I didn’t know until recently there was such a day as Global hand washing day but I knew it is one that would be greatly appreciated by preemie parents all over the world! This global day encourages that hand washing with soap and at certain times of the day can have huge health benefits. For example respiratory and intestinal diseases could be reduced by 25-50%. That’s a huge amount!

A few statistics that surprised me were that only 60% of the world’s population has access to facilities to be able to properly wash their hands. Poor hygiene around children increases their risk of undernutrition in their first 1000 days, causing problems with their growth, immune system and brain development. Soap and water are actually more effective at removing certain types germs. The most surprising to me was that researchers in London found that if people routinely washed their hands a million deaths a year could be prevented, that is a huge number of possibly preventable deaths!

Hand washing – preemie parents have it nailed!

One of the first things preemie parents are conditioned to do is wash their hands with soap. If you touch anything in between touching your baby you had to go back to the sink to wash your hands. Then it was off to the hand sanitiser. After a few days your hands get a little cracked and sore and soon you are investing in a fragrance free gentle moisturising cream to try and soothe those sore hands.

Bottle of soap. Photography credit: Brett Jordan
Bottle of soap. Photography credit: Brett Jordan

It becomes such a good habit. Then you go home and discover that your family and friends haven’t had this drilled into them. While their hygiene is great, it’s just not acceptable for your preemie. So you find yourself agreeing that so and so can have a cuddle as soon as they have washed and sanitised their hands. You start to feel like an overprotective parent and can see the sly smirks and eye rolls.

Let me assure you that those rules were in place at the hospital for a reason. There is a lot of science backing up that regular hand washing is beneficial for preemies and sick babies as it prevents the spread of infection. That doesn’t change just because you’re home. You desperately don’t want to end up back in the hospital so keeping up this rule is sensible.

A few tips to encourage hand washing

A few tips to encourage hand washing are to make sure soap is available at every sink in your house. Also have spare in the cupboard. Then I suggest placing hand sanitiser around your home. I had some on my bedside table, by the front door, on the fireplace and next to all the soap that was placed next to sinks.

The NHS even has a video demonstrating good hand washing, click here to view it.

The initiative was originally brought in to reduce infant mortality rates. Regular hand washing with soap was seen to reduce respiratory diseases by 25% and intestinal diseases by 50%. These figures are amazing and just prove that repeatedly washing your hands is worth it and maybe life-saving to a preemie.

It’s so good to see that something so simple and easy to do has produced such big positive results. In light of the pandemic as well it will be a relief to all preemie parents that such an emphasis is being put on hand washing.

Illustration of a young person washing their hands. Image credit: United Nations Covid 19 response
Illustration of a young person washing their hands. Image credit: United Nations Covid 19 response

Did you see….

Our last blog from confidence coach Michelle Lacey all about confidence in being a mum.