IS THAT COTTAGE CHEESE ON MY BABY?
Thankfully, it’s not cottage cheese. It’s called vernix, and it’s totally normal. When babies are born it is not uncommon for them to have a white, cheese-like coating over their bodies, called vernix. Some babies are born with a lot of vernix, and some have very little.
WHY IS VERNIX ON MY BABY?
Vernix is believed to serve several purposes:
Conserves heat loss
Moisturizes the baby’s skin
Eases passage through the birth canal
And perhaps protects from exposure to bacteria
CAN I TOUCH MY BABY IF IT IS COVERED IN VERNIX?
Yes! Vernix is not harmful to anyone it comes in contact with. Some families choose to rub vernix into their babies skin. Some wipe it away with the nursery blankets that are provided by most hospitals.
AM I A BAD PERSON IF VERNIX GROSSES ME OUT?
No. There are not many images of babies with vernix on them in the public eye, and it can be shocking to some to see their baby coated in a substance they were not expecting to be there.
WHEN DOES THE VERNIX GO AWAY TOTALLY?
Most vernix will be easily removed through initial contact, nursery blankets, and swaddling. Areas where vernix is more likely to remain until bathed are nooks and crevasses, such as the baby’s ears, skin creases, and hair.
You will need to check with the hospital you are planning to deliver with, but many hospitals have a policy about when babies receive his or her first bath. Some will involve parents in the process and the bath can occur in room, anytime from a few hours after delivery to just before discharge. Some hospitals will send babies to a nursery for a short while, and typically the baby will be given a bath while there.
DOES MY BABY NEED TO TAKE A BATH AFTER BEING BORN?
No. Your baby does not need to take a bath after birth. Depending standard procedures, cultural traditions, and the circumstances of birth, parents can easily refuse the bath if that is desired.
One reason a bath would be recommended would be if meconium is present during delivery.
There is some evidence to support that babies benefit from keeping vernix in place or rubbing it into their skin, but as a parent, this is one of the many decisions that you will need to decide.
But you are not alone in the decision you make, and we at Chinook City Doulas can help you navigate this along with the rest of your birth.
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