November 2021 – After the NICU

Jenny Reyes-McCormick, Senior Editor of PreemieWorld

After experiencing a stay in the NICU, it is quite common for preemie parents to develop anxiety over every sniffle, cough and sneeze around their preemies during RSV and flu season, and now, with Covid-19 in the mix, this is enough to heighten our germophobic paranoia. How can you keep your preemie safe this season? Here are a few helpful tips:

Isolation: Covid-19 sheltering in place has nothing on preemie parents as most parents have been practicing this way before Covid. Preemie isolation means limiting visitors, outings, getting flu shots, practicing good hand washing, and not attending family & friend events/gatherings. . This sacrifice is worth it in the long run when it can decrease the chance of illness for your fragile child and it makes sure they have the best possible chance at life.

Good hand washing hygiene: Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory infections from one person to the next. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. According to the CDC, you should follow these 5 steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Synagis Vaccine: If your preemie qualifies – the Synagis vaccine is a must! This will not prevent RSV but will help decrease the likelihood.

Flu shot: Getting your flu shot helps keep the germs away from your house.

Smoke-free environment: Do not allow any smoking around your preemie.

“No Touch” Sign: Have a sign on the stroller/car seat asking people not to touch your baby. Check out this freebie from PreemieWorld: https://preemieworld.com/portfolio-item/no-touching/

In home services: If you receive early intervention services, request that providers use your toys vs. bringing in toys that a variety of kids have played with.

Hand sanitizer: Keep it in your purse/bag, car, desk, around the house, basically anywhere and everywhere. Also, being a NICU parent, you know how much it can dry out your hands, so don’t forget to add hand cream as well!

Doctor’s appointments: If your preemie has a doctor/specialist appointment, keep them contained in the stroller while waiting for your appointment or let the receptionist know that you will be waiting in the car and have them call you when the doctor is ready.

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