Vernix Caseosa – Better For Your Baby
The vernix caseosa is the waxy looking white substance that covers your newborn baby. When you see videos of a birth on television, you may see the doctors wiping off the “dirty” looking baby. If you think that this is a good idea, you may want to reconsider. This substance, made up of the skin oil and dead cells that the baby has shed in the womb, helps protect him or her from dehydration. Without the vernix caseosa, the baby would be born wrinkly from constantly being exposed to amniotic fluid.
Many babies suffer drying of their skin after birth. This causes them to become more easily irritated and scaly looking. If the vernix caseosa is left intact, the newborn will have more hydrated skin. In addition, the vernix caseosa also contains antimicrobials that are active against E. Coli, Group B Streptococcus, and other bacteria. So, leaving this substance intact, even though it’s not very pretty, can prevent your child from becoming ill. Keeping the child together with his or her mother, and delaying the bath, can prevent some infections that are caused by the presence of these bacteria in hospitals.
Scientific studies have shown that vernix works not only as a moisturizer. It’s also an effective cleanser, anti-infective agent, anti-oxidant and a wound healer. Studies are underway to find out how to synthesize the substance for use in helping children and adults who are in need of this substance’s benefits, and to act as a delivery system for medication and other treatments.
Preterm babies tend to have more vernix on them than those born at full term. This is because the amount of vernix caseosa present decreases as birth nears. This substance originally develops at around 27 weeks, and is present up until birth. Babies who are born before 27 weeks may not have any vernix present. Stable preterm babies should especially be allowed to spend some time with their mothers immediately after birth, without being bathed. This may assist them in feeling less discomfort and remaining healthier than if they were cleaned.
If you’re due to have a baby soon, you should talk to your doctor, midwife, and any other caregivers who might be present at your birth. Ask them not to wash your baby as soon as he or she is born, and to give you some time with the infant. Avoid washing your child, even if he or she appears dirty, for at least a little while. You may wish to rub this fatty, waxy substance into the skin to reduce the danger of dehydration. Vernix caseosa might look unappealing, but it’s really one of Nature’s defenses against dryness, bacterial infections, and other dangers that your newborn might encounter.