Over time we have come accustomed to thinking that babies come into this world unclean. Within the first few hours after birth a baby is given it's first bath with warm water and delicately powder scented baby soap. Then baby is lathered up in a similar fragrant thick lotion. While this smells delicious and makes for a beautiful memory it should be one held off for after the first twenty four hours at least. During a mother's pregnancy the baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid. Inside this watery safe haven they are covered in a protective, waxy, and thick barrier coating called vernix caseosa. Vernix is a natural, intricate, and lipid-rich coating covering the skin of the baby during the third trimester of pregnancy. Vernix protects the baby while inside the watery amniotic sac keeping the baby's skin supple. Seeing how protective it is prior to birth why would we want to wash this away so soon?
Researchers in the medical world are collecting evidence in proving just how vernix is beneficial overall to babies. One research study done by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that was titled: Antimicrobial Properties of Amniotic Fluid and Vernix Caseosa are Similar to Those Found in Breastmilk found that immune substances were present in both amniotic fluid and vernix samples. Their testing showed these substances are effective at deterring the growth of common perinatal pathogens such as group B. Streptococcus, K. pneumoniae, L. monocytogenes, C. albicans, and E. coli. Vernix is your baby's own perfectly made antimicrobial body butter!
World wide health officials are also changing their recommendations in newborn care due to research study findings in addition to the one the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology conducted. The World Health Organization recommends that bathing should be delayed until after twenty four hours after birth. If this is not possible due to cultural reasons, bathing should be delayed for at least six hours.
Now scientists are trying to replicate the wonderful, safeguarding, and antimicrobial properties of vernix to create nourishing lotions to treat all sorts of skin conditions due to allergies, acne, and aging. Cosmetic and skincare companies have also taken notice to the benefits of vernix on the skin and it's ability to retain suppleness and moisture.
As you can see vernix is vital to your baby during pregnancy and after birth. When your baby is placed on your chest for that just as important skin to skin contact gently rub that rich and preserving coating into your baby's skin. This will make your baby's skin radiant and soft. Relish in the experience of cuddling your newborn. Hold off on that first bath, the scented soaps, and scented lotions. Feel confident that you are giving your baby a proven strong line of defense against illness in delaying their first bath.
Natasha has 18 years of experience working with birthing and postpartum mothers. She is well versed and rounded with experience in holistic wellness and integrative medicine. Natasha focus is to treat the body as whole instead of a symptom.