Parenting Discussion: Baby Etiquette & RSV Protection

Have you ever dealt with RSV? {Respiratory Syncytial Virus}

Thankfully, none of my children have had RSV, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it firsthand.

Before I got married, I worked in the infant room of a daycare center. One of the little boys under my care ended up with RSV. His case was so severe that he was hospitalized for weeks. It ended up being months before he had completely recovered from the virus. I remember how scared his parents were – constant hospital visits, doctors visits, watching their baby gasp for air. I just couldn’t image what they were going through. He did pull through, though, and I’ve kept in touch with his parents over the years. He is now a strong, healthy 11 year old.

A few years ago, I had many complications with my pregnancy with Parker. After he was born, things started to get worse. Because he was so tiny and had so many complications, the doctor was afraid he could contract RSV and it could be severe.

I couldn’t help but think of that sweet little boy from all those years ago and everything he and his parents endured because of RSV. I was determined that I would keep Parker as safe as I possibly could – which isn’t easy when you’ve got 4 older children.

The first month of Parker’s life, he and I didn’t leave the house. When Gene or the kids came home, they immediately washed their hands before coming near the baby. It was an incredibly difficult first month of his life, but it was worth every moment, and I would do it all again just to keep him safe.

I know that when a family has a new baby, everyone wants to see the baby, hold the baby, and just share their love with their family. The problem is that RSV is a very common virus and it can spread very easily.

If you are a new parent, it’s OK to ask that people not come over. You are not being rude, you are simply protecting your baby. If you are interested in a “Open Letter” that you can share with friends and family, I have one that I would be happy to send you. Just email me and let me know you would like a copy.

Now, to the friends and family of the newly expanded family:

  • If new parents aren’t ready for visitors, don’t be offended. Show your love and support in other ways. Do laundry, bring dinner, send a card. That way you can show them you care, but you can still respect their efforts to keep their baby safe from germs those first crucial months.
  • If you are invited to the home of the new baby, you *must* know how to act and prepare for that visit. Wash your hands often, and always ask before you touch the baby. If you have been sick recently, have been exposed to an illness, or if you think you might be getting sick, you’d best stay at home. Postponing your visit would be best if there’s any chance you are carrying germs.
  • Call before you visit. Never just stop by. New parents need time to get into a routine and bond with their new baby.
  • Leave your toddlers at home – especially during the winter. Young children that are in day care or preschool often carry germs and viruses like RSV that can spread easily.
  • Remember that parents know best…. even if they are new parents to their first baby, and you have 5 children. A parent has a right to protect their child’s heath in any way they seem appropriate. It is never our place to judge, but to support and love the family in any other way that we can.

Here are facts about RSV that every parent, caregiver, and loved one should be aware of:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by the age of 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve even heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the number one cause of hospitalization in infants. It is responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics from fall through spring. The CDC has defined RSV season as November through March for most of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV. That’s why it’s so important for parents to take any precautions to protect their child.
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing a serious RSV infection, so parents should speak with their child’s pediatrician to determine if their baby may be at a high risk for RSV and what steps they can take to help prevent their child from contracting the virus.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include persistent coughing/wheezing; rapid, difficult breathing or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth or under fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. If your baby shows and of these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately.

I hope you will take a few moments to check out the RSVProtection website to learn more about RSV and ways to prevent it.

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.