Sweet baby coated with vernix

Sweet baby coated with vernix seconds after birth.

Something that is often asked in my class is when to bathe the newborn. I always remind my students that there is no medical reason to bathe the baby right away and for them to make that decision on their own. We typically talk about it a bit and I encourage them to delay the first bath, which can be a very special, even a sacred moment for this new mother. But that’s not the main reason to delay your baby’s first bath… science is.

Early bathing of the baby removes vernix, which contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B streptococcus and E. coli. This vernix coats the baby’s skin as a protectant from the watery environment in utero and there is simply no reason to wash it off. This white/yellow creamy substance should be rubbed in and not discarded. The longer the gestation, the more of this amazing cream will be on the baby, especially in the folds of the skin. Vernix holds various antimicrobial properties and in fact a study, presented May 6 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Seattle, shows that newborn skin with vernix left intact “is more hydrated, less scaly, and undergoes a more rapid decrease in pH than with vernix removed,” says Marty Visscher, PhD, executive director of the Skin Sciences Institute and the study’s main author. “These beneficial effects of vernix suggest that it should be left intact at birth.”

This creamy emulsion is a moisturizer, would healer, cleaner, anti-infective and antioxidant as well! I swear the more learn about the beauty of childbirth, the more I realize everything is in sync with nature and has a purpose.


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.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&do\pt=Abstract&list_uids=15592296 http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/about/news/release/2003/5-vernix.htm