There you are... a family. The incredible moment you have been waiting for is now.
All the urgency, the bustling nursing staff are gone.The beeping machines neatly rolled away. Alone, at last.
Now it is just you and her. She snuffles in your arms and makes little mewing noises and scrunches her little nose which looks a lot like your dad’s nose. And you notice that she is kinda, well, yucky. With stuff.
Wait. No, no not yet!
According to Anne Meyers, MD, don’t rush the soap. She rails against the nurse’s proclivity to bathe newborns too soon. They may insist, but Dr. Meyers advises you to be determined to keep baby dry and, well, yucky for at least one more day.
The good doctor asserts that waiting for at least a day before taking the plunge has significant health benefits.
First and foremost, that – ewww – cheesy stuff called vernix caseosa contains proteins and cells that served her well while inside your body. Now she is outside, and it still offers protection from the elements acting as a barrier and moisturizer. Think of it as a natural lotion and let’s keep it on for a day or two.
Additional, this vernix provides protection from germs that surround her that she has little defense for yet, like strep, E. coli and other nasties that linger in a hospital.
And for breastfeeding moms, waiting on that baby bath seems to help the infant get a latch on easier if they haven’t been upset by a bath experience.
Some hospitals, but not all, are changing their first bath routine from 2 to 12 hours. Dr. Meyers recommends waiting longer. She believes the longer the baby and mom snuggle and bond, the less stress they feel.
The bath separation time interrupts the maternal/baby flow for no good scientific reason, she claims, causing baby to be less likely to relax and breastfeed.Apparently the too-early bath can cause stress hormones leading to lower blood sugar levels. This in turn, makes her sleepy and less will to wake up for a fine milk meal. Studies actually reinforce this theory.
And lastly, but not leastly, the outside world is way chilly for the little joy bundle who has been riding around in a 98-degree limo for months.
Thrusting her into a bath with a stranger cannot compare with being on mom’s chest whose temperature she has grown to love and depend on. Really.
So, revel in that new baby and let her be a tad nasty for the first day or so. There is plenty of time to scrub her up, build the sweet bath time experience and wrap her in a soft, hooded (even wearable) terry towel.
Credit to Anne Meyers and her informative article “Four Reasons to Delay Your Baby’s First Bath,” https://www.amymyersmd.com/2017/08/four-reasons-delay-babys-first-bath/#easy-footnote-bottom-9-13873