In the movies, it always seems like seconds after a baby is born all the blood and bodily fluid magically disappear and the mom and dad are left snuggling a pristinely clean newborn. You rarely see a new baby pictured in its natural goo-covered state. In real life, your baby is usually given a quick wipe down before they're handed over to you. That'll be followed at some point by their first bath, and it may surprise you to learn that there can be some gross things that happen the first time a newborn bathes.
Many moms and dads consider their baby's first bath a major milestone. I know I have tons of pictures of my little girl in the kitchen sink with a look of betrayal on her face at what she considered a pretty miserable experience. Her first bath at home wasn't technically her first bath, as the nurses at the hospital took care of that. After an emergency c-section for me and a trip to the neonatal intensive care unit for her, I'm sad to say I have no idea when exactly that happened or whether her reaction was any less indignant than at home. Given the circumstances, decisions like whether the vernix should be rubbed in or wiped off or even whether she should even be bathed at all were the furthest thing from my mind. With baby number two, I'll know much more about the process.
Here are five things to know about your newborn's first bath.
1. Vernix Will Be Dealt With
Babies are born coated in a waxy, cheesy, whitish substance called vernix. According to Pregnancy and Baby, vernix can be either wiped away or rubbed in to your baby's skin. Some parents choose to keep it on longer because it has some great benefits. Healthline noted that vernix can help protect against infections, regulate your baby's body temperature, and also help keep their skin moisturized.
2. Bodily Fluids Will Be Washed Away
In addition to vernix, your baby is also going to be covered in amniotic fluid and blood according to About Kids Health. If they're born with a full head of hair, expect them to need a good shampooing to get everything clean.
3. Your Baby Might Pee
Don't be surprised if being undressed and exposed to cool air makes your baby pee in the bath. According to Parents, it's actually no big deal — because urine is sterile, it's not necessary to dump out the bath water if your baby pees in it. You will want to drain it if he or she poops, however.
4. The First Bath Can Be Delayed
You don't have to hand your baby over for a hospital bath hours after birth if you don't want to. Some moms and dads choose to hold off for a few days, and with good reason. According to Belly Belly, delaying the first bath can boost breastfeeding success and even promote bonding between mom and baby.
5. The Gloves Come Off
If your baby hasn't yet bathed, hospital staffers will likely wear gloves whenever they handle him or her, according to the textbook Introductory Maternity Nursing, Volume 1. With your baby covered in various bodily fluids, it's no surprise that doctors and nurses want some protection.