Coping With Vaccinations

Oh I hate the 8, 12 and 16 week vaccinations. While Baby Button wasn’t too bothered by the first set of vaccinations, the second and third sets gave him hell and it really is a terrible feeling seeing your child go through that at so young.

For me personally, it’s a must.

In the long run and without the gift of foresight I don’t know what the future holds for my baby boy, but I do know that anything I can do to prevent something terrible happening I’m going to be damn sure I do it.

Teddy bear with vaccination needle

Helping your child deal with vaccinations and the side effects

I’ve already touched on how unpleasant the side effects of vaccinations can be. The first set can be just as pesky, we were just lucky that Baby Button wasn’t too bothered by them – I’ve heard some horror stories though. 1 in 10 babies will experience some discomfort after being vaccinated, and while the symptoms are quite mild it’s overwhelming as a parent – especially a new Mum – to quite know how to cope.

Common side effects you should be aware of:

  • Tenderness, redness and swelling around the vaccination site
  • A fever
  • Sickness/vomiting
  • Baby may not be as hungry
  • Irritability
  • Crying more than usual, for no reason
  • ‘Explosive nappies’ *
  • Sleepiness

Symptoms like these are generally expected. They aren’t comfortable and can last a few days, so it’s best to be absolutely prepared. Make sure you administer Calpol twenty minutes before the appointment and follow up with that with two more doses – more if needed.

When it came to sleeping, I let Baby Button decide when he needed to sleep. In the days that followed his vaccinations he tended to be up for an hour then sleep for two just to recover! While he did sleep more at night, he didn’t sleep as well as he usually does and was waking every two to three hours. Sometimes for a simple comforting cuddle before settling down, other times for a good hour nursing before settling.

Of course, there are more uncommon side effects you need to be aware of too.

  • A high fever (this is a temperature of over 39.6°c)
  • Seizures

I’m lucky to have not experienced the above, but if you do contact your health professional immediately. If needed, go to hospital. It’s better to be safe than sorry in the long run, and anyone working in the health profession “would rather see you ten times for worries than once for bad news” **

What to do if Baby has a raised temperature post-vaccination?

A common side effect that can cause alarm – but it’s manageable.

  • Reduce a layer of clothing
  • No blankets if sleeping
  • Cooled bottles of milk instead of warmed
  • Calpol

I did have this with Baby Button. He ended up spending a day in his vest and nappy, instead of the usual sleepsuit and vest combination. If I felt he was too warm, I’d take him to a cooler room, and his bottles tended to be luke warm to combat his temperature.

A temperature over 39°c must be reported to your health professional.

How to deal with ‘vaccination guilt’ as a parent

Yes – vaccination guilt.

While you know you are doing the right thing, you can punish yourself for putting your child through the discomfort of the whole ordeal. Know that in the long term, you really are doing the right thing for your baby. A few days of the vaccination blues is much more appealing than some of the nasties baby is being protected from – small comfort I know, at 3am as you cradle your child back to sleep!

Don’t be too hard on yourself and make sure you give yourself a break. A hot bath was mine, on the third day when Baby Button had gone to bed – hard earned but well worth it. The jar of Nutella I ate in the hours/days after his vaccinations?

Purely medicinal.

* How my midwife described them and boy she was not wrong.

** She said this too.

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