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The truth about moms + newborns being separated as hospitals cope with the pandemic

Expecting parents look forward to meeting their newborns and bonding in those early days of their infant's life, but the coronavirus has changed so much about giving birth in America, and for some mothers, this means they are separated from their babies to protect their infants from COVID-19.

Separating moms and babies is rare—it is only happening in cases where the mother has or is presumed to have COVID-19. We are not telling you this to scare you, mama, but rather to inform you about the way the maternity ward experience has changed in recent days so that you can prepare, protect and advocate for yourself.

The CDC's Interim Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings states that in order to "reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the mother to the newborn, facilities should consider temporarily separating (e.g., separate rooms) the mother who has confirmed COVID-19 or is a PUI [person under investigation] from her baby until the mother's transmission-based precautions are discontinued."

That means that when a mom has COVID-19 her doctors or midwives may recommend her baby be cared for in another part of the hospital temporarily.

For Missouri mom Veronica Batton, this meant four days apart from her newborn daughter, Theo. Batton developed a cough late in pregnancy and was tested for COVID-19, but her results were not yet back by the time she went into labor. As KSHB in Kansas City reports, Batton's test eventually came back negative for COVID-19, but not until after she'd been separated from her newborn.

"I saw her and felt her on my chest for like maybe three to five seconds," Batton told KSHB. "And they took her over to get cleaned up and everything, and after that, I didn't see her out of the room and I didn't see her again until [days later]."

Batton was thrilled to finally be reunited with her daughter, but calls the experience "heartbreaking" and hopes that her case can help hospitals determine better practices for keeping moms and babies safe without separating them unnecessarily. The hospital, St. Luke's East, has reportedly already made changes to make testing faster and hospital representatives say delays in testing are unfortunately beyond their control. Batton hopes the different levels of America's health care system can work together to address the delays in processing tests.

"The last day was really, really hard...That was the day I felt like I lost all hope," Batton said, adding that the nursing staff at St. Luke's East Hospital were great.

"They were so kind, they took pictures on their phone and brought it to me. They even used my husband's phone and took it up there so we could FaceTime with her," she explains.

Batton and Theo have been reunited and are at home with Batton's husband and the couple's 5-year-old son, who is finally able to be a big brother. "It feels amazing, like all the stress is gone," Batton told KSHB. "I don't have to wear a mask. I don't have to wear gloves."

Batton is holding her baby now and most moms giving birth in America this week are able to do that sooner than she was. Again, separation of newborns from mothers is not happening without careful consideration.

The CDC says that when it comes to separating a mother and baby due to COVID-19 concerns, the risks and benefits should be explained to the mother and that "if colocation (sometimes referred to as 'rooming in') of the newborn with his/her ill mother in the same hospital room occurs in accordance with the mother's wishes or is unavoidable due to facility limitations, facilities should consider implementing measures to reduce exposure of the newborn to the virus that causes COVID-19."

Basically, separating a baby from their mom is not the only option to protect the baby, depending on the severity of the mother's illness.

If you are concerned about your hospital's practices, discuss this with your doctor or midwife.

If you are healthy now, take care to maintain self-isolation and practice social distancing to avoid COVID-19.

If you do fall ill and your hospital recommends separating you from your baby, know that you are a decision-maker and can advocate for yourself. Ask questions, and if you determine that you should be separated from your child know that you can still pump to provide breast milk. Ask for a pump and frequent updates on your baby.

If you are able to room-in with your baby while recovering from COVID-19, the CDC says it is okay to breastfeed as long as you are wearing a face mask and washing your hands before each feeding.

Again, this is not happening to every woman giving birth, but it is one of the ways in which hospitals are trying to keep babies safe from COVID-19.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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