What is Vernix and Why would I want to leave it on my baby?

imagesHave you considered your thoughts on your baby’s first bath? So often today, we just follow along with the “one-size-fits-all” birthing and post baby procedures, that we forget to question what WE believe in, and WE as parents really think is best for our little one.

Today I want to talk about Vernix….Vernix is a white, waxy, cheese-like substance produced during the third trimester and it provides a temporary skin barrier around your baby for the watery environment which they live in while in utero. Babies tend to lose the vernix the longer the mother is pregnant, so those babies born at 42 weeks might not have a lot of it visible anymore, though usually there is still some hidden in the folds of their skin and under their arms. Babies born earlier often have a larger amount.

Many hospitals seem to have an urgent need to have the baby bathed in the first hours after your baby has been born, but as parents, you can make the decision on when to bathe your baby and who is the one to do it. Many studies today suggests that baby’s first bath should be delayed until at least twenty-four hours after birth, some may even wait until the morning you check out of the hospital or until you get home amongst your own germs and your natural environment.

Newer research indicates that vernix has immune properties and leaving it on your baby’s skin provides a layer of protection while your new baby’s immune system is getting stronger. I like to think of it as a “water/germ-proof immunity jacket” protecting your baby from potential bacteria; especially for babies who are born in the hospital, with lots of potential for exposure to hospital-acquired infections.

Amniotic fluid, which bathed the baby before birth has the ability to provide some extra resistance to infection as well, so the longer it remains on the skin, the better for baby.

Perhaps after reading this and doing your own research you may consider postposing your baby’s first bath. Giving them a head start with a healthy immune system. You can always add in your birth plan that you would like for the baby to just be gently patted down immediately following birth, and for the bath to be delayed/postponed.

Happy Birthing:)

Resources: 6 reasons to Delay Baby’s first bath

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