Being a mom is a private journey, but the events that shape us as moms are often lived out loud on the national stage. Here are 21 groundbreaking, lighthearted, or serious milestones that have made motherhood what it is today.
The First Mother's Day (May 1914)
President Woodrow Wilson designates the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day, calling it "a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."
Related: 10 Secrets of Great Moms
The Epidural (1930s)
Before John Bonica, M.D., invented the epidural block, relief for the pains of labor meant being knocked out. Today, women can be awake for the momentous occasion that is birth.
Lucille Ball's Pregnancy (1952)
The star's pregnancy is written into I Love Lucy - a TV first. Scripts are reviewed by a priest, a minister, and a rabbi, and CBS insists on using the word "expecting" instead of "pregnant." But fans love it, and the episode featuring Lucy's delivery sets a new ratings record.
The Breast Pump (1960s)
Even after mom goes back to work, babies can still have breast milk. And now dads can help feed the baby, too!
Related: Readers' Best Breast Feeding Advice
Disposable Diapers (1960s)
Invented in the 1950s, they weren't widely available until 1961, when Pampers were introduced. No more diaper pins!
Doctors begin monitoring babies just weeks after conception. Nowadays, mothers can even order a sonogram in 3-D. No more waiting for the birth to wonder, "Does he have his dad's nose or mine?"
Sesame Street (1969)
Designed to help preschoolers transition from home to school, it was the first children's educational show of its kind. And it's arguably still the best.
Related: 5 Things Your Child's Teacher Needs from You
The First Home Pregnancy Test (1977)
The test takes two hours and includes a test tube, a medicine dropper, and premeasured ingredients to be mixed together - a far cry from today's pee-on-a-stick technology!
In Vitro Fertilization (1978)
Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby," is born in England. Since then, over a million children have been conceived through IVF.
Related: Nobel Prize for IVF Scientist Stirs Some Controversy
What to Expect When You're Expecting (1984)
begins its reign as the most loved - and loathed - parenting guide in America. Some swear by it; others say it reads like a worst-case-scenario guide to pregnancy.
Clair Huxtable (1980s)
On The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad plays a sexy wife, successful attorney - and one of our all-time favorite TV moms.
Tax-Free College Saving Plans (1989)
Today, all 50 states have programs to help parents save for college. (Too bad no one's giving matching funds, too.)
Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown (May 1992)
Vice President Quayle accuses the TV character of glamorizing single motherhood. Murphy fires back, defending all nontraditional families in a later episode of the sitcom.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (August 1993)
Now all working moms (and dads!) can get up to three months of unpaid, job-protected time off after giving birth or adopting - plus health benefits.
Related: 8 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy (Including Some You Might Not Hear from Your Doctor)
Megan's Law (1996)
After the rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka, Megan's mother campaigns for a change in the law to give parents access to information on pedophiles in their area.
The McCaughey Septuplets (November 1997)
Mom Bobbi McCaughey is much admired. And not at all envied.
The Emergence - No, More Like Eruption - of Mom Blogs (2001)
Moms are sharing, advising, and venting like never before. Check out the funny/frustrated mothers of fussy.org or dooce.com for a taste. (And don't forget the dad blogs, too!)
Related: Are You Revealing Too Much Online?
Amber Alerts (2003)
Named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who in 1996 was kidnapped and killed near her home in Texas, this emergency broadcast system gets the message out when a child has been abducted. Amber Alerts have helped save more than 200 children nationwide.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Daughter, Apple (May 2004)
Go ahead, name your kid whatever you want. If Gwynnie can do it....
"Octomom" Starts a Media Feeding Frenzy (January 2009)
The ubiquitous media coverage of single mother Nadya Suleman's premature octuplets, in addition to her other six children under the age of 10, gives her the infamous title of "Octomom."
Related: How Many Kids Should You Have?
10 Internet Safety Bills Proposed in New Jersey (February 2009)
Following the lead of states like Alabama and Georgia, New Jersey cracks down on Internet safety. The enforcement of laws like these could help make the Internet much safer and protect children from Internet predators.
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