Baby’s First Bath! Don’t Bathe My Baby!!
Don’t Bathe My Baby! Why is it that babies NEED a bath right after they are born? Have you ever thought about it?
I remember with my first son Liam, everyone seemed very eager to get the baby his first bath. Like immediately post delivery- (well maybe not immediately, but pretty damn close, less than 12 hours). I was so proud that my husband gave Liam his first bath in the hospital with the help of the nurse of course and he took great pride in that first daddy task as well.
It wasn’t until I learned more about hospital birth practices that I realized that the baby didn’t need that first bath. I also learned that bathing the baby could have adverse affects on my chances for breastfeeding success. It is only recently that I’ve seen a huge switch in this common birth practice and have heard of more and more mothers delaying this first bath.
When a Baby is Born
Here’s Why. First of all, when a baby is born, he is covered in all sorts of good stuff from the womb like vernix and amniotic fluid. These things act as a skin protectant and their properties don’t all of a sudden stop working because the baby is born. Vernix (that cheesy white stuff that some babies are covered in) is an excellent moisturizer and can be rubbed into the baby’s skin. Why wash this good stuff off?
Secondly, the scent of your baby when brought to you chest is intoxicating. For me, it was at least. It is the sweetest smell. It can’t be described or duplicated, but if you have experienced what I’m describing, then you know exactly what I mean! This scent helps your body release more oxytocin which helps your uterus contract back down and also helps with milk production and breastfeeding. The more oxytocin, the better!
How to Sponge Bathe a Newborn
Newborn Sponge Bath!
Another reason is that when you give a newborn baby a bath, you are dropping that baby’s body temperature. A two-hour-old baby needs to stay warm and close to mom. They don’t need to use their energy reserves to try and bring their own body temperature back up. This can be startling for a newborn baby and why cause that stress? It makes no sense to give the baby any other job to do other than rest from their long journey here, and nurse from their mama.
Stress to a new baby can also cause lowering of blood sugar. A baby in stress will cry and have increased heart rate and blood pressure. They may release a stress hormone that can also have an effect on the baby. This uses up energy and can lower blood sugar. Babies that are born to a mother with gestational diabetes are already at increased risk for low blood sugars. To increase the already existing risk for these babies just isn’t logical.
Lastly, to give a baby a bath soon after birth would mean separating mom and baby. There simply isn’t any real reason to do this. Babies fresh from the birth canal are not dirty, and they belong with their mother. Staying close to mom helps establish breastfeeding and bonding. Allowing the baby to nurse on demand and stay warm and close to mom is good for everyone.
I often hear stories of mothers who have been separated from their babies after birth and it can be very traumatizing for these mothers. It is a natural instinct for a mother to stay in direct contact with a newborn baby for hours and hours after birth.
Baby First Bath in Hospital
Knowing that I did not want to bathe Nolan in the hospital after his birth, I added this to our birth plan ahead of time. We probably got asked by every nurse on every shift that took care of us after Nolan’s birth if we wanted to bathe him or at least heard a comment that they read we didn’t want to give a bath. I’m so glad that our wishes were respected and we weren’t hassled about it, although you could tell that it was changing up the nurse’s post baby delivery routine!
Because of an extended hospital stay due to jaundice, Nolan didn’t get his first bath until 6 days old! His first bath was a relaxing herbal bath with his mama!
I hope that teaching others about common but unnecessary hospital birth practices like the first bath is a step to change the culture of our common birthing experiences here in the United States. When we know better, we can do better and that includes giving our moms and babies the healthiest start possible!
When was your baby’s first bath? Do you think delaying the first bath is something you might do? I love to hear from my readers so please let me know what you think!