When I was pregnant with my oldest son, Ford, I lived in the blissful world of first time pregnancy – Earth Mom out in her garden, planning this a-ma-zing natural birth in a backwoods hippy birthing center. I was 24 and pretty oblivious.
I had it all figured out. I was going to have a glorious pregnancy where I glowed (hah), an easy birth (can I snicker now?) and then Earth Girl would flitter through life with a wee one.
Well, Mother Nature played a good hand on me, and instead gave me a preemie baby, after a bad bout of Preeclampsia –
While I was grateful he wasn’t as small as some preemies (he was 5 pounds), and that he was able to come home quickly. It was late fall and turning cold.
My OB doctor and the baby’s hospital pediatrician left me with a pleading “Do NOT take this child out, unless it is to a doctor appointment!! He needs to get older and stronger.” I listened to them. He was so tiny! People complained about not meeting him, but wasn’t his health more important? 17 years later, I know I made the right decision with this. I had a healthy baby, who grew to be a healthy young adult!
World Prematurity Day is November 17th and for those with preemie babies, protecting them from a common seasonal virus isn’t just important, it can save them from severe sickness – or worse. Premature babies are at an increased risk of contracting RSV and developing a severe case of it, and twice as likely to be hospitalized with issues from it.
RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a common virus that affects young children commonly (most children will have had it by the age of 2). While normally it causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy children, and is prevalent in November through March (the indoor months!), in premature children, with their often hampered and not fully ready immune systems, it can be very severe. This was why Ford’s doctors asked me to not take him out and about, nor to let people touch him – or even be near him, till he was bigger (and as well, spring came). RSV wasn’t talked about much in 1997, but yet, it was a real issue. I didn’t know exactly back then what I should be worried about, but I knew that for him to be healthy we followed the doctor’s guidelines:
- Hand washing – this was mandatory before anyone held him, or prepared bottles.
- If you were sick, you stayed away from the baby.
- Staying at home until warmer weather came.
- No smoking and no smokers around the child.
- Washing clothing, bedding and other items often and in hot water.
If your little ones do get sick, keep an eye out for severe symptoms of RSV:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Gasping breaths
And even though my next two children were born much bigger (8 and 10½ pounds), they were born at 37 and 38 weeks. With them, I also protected them the same way. Better safe than worrying, and not testing their young immune systems too early!
With the croup season upon us, visit RSV Protection to find out more information:
- Talking to your child’s pediatrician about risk factors
- Learn how RSV is affecting your region
- Stories from families’ who have dealt with RSV
Here is to staying healthy this winter!