You wake feeling a little nauseous. As the day goes on, you feel fatigued. You’re pretty sure you’ve got a fever, but haven’t been able to stop and take your temperature. By the afternoon, it’s the inevitable truth – you’re sick. Now what?
While we’d like to imagine equality in our own families, the truth for most moms is that they do the disproportionate share of childcare and housework. So when mom gets sick, the whole family unravels a little.
But when you’re sick, you need to take care of yourself, and make some temporary changes until you’re feeling better.
- Rest! Fatigue makes mothering next to impossible. If you have a baby or toddler who is still napping, sleep when they sleep. If your baby is young enough, you may get away with spending the entire day in bed napping and nursing. If he or she is home, let your partner care for the children while you rest. Your body needs to heal, and sleep is one of the best ways to do so.
- Try home remedies: Saline nose drops, chicken soup, a humidifier … try whatever you have on hand that doesn’t take too much work.
- Stay hydrated and eat what you can: Dehydration and hunger make fatigue even worse. Sip broths or electrolyte replenishing drinks (especially if you’ve been vomiting) and nibble on bland foods (remember the BRAT diet for illness: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast).
- Use caution with medications if you’re breastfeeding: Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the type of illness, you may want to take over the counter medications, or your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your illness. Check with a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor to make sure any drugs you take (including herbs) are safe for a breastfeeding baby. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll want to know if a medication is going to make you sleepy – which could really impact your childcare abilities.
- Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to call for reinforcements. If your partner can take the day off from work, great. Or ask family or friends to substitute for you for a day.
- Do the bare minimum to get through the day: Spend the day on the couch, and let the kids play or watch TV nearby. Gate them into the same room if you need to.
- Let it go: Whether it’s the housekeeping, the amount of time your children are spending in front of a screen, or the complete lack of nutritional balance in their meals, let it all go for a day until you’re feeling better.
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you may wonder if it’s acceptable to nurse your baby when you’re sick. If you’re up to it, then by all means keep breastfeeding. Your body started making antibodies to the illness likely before you even realized you were sick. And these immunities are passed to your baby through breastmilk. Sometimes the nursing baby is the only one in the family who doesn’t get sick! Sometimes when a mom is very ill, her milk supply drops. With frequent nursing after you’re feeling better, your milk supply should rebound.
Cover your cough, no kissing your baby, and be sure to wash your hands often to avoid spreading germs to your children or your partner.
What tips do you have for getting through an illness when you’re trying to care for others?
Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.