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bath after birth?

1078 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  party_of_seven
I was reading that newborns don't need the bath after being born. with dd, they wisked her away after she was on my tummy a bit and then brought her back after her bath. i saw pictures and it looks like they scrubbed her quite a bit.

my question is how necessary is it? i will be giving birth in the same hospital, but this time my midwife told me they don't even NEED a bath if I chose not to. my husband is concerned that because of the "fluids" and stuff, we will need to give ds a bath shortly after the birth. but what does a newborn actually look like. i read about the vernix(?) but I dont remember w/dd.

so what do you mama's do. those at home and the hospital? love to hear your input and what you all did/or will do. I don't remember how dd looked after birth as I was having my placenta pulled out and was kind of distracted by the pain! thanks!
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Having your placenta pulled out-----
: How incredibly painful! And for your little one being scrubbed

Neither of my two (one hosp, one home) had a bath. I never saw the need. My homebirthed baby was born in the water, so guess that might kind of count as a bath??? There's a great thing called a LeBoyer bath that many mothers have used immediately after birth----it's a really interesting welcoming concept! Newborns aren't "dirty." If your dh is concerned about the fluids, you can gently remind him they are YOUR fluids

If the hospital requires the bath, you can request that YOU do it, in your room. No need for any separation. It might be a pain for the staff, but it's something to definitely consider if a bath is required for hazardous waste reasons
: which I've heard of happening!

Wishing you a beautiful birth, bath or no bath
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A bath is totally unnecessary. In America, we tend to be just a tad bit obsessed with hygene. I remember having a similar discussion with my midwifes when I was expecting my 2nd baby (because this video my health ins. co. sent me showed how important it was to sponge bathe my baby EVERY DAY until the cord fell off).
Both mine were born at home and neither were bathed AT ALL until the cord fell off 7-10 days later. My second dd was born in the water, but I don't really count that as bathing! I really wouldn't worry about doing it if you don't want to. However, both my kids were born extremely clean (no vernix, virtually no blood), so I guess a bath wouldn't have seemed "needed" anyway. I suppose if the baby appears to need a wipe down, you might request that the nurse bring you a bowl of warm water & a cloth so you & your dh can do it yourselves. Parents shouldn't be denied these "firsts" IMO.
Good luck & enjoy your new baby!
Neither of my girls had a bath before they where 2 weeks old.
Here's from the midwifery archives at "The reason that hospital personnel are so eager to bathe newborns is that the baby is assumed to be a source of germs in the same way that the birth canal is a source of germs. They are concerned that they might be exposed to some of these germs if the baby isn't thoroughly scrubbed with disinfectants shortly after birth. However, they can easily wear gloves to handle the baby, and this actually protects the baby from *their* germs. So it's very reasonable to decline the ritual bathing of the newborn. Hospital personnel then may put a note on your baby's bassinet to remind them to wear gloves when handling your baby; just watch them to make sure that they *change* their gloves before handling your newborn so they don't contaminate your baby with germs from other babies or the hospital environment."

I would think, too, that to replace the smells of the womb with that of soap and water and the nurse's body smells, would be disconcerting, even upsetting to the baby, and doubtless harsh to its tender skin. And it could interfere with its ability to smell its mother when it is finally given to her, as well. (Affecting breastfeeding?)

None of my babies have been bathed after birth. Here's a picture of my daughter 12 hours after birth, as you can see she's perfectly clean, except for a little vernix in her armpit (and vernix is good for the baby's skin.)
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Vernix is a natural moisturizer and protector for baby's skin, which will absorb it in the hours and days after the birth. My understanding is that much of the oft-heard-of newborn rashes and dry skin out there are due to unnecessary baths post-birth.

My DD was born at a free-standing birth center, where we didn't have to make any "no bath please" specifications, as the staff there don't believe in it either. She was so pristine, with vernix in her folds, and smelled like the essence of life itself. We bathed her for the first time after about two weeks.
ITA with Blueviolet, I was going to say the same thing! Don't let them bathe baby, they will be more likely to keep their mitts off your "dirty" baby

My first, hopital birth, was cleaned in teh nursery then placed under the warming lights for a couple of hours. I really believe the bath is another way to get baby in teh nursery for "observation". I had to scream to get him back and I was never told about it in the "mandatory" warming in the first place.

2nd birth, waterbirth, didn't wash baby for at least a week (and no soap!), and then I was sad, I had washed all of the "birth" out of her hair. Just smelling her head reminded me of her birth
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I do think it tends to be a North American obsession with hygiene. They (usually) do the same thing in Canada too. I live in Switzerland and DS was born at 29 weeks and he didn't have a full immersion bath till he was nearly a month old. I remember sponge bathing his head b/c it was a little crusty, but here they generally don't recommend a bath until the vernix has been absorbed (they massage it in). I can't beleive they *scrubbed* your newborn! Silly.

Hugs and congratulations on your pregnancy!

My first DD was a HB transport and they scrubbed her to no end. Who knows what they did to her in the nursery.

My second DD was born at a free standing birth center and bathed with me when I bathed after the birth. I didn't wash her with soap or anything. Just rinsed the small amount of blood out of her massive amount of hair. Basically it was just a nice time with just the two of us soaking in a tub of herbs, nursing, and getting to know one another. My friend came in towards the end and took a picture of us and held Mary-Grace when I got out. It was very relaxing which is surprising since I hate baths. It is actually one of my favorite memories after birth. That said you don't have to bathe your baby after birth. They are clean but I don't think it is wrong to have a bath with them if you want to. I just wouldn't scrub them.
FWIW, my baby boy was born covered in vernix, much of which washed off in the birth tub, but the rest absorbed in in a few the tub I was actually rubbing it into his back and I ended up with the SOFTEST hands for a week!

Anyways, he wasn't bathed until he was about 10 days old.

My dd was given a brief sponge bath in the birth center I had her in, but she came out without vernix and basically clean anyways.
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yes, vernix is the most wonderful thing for baby's (and your!) skin... i've even seen midwives wearing a t-shirt that says "i'm in it for the vernix."

the only "scrubbing" my homebirthed babies ever got was to get the meconium off of their butts... nasty sticky tarry stuff! but the rest of their bodies were plenty clean to me.

thank you mama's for your input! i am going to go with the no bath. my midwife told me they don't need it, but the hospital likes to do it. but she said i dont have to. i read the article on the LeBoyer bath and i am going to bring that to my next appointment. thanks again!
thanks for bringing this up! Can I have the link for the leboyer bath article, please?
I also remember that the scent of the amniotic fluid on the newborn's hands help them figure out breastfeeding/latching on, etc. Amazing! Why mess with perfection
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so you don't allow a rub down then either? did I read that its absorbs anyway?
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DD didn't have a bath. She was born at home. I don't recall what became of the vernix that was on her skin--I guess it was absorbed. I do remember trying to wash the blood out of her hair (she had lots and lots of hair) with a washcloth, but it didn't all come out. I was kind of attached to the smell of blood on her, and when the smell went away after a few days, I really missed it. To me, that was the smell of my newborn baby, and I loved it. It definitely kept the process of her birth close with us those first few days. It never occurred to me to give her a bath.
I would have opted for no bath, but we had a lot of meconium in the water so dd was washed. Her bottom was SO POOPY! We had a great hospital and they were very gentle. For me, I was fine with her being washed because, like I said, she was covered in poop. I didn't find that appealing at all.
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My first who was born in the hospital was the only one who ever had a bath.
I didn't realize what I missed out on until I had my second baby. They smell SOOO GOOD
. There is nothing better than the smell of a newborn baby. I wish they could bottle that smell!. Anyway, with my next 3 I waited as long a possible to bathe them, and when I did I tried not to use soap if I could.....I'm sorry , but Johnson&Johnson doesn't even come close!

If anyone wants to know about Leboyer baths read Birth Without Violence.

I did a Leboyer bath with my 3rd and 4th. I actually got into the th with the baby. It was so wonderful and relaxing, and great for bonding. I relaxed for about an hour in the bath just nursing the baby and checking the baby out. It was very peaceful. After all of that the midwife did the newborn exam. It was a nice excuse to keep the baby as close as possible for a while.
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