Of all the unrealistic things that happen in the movies, the depiction of births is the one that began to really bug me once I had my daughter. It's almost always overly dramatic, with tons of screaming and cursing. But then it's over in about 45 seconds and the baby magically emerges all clean and shining. In real life, your baby is a gooey mess covered in fluids from your womb and will retain them until they are washed. And, as a mom-to-be, there are a few main things that happen when the hospital bathes your baby. One of which has some parents choosing to delay the first bath.
Parents noted that your baby is covered in a thick white layer of vernix when they are in the womb. This substance has a lot of benefits, including acting as a lubricant for birth, helping to keep the baby warm, and moisturizing the skin. According to Teen Vogue, some moms and dads want to keep those benefits for as long as possible, so they're opting to wait on bathing.
Whether you decide your baby's first bath should be sooner or later, let the hospital know your wishes. If you do give the okay, here a few things to keep in mind.
1. It Won't Happen Until Baby's Temperature Is Stable
Babies spend nine months in the temperature-controlled environment of your body, so emerging into the world can be jarring for them. The first bath won't happen until they've adjusted a bit and their body temperature is stable, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
2. It Can Be A Sponge Bath Or A Full Bath
There's not one set practice for how babies are bathed in hospitals. Medscape noted that some hospitals preform sponge baths, others use a small basin or tub, and some keep the baby swaddled while bathing.
3. It Can Be Done In The Nursery Or Your Room
There's also not a standard procedure for where the bath takes place. Kids Health noted that your baby might be taken to the nursery, but it can also be done in your room. Let your medical team know what your wishes are so you don't miss out.
4. You Can Get A Tutorial
The idea of bathing a tiny, squirmy little baby can be nerve-wracking, especially for first-time parents. Hospitals in Broward County, Florida have recommended that parents participate in the process so they can get tips from their nurse.
4. You May Want To Delay
More hospitals are getting on board with the idea of delaying a bath, but vernix isn't necessarily the reason. One study found that holding off for a while on bathing increased breastfeeding rates. The World Health Organization actually recommends that the first bath be delayed for up to 24 hours.