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Why not have the baby bathed at the hospital?

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
My DD was a homebirth ended up in a hospital transfer and we spend about 18 hours total in the hospital. We refused all standard things, bath, eye crap, all shots, hearing test, etc. But I remember after we got home and bathed her how nice it was to have her clean. This time we are planning on a hospital birth and without a midwife doing home visits this time I think we might end up staying there a full day and a half or so. So I'm wondering, why is it recommend in the natural birth communities to avoid having the hospital bathe the baby. I did see a video in my bradley class two years ago of nurse being less then gentle with the baby during the bath but I assume it's not that common for them to be rough. I just think it might be nice to have him all cleaned up once we've had hours of bonding and nursing.

So are you for or against the hospital bath and why?

Thanks
post #2 of 67
It is my understanding that the amniotic fluid/vernix is a protective coating against microbes, etc. I'd think it was especially important in a hospital environment! The infectious possibilities are so real...

Even at home, DD was clean from birth. We wiped her down at 3 days old with a damp cloth...I think she was three weeks when she had her first "real" bath. I bathed her very rarely those first four months.
post #3 of 67
Thread Starter 
I think the reason I liked her being clean so much was because I had an episiotomy and her head was crusted with blood, although that can be cleaned up with a wash clothe. She also smelled pretty funny from the fluid. All I smelled for my 44 hour labor was my fluid gushing and it was nice when she no longer smelled like that.

The infection risk is something I've never thought of though, it's a good point!
post #4 of 67
if I were going to bathe the baby right away I would rub the vernix into their skin first, so they get to keep all the moisturizing properties (it helps keep that dry baby rash away), and then I'd bathe very lightly, and insist on doing it myself. Don't assume the nurses will be nice, they have scrub brushes for the head and often are not gentle at all. You can ask for a bowl of warm water and cloths and do it yourself in your bed though, or have your partner do it.
post #5 of 67
It's interesting that you say that because the smell is supposed to really help with bonding. I've just spent a week sniffing my hb'd baby's head and going "this is definitely MY baby!"

I think the hospital bath is more often than not rough. And like others said, it's not good for their skin. Even if they were to use just water; and most of the time they're using the common chemically baby bathing products which are most definitely not good for their skin.
post #6 of 67
Thread Starter 
I've never heard that the smell can help with bonding. I remember thinking how bad she smelled and a little twinge of sadness when the smell was gone but mostly happy to have her clean. It might very well be that because my water broke at the start of my labor and I have a very hard 44 hour labor and hard delivery that the smell was not great for me. I figured we would decline the bath anyway, but it is really helpful to have some good reasons for doing it. And these are all good reasons! Thanks!
post #7 of 67
Ds was bathed maybe 6 hrs after birth at a freestanding birth center, but it was a light water sponge bath, nothing more. He still had plenty of goo on him lol.
post #8 of 67
Our first was born in our local hospital by c/s and she was bathed while I was recovering. DH video taped it and the nurse was so gentle and kind, and she wasn't shivering or anything. She actually seemed to almost enjoy it! Everyone was smiling and laughing in the video, and I regretted not being there for that.

So.....when my son was born vbac in a big hospital (20 something babies born on my floor that night) I made them wheel me to the nursery to see his first bath. It was awful!!! The were rough and he shivered and cried and I guess in the long run it helped with bonding because once I had him back in my arms I wouldn't let him go for nothing. I had to protect him from these people who did not see him as a baby but a toxic hazard to be decontaminated.

This time? I haven't decided, and probably won't till the baby is here, honestly. But if for some reason we have to go to the hospital, I don't think I will let the baby be bathed.

A plus side I've heard is that if you don't want your baby bathed in the hospital they put a "toxic" sign on their little bassinet thing in the room and the majority of nurses won't touch them.
post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by PookieMom View Post
A plus side I've heard is that if you don't want your baby bathed in the hospital they put a "toxic" sign on their little bassinet thing in the room and the majority of nurses won't touch them.
: That's hilarious!! I'll have to ask about that when I take a tour of the next hospital and I'll call the other one to ask about that I'd love to have a "toxic" sign on my baby!! And it would be going home with me too

At the hospital that I did already tour they mentioned that if I wanted to I could give baby her first bath. I think most mothers/fathers don't know that that's even an option.

I will not be having her bathed if I am at the hospital & will be rubbing the vernix in. If I decdide later to bathe her I'll ask for a bowl of warm water and a wash cloth & do it myslef.
post #10 of 67
Here you go:

Quote:
Antimicrobial Properties of Amniotic Fluid and Vernix Caseosa Are Similar to Those Found in Breastmilk

Akinbi, H. T., Narendran, V., Pass, A. K., Markart, P., & Hoath, S. B. (2004). Host defense proteins in vernix caseosa and amniotic fluid. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 191 (6), 2090-2096. [Abstract]



Summary: In this study, researchers analyzed samples of amniotic fluid and vernix caseosa (vernix) from healthy, term gestations to determine the immune properties of these substances. Participants were pregnant women admitted for elective cesarean section after 37 weeks gestation with no prior labor and no signs of chorioamnionitis (intrauterine infection). Women with a history of prenatal fever or premature rupture of membranes, or who received steroids prenatally or antibiotics during delivery were excluded, as were women whose babies passed meconium in utero, had congenital malformations, or required prolonged resuscitation after birth. Amniotic fluid was obtained by amniocentesis to determine fetal lung maturity prior to elective delivery. Vernix was gently scraped from the newborn's skin with a sterile implement immediately following delivery. There were 10 samples of amniotic fluid and 25 samples of vernix obtained.

Tests (Western analysis and immunochemistry) revealed that lysozyme, lactoferrin, human neutrophil peptides 1-3 and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor were present in the amniotic fluid samples and in organized granules embedded in the vernix samples. These immune substances were tested using antimicrobial growth inhibition assays and found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of common perinatal pathogens, including group B Streptococcus, K pneumoniae, L monocytogenes, C albicans, and E coli.

The authors point out that the innate immune proteins found in vernix and amniotic fluid are similar to those found in breast milk. As the baby prepares for extrauterine life, pulmonary surfactant (a substance produced by the maturing fetal lungs) increases in the amniotic fluid, resulting in the detachment of vernix from the skin. The vernix mixes with the amniotic fluid and is swallowed by the growing fetus. Given the antimicrobial properties of this mixture, the authors conclude that there is therefore "considerable functional and structural synergism between the prenatal biology of vernix caseosa and the postnatal biology of breast milk." They also suggest that better understanding of these innate host defenses may prove useful in preventing and treating intrauterine infection.
Significance for Normal Birth: It is well understood that routine artificial rupture of membranes increases the likelihood of intrauterine infection because it eliminates the physical barrier (the amniotic sac) between the baby and the mother's vaginal flora. This study suggests an additional mechanism for the prevention of infection when the membranes remain intact: a baby that is bathed in amniotic fluid benefits from antimicrobial proteins that are found in the fluid and in vernix caseosa.

The results of this study also call into question the routine use of some newborn procedures. Early bathing of the baby removes vernix, which contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B streptococcus and E. coli. Delaying the bath and keeping the newborn together with his or her mother until breastfeeding is established may prevent some cases of devastating infections caused by these bacteria. The fact that preterm babies tend to have more vernix than babies born at or after 40 weeks might mean that healthy, stable preterm babies derive even greater benefit from staying with their mothers during the immediate newborn period.

Finally, this study illustrates how the normal physiology of pregnancy and fetal development is part of a continuum that extends beyond birth to the newborn period. The immunologic similarities between amniotic fluid, vernix and breast milk provide further evidence that successful initiation of breastfeeding is a critical part of the process of normal birth."
post #11 of 67
I'm planning a homebirth and had one with dd, so it's a non-issue for me but as a doula, I advise my clients to wait on the bath if they want to have their baby with them for bonding and breastfeeding after birth. Fact is, if you allow the staff to take the baby to bathe him/her soon after the birth, you may not see your baby again for a while - I have seen it happen more than once that baby is bathed and then placed under a lamp because baby's temperature dropped or must be 'regulated', blah blah blah. The other reasons have been mentioned - vernix is beneficial, they use chemical washes and are not gentle, I would like the honor of giving my baby the first bath, staff will always handle your baby with gloves if they know he/she has not been bathed, further protecting baby from exposure to who-knows-what...etc.

I honestly can't imagine strangers holding, much less bathing my newborn. Not happening.
post #12 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by PookieMom View Post

A plus side I've heard is that if you don't want your baby bathed in the hospital they put a "toxic" sign on their little bassinet thing in the room and the majority of nurses won't touch them.
we saved the little "unbathed" sign from dd's bassinette. it's a heart with red hands in the middle. it's actually really beautiful.

i had an unplanned hospital cesarean birth. we chose to bathe our baby ourselves in our room once i was able to stand. regardless of all the physical health benefits of waiting to bathe, i simply wanted dh and i to be as intimately involved in our child's firsts as possible.
post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbanmama View Post
I'm planning a homebirth and had one with dd, so it's a non-issue for me but as a doula, I advise my clients to wait on the bath if they want to have their baby with them for bonding and breastfeeding after birth. Fact is, if you allow the staff to take the baby to bathe him/her soon after the birth, you may not see your baby again for a while - I have seen it happen more than once that baby is bathed and then placed under a lamp because baby's temperature dropped or must be 'regulated', blah blah blah. The other reasons have been mentioned - vernix is beneficial, they use chemical washes and are not gentle, I would like the honor of giving my baby the first bath, staff will always handle your baby with gloves if they know he/she has not been bathed, further protecting baby from exposure to who-knows-what...etc.

I honestly can't imagine strangers holding, much less bathing my newborn. Not happening.
:

At a birth I just attended, mom had a csect and the nurses were really taking their time getting baby back to mom in recovery. I stayed down at the nursery window watching, as soon as I saw them setting up for the bath I ran down to the room and told dad to get down there and tell them not to bathe the baby. The nurse was a little annoyed and questioned him (kind of funny cause I hadn't had time to explain it to him, so I think he just said, "because I said so", good enough reason for me). Anyway baby was with mom within 10 min. I am sure if they had bathed the baby it would have been another hour before mom and baby were together.
post #14 of 67
I had a hospital waterbirth and DS was covered in vernix. We rubbed it into his skin and I rubbed it into my hands, it is actually very moisturizing and as others have said it has antimicrobial properties. We specifically requested that any bathing would be done by us and the nurses were happy to oblige, in fact most wished that parents would be involved in this part of bonding with their baby. He did not have the typical first bath, but DH and I were given a little tub of warm water and washcloths and we held him and wiped him down with the cloths. With this baby I probably won't do the warm wash-cloth wipe down so soon after birth because it really wasn't necessary for DS.
post #15 of 67
wow, hearing about all this is so weird to me, as I've had 2 hospital births (1 C section, 1 VBAC) in Australia, and neither time were the baths of any concern or issue.

DD1 was not bathed until day 4 before we left hospital (and we requested it, just so they could help us, being so new we were really uncertain!) and we did it ourselves. DD2 was at a different hospital, where policy was that they had to be bathed before going to the post-natal ward from the delivery room to remove any obvious blood from them. We didn't move there until 12 hours after she was born, and they bathed her then, again giving us the option to do it ourselves. All we did was lightly clean her head (but didn't even use a cloth and certainly no "scrubbing") and dunk her in the water for a minute.
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbanmama View Post
Fact is, if you allow the staff to take the baby to bathe him/her soon after the birth, you may not see your baby again for a while - I have seen it happen more than once that baby is bathed and then placed under a lamp because baby's temperature dropped or must be 'regulated', blah blah blah.
::

I have seen babies kept in the nursery under the warmer for HOURS because of the temp drop caused by the bath. Makes me heartsick.
post #17 of 67
I had DD in the hospital. She was bathed by a very nice, gentle nurse. Next baby I'll refuse the bath here's why.

1. It took forever. She was bathed right in the room with me while I was being stitched up (small tear) nd they were getting me an ice pack and I was drinking a bottle of apple juice. And I was sitting there watching and all I wanted was my baby back. I kept hinting that I wanted her back and was basically politely ignored. I should have been more forceful. The nurse spent a long time picking vernix out of dd's hair. I was like "I don't care if all the vernix is gone." I realize now that she needed to get it all off so dd wouldn't be considered "toxic"

2. DD has really dry skin (inherited from me) She was covered in vernix and I wish we could have rubbed it in rather than washing it off with that Johnson's crap that is so drying that I don't use it now.

3. I want to be the one to give my new baby her 1st bath.
post #18 of 67
my ds was born in the hospital and was bathed about 40 minutes after birth....i didn't even get a chance to nurse him or hold him beforehand (other than the few seconds he laid on stomach.)
my dd was born at home so she was not bathed, and i thought her smell was wonderful, and i truly believe it made a huge difference in our first week together.
post #19 of 67
I think its all been said but basically that stuff all over their skin when they come out is pretty good for it and best not washed off! DS was not bathed until he was 2 weeks old. It was nice for me to have him clean, but it was nice for my sons skin to be left alone. I just waited for his cord to fall off to bath him.
We will do the same with our next!
post #20 of 67
If I were to have another hospital birth, I wouldn't have my baby bathed because that's an excuse for them to keep him away from me for God knows how long and do all kinds of stuff to him. I didn't want any of the standard newborn stuff done to DS1 and they did it anyway, and I had to ask a nurse to bring him to me after they'd kept him for over four hours after the birth.

We didn't bathe DS2, who was a homebirth, for about a week. He was postdates so he didn't have any vernix. He didn't smell too great right after the birth - kind of meaty, like the placenta - but after a few days he had a nice "new baby" smell, and I delayed bathing as long as I could to keep that smell since I liked it so much.
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