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Lifestyle

19 Baby Products That Will Make Your Life Easier in 2018

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Parenting is hard, but luckily there are products to make the job a bit easier. Yes, easier! Have you been dreaming of catching a few more zzz's or how about pumping while on the go? We've rounded-up the products that can actually make it happen.

Read on to learn about 18 products that will make your life easier in 2018.

1. Halo Sleep SnoozyPod, $59.99. The Halo Sleep SnoozyPod combines gentle vibrations and a white noise machine for an all-in-one soother that helps your little one sleep from infancy through childhood. There is no installation necessary since it simply slides under any mattress. You choose which soothing sounds and vibrations your baby prefers, all of which can be controlled from your smart phone.

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2. Skip Hop Tray Chic Dry & Store Pump Bag, $60. The unique design of the Skip Hop Tray Chic Dry & Store Pump Bag not only offers ample space for your breast pump and bottles, but also includes a removable drying tray for your pump parts. A dual zip opening provides cross-ventilation so accessories can properly dry, and the tray doubles as a staging area when assembling your pump.

3. First Years Remote Control Bottle Warmer, $74.99. Just think, you could be warming those early morning bottles from the comfort of your own bed. Yes, with the First Years Remote Control Bottle Warmer, you get to keep a bottle right by your bedside, and when your little one wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, all you have to do is push a button and voila, a perfectly warm bottle is ready in minutes.

4. Beaba babycook, $149.95. If you plan to make your own baby food, you’re going to need the Beaba Babycook -- trust us! You can both steam and puree fruits and veggies in this all-in-one machine, which makes preparing fresh, nutritious food simple. Plus, clean up super quick.

5. Tommee Tippee Anti-Colic Bottle, $7.89. Always just a tad bit worried your baby’s bottle may be too hot? Thanks to Tommee Tippee’s new Advanced Anti-Colic bottles, you won’t have to worry about your baby’s sensitive tummy nor the temperature of his milk. A built-in heat sensing straw changes color if the milk is too hot, and anti-colic valve prevents air from ending up in milk, taking all the worry out of bottle feeding your babe.

6. Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier, $70. If you love wraps but find them intimidating, the all new hybrid Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier is for you! It combines the snug feeling of a wrap with the ease and security of a structured carrier. With less wrapping than a traditional soft carrier and a buckle waistband, you can enjoy the closeness you crave while also feeling confident and comfortable while carrying your newborn.

7. fridababy MediFrida, $12.99. The MediFrida from fridababy is a pacifier that doubles as a medicine administrator -- perfect for babies who love pacifiers but have a hard time taking medicine. Not only that, it actually sends medicine to the side of baby’s cheek so they never even taste it, pure genius if you ask us.

8. Hatch Baby Rest, $59.99. Hatch Baby Rest is a night light and sound machine all rolled into one. Use this versatile product for late night breastfeeding sessions with your newborn and as a ok-to-wake light for your toddler. And because it’s smart, you can control the settings directly from your phone.

9. babybrezza Formula Pro, $179.99. Any mama with a formula fed baby will tell you that mixing bottles quickly becomes a time-sucker. What if we told you there is a machine that will do all that mixing for you? The Babybrezza Formula Pro automatically makes perfectly warm bottles in seconds, so no more measuring and mixing needed.

10. Little Nomad, from $99.00. You want your baby to have a cushy and safe place to play but you don’t necessarily want it to cramp your style. Little Nomad to the rescue! These gorgeous playmat tiles fit together to create a space in your home both you and your little one can get excited about.

11. Phil & Teds Lobster, $89.99. Whether you want to save space in your home or need a convenient travel high chair, the Phil and Ted’s Lobster Clip-On High Chair is compact, lightweight and ultra portable. It packs up small and sets up quickly so you can take it anywhere you and your baby want to eat.

12. Doddle Pop, $9.99. Baby is going to drop her pacifier a million times on the sidewalk, floor of the grocery store, the subway (gasp). But the Doddle Pop pacifier makes these moments less cringe-worthy as it pops back inside its shell when it isn't in baby's mouth. It never touches those icky surfaces.

13. Willow Breast Pump, $479.99. The Willow Breast Pump is a wearable pump that fits inside your bra, no tubs, no cords, just the pump! It’s quiet, discreet and allows you to go about your business without being tethered to a machine. Amazing we know but not cheap, so if you’re looking for something similar but at a more affordable price point, check out the Nuk Simply Natural Freemie Double Electric Breast Pump ($299.99).

14. Puj Tub, $44.99. Most parents will agree, bathing a newborn is a daunting task. Thankfully the puj tub makes those first baths a breeze by cradling your baby in a soft and safe environment. It’s also mold and mildew resistant and hangs flat for storage, so it’s a win, win, win!

15. Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller, 399.99. The Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller has it all. You can reverse the stroller position with a flick of the handle, lay the seat flat for newborns, fill the basket with all your groceries and fold it in seconds with one hand. You get the picture, it makes life easier.

16. 4moms Playard, $249.99. It quite literally takes mere seconds to both set up and collapse the 4moms Playard, making it the easiest travel crib on the market to use. Easily move this playard from room to room, or take along on vacation for a quick and simple solution for sleep on the go.

17. LugBug Ergonomic Baby Carrier Car Seat Handle, $39.99. Toting a car seat around can be an arm-straining task, but luckily there’s a new solution to this age-old problem. The LugBug fits on most car seats to create a handle that makes carrying your car seat easier and whole lot more comfortable.

18. magnificent baby magnetic me clothing, various prices. One word, magnetic! Magnetic me clothing is a game changer in general since they basically dress your baby for you but they are a true life saver for middle of the night diaper changes. Beyond the fact that these clothes makes dressing your baby easy, they are also made from eco-friendly, super soft materials.

19. Graco Extend2Fit® Platinum Convertible Car Seat, $339.99. Installing a car seat is a workout; and for many parents, installing it properly is mission impossible. Though there's been a growing market in the easy-to-install car seat aisle, Graco takes it to a whole new level with its EZ Tight LATCH system, which automatically retracts all of the slack for a secure and tight installation in mere seconds -- no wiggling needed.

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Easter meals bring the family together in ways that few other meals can. Spring is finally in the air and the feeling of new beginnings and hope is all around. But we know it can be hard to find the time to make delicious meals, and even harder to find recipes your little bunnies will agree to eat.

But fear not, mama! We've searched around the internet and found some of the easiest, most delicious and, yes, kid-friendly recipes out there that will take your entire family from morning until night. So happy cooking and happy Easter!

Here are our 13 favorite easy + kid-friendly recipes:

1. Easter bunny waffles

easter_waffles

Fork and Beans

Waking up on Easter morning is a pretty magical experience as a kid. Add to the fun with these adorable, easy and actually kind of healthy waffles!

Ingredients:

  • frozen waffles
  • strawberries, sliced, for the ear, mouth and bow tie
  • banana slices, for the eyes
  • blueberries, for the eyes
  • raspberries, for the nose
  • shredded carrots, for the whiskers

Instructions:

1. Toast 3 waffles.

2. Slice one waffle in half and use it for the ears. Slice another waffle in half and use one part for the shoulders and then cut out two circles for the cheeks.

3. Add the strawberry slices and place them on top of the ears to fill in.

4. Assemble the face and bow tie.

Recipe from Fork and Beans

Baked French toast

french_toast

The Pioneer Woman

Breakfast meets casserole in this delicious make-ahead dish. It's perfect for prepping the night before a busy day, especially if you have overnight guests.

Ingredients:

French toast

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough Or French Bread
  • 8 whole Eggs
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
  • warm syrup, for serving
  • butter, for serving
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, for serving

Instructions:

1. For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store it in the fridge until needed (overnight, preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away—it's delicious no matter what!

2. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

3. When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture.

4. Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Hashbrown egg cups

hashbrown_eggs

Life Made Simple

If you're craving something savory, these hashbrown egg cups will absolutely hit the spot. Just consider leaving out the cayenne for those littler taste-buds.

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces refrigerated hash browns
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk or half and half
  • 4 sliced cooked bacon, crumbled
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously spray a standard size muffin tin pan with baking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the hash browns, 1/2 cup cheese, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Press the mixture into the bottom, creating a nest.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, eggs, milk, and bacon. Pour into the baked hash browns, then return to the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes or until fully set.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing.
  6. Garnish with a pinch of salt and pepper and freshly chopped parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Life Made Simpleife Made Simple

Cucumber sandwiches

cucumber_sandwiches

Cherished Bliss

If your littles will be off hunting eggs, these quick and easy to grab sandwiches will be just what they need to keep them going.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of extra thin sliced bread
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ of an English cucumber
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic and herb seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. With a bunny and Easter egg cookie cutter, cut out an equal amount of bread for each sandwich and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add cream cheese, shredded carrots, fresh chopped chives, fresh chopped parsley, and seasonings.
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  4. Cut an English cucumber in half and slice thin slices of your desired amount of cucumbers.
  5. Spread the carrot and herb cream cheese on both sides of a sandwich. When spreading the carrot and herb cream cheese on don't forget to do the mirror side of the bunny.
  6. Place your desired amount of cucumber slices on each sandwich and top with the other the matching bread cut out.

Recipe from Cherished Bliss

Ham and cheese crescents

crescents

Six Sisters' Stuff

This is the perfect recipe for a busy lunch. It only has three ingredients, and is so yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 16 deli ham slices (you can use carved ham leftovers)
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Separate dough into 8 equal pieces (they usually separate into triangles).
  3. Place 2 slices of ham and 1 slice of cheese (folded in half) on the larger end of the triangle.
  4. Roll the crescent up with the ham and cheese inside, and place it tip side down on a baking sheet (you can use a baking mat, or line it with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, too).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
  6. Serve warm.

Recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff

Bunny veggie dip

bunny_dip

The Nesting Corral

Eating veggies has never been so fun… or cute!

Ingredients:

  • Bread loaf

Dip:

  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and chopped

Veggies for dipping:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • celery sticks
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Decorations:

  • olives

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients and chill for about 2 hours.

2. Carefully cut out a circle from the top of the bread loaf for the bunny's head. Then, cut the opening bigger so that dipping was accessible.

3. Using your hands, hollow out the rest of the shepherd loaf so that it can hold the spinach dip. Save the chunks of bread that you pull out for chowing down on with your dip.

4. Cut the two ends off of a baguette and situated them as the bunny's ears.

5. For the face, used black olives cut in half as the eyes, and quarter a half of a black olive to make the nose.

6. Make the whiskers from thin strips of celery, and the mouth is a cross section piece of celery. Put a little dip on the back of each of the facial features to keep it adhered to the bread.

7. Pour the dip into the bread bowl, arrange the veggies, and serve.

Recipe from Nesting Coral

English muffin bunny pizza

english_muffin

Kid Friendly Things to Do

These little bunny pizzas are perfect for serving your kids while the grown-ups eat their fancier dinner (though we totally get it if the grown-ups decide they just want to eat these, too).

Ingredients:

  • English muffins
  • Pizza sauce (jarred is great)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 2 black olive pearls, sliced olives
  • 1 piece of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 stick of mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 breadstick

Instructions:

  • Spread some pizza sauce onto the English muffin (a few tbsp should be enough).
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the sauce.
  • Add 2 sliced olives for eyes.
  • Cut the piece of pepperoni into 1/4 pieces and position a piece for the nose.
  • Bake the breadstick according to the package directions.
  • Bake the pizza at 425 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is turning a little golden on the ends.
  • When the breadstick and pizza are done, slice the breadstick in half.
  • Grab a plate and place the pizza in the middle, add the halved breadsticks for your bunny ears.
  • Pull some pieces of mozzarella off of the string cheese to make whiskers and serve

Recipe from Kid Friendly Things To Do

Instant Pot leg of lamb

leg_lamb

Simply Happy Foodie

Is there anything the Instant Pot can't do? The answer is a definitive no—including the fact that it can make your Easter dinner a complete (and easy) win.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cloves garlic, divided
  • 4 lbs boneless leg of lamb (or bone-in)
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar

(Optional) to thicken, mix together:

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Instructions:

  1. Slice 4 of the garlic cloves lengthwise. Pierce the lamb in several places and push the garlic slivers into the cuts. Then sprinkle 2 of the tsp of salt and the pepper over the entire roast.
  2. If the roast is coming apart from the bone being removed, tie it together with butcher's string.
  3. Turn on the pot's sauté setting. Wait for it to get hot, then add the olive oil. Place the lamb roast in the pot and let it brown for several minutes. Then turn it over and brown the other side. Remove it to a plate.
  4. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot, using a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the wine and continue to cook, still scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot (called deglazing).
  6. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs, remaining teaspoon of salt, remaining clove of garlic (minced), chicken broth, and the red wine vinegar. Stir well. Then turn off the sauté setting.
  7. Add the lamb roast back into the pot.
  8. Press the pressure cook/manual button or dial. Then press the +/- button or dial to select 70 minutes (20-30 minutes for a rare roast). For a bone-in roast, select 85 minutes. This will yield a nicely fork-tender leg of lamb. If your roast is larger than 4 lbs, increase the time by 5 minutes.
  9. The pot will take a few minutes to come to pressure. When the cook time ends, let the pot sit undisturbed for 20 minutes (20-minute natural release, 10 minutes for a rare roast). Then turn the steam release knob to the Venting position to manually release any remaining pressure/steam. Turn off the pot.
  10. When the pin in the lid drops back down, open the lid. Carefully remove the roast to a platter and cover. Remove the herb stems from the pot.
  11. Skim the fat off the top of the liquid in the pot, or use a fat separator to defat the liquid.
  12. OPTIONAL: Return the liquid to the pot and turn on the sauté setting. Mix up a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch to 2 tbsp cold water. When the liquid is simmering, whisk in the slurry and stir until it thickens.
  13. Serve the roast sliced, with some of the defatted sauce over it.

Recipe from Simply Happy Foodie

Slow cooker ham with brown sugar glaze

ham

This Delicious House

Ham is, perhaps, the most quintessential of Easter meal choices. And with the ease of a crockpot, this recipe will become your go-to favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless ham
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Remove ham from packaging and place in a slow cooker set at low heat.
  2. Make the glaze by combining the brown sugar, dijon, and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over the ham. Cook ham at low heat for 5-7 hours or until thermometer reads 140 degrees F.

Recipe from This Delicious House

Brown butter garlic honey-roasted carrots

carrots

Rasa Malaysia

These carrots are so good you won't have to convince them to eat their veggies before dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 dashes ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme or parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Heat an oven-safe skillet and cook the butter on medium heat until it starts to form and turn into golden brown. Add the garlic and quickly saute before adding the carrots. Stir a few times, then add the salt, black pepper, honey and thyme or parsley.
  3. Transfer the skillet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots become tender. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Rasa Malaysia

Birds nest cookies

birds_nest

Dinner at the Zoo

These no-bake treats are the perfect easy Easter dessert (and oh-so-cute)!

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 12 ounces chow mein noodles
  • 36 candy eggs

Instructions:

  1. Place the milk chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments until melted. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add the chow mein noodles to the bowl and toss until coated in the chocolate mixture.
  3. Spoon 2 tbsp of the cookie mixture onto a piece of parchment and shape into a nest; top with 3 candy eggs. Repeat the process with the remaining cookie mixture and eggs.
  4. Let nests set until firm, then serve. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Dinner at the Zoo

.

Easter egg fruit pizza

fruit_pizza

Persnickety Plates

For a dessert that is delicious and healthy, this Easter egg fruit pizza checks off all the boxes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package sugar cookie mix (1 lb 1.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted & cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup strawberries chopped
  • 3 cups fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) sliced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 13″ pizza pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the cookie mix, melted butter, and egg and mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms.
  3. Press the dough evenly onto the pan.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool completely, about 45 minutes. Cut into an egg shape (I just used a butter knife).
  5. In a food processor or blender, add the softened cream cheese, ½ cup chopped strawberries, powdered sugar, and vanilla and pulse until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the cooled cookie.
  7. Decorate with the cut-up fruit.
  8. Slice with a pizza cutter and serve.

Recipe from Persnickety Plates

Easter chocolate lasagna

chocolate_lasagna

Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts

There's really no explanation needed here. It's chocolate layered with more chocolate. Done.

Ingredients:

Oreo crust:

  • 36 Oreo cookies
  • ½ cup unsalted butter-melted

Cream cheese layer:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter-softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Cool Whip

Chocolate pudding layer:

  • 2 (3.9 oz.) packages chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 and 3/4 cups cold milk

Topping:

  • 2 cups Cool Whip
  • 1 ½ cups crushed Oreo
  • Peeps bunnies, Easter egg candies, and other fun toppings

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, finely crush Oreo cookies into fine crumbs. If you don't have food processor, place Oreo cookies into ziplock bag and crush the cookies with a rolling pin.
  2. Using a fork mix crushed Oreo with melted butter, then press the mixture into the bottom of 9 x 13 inches dish. Place in the fridge to firm.
  3. Beat cream cheese, softened butter, sugar and vanilla until it's light and creamy. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the crust and place in the fridge.
  4. In a medium bowl mix chocolate instant pudding with 2 and 3/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for a few minutes until the pudding starts thickening. Spread the pudding over the cream cheese layer. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  5. Spread 2 cups Cool Whip on top and sprinkle with crushed Oreo. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  6. Garnish with Peeps and Easter egg candies.

Recipe from Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts.

Lifestyle

The fight against the coronavirus in the U.S. reached a heartbreaking milestone this weekend as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the death of an infant in his state believed to be caused by COVID-19.

"I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child. Upon hearing it, I admit, I was immediately shaken, and it's appropriate for any of us to grieve today," Pritzker, a father of two, said at a news conference Saturday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike also spoke, telling reporters, "There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death."

FEATURED VIDEO

Officials have not said how old this baby was or what their health was like before contracting COVID-19 but we do know that the youngest baby to die in China did have a preexisting condition.

Still, health officials are asking parents of children without pre-existing conditions to take the recommendations on physical distancing seriously.

While preliminary research suggests that children with COVID-19 usually don't get as sick as adults, the youngest age groups—infants and preschoolers—see more severe cases than older kids do. According to a new study posted online pre-publication by the journal Pediatrics, babies and preschoolers can become severely ill if they get COVID-19, and this case in Illinois certainly proves it.

At the presser in Illinois, Dr. Ezike asked everyone, parents and non-parents alike, to follow the recommendations and stay home.

"We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us, Ezike said.

News

Earlier this week Motherly reported that multiple hospitals in New York City were asking birth partners to stay home during coronavirus pandemic, which meant people were having to give birth without the support of their partner or birth companion.

Banning birth partners and companions from delivery wards contradicts the World Health Organization's position on childbirth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO states that mothers have the right to have their companion of choice present during the birth—and this weekend New York state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo recognized that, too.

On Saturday Cuomo's office announced an executive order in progress aimed at ensuring "women will not be forced to be alone when they are giving birth," according to Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.

FEATURED VIDEO

This follows a New York Department of Health Advisory issued Friday which clarifies visitation policies and " requires hospitals to allow one support person in labor and delivery settings if the patient so desires."

The advisory lays it out clearly: "For labor and delivery, the Department considers one support person essential to patient care throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. This person can be the patient's spouse, partner, sibling, doula, or another person they choose. In these settings, this person will be the only support person allowed to be present during the patient's care. This restriction must be explained to the patient in plain terms, upon arrival or, ideally, prior to arriving at the hospital. Hospital staff should ensure that patients fully understand this restriction, allowing them to decide who they wish to identify as their support person."

This comes as a relief to those who were petitioning for partners and companions to be allowed during delivery, and after a change.org petition demanding that attracted 613,678 signatures.

"I cannot express my gratitude to everyone that signed and shared this petition over the last week. To those of you that went further and tweeted, wrote letters, made calls, spoke to the press: I am forever grateful," New York City doula Jess Pournaras (who organized the petition) wrote Saturday.

Pournaras continues: "Together, we gained international attention and safeguarded the right of pregnant people in New York City to not have to give birth alone or parent alone. We set a critical precedent that should help to ensure the rights of pregnant people everywhere to have support in the hospital."

The WHO makes it clear: Pregnant people have the right to support during birth, even in a pandemic.

News

I have been pregnant for 245 days, and in the past 12 of those, everything I have come to know about how this baby will enter the world is on the chopping block.

It began when I walked into a lab three weeks ago to do an elective urine test to keep an eye on my proteins. It was two days before things became unglued in California due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and when I walked into the lab everyone was wearing masks and gloves. The woman at the counter pointed to the iPad to sign in.

"I'd rather not," I said hesitatingly, not wanting to touch the screen. "I just need to pick up a jug to pee in."

FEATURED VIDEO

As I waited for the lab to supply the jug, a man walked through the door with sad and frantic eyes. He went on to plead, "I see on the door it says that you guys don't have the tests and not to come in if you're not well... but I think I have it. I need the COVID-19 test and my doctor told me to find a place to do it. I don't know where to go!"

My stomach dropped and I instantly recoiled, feeling immediately vulnerable. I was standing there, not only pregnant but also with my child. I grabbed my daughter's hand, scared of the world in a way I hadn't ever been before.

Get me out of this room! I made a sharp turn for the door and went straight home. I haven't been out to a medical appointment since that day, and my whole paradigm changed at that lab.

California went on lockdown two days later. And with these snowballing changes, I began questioning what a birth at a medical facility would look like as thousands of people—sick people and healthcare workers—get hit by this pandemic in a place without enough resources to help them out.

There is no short supply of unsettling tales to lose yourself in. I have heard stories of mothers in Seattle giving birth in hallways because there are no beds left. There have been many stories of overcrowding due to the influx of COVID-19 patients. I've read accounts of women in New York being told they must deliver their babies without even one support person or partner in the room in an attempt to keep visitor numbers down and protect undersupplied hospital staff.

These stories replay in my mind as I float through day after day in quarantine at home with my 2-year-old daughter. "Can I kiss baby sister?" she asks innocently.

"Ohhh! Yes, baby," I reply to her as I snap out of my thoughts and into my current reality, smiling at her sweet face.

I am living in a world of two extremes. On one hand, it is intoxicatingly beautiful—we have been "forced" into slow quality family time with one another. But we're also living in anxiety about the fear around us. Thousands of people will need hospital care in California and I can't help but wonder how this will affect my baby's birth.

So this begs the questions I believe we must all ask of ourselves: What do I have control over at this time? What will my takeaways be when I look back and reflect on how these pages of my life were written? What are the things I find the most valuable and how do I retain those things so when I look back at how this all played out, I will still be in awe of the beauty within chaos?

For me, this experience has led me to deeply consider the idea of having our daughter at home as long as that is a safe option for me. After much research, I have found a midwife I trust. I have also started looking into my insurance options and playing out worst-case scenarios knowing that decision time will soon be upon me.

This change means facing my fears about pushing a baby out without the safety net of already being in the hospital should an emergency occur. This challenge means believing in myself, my baby and my midwife to work together in order to do something I feel I was made to do. This new potential birth plan means casting aside worried friends' and my OBGYN's judgments about my having a homebirth and instead, confidently believe in my own decision—should it be the one I make.

But quite candidly, deciding to "follow my mom gut" has been an exciting and freeing feeling from the stress of this pandemic. The idea of walking freely in my backyard while in labor, potentially sleeping in my bed the night of delivery and importantly, holding my husband's hand throughout the birth of our last baby gives me romantic feelings for a reason.

We enter this ocean of motherhood accepting an atmosphere of imperfection and uncertainty. Very quickly after giving birth, our bodies and natural instincts remind us that the world doesn't always feel safe enough for our perfect little babies. Our minds paddle over small waves of fear like surfers going out to sea—distracted drivers, chemical pollutants, too much screen time—we let the water break over our heads, emerging in the valleys of the waves. We see the beautiful break in the water in front of us and forgive ourselves for the fear, as our hair has become wet and our skin a little more wrinkly and sunkissed.

Our children are the future in front of us. We mothers are propelled to move forward and past fears by our innate love for them. When looking at the big picture in front of me—delivering a child at this very scary time—I am finding it more important than ever to remember I am still pointing towards my own destiny, no matter what decision I make.

Life

Have you found yourself already thinking, "Alexa, teach my children" or channeling your inner Ross Gellar saying, "I'm fine" when someone asks you how homeschooling is going so far?

I can assure you, mama, you are not alone.

In these unprecedented times, feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. And totally understandable. The world as we knew it has been completely flipped upside down. You now find yourself unable to go about your normal routine, potentially working from home full-time with your children as your new co-workers and on top of thathomeschooling too (for who knows how long).

You may be worrying like every other parent is likely worrying right now, "How will I make this all work?" or "How can I teach my children? I don't have a teaching degree!"

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Well, I hope I can assure you—in any small way—that you can do this. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are already an incredible teacher. You've taught your children to walk, talk, feed/dress themselves and have helped them with their math homework (even though it is completely different from how you learned in school—"borrow," "regroup"... potato, potahto).

From me, a teacher and fellow mother, to you, I want to emphasize that your family's well-being comes first. Academics are secondary at this time.

You may be thinking, "Why would a teacher be telling me not to worry about school?!" Well, quite frankly, because this is unchartered territory. I NEVER learned—in college or throughout my nine years of teaching—how to teach during a pandemic.

We, as in teachers, parents, caregivers and students, are making history and setting the tone for these unsettling times.

I am not saying to completely disregard academics, but just be gentle with yourself and remember you're doing your best. These tips might help you and your kiddo both feel more confident on this new-to-both-of-you journey of "distance learning."

1. Provide a predictable routine.

One that you can adapt to your family's situation. Maybe mornings are too hectic because you have conference calls to make, so the afternoons would make more sense to work on academics. Be realistic, flexible—and most importantly, gentle with yourselves.

2. Monitor and keep track of expectations given by your child's teacher.

Maybe it is completely digital, maybe your child has packets to work on—sit with your child when you are able to have focused time together (even if it's five minutes or less!) and create a plan in the beginning of each week. Maybe it's Sunday afternoon, or maybe it's Monday morning after breakfast. Whatever works for you.

This is a great time to teach time management skills—utilize checklists, sticky notes, a notebook—you may have some trial and error figuring out what tools will work best for your kiddo. Don't be afraid to reach out to your child's teacher for help or clarification.

3. Give your child the opportunity to have a say in their learning.

This'll give your little students a sense of autonomy and ownership. For example, ask them which subject they would like to work on first—math or reading. Little do they know, they'll eventually have to complete both! Even small things like giving them a choice to use a pen instead of a pencil can make a BIG difference.

4. You have two new BFFs: Google and YouTube.

Don't know how to teach something specific or you want to give your children some extra practice? All you have to do is type the grade level, skill and "worksheet" in the Google search bar and you'll get links to many different website options—even free ones.

YouTube has a plethora of videos to utilize, although I do suggest screening them yourself first. You can also use Safeshare.tv or Viewpure.com to take away advertisements before and during the videos.

5. Use this time to focus on life skills.

Cursive writing, reading and following recipes, writing a letter, taking care of a plant, completing a research project on a topic of their choice, doing laundry, how to write a check—now is the time to teach or reinforce these life skills (all of which have some sort of academic tie-in).

All in all, just remember this won't last forever.

Despite what any meme says on social media, we are not going to evaluate your teaching abilities—promise. Be patient with your children, their teachers and most importantly, yourself.

Have you ever heard yourself saying (or maybe just thinking) , "If I only had the time…" or "They grow up so fast, I wish I could…"?

Well, now can be that time.

So let them sleep in, wear their PJs all day, make blanket forts in the living room—those are the things they will remember most vividly.

Remember to give yourself some grace, mama, you're doing the best you can.

And know that we miss your (our) kids, and we're cheering you all on!

Love + Village
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