6 Tips For Dealing with Postpartum Depression

6 Tips For Dealing with Postpartum Depression

For new and expecting moms alike, the phrase “postpartum depression” can feel like a boogeyman. We’ve all heard the horror stories of extreme, postpartum psychosis, but what most don’t realize is that postpartum depression is much more prevalent than you think.

According to a study that surveyed 10,000 new mothers, just over 20 percent of mothers experience depression within the first year postpartum, illustrating just how prevalent a problem it is. However, the study also showed that the unfortunate stigma surrounding postpartum depression and mental health in general causes many suffering mothers to keep quiet about their issues. These results are apparent due to the fact that only 14 percent of pregnant and postpartum women sought out help or treatment for their depression –as compared to 26 percent of the general population. That’s why it’s important to highlight issues like postpartum depression to show these women that they’re not alone.

A sad woman with her face in her hands.

In fact, when you include the common and brief spell of depression most mothers shortly face after delivery knows as the “baby blues,” the number of mothers dealing with some form of depression or anxiety-based issue leaps to an astonishing 80 percent. Between that number and the high percentage of women dealing with full-on postpartum depression, there’s never been a better time to focus on this serious problem and give you useful tips to combat it.

But before we can fight the issue, it’s important to fully understand what postpartum depression is and how it’s different than the “baby blues.”


Postpartum Depression or Just Baby Blues?

One of the hardest questions anyone potentially dealing with any form of depression asks themselves is, “Am I really depressed, or am I just sad?” And for moms who can barely find time to eat, sleep, or shower, that question can quickly turn to, “Why did I even have a baby?” But the most important thing to remember when asking yourself either of those questions is that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed – everyone does from time-to-time.

It’s impossible to pinpoint the problem if you waste energy beating yourself up just for having emotions, and once you’ve accepted that feeling sadness, frustration, and even anger are normal, you can work on identifying the problem and finding a solution.

When it comes to differentiating baby blues from postpartum depression, there are actually medically established standards to identify each issue, so deciding which you may have is fairly simple. For the baby blues, symptoms can include bouts of anxiety, crying, insomnia, moodiness, and sadness along with feelings that you may not be capable or prepared to take care of a baby. These feelings are normal due to the massive swing in hormones that occurs in the days following delivery, where your hormone levels drop drastically, something that commonly leads to symptoms of depression. However, due to the reactionary nature of these symptoms, the baby blues typically only last for one to two weeks and disappear as your hormone levels stabilize again.

This occurrence is in contrast to postpartum depression, which, in addition to similar symptoms of moodiness and feelings of inadequacy, also includes trouble bonding with or feeling close to your baby. Symptoms of postpartum depression typically pop up within three weeks of giving birth and can last indefinitely if not addressed. Unlike baby blues, postpartum depression does not usually go away without some form of intervention, which makes finding ways to fight back crucial.

So to help you make a plan to beat postpartum depression, we’re offering six tips for dealing with the debilitating issue. And even if you don’t think you’re dealing with full-blown postpartum depression, these tips can help you get over those baby blues just as well:


1. Seek Professional Help

Too often, getting help from your general practice doctor or mental health professional is seen as the last resort – something you fall back on when you’ve tried everything else. However, the sooner you make your concerns known to a qualified professional, the quicker you can get back to feeling normal again. But it’s important to remember that going to a doctor doesn’t just mean you’ll be pumped full of pills, especially if you’re nursing or having to stay alert to take care of your newborn.

So as soon as you feel like your symptoms are getting beyond your ability to control, don’t wait to have a complete breakdown, just reach out and get help making a detailed plan to deal with your symptoms. Additionally, by making this your first step, you can run the other tips by your doctor and make sure that they each work well with your unique health situation.

Professional reaching out to help a woman that is covering her face because of postpartum depression

2. Exercise

Exercise is the most highly prescribed methods of dealing with depression, and it’s also one of the most effective.

Staying active has a nearly endless number of physical and mental health benefits to help you tackle the baby blues, postpartum depression, AND your New Year’s resolution, especially if you exercise outside. From a scientific perspective, exercise has been shown to enlarge the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in both regulating mood and creating new memories. Which means that not only does regular physical activity help you stay in a good mood, it can help clear up the forgetfulness and fogginess that often comes with depression as well. And that’s without even considering the age-old adage “look good, feel good.” So get moving, look good, and feel better.

These tips can help you fit in a workout as a new mom.

Mom and dad walking with a toddler and pushing a stroller. Exercise helps with postpartum depression.

3. Healthy Diet

“Diet & exercise” get lumped together as often as peanut butter and jelly, but too often people think doing just one or the other will solve all their problems. As the saying goes, “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” so no matter how hard you’re working out, if you’re eating poorly, you may feel like exercise is doing nothing to help your depression.

In fact, having a healthy diet may be even more important to your mental health than we previously thought, as a recent study observed a link between gut bacteria and depression. What the study found was that the same two types of bacteria were absent in each of the subjects that reported suffering from either mild or severe depression, illustrating a possible connection that links the food we eat to the way we feel – which shouldn’t be that surprising.

Think of it this way – if you’ve got a high-powered sports car and you fill it with regular gasoline, sure it’ll run, but you’re going to have a lot more issues later down the road than if you had used premium and the same applies to your body. Avoiding low-grade fuel like sugar and heavily-processed food in favor of premium ingredients and fresh-made meals is an indispensable part of sustaining your mental health.

Fruits, veggies and nuts.  Healthy eating can help with postpartum depression.

4. Natural Options

In addition to a healthy diet, there are supplements and other natural alternatives that can combine with diet and exercise in the pursuit of whole-body wellness.

Some of the most common sources of natural healing are essential oils, which are commonly useful for aromatherapy, which uses certain scents to elicit specific responses in the body. For example, lavender, chamomile, and bergamot oil are three of the most common, essential fragrances used to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but there’s also another type of all-natural oil that’s recently taken the nation by storm for its anxiolytic effects – CBD oil.

CBD oil has become increasingly popular for its wide-ranging effects that help people deal with things from pain to depression to lack of sleep, all without any reported side effects. The science of CBD oil can be a little complicated, but to put it simply, CBD works hand-in-hand with things like the digestive, immune, and nervous systems to keep your body well-balanced and running smoothly. However, when it comes to beginning a regimen of either essential oils or CBD oil, it’s best to talk to your doctor – especially if you’re nursing – to make sure that they are right for you.

Have you been considering try silver supplements? Check out my review of alkaline structured silver.

A glass bowl with supplement capsules.  Natural products can be helpful for postpartum depression.

5. Make Time for Sleep

This tip may be the most difficult item on the list, but it’s one of the most important.

Parents, and in particular new parents, have almost no time for sleep, which means getting sleep when they can is extremely crucial. Lack of sleep can be tremendously harmful to your overall mental state and is a driving factor of depression for many people – with one study showing that people with restrictive sleep apnea—a disorder which severely impacts sleep—were five times more likely to suffer from depression. This effect is one of the driving factors behind why baby blues are so common, and it’s also largely responsible for why some cases of postpartum depression pop up or stick around despite other forms of treatment.

One of the most often repeated words of advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps, rather than trying to use that time to catch up on emails, phone calls, or housework. This sync allows you to at least get small pockets of sleep throughout the day since getting a full eight hours at night is going to be next-to-impossible.

A woman laying in bed with a mug of tea. Getting sleep can help with postpartum depression.

6. Support System

Regardless of how you choose to tackle this stressful period in your life, you won’t be able to handle it on your own without having a complete and total breakdown. For this reason, having a support system is extremely important for new mothers to be able to both feel emotionally supported and receive physical help with childcare.

Research has shown that loneliness and isolation can lead to a host of negative health consequences, including high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and lack of sleep. Those consequences are precisely why finding a support network is so crucial – because no matter how much you want to be “supermom,” even superheroes need help sometimes. Even if your support system is just one or two close friends or family members, simply having someone to confide in, relate to, and depend on when things get difficult can be the difference between a bout of the baby blues and full-on postpartum depression.

A dad, mom and baby have their hands stacked.  A family support system can help with postpartum depression.

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MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

Recently I had the opportunity to review the collection of Alkaline Structured Silver Products from MyDoctorSuggests.com.  These products are marketed is being effective for a wide variety of issues affecting the typical young family.  According to the product site, these products may be helpful for yeast infections, acne, diaper rash, gut/microbiome, flu/colds, cuts, scrapes and burns, scaring and anti-aging among other things. 

I don’t know about you, but my family struggles with many of these things, so I was curious to see if structured silver would be a natural answer to the problems. 

Before I get into my experience using the products, I want to cover a little background on silver supplements.

Silver containing remedies have been used throughout history and are still used topically in some instances in traditional medicine today.  The first documented use was in the 1800s.  When talking about silver supplementation, there are two types of silver, colloidal silver and structured silver.


Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is a liquid that contains tiny silver particles and has been marketed as a dietary supplement on the internet.  However, this product has been shown to not be safe for oral ingestion and can cause serious side effects such as argyria where the skin gets a bluish-gray discoloration.  In short, you don’t want to ingest colloidal silver.


Structured Silver

Structured silver was developed around 2010 and it’s 99.999% water and 0.001% silver that is bonded to the water.  Older products are acidic while newer products are alkaline making them more similar to the normal pH of blood.  The alkaline form of structured silver is designed to be taken every day and as needed.  These products do not accumulate in the body like colloidal silver, making them much safer.


Why Does Silver Work?

It has antibacterial properties and may have antiviral and antifungal properties as well. It’s important to make sure to talk with your doctor prior to starting to use oral silver products. Likewise, talk to your vet before using silver-containing products for your pets.


What Products Did I Try?

I tried the following products:

  • Silver Solution
  • Silver Mint Mouthwash
  • All Natural Silver Lozenge (honey and lemon)
  • Silver-Infused Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion
  • Organic Silver Soap (all natural lavender)
  • Silver Gel with Aloe Vera
  • Silver Gel (activated for maximum strength)

I also received 3 booklets with helpful information.

  • The Silver Miracle
  • Health & Beauty Secrets for Her
  • Silver and Animals

So, What Did I Think of the Products?

Note: I did receive the products mentioned in this post as a gift.  However, this review is my own opinion and not influenced by the company in any way.

Silver Solution

The suggested use for an adult is 2 tsp twice a day.  For children over 4, it’s ½ tsp twice a day.  The liquid tasted like stale water.  Therefore, it was tolerable to just drink it straight.  However, I preferred to mix the two tsp into my tea.  When I did that, I didn’t even notice it was in there. 

I can’t say that I noticed any specific benefits of the solution.  However, I didn’t see any negative effects.  My husband and I both used the solution and while using it we stayed healthy.  Was this because of the silver or because it’s not cold/flu season anymore?  I’ll leave that to you to decide. This was probably my least favorite product. Keep reading to see which one was my favorite.

a bottle of alkaline structured silver solution from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Mint Mouthwash

This was by far my favorite product.  The directions for this are to swish a mouthful for 30 seconds twice a day and then either swallow it or spit it out.  The taste was like a peppermint candy.  At first it was a little surprising because I was expecting the strong taste of other mouthwashes.  However, the taste was pleasant and left my mouth feeling refreshed.  An added bonus for this mouthwash is that it doesn’t contain alcohol.  Therefore, it didn’t leave me with horrible dry mouth like most other mouthwashes do.

I would say we saw benefit from this product.  My husband has horrible breath even when he has recently brushed his teeth and used normal mouthwash.  I’m guessing he has some bacteria built up in his mouth which is causing the bad breath.  While using the Silver Mint Mouthwash twice a day, I noticed a big difference in his breath.  I think the silver component helped knock down the bacteria in his mouth to improve his breath. The taste and my husband’s improved breath, put this product at the top of my list.

a bottle of silver mint mouthwash from MyDoctorSuggests

All Natural Silver Lozenge (honey and lemon)

These can be used to sooth sore throats or to provide silver supplementation instead of using the solution.  These were soothing for a sore throat, and they tasted amazing – like eating a piece of candy.  I didn’t try using them for supplementation. Other than tasting better than normal lozenges, I didn’t see a big benefit.  However, the silver could theoretically be beneficial if you have strep-throat due to its antibacterial properties.

All natural silver lozenge package from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver-Infused Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion

I have really dry hands because my job involves washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer.  I decided to try the lotion on my hands to see if it would be strong enough to moisturize them.  It did seem to work well.  My torn cuticles finally started to heal while using this lotion.  The silver component likely played a role by providing antibacterial effects to protect the broken skin. 

Silver infused hand & body lotion from MyDoctorSuggests

Organic Silver Soap (all natural lavender)

I really liked the soap.  I’m not usually a fan of bar soaps because they are difficult to use and I never feel like I get clean.  However, this Organic Silver Soap lathers really nicely, smells great and has a nice moisturizing component.  I liked the lavender scent, but there are other scents available that I would try. My husband even commented how much he liked this soap!

organic silver soap from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Gel with Aloe Vera

I decided to make a habit of using this on my legs.  I have a horrible time with razer burn, and I can’t seem to find a razor that doesn’t cause it at least a little.  Therefore, my lower legs are always dry, sore and irritated.  I figured this gel would be perfect because it indicated it’s hydrating and the aloe vera sounded soothing. 

I used the gel every time I shaved, and I did notice a difference.  Traditional lotion hadn’t worked, so I was pleasantly surprised to see an improvement using this gel.  The only downside is the gel leaves my hands feeling sticky, but it’s easy enough to wash off.

pH Balanced Structured Silver Gel with Aloe Vera from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver Gel (activated for maximum strength)

While I kept the gel with aloe in my bathroom, I dedicated this gel to my son’s changing table.  I decided we would test it out for diaper rash treatment/prevention.  It seemed to work okay, but I don’t think I would replace traditional diaper rash creams as I don’t think a gel is quite as protective as a cream base. 

Even though I won’t be using this for diaper rash, I will be keeping this gel in the first aid kit.  My son is just figuring out the whole walking thing which means scrapes are somewhat common in our house.  This gel works really well on scrapes and burns because the silver is antibacterial and the gel itself is soothing.

Extra strength structured silver gel from MyDoctorSuggests

The booklets aren’t something that I would purchase on their own, but as an accompaniment to the products, they provide interesting background and recommendations.  Here is briefly what’s contained in each booklet.

The Silver Miracle Booklet

This booklet is designed to provide all the info you need about the history, benefits and future of silver products.  I did find some of the information helpful; however, some of it was a little doomsday-esque for my taste.  There is a helpful section that goes over all the possible uses and exactly how much of a product to use and how to use it which is helpful.

The Silver Miracle booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Silver for Animals Booklet

This booklet includes background information as well as ideas for how silver may be beneficial for animals.  I don’t have a dog, and I wasn’t willing to administer anything that isn’t absolutely necessary to my cats, so I can’t say much more about this.

Silver and Animals booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Health & Beauty Secrets for Her

This booklet includes quite a bit of background on silver products as well as recommendations for various uses.  The recommendations are detailed and easy to follow.

Health & Beauty Secrets for Her booklet from MyDoctorSuggests

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really liked the mouthwash, the soap and the aloe-containing silver gel.  I will also keep a bottle of the regular gel handy for first aid use, but hopefully won’t need it too often.  I didn’t really see sufficient benefit from the oral solution to justify continuing to use it, and I’m still debating on the lotion.  However, I’m off to try that on my son’s roughed-up knees, so he may be getting a new brand of lotion.    

Products like this work differently for different people.  If you are striving for a natural lifestyle, these may have some benefit.  If you want to give the products a try, you can get 20% off your first purchase at MyDoctorSuggests.com using my unique link. 

If you have tried silver products, leave a comment to let me know what you thought of them.

MyDoctorSuggests Alkaline Structured Silver Review

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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

We all have our go-to medications stocked in our medicine cabinets for the adult members of the family.  Maybe yours include Motrin, Tylenol, Triple Antibiotic Ointment, and/or allergy medications.  Most of us have a pretty good idea how to use these safely and can follow the directions on the bottle.  However, the game changes when we are talking about babies and toddlers.  They get the same ailments such as pain, fever, and allergies, but the directions on the packaging often don’t cover our littlest family members. Here is everything you need to know about giving medicine to a baby or toddler.

As a pharmacist, I wanted to provide answers to the most common questions parents ask. However, this information should not be taken as medical advice because I don’t know all the details of your child’s illness. 

Each situation is different, so it’s important that you use this information only as a guide and speak to your pharmacist and/or doctor about your child’s specific symptoms, and other characteristics.


When Should I Call the Doctor?

As a general rule of thumb, things are more severe the younger your baby is.  If you have a newborn, it’s a good idea to contact the nurse helpline or doctor whenever your baby is sick.  However, once your baby is a little older, you can treat low-grade fevers and minor colds at home as long as he’s generally healthy otherwise. 

Doctor’s offices will usually have a nurse helpline that you can contact with questions and they can help you determine if your baby needs to be seen.  When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call this number.  It’s free and the worse that happens is you sit on hold for a bit waiting for your call to be answered.


Reading Medication Labels

Over-the-counter medications or OTCs are medications that you can purchase without a prescription.  These are medications that the FDA has determined can be used safely based on the directions on the label. 

Drug Facts

The Drug Facts section on the label is where all the information you need to use the medication safely is located.  This is what the FDA has determined is necessary for you to know to use the medication without a doctor or pharmacist being involved.  It includes 7 sections which I will go over below.

Active Ingredient

The section states what ingredients are included in the medication with the intent of providing the intended action.  The drug is listed by its generic name and the amount and purpose of the medication are stated.  This section is how you can tell the difference between products with similar packaging and names. 

If you see ‘HPUS’ included in this section, it means that the medication is a homeopathic remedy.    Homeopathic remedies are beyond the scope of this article.  However, the basic principle is that illness is cured by giving tiny amounts of a substance that would be toxic in larger amounts.  Homeopathic remedy strength is indicated by HPUS and the less of a substance that the product contains the stronger it is.

Uses

This section lists the different symptoms the medication is likely to work for when dosed based on the information on the box.

Warnings

The warnings section is often the longest, but it’s a very important section.  Here you will find warnings about allergies, when to stop using and when to talk to a doctor or pharmacist prior to using the medication.

Directions

The directions are often what people jump to first, but the above sections are also important to read.  The directions state how much of the medication to take and how often to take it.  This is often divided into sections based on age.  However, you will find that many medications don’t providing dosing for children under 6 months or under 2 years.  This is because the FDA doesn’t think the medication can be safely used in this population without oversight from a doctor.

Other Information

This is other information that may be helpful such as how to store the medication.

Inactive Ingredients

These are the ingredients that aren’t expected to have beneficial effects.  These products are added to help form the tablet or liquid or to add color or flavor.  Medications all contain inactive ingredients in addition to the active one.  You would want to look at this section if your child has allergies as there may be an inactive ingredient that they are allergic to.  However, if you aren’t concerned about allergies, you can generally ignore this section.

Questions or Comments?

The final section is a phone number to contact the drug company if you have any questions or comments about the medication.


Giving Medications to a Baby

Medications for babies are in liquid form.  You will need a method to measure the dose and a method to administer it.  For measuring, you could use a syringe or measuring container.  Generally, medications will come with a plastic cup or syringe for measuring.  These are marked with milliliter or mL.  The directions on the packaging will tell you how many mL to give.  If the medication doesn’t have a measuring device or it gets lost, you can purchase one at most drug stores.

The measuring devices can also work to administer the medication. However, depending on the age of your child, a small cup may not work for giving the medication, but a syringe often works well for giving medication to a baby.  There are many handy devices available if you prefer.  These include pacifiers and tiny bottles that are designed for you to put the medication into them and then baby gets the medication while sucking.


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Giving medication can get challenging though, so parents have come up with some hacks for making the process easier.  For babies, a pacifier with an open back (like the hospital gives you) is about the right size for fitting a syringe into.  Cut a hole in the tip and while your baby is sucking on the pacifier, slowly squirt the medication out of the syringe.

For toddlers that have mastered drinking from a straw, cut the back out of an empty juice box.  Then put the medication in a small cup into the juice box for the toddler to drink from a straw.

What you don’t want to do is mix the medication into a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or another liquid.  The reason is that often a child won’t drink the entire amount and then you don’t know how much medication was actually consumed.  Also, letting the medication sit in liquid for an extended period waiting for your child to drink it, can make the medication less effective.  If you do mix a medication into a drink, make sure that the entire drink is consumed in one sitting.

Antibiotic-Specific Tips

For antibiotics, you will need to make sure you shake the medication well before measuring out a dose.  Antibiotics come as suspensions which means that when they sit for an extended period, the medication will sink to the bottom of the bottle.  By shaking it, you make sure that the medication is evenly mixed before you measure a dose. 

Many liquid antibiotics need to be refrigerated and they are also only good for 10 to 14 days.  The pharmacist will tell you if it needs to be in the fridge and how long it’s good for.  It’s important that you keep antibiotics in the fridge if they require it.  This can also make it taste better which is a win. 

It’s important that your child take the entire course of antibiotics.  If the doctor prescribes it for 10 days, then you need to give it for 10 days.  Your child should start to feel better well before 10 days is up, but if you stop the medication too early, the infection can come back.  At the end of the prescribed treatment, you want to discard any leftover medication.  Antibiotics aren’t good for very long once they are mixed, so the medication won’t keep for future use.


Over-the-Counter (OTC) Baby Medicines

Baby Medicine for Fever

A fever is the body’s natural defense mechanism and indicates that there is some type of infection the body needs to fight.  Therefore, it isn’t completely bad.  If your baby has a mild fever and doesn’t appear to be too affected by it, then it may not need treated.  However, if a fever gets too high it can lead to seizures.  If your baby or toddler has a fever, it doesn’t hurt to contact the nurse hotline.  They may tell you it’s okay, but it never hurts to check since a fever does mean there is something else going on. 

If you need to treat the fever, the medications that could be used are Infant’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Infant Motrin (ibuprofen).  These medications are both available over the counter.  Make sure to read the directions on the product you are using because there can be slight differences. If you need help figuring out how much to give, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. 

When your baby has a fever, dehydration is more likely.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to have Pedialyte on hand to help encourage fluid intake.

Baby Medicine for Colds

There are a variety of readily available medications for adults with a cold.  However, these are not recommended for use in babies or toddlers.  If you see a product advertised as cold medicine for a baby or toddler, it’s likely a homeopathic remedy. 

Having a nose suctioning device like this or this is helpful to decrease congestion.  For a full list of what you can do to help your baby feel better, check out this post.

Baby Medicine for Allergies

This is another condition where the adult medications are usually not appropriate.  If your baby appears to have seasonal allergies, talk to your doctor about recommendations.  If you are concerned about food allergies, bring your concern up to your doctor prior to introducing solid foods.  Your doctor can recommend something to have on hand in case an allergic reaction occurs.  Benadryl is a common recommendation, but the dosing on the package only goes down to 2 years old.  Therefore, your doctor needs to tell you what dose to give.  It is worth noting that children can react to Benadryl differently than adults.  Adults will usually get sleepy from the medication, but children can actually become excited.  Therefore, this medication should never be used to help your child sleep.


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Baby Medicine Cabinet Essentials

When preparing for a baby, it’s a good idea to have certain medicine cabinet essentials on hand.  The following are the items I recommend having about home before you actually need them.


There are the tips straight from the pharmacist’s mouth.  As you can see, there are a lot of times when you will need to contact the doctor with regards to your sick baby.  You will eventually get a feel for what requires a call and what doesn’t.  I also strongly recommend asking your pharmacist for advice.  These tips are general information, but your local pharmacist can provide more specific information for your situation.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Vaccines During Pregnancy

Vaccines During Pregnancy
Vaccines During Pregnancy

I see questions regarding vaccinations during pregnancy all the time.  I’m also a pharmacist trained to provide all standard immunizations.  From both my role as a pharmacist and as a mom, I know that doctors recommend vaccinations but often provide very little information.  There is also a lot of misinformation floating around about the safety of vaccinations. 

Here I’m going to answer the common questions about vaccinations in pregnancy.


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Let’s start with the flu shot.

Q: Should I get a flu shot during pregnancy?

A: The flu shot is recommended every year regardless of whether or not you are pregnant. If you happen to be pregnant at the time you would normally get the flu shot, then it’s important to get it because your immune system isn’t as strong during pregnancy.  However, you should only get the injection (not the nasal version) because the injection is a killed vaccine whereas the nasal version is live.

Q: What is the chance the flu shot will give me the flu?

A: There is a 0% chance you will get the flu from the flu shot. The injection is a killed vaccine which means it is absolutely impossible for the virus to multiply.  There are no zombie viruses (although that would make for a good horror movie).  What you might get (and why people often say the shot gives them the flu) includes a sore arm and a mild fever.  If these occur, they can be treated with Tylenol.  These are signs that your body is mounting a defense against the virus (which is a good thing).  Tylenol can help if the symptoms are bothersome, but they will go away in a couple of days regardless of whether you treat them.

Q: Does the flu shot actually work?

A: How well the flu shot works varies from year to year.  The flu is a virus and viruses mutate to prevent detection by the body.  Therefore, the flu virus looks a little different each year.  These different versions of the virus are called strains.  Each winter/spring the CDC tries to determine what strains of the virus are going to be present for the coming flu season.  The flu vaccine contains the 4 strains that are predicted to be the most problematic.  The efficacy of the vaccine is based on how well the researchers guessed when determining the strains. 

It’s also important to note that the flu vaccine is for the respiratory flu, not the stomach flu.  The stomach flu may make you miserable for a few days, but it isn’t going to kill anyone.  The respiratory flu on the other hand is extremely dangerous for the elderly and babies to get. 


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Q: Will the flu shot hurt my baby?

A: The flu shot will actually help your baby.  While you are pregnant, the antibodies (the cells that are designed to attack specific viruses) are transferred to your baby.  Once your baby is born, the antibodies will last for a few months.  Therefore, by getting vaccinated you provide protection for your baby until they are old enough to get vaccinated.

Q: I got the flu shot last year, why do I need it again?

A: Like I mentioned above, the strains that cause the flu change each year which means the vaccine has to change each year.  Therefore, you need to get the current vaccine to be protected from the current year’s strains.

Now let’s move onto the Tdap vaccine.

Q: What is Tdap? 

A: Tdap is a combination that stands for tetanus, diptheria, acellular pertussis.  The main reason you are getting this vaccine is for the acellular pertussis component.  This is just a fancy name for whooping cough.  The whooping cough vaccine only comes in combination with tetanus and diptheria. You can’t get it alone.

Q: Do I need a Tdap vaccination during pregnancy?

A: Yes. It is recommended that a pregnant woman get the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy.

Q: Why do I need this vaccine?

A: Whooping cough is annoying for healthy adults, but it’s not life-threatening.  However, infants die every year from whooping cough.  Sometimes they develop a really bad cough, but other times they turn blue and stop breathing.  A baby that develops whooping cough will often have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, and the younger the baby is, the more likely it is that serious complications will occur.

Q: Will I get sick from the vaccine?

A: Tdap is a killed vaccine.  Therefore, like the flu shot, it is impossible for the virus to come alive and replicate.  You may get a sore arm from the vaccine, but this will go away within a couple days.  If it’s bothersome, you can treat it with Tylenol. 

Q: If I have two pregnancies close together, do I have to get the Tdap vaccine during both?

A: The benefits of passing the antibodies onto your baby are significant enough that it’s recommended for you to get the vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy regardless of how close together they are. 

Now for some general vaccine questions.

Q: Are there any vaccinations that I should not get while pregnant?

A: During pregnancy you should not receive any live vaccines.  The live vaccines include MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Varicella (chicken pox), Herpes Zoster and oral typhoid vaccine.  These 4 vaccines are live which means that there is a tiny chance that they could cause the illness (compared to the other vaccines where it is completely impossible).

Q: Do I need to get any other vaccinations while pregnant?

A: There aren’t any other vaccinations that are recommended for all pregnant woman.  However, if there are other vaccinations that you are due for based on your vaccination schedule, you can get these (just not the live ones mentioned above).

Q: Do people that come visit the baby need to be vaccinated?

A: This is your choice as the parent.  Personally, I required all people that were coming to stay with us during the first 6 months have a flu shot and Tdap vaccination.  My suggestion is to require flu shot and Tdap for everyone that will be spending a significant amount of time holding your baby during the first few months.  By surrounding your baby with people that are vaccinated, you are creating herd immunity. Herd immunity refers to surrounding an individual that can’t be vaccinated, such as a newborn, with people that are vaccinated which prevents transmission of the virus.

Now you are educated on the basic vaccinations during pregnancy.  If you have further questions ask your doctor or pharmacist, so that you get all the facts.   If you want to learn more, check out the following resources:

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Vaccines During Pregnancy

How to Get Through Baby’s First Cold

How to Get Through Baby’s First Cold
How to Get Through Baby's First Cold

Last week, I went to a 1-year-old’s birthday party.  It was a great party, there were lots of children running – and crawling – around, adults chatting about adult things, and of course there was a cake smash!  It was nice to get out of the house for a while and be around adults.  As the weather gets colder, I spend less and less time outside, and the only company I have at home during the day is a 5-month-old baby.  It was a well needed outing, even if it was the beginning of a terrible week.

A day and a half after that 1-year-old’s birthday party, I got a head cold.  It felt like I had a rock sitting in my sinuses and it was NOT budging.  Being that I am the only adult home with the baby during the day, I can’t just avoid the baby all day!  I have to feed her, change her diaper, carry her from one place to another, hand her toys -that will inevitably end up in her mouth – it is simply unavoidable.

Avoiding Baby Without Actually Avoiding her

Knowing that I was sick and probably contagious, I was very careful with what and when I held the baby and her things.  I washed my hands before every interaction, after I touched my face, before I made her food, before AND after I changed her bum.  It felt like I was constantly standing at the sink, washing my hands.  I covered my nose and mouth when I coughed or sneezed; I did everything I could to prevent my baby girl from getting this awful cold; she didn’t have Mommy kisses for almost a week!

Alas, everything I could do wasn’t enough.  One afternoon, I went to the nursery to get the baby after her nap as she had been crying at the top of her lungs – much more than the usual wake up cry.  I picked her up to console her – didn’t calm her down.  Gave her a bottle – she didn’t want it.  I changed her dirty diaper – there was barely anything in it.  Then, as I was lightly bouncing up and down trying to console her and figure out what was wrong, she stopped crying and I noticed her breathing sounded stuffy – we all know the sound of someone trying to breathe through a stuffed nose, they are the ones that we want to yell at to BLOW YOUR NOSE!


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I’m Not Terrible, I’m Actually Quite a Good Mother!

She caught the cold from me.  I felt awful – I’m a terrible mother for not washing my hands more, or not staying away from her more, or not disinfecting all the surfaces more, or… or nothing.  I am not a terrible mother for getting my 5-month-old baby sick.  These things happen and being there for her to take care of her and suck the snot out of her nose when it gets to be too much – that is what makes me a good mother.  Here are some ways you can take care of your baby and make it through that first cold.

Let Baby Sleep

I know, it seems like she is just coming out of the “eat, sleep, poop, repeat” phase, but let her take an extra half hour for her nap, or an extra nap all together.  Allow her to go to bed early if she is showing signs of sleepiness.  Rest will only help your sick baby recover, plus it gives you a little extra time to yourself! Enjoy it!  Much like you and I, baby needs sleep to get over her cold.  My baby normally has a 45 minute to hour long nap.  While she was sick, she had 2-2 1/2  hour naps.  Although, if baby is lethargic, you may want to see a doctor.

Keep Baby Hydrated

Again, just like you, Baby needs certain things to get over her cold.  Sleep and Hydration being the two main categories.  If she is cranky, give her a bottle or breastfeed her and see if it helps.  When we are sick, it drains us of energy and makes us dehydrated.  Having a baby who is both sick and dehydrated can cause added on health issues, and nobody wants that for their sick baby.  If Baby’s soft spot on the top of her head is extremely sunken, she may be dehydrated, and you should consult a Doctor.

Saline Drops 

To help loosen the mucus in baby’s sinuses, you can buy (at any pharmacy, or even grocery store in some cases) an over-the-counter saline drop.  You can put a drop or two up baby’s nose while she is upright or slightly reclined, and wait a few seconds before using a nasal aspirator to suck out any excess saline and mucus.  

You can get a bulb nasal aspirator, or one of the ones where Mom/Dad sucks it out through a long tube (your mouth doesn’t touch any snot, I promise!) 

This is NOT the easiest task – as you can imagine – with a squirmy baby who turns her head at any sight of something – that isn’t a bottle – coming toward her face.  I recommend having someone else there to assist you.


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Put Moisture into the Air

Putting moisture into the air can also help with loosening mucus in the sinus cavity.  You can do this in multiple ways:

Run the Shower

You can turn the shower on hot and sit in the bathroom with baby.  DO NOT allow the baby to touch the hot water, it will burn.  Leave the bathroom fan off for a greater effect.  Stay in the bathroom with baby for about 15 minutes as the air gets steamy and moist.  Once the 15 minutes is up, use the nasal aspirator to remove any mucus.  I found this to be extremely effective when the baby first woke up in the morning.  I would give her a bottle as soon as we were finished.  The warm air and moisture made it easier for her to drink the bottle.

Use a Humidifier or Diffuser

Any run of the mill humidifier can help clear baby’s sinuses.  Run it all night long, or for a few hours at a time.  You can also use a diffuser with essential oils such as lemon or lavender.  Some essential oils are safe for adults to take orally, however this is NOT SAFE for babies.  Ensure all essential oils are through a diffuser.

Cuddles

Sometimes all you need is a hug.  Baby may seem very needy and clingy while she is sick, and you should give her ALL the cuddles she wants.  It isn’t fun being sick as an adult, I imagine it is much worse when you are an infant and can’t blow your nose or wipe your eyes, much less have any idea of what is going on or why you feel this way.  Comfort her.  Let her know she will be okay.

Do NOT Give Your Baby Over-the-Counter Cold Medicines

Although I’m pretty sure most of the baby cold medicines have been removed from shelves, if you happen to find one, DO NOT USE IT.  Consult a Doctor if you think your baby needs more than what is mentioned above.

More information about medications is available here.

When to Take Your Baby to the Doctor

If your baby is less than 3 months old, call your doctor within the first couple of days if not the first day.  Newborns can develop more serious illnesses very quickly.  

If your baby is older than 3 months old, call your doctor in the event of:

  • A fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Your baby stops eating
  • Has trouble breathing – Not the stuffy nose kind, but from the lungs.

Click here for 10 other instances of when to take baby to a Doctor.

Always Remember

You are a good Mother.  Just because the baby got the cold from you, doesn’t make you a bad Mom.  These things happen to the best of us!

13 Essential Postpartum Recovery Items

13 Essential Postpartum Recovery Items

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

13 Essential Postpartum Recovery Items

Coming home with a baby is like waking up in an alternate reality. You are in the same place, but everything has changed.  You will adjust and learn to love this life, but it’s going to take some figuring out, and to add to all the new you have the physical scars to show for growing and giving birth to a tiny human.  Taking care of you is important but it can take a backseat to take care of your new tiny human. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are prepared with the best postpartum items when you come home from the hospital.  This postpartum preparation list contains the 13 absolute must-have postpartum care items to have ready before you go into labor.

The following list covers what postpartum recovery items to have on hand at home before you head to the hospital.


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Essential Postpartum Items

Padcicles

These are wonderful, and you can easily make these ahead of time and store in the freezer. They consist of lavender, witch hazel and aloe vera applied to a maxi pad.  To make them, follow these steps:

Unwrap a few maxi pads so that you can see the top of the pad, but don’t detach the pad from the wrapper

Spread aloe vera along the length of the entire pad.  Be generous with the amount of aloe applied.

Pour witch hazel down the middle of the pad.  About a teaspoon is a good amount.

Add a few drops of lavender oil.

Once everything has been applied to the pad, fold the pad back up.  Place all pads into a freezer bag and freeze.

As needed, pull pads out of the freezer one at a time.  Allow the pad to thaw for a minute or two before using.


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Instant Activate Perineum Ice Packs

In the hospital they will give you diaper ice packs, but these are wonderful to have a few of at home for convenience.  If you have a bunch of padcicles premade though you may not need them. These ones are what I used.

Depends

You will have stuff leaking for weeks after you give birth.  Just make your life easier and have a package of Depends on hand.  They are surprisingly comfortable and discrete even under yoga pants.

Peri-bottle

The hospital will give you one to take home but having one in each bathroom at home can be helpful.

Sitz Bath

This is nice for soaking, but you need to be able to devote 10-15 minutes to do this.  I did it preemptively a couple of times, but it wasn’t something that I thought made a huge difference.  A sitz bath is inexpensive and maybe not a bad idea to have on hand.  However, the hospital gave me one to take home.

Epsom Salts

If you are going to get a sitz bath, you want to get something to put in it.

Donut or Travel Pillow

People talk about the need for a donut to sit on for the first week or two.  However, I found one of those travel pillows that wrap around your neck worked just as well.  I actually only used it for sitting on these really hard wooden chairs we have.  I didn’t need it anywhere else.

Nursing Pads

I recommend the washable kind, but whatever type you decide to go with you will want to have on hand when your milk comes in. These ones worked great for me*.

Large Underwear

A good item to have on hand as you transition away from the Depends.  Sadly, your thongs will need to be put away for a while.

Nighttime Maxi Pads

To put in your large underwear.

Tucks with Witch Hazel

The hospital may give you some of these, but it isn’t a bad idea to have an extra pack.  They work well in place of toilet paper for a while.

Dermoplast Spray (blue lid, not red)

This numbing spray is great.  Just make sure to get the blue lid one.  The one with the red lid has an antibacterial agent and it really stings.

Nipple Cream

If you are going to nurse, you will want to have this on hand.

Nipple Gel Pads (buy or make your own):

These are helpful when you first start nursing.  You can buy gel pads to keep in the fridge or freezer which are basically little ice packs.  However, you can also use small baggies and the aloe left over from the padcicles to make your own.  Just put a generous amount of aloe into a small ziplock bag (I used the square snack-sized ones from Walmart) and refrigerate or freeze.

What top postpartum items did you rely on for self-care after giving birth?  Let me know in the comments.

To hear more about my postpartum journey and tips for recovery, check out this post. For more about C-section recovery, make sure to read this post.

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13 Essential Postpartum Recovery Items

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.