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Before Visiting the New Baby

General, Infant and Children, Immune, Pregnancy | July 24, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, pregnancy, general, infants

Before Visiting the New Baby

Following the birth of a baby there is certainly a lot of excitement in making that initial visit. In the first few days, weeks or even months following a baby’s arrival, their immune system is fragile and susceptible to infection. The parents are also sleep deprived, mum is recovering physically and experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions. If you’re visiting that new mumma and bub, know the proper etiquette so that you get invited back again!

Holding the baby

There is usually a lot of anticipation in holding a new baby for the first time. That newborn smell, those tiny toes and little eyes. Always ask to hold or touch the baby and never assume this is ok. Some hospitals recommend that only the parents care for their baby in the first few days or weeks of their lives. This is to enhance bonding with their new child and to reduce a newborns exposure to pathogens that might make them sick. Respect the requests of the parents and be patient for that first cuddle.

Perfume and smoking

If you are allowed a hold, make sure it is brief and you refrain from wearing perfume or other chemicals which can transfer to the baby’s clothes. This is especially important if you are a smoker as third hand smoke can linger on your breath, clothes and hair. Make sure you have a shower, brush your teeth and wear clean clothes before you hold the baby. Some hospitals will even encourage that you wear a hospital gown over your clothes to protect the baby.

Try to be useful

Try to be usefulParents of a newborn are usually tired—so make sure your visit is short and productive.

Bring over something useful like nappies, a home cooked meal or some groceries. A quick tidy up and an easy dinner is much more appreciated than another baby onesie. Don’t wait to be served a cup of tea, jump in the kitchen and make one for everyone. Arrive on time and never show up unannounced.

Mum has usually timed the visit to fit in with her busy schedule and doesn’t want you to pop in unannounced while she is in her dressing gown leaking breastmilk!

Be positive and offer support

The last thing new parents want to hear is unsolicited advice. Only offer your wealth of parenting knowledge if it is asked for. New parents are often overwhelmed with information and are trying to sort through it all to find out what works for them. Try to keep the conversation light and positive. Offer encouragement and support rather than judgement. Don’t ask prying questions and expect a full rundown of the birth. For some women it is a traumatic experience, which they may not be ready to share yet.

Basic hygiene principles

Before you even step into the hospital room or enter the house to visit the baby make sure your hands are washed well with soap and water. In hospitals they usually have hand sanitiser dispensers everywhere and for good reason.

Basic hygiene principlesNever kiss a baby on the face or stick your fingers in their mouth. If you are feeling unwell with a sore throat or cold, postpone the visit until you have completely recovered. This is especially important if you have children who are sick and less likely to keep their germs to themselves. In fact, never assume you can bring kids along with you as the parents might prefer you come alone.

Other ways to keep baby safe

Apart from visitors abiding by the parents set of rules there are other ways to keep baby safe. This involves having a healthy pregnancy and allowing all the newborn tests. Vaccinations should also be considered, for mum, baby and any other caregivers.

Supporting baby’s immune system

Having a healthy pregnancy and birth plays a large role in supporting a healthy immune system in a baby. This includes eating a wholesome diet, exercise and maintaining healthy blood sugars, blood pressure and weight. Vaginal births, and breastfeeding colostrum in the first few days have been shown to supply the baby with beneficial flora and nutrients to provide protection against infection. If these scenarios aren’t possible consider supplementing with an infant probiotic.

Vaccinations

Other ways to keep baby safeAnyone who will be in close contact with the baby regularly, especially grandparents, parents and any siblings, should consider being immunised against the flu and whooping cough. These can be life-threatening illnesses in a small infant. Ideally get vaccinated before the baby is born or make sure you have had your booster. Speak with your doctor for more information regarding what vaccines are recommended.

Newborn health checks

The following is a list of tests, screens and vaccinations for a newborn. They are usually performed before the mum leaves hospital or in the first week.

  • Heel prick test—every newborn baby in Australia has the opportunity to undergo newborn screening to help identify serious medical conditions including cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, phenylketonuria and other rare metabolic disorders. This involves pricking the baby’s heel and placing a few drops onto a screening card. Usually all these tests are performed in hospital but may be done at home or in another healthcare setting.
  • Newborn physical exam – soon after birth a physical examination is done of the newborn to determine any abnormalities, birth injuries or cardiorespiratory disorders. A more thorough check is normally done by a paediatrician a short while afterwards.
     
  • Vaccination against hepatitis B is usually given shortly after birth to start long-term protection against this disease.
     
  • Vitamin K injection or oral dose is administered to help blood clotting and prevent serious bleeding.
     
  • Universal newborn hearing screening is performed to detect permanent hearing impairment.

The bottom line

When visiting a new baby, it’s important to be respectful of the parents wishes. Following basic hygiene principles can help keep baby safe from potentially harmful infections. Other ways to keep a newborn protected against disease and infection is to make sure everyone is fully vaccinated, and that baby has had all the required health checks.

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References

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/10-big-tips-visiting-new-baby-%E2%80%93-and-being-asked-back

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/newborn-screening

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServicesAndSupport/first-days-after-birth

Swamy GKWheeler SM. Neonatal pertussis, cocooning and maternal immunization. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2014 Sep;13(9):1107-14

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25075629

Takeda S, et al. Influenza vaccination during pregnancy and its usefulness to mothers and their young infants. J Infect Chemother. 2015 Apr;21(4):238-46

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25708925

Wilcken B. Screening for disease in the newborn: the evidence base for blood-spot screening. Pathology. 2012 Feb;44(2):73-9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22198252

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