6 Solid reasons why you shouldn't bathe your baby just after birth
You'll be surprised at the remarkable health benefits this gives your little one.
For most moms, memories of their baby soon after birth involve blood, vernix and baby being whisked away to be returned pink, clean and swaddled.
A newborn’s first bath is routinely carried out in most hospitals around the world soon after birth. But now this trend is slowly changing.
Here’s why delaying your baby’s first bath might be the healthier option for both him and you:
You know that white, cheesy substance that covers your baby’s body at birth? That is vernix and it’s not dirty and meant to be washed off immediately.
Vernix, which is composed of your baby’s skin cells shed early in his development, contains proteins that literally turn it into an antibacterial cream.
During birth, your baby is exposed to bacteria such as Group B Strep and E-coli, which can cause serious infections in a newborn, if they enter his body. Vernix helps to protect your baby from such potentially lethal infections.
According to pediatric experts such as Dr. Jack Newman, bathing a baby too soon after birth can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is why: soon after birth, a baby has to adjust to life outside the womb. This includes being separated from what was his main source of blood sugar in the uterus – the placenta.
Bathing often causes stress in newborns, releasing stress hormones, which cause a baby’s blood sugar to drop. This drop can make baby too sleepy to breastfeed, causing a further drop in blood sugar.
Breastfeeding a newborn can be quite difficult for some moms, especially when it comes to getting baby to latch. When baby is whisked away for medical procedures or a bath soon after birth, breastfeeding for the first time becomes even harder.
But experts point out that babies who get skin-to-skin contact with mommy immediately after birth and are allowed to breastfeed at that point are much more successful at latching on properly.
This is because their memory of sucking and swallowing amniotic fluid while in mommy’s womb is still fresh and they remember how to do it. Any longer than an hour, and the tendency is for them to forget.
There’s nothing like mommy’s warm, bare skin to give comfort to a newborn baby and importantly, help regulate the little one’s temperature soon after birth. However, giving baby a bath too soon can cause hypothermia, and if baby gets too cold, this may result in his blood sugar dropping and other issues.
Dr Kathleen Berchelmann points out that in their first few minutes of life, babies are not meant to spend this time with a nurse, midwife or doctor. This time should be spent with mommy and daddy, where precious bonding takes place. Dr Berchelmann says, “as long as the baby does not need help breathing or immediate resuscitation, babies need to be held by their mother.”
She also points out that little ones who have this immediate one-on-one time with their mommy show better blood sugar levels, temperature control and find it easier to get that first precious mouthful of mommy’s colostrum.
If vernix is allowed to remain on baby’s skin, not only does it contribute to his better temperature regulation, but it also acts like a natural moisturizer. You could gently rub the excess into your little one’s skin, like nature’s finest body butter!
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore