Is delayed bathing the "dirty" new birthing trend worth trying?
This trend has a range of benefits for both mummy and baby. Find out more right now!
One of the first newborn “rituals” that takes place not too long after she is born, is the first bath.
But now, in the latest birthing trend to be embraced by mums, newborns are being left — sometimes for days — without their first bath. This is called delayed bathing
Much like the practice of delayed cord clamping, delayed bathing is seen to have a host of benefits for baby and mummy.
What exactly is delayed bathing?
Many new mums are choosing not to wash away the white, waxy coating (the vernix) and amniotic fluid that is found on a newborn’s body immediately after birth.
Reportedly, this process improves bonding between mummy and baby after birth, and offers a smoother transition into that all-important first breastfeeding session.
Some mums who have opted for delayed bathing have said how wonderful their babies smell, even choosing to delay the first bath for up to four days.
The benefits of delayed bathing
Vernix starts to cover your baby’s skin while she is still in your womb, at around 18 weeks.
In the womb, it helps moisturise your little one’s skin and makes it easier for her to slip out of the birth canal. And after she is born, it assists with conserving heat and protecting her delicate skin from outside elements.
Laurie MacLeod, a midwife at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says, “The vernix does not need to be wiped or washed off. It has been shown to contain immunities in it to help strengthen Baby’s immune system and helps to keep the skin nicely moisturized. It can just be rubbed off by the parents.”
Then there’s the amniotic fluid that your little one is also coated with as she is born.
Medical experts say that “amniotic fluid that is left on the baby will positively influence the proper amounts and proper production of vitamin K — removing the importance of the after-birth vitamin K shot.”
This is because the amniotic fluid has a positive influence on your baby’s microbiome — or the quantity and type of ‘good bacteria’ found on and in humans, that is so important for her health.
In fact, it is this bacteria that produces much of the vitamin K we need. And vitamin K is particularly important to newborns to prevent a serious disease called haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN).
But perhaps the most important function of delaying your newborn’s bath is to promote immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth, which has a range of benefits, including reducing maternal stress.
Kay Johnson, a Certified Nurse-Midwife as Atlanta Birth Care says, “Bathing the baby involves separating the mother and baby during the first critical hours that also affect bonding and milk stimulation and perhaps more subtle postpartum events like normal uterine activities that control bleeding.”
How long can you wait?
MacLeod says the duration of delaying the first bath varies, with some mums waiting for almost a week and others around 12 hours.
Dr Aaron Rossi, a US-based chiropractor whose four kids were all born at home, says his children were first bathed after the residual amniotic fluid absorbed and dried on its own, and the vernix dried completely. His kids all had their first bath together with mum — a “peaceful, happy, completely non-dramatic” experience.
What do you think, mums? Is this something you would practice or do you prefer a clean baby to be handed over to you after birth? Share your thoughts in a comment below.