Plenty of rest, food, liquids, and quiet time is the recipe for a healthy mother, but infants have immature immune systems and need extra protection around the holidays. Pediatrician Dr. Kris Rehm says, "Having a newborn over the holidays is such a joy, but it may mean that a family needs to stay home to prevent exposing the newborn to viral illnesses that are common at this time of year." That means forgoing holiday travel until the baby is at least two months old and letting someone else brave the stores. As tempting as it may be to get a picture with Santa, it's probably not a good idea. Santa has had dozens of children on his lap, one of which may have had a cold, flu, or stomach bug.
Germ protection extends to friends and family, too. Dr. Rehm advises, "It's really important to make sure that anyone who holds the newborn is healthy, because a little cold in an adult can be serious illness to a newborn. That means the parents need to be vigilant about making sure that all family members with a runny nose or cough steer clear. Don't feel guilty asking someone to admire from afar—I know it can be hard, but your primary responsibility is to keep your baby healthy. Strict rules about hand washing are key!"
Caring for a baby is a full-time job, and getting through the holidays can be another job in itself, so consider adding an extra pair of hands to your household to make things run more smoothly. No one will ease your burden like a professional baby nurse or doula. She's a virtual Mary Poppins who can take care of the baby while you doze, take a shower, or go shopping—she can even stay overnight and handle those midnight feedings so you can catch up on much needed sleep. For around $15 an hour, doulas handle light household cleaning and meal preparation, take care of siblings, and run errands. Some are even certified lactation consultants.
Jeannie Casey describes her job this way: "A doula gives you confidence in your mothering abilities and is a safety net in this whole new world. You can't call the pediatrician to ask a question at 2:00 AM, but a doula will be there for you." She recommends booking a doula well in advance, since their services are in high demand around the holidays, but says that if you only need three hours here and there, you might get by with last-minute requests.