You wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, head pounding, body aching. A feeling of dread washes over you. No, you scream silently in your head. I'm sick! I can't be sick! Because you're not just sick, which of course sucks, you're sick and you have a baby. Which basically takes being sick to a whole other level.
You have to somehow manage to take care of yourself, while simultaneously making sure your baby is fed, cleaned, entertained, soothed, diapered and re-diapered, and a million other things that you just don't want to think about. But don't worry: if you follow these 10 tips for parenting when you're sick, you will get through this!
10 ASK FOR HELP
Your first line of defense is asking for help. Even if you're a stay at home mom, don't feel that you should just tough it out because your job is to care for your baby. The best thing you can do to get better quicker and hopefully not infect your baby with whatever virus you have is to get backup.
See if your partner can cover you so that you can get some much-needed rest. Or call on a family member or friend to jump in. You can always repay them for the favor at a later date.
9 TRY NOT TO INFECT YOUR BABY
Maybe no-one is available to help you out, so you'll be caring for your baby all day. If you're going to be around your baby while you're sick, you'll want to try your best not to infect them.
This can be pretty difficult and there's no guarantee your baby won't catch your sickness, but there are a few things you can do that may help. Germs are spread mostly through skin contact and nose and mouth secretions, so wash your hands often and avoid kissing baby's face.
8 KEEP BREASTFEEDING
If you're breastfeeding, you may be confused about whether to continue breastfeeding, with the fear that you will infect your baby. But it's important to keep breastfeeding when you're ill.
According to Breastfeeding Basics, continuing to breastfeed will help protect your baby because your body produces antibodies to the specific bug that's causing the infection, and you pass them on to the baby in your breastmilk. And weaning abruptly is not a good idea: it can lead to mastitis and engorgement.
7 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
It's always important, when you're sick, to take good care of yourself to ensure a speedy recovery. However, when you're trying to care for an infant at the same time, it's easier to put your own needs on the back burner.
Make sure that you keep yourself well hydrated, especially if you're breastfeeding, as milk supply can decrease for the duration of your illness. Try to eat vitamin-rich, healthy foods that will help keep your energy up and fight your illness.
6 DON'T BE A SUPERHERO
Maybe you're the type who's kitchen is always pristine and you make everything from scratch. It can be tempting to try to carry on as usual and ignore the fact that you're sick, but doing this is the wrong idea.
Ignoring your illness may make you feel worse and end up prolonging it. Let your standards slide while you're under the weather. Ask your partner or a friend or family member to pick up dinner and tidy up the house. The world will not stop because you are out of commission for a few days!
5 READ YOUR MEDS CAREFULLY
Depending on what you're sick with, you may feel the urge to pop a few pills to help alleviate your symptoms. But just beware, there are certain medications that may not be safe for breastfeeding moms.
It's important to always read the package the medication comes in to make sure it is safe for you and your baby. According to Healthline, most over-the-counter cold medications are safe for breastfeeding moms. However, certain ingredients like pseudoephedrine and phenylephedrine in decongestants can reduce milk production and can cause irritability in infants.
4 KEEP BABY ENTERTAINED (WHILE YOU REST)
So, how on Earth are you going to keep your baby occupied all day?? The trick here is to find ways to keep your little one entertained, with a minimum of effort on your part. You can adjust the activities depending on how old your baby is.
Maybe it's a great time to try out that jolly jumper, while you lie on the couch. Or tape down paper on the highchair tray and let them go to town with some finger-paints. And you can always lie down in front of a movie or TV show.
3 KEEP AN EMERGENCY STASH
A great idea is to keep an emergency bag of new toys or items that your baby hasn't played with before and keep it in the closet for situations like when you're sick so that if you're desperate, you've got a few things that will occupy your little one for a while.
Also, depending on how old your baby is, you could just use household items that they haven't played with before. A lot of babies love playing with pots and pans, wooden spoons and Tupperware containers.
2 EASY DOES IT
You're likely feeling pretty out of it and miserable, so you will want to make your day as simple as possible. Today is not the day to dress your baby in a complicated outfit that takes twenty minutes to put on.
Put your baby in a simple onesie that's easy to take on and off. Keep a basket of supplies nearby full of diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc. so you don't have to keep running to different areas of the house for different items. Keeping things simple will help conserve your energy.
1 REMEMBER THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Being sick and having to care for kids is an exhausting, draining experience. It's easy to feel down, and start wishing that you were far away on a tropical island.
Don't beat yourself up for not being a superhero; focus on caring for yourself and your baby, and let everything else slide. Just remember that this is something that every parent goes through!