stay-at-home mom, I think this identity shift is even more dramatic. Even if we don't intend to, we all get develop some of our identity from our professional jobs. Now, as a stay-at-home mom, this identity is altered. Let's face it, even in today's world, being a stay-at-home mom (especially a college-educated one) isn't exactly highly valued by the outside world.

After dealing with this identity shift for a year or so, I finally gave myself permission to sort of “mourn" the passing of my professional identity. That didn't mean I gave up on ever returning to my work-related goals or endeavors, but it meant coming to terms with my season of life. By doing this, I felt that I could more fully embrace my stay-at-home mom identity instead of making excuses (that I didn't believe myself) for why I did not return to work.

3. Ditch comparison.

We all know the stereotype—a group of moms meet up for a playdate but the underlying dialogue is one of comparison. Whose kid is walking first? Which mom looks more “put together?" We know this happens on social media all the time. Someone posts a picture of their latest fabulous beach vacation and it makes you feel inadequate. In fact, at least one study has shown that social comparison via social media is related to lower life satisfaction and depressed feelings among mom

One simple phrase has changed my mindset on this: “comparison is the thief of joy." We all compare ourselves to one another, but if it starts to dominate your feelings or steal your joy, then a mind shift is essential.

Finding your true “mom tribe" helps enormously with this. Your true tribe doesn't compare, they support. They don't tear down, they empathize. Aim to treat yourself with that same type of compassion.

4. Include your child in activities you enjoy.

Once you emerge from the cave of the newborn phase (congratulations), your baby will start to become more interactive. Over time, she might enjoy going out in public more and seeing new sights. Take this opportunity to introduce her to things you enjoy. Baby story time is great, but let's face it—it's not exactly intellectually stimulating. Do you enjoy reading? Then take baby on a stroll around your favorite bookstore. Are you a fan of hiking? Grab a baby carrier and hit the trail.

Continuing to participate in activities that you enjoy is essential to sanity as a stay-at-home mom. This does get a little more challenging as your child enters toddlerhood and beyond when they suddenly have an opinion on the day's activities. I have found the best solution is to try to find a balance. If you would like to go on a hike, maybe you can end up at a nice playground. Or if you enjoy shopping, then maybe there is a kid's play area at the mall. Kid-focused activities can be fun, but your whole schedule does not have to revolve around the next story time or mommy-and-me class.

5. Realize self-care is essential.

Motherhood, especially the early years, is an exercise in selfless love. We give of ourselves in almost every way--sleep, body image, meal times, and emotions. Some scientists believe that it is actually this act of caregiving that bonds us to our babies, possibly even more than the genetic connection. It is a beautiful phase of development.

Over time, however, this intense caregiving can take a toll on moms. Caring for yourself is essential to long-term thriving. Parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint. I have found this through personal experience, but also through reading research. We know now that being overly sleep deprived is similar to depression in how you and your brain react to situations. Having a hard time being patient with your toddler? It might be all those years of sleep deprivation catching up with you.

In order to care for those little ones, taking some time to care for yourself needs to be on the to-do list. It does not have to be a big production. Maybe you need a nap a few times a week or a couple of hours one day to go shopping alone or get a pedicure. Whatever makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated is the key component.

6. Embrace change.

Once you've gotten your “sea legs" in this phase of stay-at-home motherhood, it will undoubtedly change. Kids change quickly in the first few years of development. Just when you think you've gotten that two-nap-a-day schedule figured out, your baby will decide to drop a nap and you have to adapt. Just when you think you've gotten babyhood figured out, your child will start walking and now you have a very mobile and energetic toddler on your hands. For better or worse, your life as a stay-at-home mom is an odd combination of routine and constant change. At times it may seem like all the days run together, but then one day you realize your child is completely different than she was just a few months ago.

The beautiful thing about this incremental change is that you get to be witness to the lovely, unique developmental path that makes up your child's early years. You get rare insight into their little minds and what makes them tick. You understand that early toddler language like no one else. You know what each cry means and when a nap is way overdue.

Research has shown us that development is actually kind of stressful for kids, but in a good way. Each new stage of development requires a bit of stretching—both emotional and physical—and this builds coping skills and resilience. So too I believe is the journey of stay-at-home mom. Each stage your child goes through requires a bit of growth and stretching on your part too. So grab your diaper bag and hang on for roller coaster developmental ride.

As with any major life transition, the move from professional work to stay-at-home mom can have its challenges. Allowing yourself the same patience and compassion that you give your baby will help ease into this new role.

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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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