Woman in a field with a young child

Fall is here! So while we all bask in the warmth of cozy sweaters and warm drinks, we also inevitably are put at higher risk of catching illnesses, such as the flu or upper respiratory tract infections. As moms with young ones, we are not only worried about ourselves, but our babies too! So here are some good tips on how to keep your and your baby protected.

Stay hydrated

pitcher of water with lemon slices

Our mucous membranes, such as our mouths, inside our nose/ears/eyes contain a lot of IgA – an important immunoglobulin that acts as a primary barrier to viruses and bacteria. If we are hydrated, they are present in a high amount. If we are dehydrated, we lose the potency of this instrumental protection. Especially important if you are breastfeeding, and this time of year, when we live in very dry environments.

Hand hygiene

While I’m a firm non-believer in excess sterilizing, ensuring the washing of hands when in contact with environments outside of your own home, is a must. And try to keep your fingers and pens out of your mouth!

Sleep

Our immune system functions better when our body feels like it has had adequate rest during every 24 hour period. Now, I’m no stranger to having a newborn baby and the lack of sleep that ensues, so just do your best to sleep while baby is sleeping. During the colder months, it gets darker earlier too, so take advantage, and go to bed earlier (instead of binge watching your fave show, not that I know anything about that…)

Minimize stress

Minimize stress effects on your body (to protect your immune system). I know, I know, there’s not a whole lot we can do about external sources of stress. So to decrease the impact it has on your mind and body, try to integrate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. This could be something as simple as deep breathing every time you nurse your baby, or more dynamic like daily yoga or guided meditation practices.

Diet

Eating sugar directly impacts your immune systems ability to make white blood cells. So try to stick to whole foods. In traditional Chinese medicine, warming foods help keep external pathogens out – these are your root vegetables (squash, sweet potato, etc) and anything with a bit of a spice to it. So think soups and stews. And of course, bone broth, which provides direct immune support.

Supplements to consider

  • Probiotics (the good bacteria – provides additional immune support and are available in a number of different strains to help support different parts of the body),
  • Vitamin D (a potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory)
  • Vitamin C (helps support your immune system so that when you do get sick, it will be less severe and will be of shorter duration)
  • always have some anti-microbials on hand to take at first sign of illness – such as echinacea, elderberry, goldenseal, usnea, and nettle.

Some of these things probably sound like a broken record. But most of the time, you just need someone else to tell you to do something to get it to stick. I lay victim to this as well, even as an ND. So happy drinking, sleeping, and eating good wholesome food during this flu season. And see an ND if you need the extra support to prevent frequent illnesses, for you or your babe.


Dr. Danielle Marchildon ND co-owns and practices out of Collective Health Clinic in Orangeville. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mom to 5 children, she keeps it real in her practice, empowering women and men of all ages to find a good balance in their diet and lifestyle to optimize their wellbeing. Her practice focuses on evidence based medicine, and views her role as integrative to your current healthcare, and not alternative. She is registered with the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Ontario, and holds her prescribing license. For more information, you can either call (519-941-3100) or email the clinic at info@collectivehc.ca.

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