Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I think it is traditional for your baby to get sick and stay that way for most of their first big trip away, and Bethany has decided she is a traditionalist.  She is a sick, snotty baby.

She could have picked it up anywhere.  Her dad was sick just before we left, we've been travelling on an aeroplane, she gets cuddles from everyone, and she keeps getting chances to gum other kids' toys.  I've just let her go for it and given in to the inevitable.

On the plus side, as a sick baby she's pretty good.  She sleeps better for starters.  Just the other night she did a massive 10 hour sleep.  Given that her previous record was 7 hours, and that was some time in the distant past, I was particularly impressed.  Even better, I slept for 9 of those 10 hours.

Treatment has been breastfeeding, flushing out her nose with a little saline solution, and sleeping her in her car capsule, which keeps her semi-upright.

Fortunately, I've only had traces of the cold.  It's a funny thing, before having the baby, I used to get sick all the time.  Since having the baby, I have not had a cold, despite all the bodily stress and sleep deprivation, and despite that my baby and husband have had two.  I barely seem to get the first symptoms before I'm better.

I have wondered whether this is somehow related to breastfeeding, because if I'm producing all these extra antibodies for her, then perhaps my immune system generally is more effective.  An article from the International Breastfeeding Journal suggests there is some evidence that the mother's immunity is improved by breastfeeding:

A study of 43 breastfeeding women found that both breastfeeding and holding their babies without breastfeeding significantly decreased ACTH, plasma cortisol, and salivary free cortisol [51]. In response to an induced stressor, cortisol responses were attenuated in breastfeeding women for a short time after feeding their babies. The authors concluded that suckling, but not breastfeeding in general, provided a short-term suppression of the stress-related cortisol response and HPA axis response to mental stress [51]. They argued that this short-term suppression provided several evolutionary and biological advantages. It isolated the mother from distracting stimuli, facilitated the women's immune system, protected the babies from high cortisol in the milk and prevented stress-related inhibition of lactation. Based on their review, GroĆ«r, Davis and Hemphill drew similar conclusions [9]. They noted that the neuroendocrinology of breastfeeding women possibly down-regulated the stress response. This down-regulation protects the breastfeeding mother and directed her toward milk production, conservation of energy, and nurturing behaviors.
Exclusive breastfeeding also increases the effectiveness of the mothers' immune system [50,51]. In a study of 181 women at 4 – 6 weeks postpartum, perceived stress, depression, anxiety, anger and negative life events were related to decreased immune competence for the formula-feeding mothers [52]. This relationship was not present in the breastfeeding mothers who were protected from the harmful effects of stress on immunity [52].
So maybe.  Or maybe there's a placebo effect because I feel strongly that I just don't have time to get sick?


  1. Ooh I think I second that theory... but I do believe it is so much about mind over matter. When DH or children come down ill I say to myself "Im not gonna catch it, I dont have time to be sick" For the most part it works. I would say I catch around 5 percent of the bugs that come through my house and Ill catch them alot more mildly than everyone else

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  3. The previous post was not written by me. It was written by my mum when I forgot to log out of my account.

  4. Yep. 90% of the time it is the Mother's who are 'left holding the baby" and so they do NOT have time to be sick. Hubby goes to bed feeling very sad and sorry for themselves with a cold, because, they are ..way too sick to take the baby for a walk or wash the nappies, but the mother KNOWS it must be done.....and does it, because they really care about their babies more than themselves. If you are a dad reading this, I suspect you are in the other `10%. !

  5. I dont know why you call that an anti-male post Caroline lol. In my experience and in talking to friends I think your mum tells it like it is. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have an "other 10%" husband. I can truly say mine is a 90% husband,he is the biggest sook when it comes to illness. Having said that though he rarely does get sick so I dont mind.

  6. I guess I do, Bea. My husband is the opposite extreme. He's ridiculously stoic when it comes to being sick and thinks any resting or sooking is a sign of unmanly weakness. When he got a sting ray barb embedded an inch in his leg behind the knee, he drove himself to the hospital. I have heard a lot of men are sooky in the way you and my mum say but I wonder how many. I guess given I am the sooky one in our household, I was embarrassed to have had the comment published under my name.