• Why You Should Delay Your Newborn Baby’s First Bath

    Never mind the "ick" factor--your little one can benefit from it
  • Why You Should Delay Your Newborn Baby’s First Bath
  • Photo by Ernest F/Wikimedia Commons

    What exactly happens right after you deliver you baby? 

    Once your baby's head emerges -- asuming it's on a head-down position -- doctors and nurses assist you in getting the baby's shoulders and torso out. Next, they (or your husband) will clamp and cut the baby's umbilical cord. Then, your baby will be given an "oil bath" before a quick, warm head-to-toe cleansing.

    However, this not-so-new after-birth trend is changing all that.

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    Along with delaying cord clamping (not earlier than a minute after birth) and eating during labor, a lot of moms in the U.S. are opting to delay their newborn baby's first bath. We're not talking a few more minutes after delivering your baby -- we're talking days, at least for some babies.

    Let us help you imagine what it's like. The vernix, or the waxy white coloring that coats a newborn baby's body while inside the womb, is absorbed into the baby's skin if it's not wiped off. While this new trend sounds unhygienic, experts are backing it up, citing a few benefits for the baby and the mom, too.

    The World Health Organization also recommends to wait at least six hours, or up to 24 hours, if possible, before bathing a newborn baby. The National Health Service in the U.K. agrees. "Vernix should always be left to absorb naturally. This is a natural moisturizer and protects against infection in the first few days." according to its website. New research also shows that the vernix helps strengthen a newborn’s immune system.

    Anita Gupta, M.D., International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, also adds that the new post-birth practice can help reduce the shock of childbirth -- it is, after all, both a joyous and stressful even for both mom and baby -- and can help reduce the rate of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in newborns by almost half.

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    Delaying a baby's first bath also helps promote immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and child and breastfeeding. In the Philippines, the Department of Health's Unang Yakap (First Embrace) campaign, which was launched in 2009, puts more importance on skin-to-skin contact right after birth than bathing the newborn. This simple act transfers warmth, placental blood and protective bacteria, and promotes exclusive breastfeeding. It allows for mom and child bonding, too.

    How do you find this "trend"? After learning about the expert-backed reasons why it’s all good for mom and baby, it’s not hard to understand why many moms are embracing the practice. As long as your new little bundle of joy is dry, comfy, and happy -- and you have your doctor's approval -- there should be nothing to worry about.

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    Sources:
    December 31, 2015. “No-Bathe Birthing Trend Sees Mothers Not Washing Their Newborns For Days” (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
    December 29, 2015. “This hot new birthing trend is just a little bit dirty” (sheknows.com)
    Undated article. "At Cambridge Health Alliance, Delaying Baby's Bath Improves Baby's Health" (patientcarelink.org)
    World Health Organization's "Guidelines on Newborn Health" (who.int)

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