The hospital staff displays mom's little angel like a trophy that she's won and after she gets barely a glimpse at that angelic face, the nurses take him or her away. They sponge his little face and body, give him a bath, and clean him up before swaddling him snugly. And all the while you are lying in the hospital room, wondering what it will be like to hold your little fella! Quite a familiar scenario for many.
Did you realize that you just missed your baby’s first bath? He is out in this new world for the first time and is looking for his parents, especially his mother. Your baby already recognizes your voice from those long days inside your womb. Your baby is just out of that cozy, warm, secure womb and suddenly lights, water, unknown voices, and hands are all around him. Nothing is comforting in this situation for your baby. So, don’t let him meet the world, being greeted and startled by the unknown!
You can ask the hospital staff to just clean up the blood and the amniotic fluid, but not the cheesy vernix, and then quickly give the baby back to whom they belong. You can be there for him, holding him, caressing him and telling him that he is in safe hands.
There is a lot more to this whole bathing situation than just a mother wanting to cuddle her baby. Letting the hospital staff bathe your baby is not at all a good idea. It’s not just our opinion, the World Health Organization says it too! WHO votes to delay your baby’s first bath until the first 8 to 48 hours, and here is why you should do that.
15 The Mother-Baby Bond Might Be Affected
Checking the baby and weighing him is necessary to ensure that he is healthy and does not need any immediate medical attention. As long as the baby does not need help with his breathing or with cleaning up his first stools, he'll be most comfortable snuggling up with his mom.
Meconium is the baby’s first poop. Sometimes the little ones poop during the time of delivery and that needs to be cleaned off so that the baby doesn't accidentally ingest it.
So long as the baby doesn’t have any complications, the most important thing to do is to put them in their mother’s arms. They need the scent and warmth of your body as well as the familiar voice that they heard for nine long months to ease their transition into this strange, new world.
Studies have shown that the infants who are held skin-to-skin on mom’s chest have better blood sugar levels, the least hypothermic episodes and learn to latch and breastfeed almost automatically. A calm infant will give you a calmer feeling and you can bond with your baby in no time. Soon, he will learn to feel safe in and to trust this new environment as he is held securely in the arms of his beloved mother!
14 Washing Off The Vernix Can Increase The Risk
Babies are born covered in a white, waxy, creamy biofilm called vernix. Vernix contains proteins that prevent common bacterial infections. Being a waxy substance, this vernix prevents your baby from getting all wrinkled due to amniotic fluid (like our fingers get when taking a long bath). It also acts as a moisturizer for the baby’s skin - all natural and gifted by mother nature.
The only reason the hospital staff wants to wash this vernix off is to make the baby appear beautiful and not gross. But is that really worth it? This white substance is saving your baby from the hospital-acquired infections. Doctors now recommend rubbing the vernix on the baby so that it gets absorbed into the skin of the baby instead. Washing it all off will be a complete waste of the world’s greatest moisturizer!
The best person to do the rubbing will be you! What’s better than your little cherub lying on your chest and you giving him a rub with his own smooth, creamy vernix.
13 There's A Chance Of Hypothermia
Inside mom’s womb, the baby feels warm and secure, the temperature of the womb is about 98.6 degrees. However, the delivery room’s temperature is about 70 degrees. So, the baby is already experiencing a drop in temperature here. Bathing the baby will further decrease the body temperature of the newborn.
After their bath, the hospital staff keeps them under the incubators with bright lights to keep them warm and to create an artificial womb feel. The truth is that the bath initially stresses them out and the bright lights are additionally more disturbing. Fortunately, more natural ways are followed by the hospitals nowadays.
Studies have noted the effectiveness of putting the baby on the mother’s chest, as the skin-to-skin contact will increase the body temperature of your baby and will keep him warm.
What could be a better way to bond with your newborn!
12 Breastfeeding Might Not Go As Planned
Giving a bath to the baby immediately after its birth adversely affects breastfeeding success. The Boston Medical Centre carried out an experiment by delaying the bath time of the newborn by about 12 hours. They found that this delay made the baby stabilize better in the new situation and, surprisingly, they get the hang of breastfeeding faster.
Babies latch on to the nipple on their own and start sucking the breast milk if they are given more time with their mothers immediately after the birth. Mothers should be assisted in putting their infants to the breast as soon as possible to take advantage of the baby's strong sucking reflex that happens in the first one to two hours of birth. This reflex to suck is at its strongest in the first 30 minutes following the birth.
Surprisingly, the vernix also contains proteins like those that are present in breast milk. The vernix even liquifies near delivery and goes inside the baby’s digestive tract to prepare it for breastmilk's ingredients!
11 Dries Out The Baby’s Skin
Vernix is world’s best moisturizer, it protects the skin from bacterial infections and it is the last line of defense for the embryo's body inside the womb. The waxy particles and proteins present in the vernix provide waterproofing from the amniotic fluid.
Experienced mothers have reported that removing the vernix almost immediately after birth leads to dry and flaky skin on the newborn. It also makes the babies more prone to skin infections like eczema and baby acne.
Experimenting with different moisturizers and oils is a pretty daunting task with the sensitive and delicate skin of the baby. So until the time you figure out the best oil or moisturizer for your little fellow, let nature do its job. Just rub the vernix in by rubbing your baby gently and it will get absorbed like a body butter.
10 The New 'Baby Smell' Disappears
The famous new baby smell or the baby scent is what soothes every new mum. The baby smell is again because of this godsend white substance, the vernix. So, what will you feel if they give you a well-cleaned and bathed baby and you smell a famous baby soap instead of the new baby smell you were anticipating and almost craving?
This is why bathing the newborn has been very disappointing for new mothers. Your baby carries his or her own unique smell, and you have all the right to smell it, find peace in it and moreover cherish it. You will smell soaps, oils, and lotions for all of the days to come, this is the time for a really heavenly baby scent. Make sure you don’t end up missing it.
9 Can Raise The Baby's Blood Pressure
When the baby is taken away from you for a bath, his stress levels can hike. He will likely be upset, feel uneasy and out of his secure zone and cry. As a result, his heart rate and blood pressure can actually increase, leading to faster breathing and thus a greater loss of energy. This agitation is not good for your baby, as you will have a tough time calming the baby down and making him recognize his mother.
The baby’s oxygen levels also fall due to the immediate bathing as the stress affects his breathing. Therefore, it is best that you tell the hospital staff to delay the bath until a much later time. Let the baby rest on his mother’s body calmly and get accustomed to the new world. He needs peaceful surroundings to normalize his blood pressure and oxygen levels.
8 Exposure To Bright Lighting
Being safe in a humid, closed and dark environment for a long nine months, your baby is not prepared for the harsh lighting of the hospital. The baby feels uneasy, startled and is unable to open their eyes due to the bright lights in the room. Your arms can form the perfect barrier to protect your baby from these annoying lights. So keep him safe there for a while and keep him, and yourself, cozy.
Whisking him away immediately for a bath and pouring water on him, however gently, is still startling for him. The glare of the bright lights is too much for him at this point as he has just opened his eyes and needs time to adjust. Once the birthing is over, it's important to dim the light or partially cover the baby in a way that he is shielded from the lights. You can safely bathe your baby once he is more accustomed to the lights, is used to opening his eyes, is calm and is ready for the wonders of this world. His curious eyes are asking you, what’s next!
7 Gets The Umbilical Cord Wet
There is much debate about whether or not the baby should take a bath before the umbilical cord stump has healed and fallen off. It’s your choice; some mothers prefer to give a bath to the baby after a few weeks, others bathe their little ones every day.
We recommend that whatever you do, don’t forget to dry out the umbilical cord. Whether you sponge your baby or give him a real bath, pat the umbilical cord completely dry. A wet cord is more susceptible to infections. Excess moisture delays healing as well.
If you are convinced that the baby's first bath must be delayed, then remember to tell the hospital staff about it before the delivery. Otherwise, you are likely to forget it among all of the hassle and happiness. Tell them that you need time with your baby and that nobody should disturb the kid-Mom duo, let alone for a bath!
6 Might Be Sensitive To Water Temperatures
Water temperature plays a vital role in preventing and causing hypothermia in babies. Recall the commercials where a cautious mom touches the water first, to check the temperature and then puts the baby in the tub for a bath. The inside of your wrist is the best place to test water temperature as it more sensitive than your fingers or palms.
I am sure that you will be doing the same for your baby, but are you sure that the hospital staff will do the same? The hospital staff is busy and deals with so many babies in a day that you definitely don't want your kid to be considered just another one on the list, to quickly bathe and be done with. I am not asking you to doubt them, but us mothers can’t take any risks with their little angels, can we?
So give a bath to your baby only when you are up and about and you can check the temperature of the water to ensure that it's soothing. You angel will relish your special care.
5 Blood Sugar Might Drop
The baby’s only source of sugar inside the womb is the placenta, so when the delivery occurs and the umbilical cord is cut, your newborn is devoid of any source of sugar. He needs breast milk as soon as possible.
Prioritising a bath over breastfeeding can lead to the baby getting more stressed and hungry. The release of stress hormones can lead to a further decrease in the blood sugar levels. Some babies get so tired while crying that they fall asleep and don’t have the energy for feeding. Thus, they will not cooperate and latch on for a breastfeeding session. This is not just frustrating and stressful for the mother but can lead to hypoglycemia in babies.
A study found that hypoglycemic episodes in newborns decreased from 29% to 7% when bathing the newborn was delayed. The misconception used to be that newborns are “dirty”. The truth is that they are much cleaner and germ-free, compared to us.
4 Increased Stress Levels
When the well-trained hospital nurses take your newborn away from you for an early bath, the startled infant is stressed. He starts crying with the full volume that his lungs allow him to. What will your reaction be?
A fatigued mother, who just gave birth and has gone through one of the most difficult and rewarding processes in the world, now has to listen to her baby crying and writhing. It hikes the stress levels in an already hormone-high body. This adds to the worry of a new mum, rather than giving her the satisfaction of finally being a mother. So, don’t let the hospital staff take your little darling from you, instead cuddle your reward (those nine months were not easy at all), close your eyes, and be grateful to God for giving you a healthy baby. A bath can wait!
3 A Missed Milestone
Like the first step, first word, first smile and other milestones, the first bath is also a very important one. But due to hospital’s rush to bathe the baby, the parents often miss this first important event of their precious child. The baby doesn’t have to take this first step with complete strangers, crying and stressing and startling.
So, a delayed bath gives the mom time to recover and both the parents can enjoy this first of the baby together, as a family. It is especially good for the new parents, as the hospital staff can actually train them for the essential do’s and don’ts of bathing their baby efficiently and safely.
Wet babies are quite slippery to handle, so be cautious about it and have another person (preferably your partner) with you to hold the baby while you give him a bath.
Do remember to enjoy this time as the baby plays and chuckles with water.
2 Climate Adjustment
As we adjust ourselves to upcoming weather changes, whether it's a cold winter or a scorching summer, the baby’s body needs to adjust itself too. The skin, lungs, overall immune system and brain of the baby work together to adjust the body temperature, breathing rate, lung expansion, and heart rate of the baby according to the new climate.
As the amount of oxygen, temperature, noises, and lights are all quite different from the womb, it is best to give your little guy some time to adjust to it. So rather than pushing the baby from one step to another, give him some time so that his body can adjust to the climate and he can show off all of his cute little gestures to you and your partner, leaving you in awe.
1 Singing And Caressing Soothes The Baby
Your baby recognises your voice and your husband’s as well. He knows who his father and mother are, as he recognizes their voices from when they were talking to him while keeping their hands on mommy's tummy. So why not soothe him with the same voice again?
Sing him the song that you used to sing to him while he was inside you. Surprisingly, infants recognize the songs that had been sung to them during the pregnancy period. Caressing him is another good idea. Run your hands on his tummy, fac, and fingers. Let him hold your finger, he will feel safe and you will feel a joy that no one else can understand. So have a singing session with your baby, he will even tell you his favourites by his delightful gestures.