Should I Bathe my Baby?
You might have noticed (or hopefully someone has warned you if you haven't had your angel yet) that your baby comes out covered in cheesy, waxy, distinctive smelling, white goo. This is called "vernix" and it develops around the 20th week of pregnancy. Vernix is a very important substance that, in recent research, has been proven to have many benefits to your newborn! Some research on vernix and the microbiome suggest that vernix has antibacterial properties that can help keep your baby healthy by fighting off infections. While inside the womb, vernix serves as a coating to protect your baby's body from the amniotic fluid. If you thought your baby was wrinkly when they were born, imagine spending nine months in a bathtub....
It is now recommended to rub in the vernix--much like a lotion! Vernix is quickly earning the name of Mother Nature's moisturizer! Rubbing in your baby's vernix will allow their skin to soak in all the antibacterial and autoimmune properties. This is a wonderful way to provide your newborn with their very first infant massage-- and well deserved! They did just do a lot of work passing through the birth canal!
We now know that there are beneficial aspects for mom, too! Snuggling your baby while covered in vernix can help the production of oxytocin because of the scent. Oxytocin helps your body relax after such hard work which leads to amazing bonding experiences immediately after birth. Smelling your baby and practicing Skin to Skin can help the production of Prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone that is needed to produce breastmilk.
When writing your birth plan, consider noting that you prefer your baby not be washed for at least 24 hours or possibly not at all. How special might it be to give your baby his or her first bath in the comforts of your own home with your partner?
Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts