My daughter was born at the height of the monster flu season of 2017-2018. I was the militant mom with hand sanitizer on every surface of my home and barking at people to wash their hands before they came within 100 yards of my newborn. The flu and RSV are about to start rearing their ugly heads this year and can cause serious complications for many people – especially little ones. This time of year your pediatrician, obstetrician, primary care doctor, pharmacy, etc. will all start discussing flu precautions for you and your family. As moms, we hate to see our babies sick, but a few simple steps can have us prepared to keep our families more protected during flu/RSV season.
Get a flu shot.
The best way to fight the flu is to get vaccinated! The flu shot is recommended for anyone ages 6 months and older. Let me dispel a major flu myth here – you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. If you get the vaccine and 3 days later you have the flu, then you were exposed before you got the vaccine! Flu vaccines do not contain live viruses, so it is impossible to contract the flu solely from the vaccine. Most insurance companies offer the flu vaccine at no additional cost to you! Some pharmacies also offer the flu shot at little to no out of pocket cost. Remember that all caregivers should be vaccinated! Mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, teachers, everyone! Ask your child’s daycare provider or school what their flu vaccination policy is. We want to keep our little ones protected on all fronts. You can find more info on this season’s flu vaccine here.
Practice good hand hygiene.
One of the absolute easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs is to practice good hand hygiene! Washing your hands with soap and water is the most effective method of removing bacteria, but alcohol based hand sanitizers work great also! Involve your kids, and explain why washing their hands is important. Instilling those good hygiene habits now will help them stay healthy in the long run. You can find great info on hand hygiene here.
It’s okay to say no to visitors.
While we were in the hospital after the birth of my daughter, we limited our visitors to immediate family members only. I was happy that so many people wanted to celebrate our new baby, but at the same time, protecting her fragile immune system was the top priority! After we took her home, we settled in and limited visitors until flu season was over. Before you visit loved ones in the hospital, call ahead and find out what the hospital visitation policy is during flu season. Many hospitals will not allow children under 12 or those who have any flu-like symptoms to enter a patient’s unit.
Don’t kiss the babies!
One of the first (of many) struggles I had as a new mom was learning to be firm with friends and family about not kissing our newborn. I got a lot of eye rolling and accusations of being overprotective, but ultimately our baby girl’s health was more important to me. Of course they all meant well and just wanted to love on our new addition, but what many adults don’t realize is that we harbor a lot of bacteria and viruses that appear dormant but could cause irreparable harm to a little one. This applies to babies of all ages, not just newborns. It’s important to set boundaries. Ask your loved ones not to kiss your baby on the face, put fingers in baby’s mouth, or kiss baby’s hands (because we all know those hands spend more time in their mouths than anywhere else). If they absolutely must kiss the baby, then on the top of the head is a safer place. Be firm in protecting your little ones, Mama! Your friends and family will understand! If anyone gives you a hard time, use it as an opportunity to educate them on the reasoning and dangers of the season.
If you’re sick, stay home!
You never know who you are going to come into contact with when you’re out and about. The person in line behind you at Starbucks could be pregnant, or be the caretaker of a small children, or have a weakened immune system. The flu can cause major complications in many people. If you have the sniffles, a cough, fever, or any possible symptom of the flu – STAY HOME! As moms, we have limited time, and it’s tempting to run errands on a sick day. Resist! Trust me, your hair stylist, bank teller, barista, and coworkers will all thank you for it.
Lastly, if you think you may have the flu, call your doctor! Also let your doctor know if anyone in your household has the flu so you can try to break the cycle early. Remember that your flu prevention efforts not only protect you and your family, but all of the other families around you – especially those with infants under 6 months old who can’t have the vaccine yet. We will get through this flu season together, Mamas!
Leave a comment below with your tips for surviving flu season!