Generally, when babies are born in the hospital, they are bathed more or less a few hours after birth. However, new research claims that it’s better to wait at least 24 hours before bathing newborn babies.
According to the new research, the amount of newborns with hypothermia decreased from 29 percent to 14 percent for those who waited, and hypoglycaemia dropped from 21 percent to 7 percent in the first month.
The new research was carried out by Courtney Buss, a nurse at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois.
Babies are born with vernix covering their bodies. It is a white substance with a texture like a heavy lotion. Vernix, which forms in the third trimester, is water-resistant and is like an extra layer that keeps babies warm and regulates their temperatures. It fights infection and helps skin continue developing after birth. The vernix acts like a layer of warmth for the baby, which helps control low blood sugar and conserves a baby's energy so it can breastfeed, according to Buss.
“Breastfeeding rates increase because the vernix helps a newborn pick up its mother's scent, which makes it more likely the baby will latch,” said Fran Tefi-Teal, director of the Birth Centre. Advocate Sherman Hospital is certified as 'baby-friendly' for its efforts to promote breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding by the World Health Organization, she said.
“The baby made this, it’s there for a reason…The vernix provides a protective layer, it helps keep water in the baby’s skin. So, as far as keeping the skin hydrated, it has natural immunity, helps with temperature regulation,” said Doctor Melani Harker, a gynaecologist and obstetrician with University of Utah Healthcare
Six out of 12 hospitals in Advocate Health System are adopting or, at least, will be adopting the 'wait to bathe' policy in the near future, according to Dr Tefi-Teal. Doctors have had to adjust to the idea, along with nurses and parents, but have been open to the idea based on the results, she said.
Dr. Harker says the 'wait to bathe' method is becoming more popular, but it’s entirely up to the parents what they want for their baby. So don’t be afraid to tell your obstetrician and delivery nurses of your preferences!
Similarly, the World Health Organisation and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recently recommended waiting about 30 to 60 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord as opposed to straight after birth.