Parenting

Taking our baby for her vaccinations

It’s not often you deliberately hurt your baby. It feels really wrong.

I’ve taken our baby for three sets of vaccinations now, at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. Each appointment has involved two injections, one in each of her legs. I hated all three occasions, even though I am really pro-vaccine and knew I was doing the right thing for us. On each occasion, our baby has clung to me in the doctor’s waiting area like a frightened little koala, and I have fought off my own anxiety, and a horrible feeling that I am betraying her trust.

Line drawing of a vaccinations syringe

When I spoke to family and friends about the vaccinations, they focused on our baby, and how she might be hurt, ill, or upset. Although I had a brainful of these things too, I was also worried that she would cope and I would not. Due to COVID-19 guidance currently in place at our doctor’s surgery, I have had to take her to the vaccinations appointments by myself, and wear a mask.

I wanted to make the vaccinations appointments as positive as they could be for both me and our baby. This involved a fair amount of managing myself, so that I didn’t upset her more than necessary: babies are aware when we are tense and anxious! Here’s everything I did that helped both of us, before, during, and after the vaccinations appointments.

Before the appointments

Before the vaccinations appointments, I made everything as calm as I could. I:

  1. Packed everything we would need for the appointment the day before
  2. Bought Calpol beforehand so we had it at home
  3. Left the house in plenty of time to get to the appointment
  4. Took our baby’s clothes off, down to her vest, in the doctor’s surgery waiting area. She doesn’t always like being dressed and undressed in a hurry – and doing it like this meant we were not hurrying
  5. Read a familiar book with her in the waiting area

During the vaccinations appointments

I wanted to help the nurse get her job done as quickly as she could, and upset our baby as little as possible. To help this, I:

  1. Spoke to the nurse about everyday things, using my normal voice, and speaking at my normal speed and with my normal intonation pattern
  2. Breathed and reminded myself it was quick; our baby wouldn’t remember; and that vaccinations were very important for keeping her and other children healthy
  3. Held our baby as securely as I could whist the nurse did the injections. I cradled her, held my hands together and locked my fingers between her legs
  4. Looked the other way whilst the injections were happening
  5. Fed our baby quickly after the injections to soothe her

After the vaccinations appointments

After the appointment, our baby was teary but ok. I wanted to help her have as nice a day as we could. To help this, I:

  1. Fed her again in the surgery waiting room to soothe her
  2. Did a calm activity that she enjoys (we went to the park and looked at the trees and leaves)
  3. Planned a quiet day and cuddled her a lot
  4. Took the plasters off the injection sites after ~ an hour, so they did not stick to her skin and make it sore
  5. Was very gentle handling her legs when changing, dressing and bathing her, in case the injection site was sore

I’d love to hear about how you got on with taking your baby for their vaccinations in the comments below.

How did you feel?

Did you use any strategies which you found helpful?

How was your baby afterwards?


wholemealmum

Mother of a baby girl, born in July 2021. Finding my way with it all. Recipes, parenting, and walking.

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