Sleep deprivation and stress can wreak havoc on new parents’ immune systems, so who better to ask for wellness tips than the nurses and night nannies who work in close contact with newborns?
Real life Night Nannies and Newborn Care Nurses share their best tips here:
Stay Hydrated: Water, water, water! says BJ Edmunds, a newborn care provider for over 5 years. Keeping properly hydrated allows the body to fight infection, maintain proper digestion and remove unhealthy toxins efficiently. It's unfair but the coffee and sugary drinks we use to keep energy up actually dehydrate the body, so if you enjoy these drinks, be sure to counter the dehydrating effects with –you guessed it- more water.
Saline and Vaseline: Saline solution, which is simply warm water with salt dissolved in it, can be used to flush out nasal passages and fight off colds and flu. There’s a second step though that can be even more effective. Joy Becker, LPN, and infant caregiver for over 15 years says: Use Saline in nose daily, but then apply petroleum jelly at the opening of your nostril. The saline flushes out germs and then the petroleum jelly makes a protective barrier to keep bacteria from going into your nasal passages, which can then help prevent colds or sinus infections.
Sauna: If social distancing allows, going into a sauna for 15 minutes can help ward off sickness. Recent studies show that sauna use does help keep us healthy and as the Mayo Clinic says, is "linked to an array of health benefits". You can actually buy your own sauna on Amazon and install it yourself if you really want to get into it!
Sleep – Sleep when the baby sleeps sounds good in theory but often doesn’t work in practice. Compounding the lack of opportunities for sleep, our constant “alert state” caring for baby can make it very difficult to wind-down and sleep when the opportunity actually does present itself.
Meditation can help cross this bridge from awake to sleepy. One easy method is the “4-7-8” breathing technique popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil. The basics of this technique are below, but we highly encourage watching this video demonstration:
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Vitamin D and Vitamin C- In looking at over 82 studies, Vitamin D is the one supplement shown to protect against the common cold in all age groups. You can find vitamin d in dairy and cereals but a free way to get Vitamin D is to go out in the sun for 10-30 minutes a day. The trick is to take Vitamins C and D consistently for 3-4 months to make a difference in the severity and length of a cold.
Get Your Flu Shot and COVID vaccine - Receiving the flu vaccine before flu season is a pre-emptive strike against the flu. An added benefit is the protection the flu vaccine gives your infant. According to the CDC, one study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.
COVID vaccines are all our best prevention against coronavirus for adults and therefore offer protection to our babies. There is also no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to pregnant or nursing moms.
As always, continue to hand wash and keep socially distant to keep germs away too!