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Why Mums are Considering Delaying Their Newborns First Bath

Why Mums are Considering Delaying Their Newborns First Bath

Several major health organisations are advocating a delay in the initial bath of newborn babies. Now I know what you’re thinking, my initial thought was gross! Gluggy, gooey, somewhat blood stained bundle is hardly the glowing, perfect, pink package normally placed in our arms. However research is showing that there are many huge benefits to holding off that first bathe! Here are just some of the super advantages;

1. Reduced Risk of Infections

Doctors have identified that newborn vernix actually contains properties that can protect a newborn from infections. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study in 2004 explaining this amazing phenomenon. Doctors from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center discovered that both vernix and amniotic fluid have antimicrobial proteins that work in “inhibiting growth of common perinatal pathogens.” By holding off that first dip in the tub we are potentially giving our little ones an extra protective barrier against invading nasties! How cool is that?

2. Temperature Regulation

Dr Kathleen Berchelmann, a pediatrician with St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, goes into detail that delaying a baby’s first bath assist temperature regulation and decreases their chances of hypothermia. “Giving a baby a bath too soon can cause hypothermia,” writes Dr. Berchelmann. “Inside mom, it was about 98.6 degrees, but most babies are born in rooms that are about 70 degrees. In the first few hours after birth, a baby has to use a lot of energy to keep warm.” Hypothermia can have critical consequences, including unhealthy drops in a baby’s blood sugar. Postponing that first warm bath can actually keep baby snug as bug in a rug!

3. Improved Breastfeeding

We all know how tricky initial breastfeeding can be, so anything that is going to ease that transition has to be good! Turns out that by delaying the newborn bath has a direct effect in increasing breastfeeding initiation after birth. A 2010 study, published in Breastfeeding Medicine, looked at a hospital that had begun delaying the newborn bath from an average of 2 hours to an average of 12 hours. During this delay, babies were allowed immediate and prolonged skin-to-skin time with their moms. The results were astonishing: The odds of breastfeeding initiation increased by 166 percent after this change! That is staggering!

4. Uninterrupted Skin-to-Skin Bonding Time

Skin-to-skin contact has a profound impact on the bond between mother and baby, studies have shown that the contact releases oxytocin, a hormone nicknamed “the love hormone” because it promotes bonding and connection. Those initial moments with your baby are precious, there is an intimacy and moment of untarnished connection, why not hold onto that moment, build that bond for a little bit longer? The bath can definitely wait!

While more and more specialists are recognising the benefits of a bath delay, not all hospitals are on board yet. It may not be your cup of tea but if it is something you feel may benefit your little one, it’s definitely a conversation worth having with your obstetrician or midwife! Nothing wrong with a little gooey cuddle when you think of all the added goodness and best kick start to life!

Laura Sheehan

Laura Sheehan is an early childhood teacher and Perth based mum of two to Brody aka 'The Hurricane' and Daisy aka 'Little Ray of Sunshine.' Laura hosts a small blog The Whole Mummy looking at all things Mummy, the good, the bad and the ugly with brutal truth and honesty. Laura works closely with the Meningitis Centre Australia, having nearly lost her Hurricane to Meningococcal B Meningitis, as well as the Stillbirth Foundation Australia due to the heartbreaking stillborn loss of her second son Beau. Laura, along with her former Wallaby husband and their family aim to promote awareness of these two tragedies, offering support and encouraging greater understanding of each. They are ambassadors for both the Men Centre and The Stillbirth Foundation You can follow and learn more about Laura's story on her blog thewholemummy.com and her social media (Instagram and facebook links).

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