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Are Germs Dangerous for my Newborn?

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Bringing a baby into this germ-filled world can be pretty scary, especially if you live in a city. Even as adults, we try not to touch the subway poles, and we’re always tempted to put on a hospital mask when passing through a crowded space.

Totally unnecessary, says Dr. Deena Blanchard MD, a pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics. “There is no evidence to suggest that living in a city increases your infant’s risk of illness,” she reassures us, adding that a little old-fashioned hand-washing, and avoiding crowded or enclosed spaces early on is your best defense. But before you hit the subway with your fresh-out-of-the-oven newborn, here's a few of Dr. Blanchard's germy guidelines for city-living.

Why is it important to be careful about exposing my newborn to germs?

Until two months of age, your baby will not have received the vaccines that protect against certain bacteria that can produce serious illness in infants. Fever (defined as a rectal temperature 100.4 degrees (F) or above) in infants less than two months of age is taken very seriously. If your child were to have a fever, it would require a complete medical work-up and possibly hospitalization, so we recommend a little extra caution when dealing with young infants.

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So does that mean I’m stuck in my apartment for the first two months?

Absolutely not! You can definitely leave your house with your new baby. You can take walks outside or go to a park. In nice weather, you can even sit outside at a café or restaurant. I would recommend avoiding any crowded or enclosed spaces until after the two-month vaccines. This includes movies, malls, subways, airplanes and other similar places.

Everyone I’ve ever met wants to come meet the baby. How do I keep my baby safe from all those dirty hands?

It is best for people to wash their hands before holding your baby. If a friend or family member is sick, I would recommend they refrain from being around the baby until they are feeling well. The most common way to catch an infectious disease is by touch. The hands pick up germs and then transport them to the eyes or mouth. By keeping your own -- and your child’s hands -- clean, you greatly reduce the chances that he will get sick. Although soap and water is always preferred, alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well, too.

I feel like I am getting a cold, is it safe for me to breastfeed?

Absolutely. When you are sick, your body makes antibodies that are then passed to the baby through the breast milk. Practice good hand-washing and continue to feed your baby while you are feeling sick. This allows your baby to get the antibodies you are making and actually helps protect him from getting sick as well.

Do I need to sterilize my baby’s pacifiers and bottles?

No. As long as you don’t use well water, a good thorough cleaning with soap and hot water is all you need to do to protect your baby.

I’ve got a busy little toddler. What do I do about my older child touching the baby?

It is important for your older child to bond with your new baby. That being said, many toddlers and school-aged children are often sick with viral illnesses, so use your judgment when it comes to close contact. If you child is sick with a febrile illness, please don’t allow her to come in close contact with your infant until she is feeling better. Otherwise, when your child is well, encourage him to talk with the baby and entertain the infant. You can also suggest kissing the baby’s feet and avoid the face and the hands.

A Final Note:

Even when we do our best to avoid illness, sometimes children get sick. Remember germs are a part of our world and can’t be completely avoided at all times. If your infant does get a fever, it is usually NOT you fault and does not mean you did something wrong or failed as a parent. Take the proper precautions as outlined above, and if you have concerns about your infant’s health, contact your pediatrician right away.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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