As I understand it, newborns have a challenging time maintaining a consistent body temperature for the first 24-48 hours. So, we take all their clothes off and get them sopping wet a few hours after they're born, which makes them cold, and them put them under an electric heat lamp like an order of Chicken McNuggets, away from their mothers, until their body temperature has come back up. WHY??????
Maybe I'm being dense here, but I just don't get this at all. Why is it necessary (or even desirable) for a newborn to be bathed a few hours after birth? Why do they do this at the most vulnerable time for maintaining temperature stability, and then often "necessitating" a long separation from the mother (so they say)? (I'm talking about in the hospital, obviously). Why not just wait until the baby is a few days old to bathe him or her? I mean, if a baby is covered in a lot of blood and meconium, I could see doing an extra-thorough wipedown just to get the ew off, but I still don't understand the need for a full bath. I have not done the bath with either of mine until they were probably a week old and I really don't feel like they missed out on anything. And I'm currently trying to decide whether to have this argument at the hospital this time around ...
My hypothesis at this point is that this newborn bath thing is all part of the obsession Americans have with excessive hygiene (showering every day, etc.), but if anyone knows of a compelling medical reason to do it, please enlighten me!
P.S. My immigrant ancestors probably date back to the 1700s or even earlier, so I have no other heritage besides American to claim, but I still think some people go a bit overboard when it comes to cleanliness. :)