Vernix and the First Bath

2019-09-01T03:12:00+00:00September 1st, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , |

Babies are born needing a good wipedown. They are usually covered in amniotic fluid, a little blood and a waxy covering called vernix. The whitish vernix protects your baby’s tender new skin from soaking in amniotic fluid during your pregnancy. Vernix may look like onion dip all over your baby, but it serves an important purpose. Just look at your pruney fingers after soaking in the tub for 30 minutes and then imagine the wrinkled raisin you would have after 40 weeks.

Vernix does more than just create a barrier to protect your baby’s skin it has other beneficial properties too:

  • It protects your baby’s skin from injury and infections after birth. The antimicrobial properties of vernix help keeps any open areas from becoming inflamed or painful
  • Regulates body temperature, vernix can act as an insulator and keep your baby comfortable and reduce chilling
  • It acts as lubrication and reduces friction as your baby moves through the birth canal

The amount of vernix on your baby decreases as she matures and gets closer to her due date. Some full term babies are born with very little vernix while premature babies may have much more.

Delaying your baby’s first bath keeps the vernix in place, protecting your baby through the first hours of life. New evidence even suggest delaying your baby’s first bath can improve your breastfeeding experience. When a hospital in Ohio changed their policy so a baby’s first bath occurred after 12 hours instead of 2 hours, the exclusive breastfeeding rate of their new moms jumped from 59% to 68%. Researchers don’t know the exact reason for the increased breastfeeding rate but suggested that keeping mom and baby together gets breastfeeding off to the best possible start.

Instead of a bath, ask your nurse to wipe your baby with a towel and not too thoroughly, leave some vernix behind to moisturize your baby’s skin. Place your baby skin to skin to share your good bacteria and body heat along with your colostrum and kisses.


Labor, delivery and breastfeeding – know before you go

2015-03-05T21:53:28+00:00March 5th, 2015|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Getting ready to welcome your new baby into the world is a time of excitement and anticipation. Unless you have been through giving birth 19 times and counting, it’s unfamiliar territory for us. If you plan to breastfeed, and almost all of us do, it is important to know how your birth plan affects you and your baby’s readiness to breastfeed.

Remember you are in the driver’s seat of your birth experience and your body is your navigator. Listen to your body and be ready to speak up if things are not going in the right direction. If you have a birth plan, share it with your partner and health care team. Watch this fun and informative video comparing 2 birth experiences –

A birth plan that supports breastfeeding will have limited interventions (an intervention is any act that attempts to modify an outcome.) Many interventions can have unintended consequences and we need additional interventions to manage the unwanted side – effects. This phenomenon is common enough to have a name, the Cascade of Interventions.

An example of a common intervention is an epidural (pain medicine injected into the tough membrane around the spine).Laboring can be painful and last for extended periods, so pain control is a common priority of mothers and their support team. However, there are a few undesirable epidural side effects on breastfeeding. Hospital protocol often requires a mother with an epidural to have IV fluids; this is because the epidural can cause a precipitous drop in mom’s blood pressure. The IV fluids moms receives during labor can stay in mom’s tissues (think of your swollen ankles except this time in your breasts) making it difficult for baby to latch on after birth. The extra fluid can transfer to her baby as well, artificially increasing the baby’s weight and causing alarm at the upcoming well-baby check-up when the scale shows a big weight loss (although it is the extra fluid baby received during birth). The pediatrician may direct mom to supplement with formula due to the weight loss, mom feels her milk supply is inadequate and formula becomes the primary food source for baby.

There are many other interventions we accept as part of our hospital birth which can affect our ability to breastfeed. This epidural example illustrates the importance of educating ourselves about birth interventions so we can make the right choice for ourselves and our babies.


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