The image of a baby covered in a yellow pasty substance may not be the ideal image of a newborn baby that we all have in mind. In many hospitals, the first thing that is done as soon as the baby is born is to bathe him, so that he is clean and presentable for visits , but babies are not born dirty and that first bath can wait .
The baby is born covered by a fatty and sticky substance called vernix caseosa or sebaceous oil that begins to be generated around the 20th week of gestation to protect its delicate skin from the irritating effects of the amniotic fluid and dehydration, preventing it from cracking. But after birth, it also has an important function.
Not all babies are born covered by this substance, since its production decreases after week 36 and disappears almost completely by week 41. But most are born with some remains of vernix that usually accumulates on the back, in the folds of the flexion and on the scalp. This cheese-like spread is made up of a mixture of sebaceous secretions, lanugo, and desquamated baby skin cells.
Among its benefits, newborns who keep vernix on their skin have better thermal maintenance, fewer lesions, greater skin hydration and greater skin elasticity. Check out more interesting articles on our PM Blog.
In addition, due to its antibacterial peptide content, vernix is a barrier against bacterial and fungal infections, acting as the first shield of the immune system.
So there is no need to bathe the baby right after birth . On the contrary, due to its high content of protective properties for the skin, some specialists even recommend rubbing it gently so that it is absorbed naturally.