Going out in public during flu season - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 12-05-2012, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi! I'm new here. My son was born at 31 weeks, 2 days. His gestational age right now is almost 3 months and we are getting into flu season. I am terrified of him getting sick and ending up back in the hospital (he was in the NICU 40 days)! I have turned into a hermit. I hardly even take my son outside for fresh air. I think he's getting stir crazy because he fusses and wants a change of scenery every 10 minutes. We go out to visit grandparents and to see the doctor, but that is all. The pediatrician told me he is at a higher risk of getting sick than other babies because he was premature and that he shouldn't go out with me for a great length of time to the store or places where there are a lot of people, especially now that it's flu season.


My questions are - Did any of you with preemies take your babies out in public early and did they get sick? How much more at-risk is a preemie who is gestationally 3 months old than a full term 3 month old? How do you convince your extended family to understand that bringing your preemie all over the place for visits and errands isn't a good idea? My parents in particular act like I am being overprotective and that my son will be fine if I take him out with me.


Thanks everyone!

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#2 of 6 Old 12-06-2012, 06:48 AM
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My son was 27 weeks and spent 89 days in the NICU.  He came home from the hospital last January and he did not go ANYWHERE except doctor's appointments and walks in the stroller outside.  I was determined to do everything in my power not to end up back in the hospital.  We just point blank told everyone that the doctors ordered that we stay in and not have visitors during flu season.  It was hard, but I feel like it was really worth it.  He is 14 months old and has never been sick except a couple days of runny nose around 11 months.  This year we had planned on staying in during flu season again, but we haven't been too diligent.  We still stay away from sick people, but I do take him to the grocery store with me once a week.

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Mama to Madeline (07-10-07) and Finley (10-17-11)

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#3 of 6 Old 12-06-2012, 07:00 AM
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My 29weeker came home in January and we kept her quarantined until May of that year. She also received the Synagis shots to help boost her immune system.   We had visits from grandparents, trips to the ped, occasional visits from friends (mostly people who were not around kids), but that was it. Our doc said that if we felt we really needed to do something, we could take her (for instance she did go to the city courthouse for her adoption hearing), but it was not worth the risk to take her out to the store or for a general visit. 


It was hard and boring, but it worked.  Not only did she never get sick, none of us got sick that winter at all. 


In terms of family and friends, I would just say "we're following the advice of our doctor." People who don't have a preemie, often don't understand that preemie have weakened immune systems, and that illnesses like RSV are really dangerous for them.  At three month old preemie is just not as strong as a three-month-old full term baby.  Sometimes I had to say stuff like, "I know you think I'm paranoid, but I'm doing what's best for my baby."  You might ask your ped if he/she has any pamphlets on preemies and rsv. The pamphlets will have good info for your baby.  Our ped is a relaxed hands off old guy, who has seen just about everything.  When he told us not to take our baby out in public, I totally trusted that he would not have given us that advice without a good reason.


In terms of going outside for a walk, I would talk to your ped.  Unless it's bitterly cold, I think it's fine to take a baby out for a little walk each day.  I would put my daughter in a carrier and zip her in my coat. 


I hope the winter is fast and healthy for you guys!


I just blogged about how to quarantine without losing your mind here:


Blogging at http://chronicladybug.blogspot.com

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#4 of 6 Old 12-06-2012, 10:06 AM
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My 32 weeker was older during flu season (born in June), but I was still pretty cautious.  I was nursing, and when I brought him out in public, I wore him so people wouldn't touch him and that I would be exposed to whatever he was, so I'd make antibodies in my breastmilk.  We didn't stay home all the time, but I was selective about where we went.  Fortunately I live in San Diego and could spend a lot of time outside during flu season.


I was more concerned about RSV than the flu, but my pediatrician didn't think Synagis was warranted because I was a SAHM and my baby had no siblings.  Ironically it was my 34 weeker that was my only experience with RSV, but she was about 16 months old and it wasn't that big of a deal (no hospitalization - just breathing treatments in the doctor's office and a few days of fever and coughing, but it was pretty mild and she recovered without incident).


As far as talking to friends and family about it - it's your baby and your choice.  Regardless of whether baby was full term or premature.  If they don't understand, just say that your doctor recommended an abundance of caution because of his prematurity.  If they still don't get it, that's their problem, not yours.  You are just protecting your child, which is your priority and prerogative.

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#5 of 6 Old 12-06-2012, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the words of wisdom. It's validating to know that I am doing the right thing by keeping him at home instead of bringing him with me on my errands. He gets his Synagis shot every month, too. I know I'm doing the right things to keep him safe.


It really bugs me when people (parents) ask/tell me about places I should go and things I should be doing for my son that are not at home and I have to constantly remind them that we don't go anywhere. My mom works in the baby clothing dept of a large store and always brings up how she sees babies all day long and how they are just fine. She and my aunt got him a fancy stroller that they are excited about. He has yet to use it and I never hear the end of it, "When can we try out that stroller?" I wish they could just hold on to their hats and wait until spring. My dad doesn't like doctors for some dumb reason and he always gives me attitude after wellness exams, asking me, "Did you ask the doctor about going out in public again?" as if I need to keep badgering the doctor so she'll give me permission. He appears to think the whole thing is silly.


Granted, my son is doing great and developing right on schedule, so people think since he's doing so good, we don't need to be careful anymore. But he is still so young! I wish I didn't have to keep defending myself, but I guess this is only the beginning, huh?


Thank you for the blog link, @Maryeliz, that was a good read. It's so true that the days all blend into each other and if you don't change it up once in a while, you really will lose your mind. :)

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#6 of 6 Old 12-10-2012, 09:23 PM
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My DD came home in November (last year) and was pretty isolated for all of RSV season.  My husband is a stay at home dad, I was working full time.  It didn't feel weird.  I mean, we had this brand new baby we had worked very hard for, why did we have to share her with everyone else?  And what is the benefit of going clothing shopping for a baby?  There is very little 'enrichment' babies that young need out in public.  My husband did take her for a walk every day though (in the woods, we live in rural-ish area); it was a fairly mild winter but she was exposed to some dramatically cold weather and did fine, I never batted an eye with that, but she didn't go to a grocery store until the following summer.  We went to tons of doctor's appointments but I would wear her in the carrier to keep people away.  We did also do some family stuff- she saw grandparents for TGDay, Xmas etc.  Tell your parents RSV can kill and your baby exactly falls into the high-risk category.  Not to scare them or you- if you avoid the crowds you'll be fine- but this is real.  Insurance companies don't pay tens of thousands of dollars for those synergis shots for nothing (for those babies that fall into certain risk categories).  And it's importnant that people take it seriously for not visitng with a "cold" too-- including "i think it's allergies" and "I'm getting over it" or my throat's just a little scratchy."  No, you are viral, stay away.  This year my DD is almost a toddler and gets exposed to all sorts of stuff, on a plane, at the library, with snot-nosed school kids, etc.  There's plenty of time to do that in the future.  There's no reason to do it now.  But DO take a walk outside each day, if you can do it someplace without crowds (even if it involves driving there).  

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