You probably spent some time during your pregnancy researching ways to keep your new baby’s immune system up to snuff. You’re only human and your baby’s health is your number one concern!
But what you least expected was that you’d be the one who ends up getting sick when you have a brand-new baby at home.
Ugh, the nerve of the universe! But let’s get right to it: You need to put yourself first in this scenario.
Whether you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit with the plague, or that tickle in your throat is just forming, it’s all overwhelming when your baby is so fresh to the world. When luck isn’t in your favor, we’ve got you covered with tips to help you deal (and recover) when you’re sick with a newborn.
While your warrior-like pre-baby self might not have booked it to the doctor at the first little sniffle or ache, with a baby, things change. You’re still a warrior but getting a proper diagnosis is key. You need to know what you’re dealing with so you are aware of just how careful you need to be about spreading germs to your newborn.
While it’s never ideal to expose a new baby to the kind of germs you carry when you’re sick, there’s a big difference between exposing them to a minor case of the sniffles and exposing them to a stomach virus that could leave them severely dehydrated.
When you start to come down with something, a quick check-in with your doctor can help you determine how to take steps to minimize the germs that may come in contact with your baby.
Easier said than done, we know, because it’s normal that your first concern is all about how to protect your little one from catching what you have. Sure, there might be some specific circumstances where you need to decrease contact with your baby, but your doc will advise you if this is the case.
Go back to the basics and keep up with your good handwashing habits and minimize contact with tiny hands and mouths (try really hard not to smother them in kisses). That will go a long way towards protecting your baby.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, one of the best things you can do to keep them healthy is to keep on keeping on. Our bodies are pretty sophisticated, so the minute you get sick, your body will be hard at work producing antibodies. The antibodies to your particular illness are then
If you’re worried about the close contact nursing requires (or you literally can’t get up out of bed), consider pumping. Your partner or a helper can then bottle feed your baby while you get some much-needed rest.
Breast milk does not transmit the sort of germs that cause temporary illness, so you don’t need to worry about germs contaminating your milk.
No matter what type of support network you have — partner, relative, friend— now’s the time to get their help. Tell them how you’re feeling, ask for their help, and then let them take the lead on everything they can while you get some rest. We know, it’s hard, but you need it!
With a newborn in the house, the chances are that everyone is already feeling pretty exhausted. But with you temporarily down for the count, they’ll have to find the energy to be the stellar partner/friend/grandma until you’re better (oh, and they can still help out even when you feel better).
Here’s the truth: Things are going to get a little (OK, maybe a lot) chaotic if you’re sick with a newborn. It’s tough to watch dishes pile up and the stack of dirty laundry inch closer to the ceiling, but this is your opportunity to flex one of the most critical skills of parenthood: letting go.
Let the dishes sit. Let the laundry pile up. Let your house get messy and know that you’ll have it back in order soon. If you prioritize rest, you’ll be feeling like yourself again soon and will be able to deal with the mess later.
You’re miserable. You want your energy back. You want to feel better. You want to get out of bed and live your life. Oh, and take care of your newborn! Just keep in mind, much like all of the most challenging parts of parenting, this too shall pass.
If you’ve got a newborn in one arm and a thermometer under the other, we feel for you. There’s no worse time to get sick than right after bringing baby home but, with a little help, lots of handwashing, fewer kisses for baby, a little patience, and a lot of rest you’ll be on the mend in no time. If you need to hear it again: You SO got this.
Julia Pelly has a master’s degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer, and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com.