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Why Should I Delay My Baby’s First Bath? ……… by Midwife Zoe

There are many reasons to consider not having your baby bathed in the first few hours or even days after birth. Many hospitals seem to wait 24 hours or more after birth before the first bath, but why is this you wonder? There are several benefits to delaying a baby’s first bath and you may want to reconsider these when you have your baby.

1. Babies Are Born With A Natural Skin Protectant

When your baby is in utero, they are protected from their watery environment by a special substance called vernix, which is the white sticky substance on their skin. Newer research indicates that vernix has immune properties and leaving it on your baby’s skin provides a layer of protection while your baby’s immune system is getting stronger. Vernix also is the bet moisturiser EVER and helps to keep your baby’s skins soft and supple, so the longer it stays on the better.

2. Baby Wants To Be Near Mum

After birth, your newborn baby wants to be as close to you and your breasts as they can get. Snuggling on your chest, skin to skin, where they can hear you, smell you and feel you against his/her skin is a source of comfort for your new little one. Being close to your breasts can help encourage breastfeeding and support the baby making a smooth transition to life on the outside. Taking your baby away from you after birth, for the purpose of a bath, can disrupt the process of your baby getting to know you, feeling safe and secure and interfere with the very important first breastfeed.

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Baby Ethan

3. Keeps Stress Hormones Low and Blood Sugar Levels Normal

Being separated from his/her mother can add an additional layer of stress to a new baby. When your baby is taken from you to be bathed, he/she may cry, feel uncomfortable and upset. This causes the baby’s body to release stress hormones in response to the situation. When the baby responds to the stressful situation like a bath, it may cause the baby’s blood sugar to drop temporarily. If your baby’s blood sugar is being monitored either because of you having gestational diabetes or your baby has low/high birth weight and the blood sugar does drop, the paediatrician may want to introduce formula to your baby to help bring the blood sugar back up into normal range. Obviously breast is best and most mothers wouldn’t want their baby to have formula so if the baby remains close to you, rather then having a bath, he/she is better able to regulate all their body systems and maintain their blood sugar where it should be.

4. Lowers Body Temperature

New babies are still figuring out how to maintain their own body temperature after they are born. Taking a baby away from you for a bath, may result in the baby working harder to keep their body temperature in the normal range. A mother’s chest is the perfect place to maintain the baby’s temperature. Lots of skin-to-skin contact should be encouraged to keep the baby warm.

There are many benefits to delaying the bath of your gorgeous little newborn until both you and your baby are stable and ready to participate in this special ‘first’ moment. There is no medical reason that a newborn must be bathed in the first few hours or days. I encourage you to learn more about the appropriate time to bathe your baby and make a choice to do so when you and your baby are ready. Make sure you share you wishes with your midwife, she will be happy to assist you with your baby’s first bath when you are ready.

Zoe

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).