The Ultimate Guide to Having a Baby During Flu Season
Whether you are trying to conceive intentionally, or surprised by a happy accident. You probably never stopped to consider flu season. As a Mom who seems to be best at conceiving in the late spring, I am no stranger to Winter babies! There are a lot of things you don’t think about at all until flu outbreaks are rampant, and you’re due any minute.
I almost don’t want to write this post, because so much of it is taken from personal experience and regrets. It is all just a learning experience, if I share a story and the shoe fits – it is not personal, and you are just as valued in our life now as you were before. We are just learning, and doing things differently with our next flu-season baby!
Without further ado, here are my rules for having a baby during flu season.
Rule #1 Start a vitamin routine for your entire family at least a month before your due date.
Nothing is scarier, than being in the window of time where your baby could come tomorrow, or 4 weeks from now, and your household is sick. There are many things you can do to prevent this from occurring. If you are already on a regular vitamin routine, that’s great! If not, it is time to start.
My suggested vitamins:
Certain illnesses like pertussis actually cannot live in the presence of vitamin c, because of this, I would make it a part of any routine.
During the cool fall and winter months, it is likely you are not spending as much time outdoors as normal, supplementing vitamin d during this time, will really fortify your immune system during flu season.
Don’t forget that the flu doesn’t just effect your immune system, it also can ravage your digestive system. A high quality probiotic will help protect your gut against the stomach-flu!
This is an awesome homeopathic medicine that can prevent you from catching the flu. It is available for adults, and for children. I would especially suggest it for children in public school, or adults that work in close contact with the public.
Rule #2 Be cautious with visitors.
Depending on where you deliver, there may already be rules place for visitors during flu season. As a newborn, your baby doesn’t have much protection against illnesses like the flu. With my first two children, I wanted to share them with the world almost immediately. That just isn’t a great idea when you are giving birth during a flu outbreak though!
My suggested rules:
No children allowed to visit for at least 2 weeks.
Many diseases are contagious prior to showing symptoms. Children, especially those in public schools, may be carriers of the flu, pertussis, and strep throat. Many hospitals will not even allow visitors under the age of 12 in their labor and delivery ward. Younger children may also not practice as much caution or good hygiene around a newborn.
No one who has been vaccinated in the last 6 weeks should visit.
This is a rule in the majority of NICU wards and children’s hospitals across the United States. This is because, many vaccines shed live viruses for up to 6 weeks, and some also make you a asymptomatic temporary carrier. A sneeze, cough, or kiss from someone who was recently vaccinated could prove deadly for your newborn.
Visitors must wash hands before holding baby.
Some people may be offended by this rule, but those are the people you don’t want around your baby. Doorknobs, cellphones, wallets, etc… Are all covered in a variety of bacteria. Of course we would all like to believe everyone practices good hygiene, but unfortunately that just is not true. Demand hand washing upon arrival, before anyone touches your baby.
Visitors should not kiss your baby at all.
I get it, there is nothing more irresistible than a brand new, squishy baby. But, we have all read the horror stories of babies being kissed by loving friends and family who are unknowingly having an HSV (the coldsore illness) outbreak. Within hours, baby goes from happy and healthy, to deathly ill. Don’t risk this happening to your baby, no one besides mom and dad should kiss a newborn.
No visitors allowed at all in the hospital.
I know it sounds harsh. But this will be a rule for the next baby we have. The labor and delivery unit in our hospital, was on the fourth floor, which you have to take an elevator to get to. The same elevator people with the flu, or MRSA infections ride. This means all visitors are walking through and touching germ-infested spaces before they hold your baby. Go ahead and decide in advance you won’t allow visitors in the hospital.
Rule #3 Take time to rest regardless of how you feel.
I have been blessed to have two natural, unmedicated deliveries so far. Of course, it is still physically challenging, but the healing process is quick. Both times, I found myself feeling relatively normal quickly. With my firstborn, I was out the day after he was born. My second, I was out 3 days later. Fortunately we did not get sick, but in retrospect I would use more caution during flu season.
My suggestions for resting postpartum:
Decide how long you will stay home before you deliver.
In some countries it is abnormal for a new mother and baby to leave home before 40 days. During this time of rest, Mom avoids cooking, cleaning, and any strenuous activities. This is obviously not possible for every family, but you can figure out an amount of time that works for you.
Make freezer meals while pregnant and ask a friend to start a meal train.
Cooking dinner is hard with a new baby. Spending time on your feet postpartum, means you aren’t resting like you should. Creating a few easy freezer meals before you deliver will help limit time you spend working once baby arrives. Having a meal-train the first few days is incredibly helpful and practical. When my son was born, there was nothing I appreciated more than a delicious home-cooked meal someone else cooked.
Don’t allow visitors without setting expectations first.
If you are establishing a breastfeeding relationship consistent skin-to-skin contact is so important. It is good to allow baby to bond with the people you love occasionally, but less is more. If you allow someone to come into your sacred space postpartum, it is reasonable to let them know in advance that you have some rules in place. The expectation could be that they fold some laundry, or do dishes. Even playing a game with an older sibling is helpful. Another reasonable expectation is that they leave within 30 minutes to an hour. Your body is recovering from a massive internal injury, you are healing in ways no one can see. No one should come into your home and take food, or expect you to host them. That is incredibly stressful and shouldn’t happen to a new parent.
When you do leave home, keep baby close!
When I gave birth to my daughter, I was eager to be back in church. I found that the best way to keep her safe while out in public, was by wearing her in a sling. Few people were comfortable asking to hold her like that, and in when some did – it was easy to say “she is asleep and we can’t wake her right now.” Slings are the best protection and excuse you can have as a parent of a newborn. If you aren’t sure which sling is write for you, check out my comprehensive guide here: A Comprehensive Guide to Deciding Which Sling is Right for You
So, as a two time flu-season veteran, these are my rules for protecting baby postpartum, especially during the sickest time of year! When you had your baby, what measures did you take to protect yourself? Share your experience in the comments below!