In many maternity hospitals, it is standard to encourage a bath or wash a couple of hours after the baby has been born.
Your baby’s first bath is a precious milestone. However, it might just be one that is worth delaying. In many maternity hospitals, it is standard to encourage a bath or wash a couple of hours after the baby has been born.
There is research and evidence to show that there may be several benefits to holding off on this though. It might be something to include in your birth preferences or something you will want to speak up about when your baby arrives.
If you look at your maternity hospitals website they will more than likely have a “what to pack in your hospital bag” section on the website. Many of these lists suggest bringing a clean baby towel which emphasises how normal it is to expect that your baby’s first bath will, in fact, happen at the hospital during your stay.
Here are some of the reasons to consider delaying your baby’s first bath
1. Better Breastfeeding Success
Some research and studies have shown a link between better breastfeeding rates when a baby’s first bath has been delayed. One study showed a strong link between babies who left the hospital exclusively breastfeeding and the fact that they had yet to receive their first bath. There are a number of reasons why this may be the case. More skin to skin is one theory. The more time your baby is lying against your skin the better in terms of breastfeeding. It helps bring the milk in and regulate your supply. Another theory is that the bath may startle or upset them which can affect their ability to feed well. A baby that is unhappy and crying will have difficulty latching.
2. Happier Baby
Delaying your baby's first bath may result in certain smells being preserved. For example, your baby may find comfort in the smell of their own skin as it reminds them of how things were in the womb. This could include the amniotic fluid and vernix for example.
3. Better Temperature Stabilisation
Another study showed that babies who experienced a delayed first bath were able to regulate their temperature after that first bath a lot quicker and easier than babies who had the bath on their first day of life.
4. Reduced Risk Of Infection
Your baby is usually born with a layer of Vernix on their skin. This thick creamy substance is considered to be a natural antibacterial layer of sorts. It helps to protect your baby from an array of germs and infections and shouldn’t be wiped away immediately for this reason.
5. It Might Be More Special At Home
Your babies first bath could be a lot more special if it happens in the comfort of your own home rather than in a hospital environment. It may allow other family members and siblings to get involved too.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.