No Bath For Newborns
The joy of life is a beautiful miracle – covered in a creamy, goopy sticky or slippery substance, known as vernix. When most new parents-to-be watch birth videos and envision their own labor, typically they assume hair and makeup will be done and their baby will be bathed and swaddled before being gently placed in their arms. Welcome to the Twilight Zone. Folks, that is not reality; nor should it be! Birth is raw, messy, intimate, and all-consuming. There is nakedness and crying, poop and blood. IT IS REAL. And one of the most valuable moments of birth is the baby being placed directly to mom’s chest for skin-to-skin. It’s amazing how the umbilical cord is just long enough for this to happen. Body temperature regulates, first real breaths are taken, eye contact is made, and nursing may begin. The placenta is then birthed, the cord completes pulsing, is cut, and the baby is now an independent being. You will be in such awe that you won’t care about the thick vernix coating parts of Baby’s skin. After some time though, nurses may say that newborn procedures are ready to be done, and that they include that first bath. Some birth teams even make the bath sound like a necessity. In reality, all procedures can be done in the bed with mom holding or next to the baby. Once they are done, there is absolutely no reason for anything else to be done – including that bath! WHY? Why would you not want a ‘clean’ baby to hold and show off? Let’s talk about that vernix…. Vernix is composed of the “skin cells your baby made early in development. It contains proteins that prevent common bacterial infections. Think of vernix as a sort-of natural antibacterial ointment. Your baby is born covered in this anti-germ barrier. Bacteria such as Group B Strep and E. coli are often transmitted to newborns during delivery and can cause bloodstream infections, pneumonia and meningitis, and can be fatal. These are not rare infections– we test babies for them daily. Vernix is nature’s protection against these infections.” Instead of cleaning vernix off, it should be rubbed and massaged into baby’s skin. Think of it as the most important massage a baby gets! It will keep that baby skin soft, smooth, and smelling new for days! Why shouldn’t you bathe baby after rubbing in the vernix? Let’s talk about why baths are a bad idea.