"Here you go, honey," the nurse handed me a small tote bag, "some gifts for mama."
I'm all for freebies, but my skeptical eye looked over the selection of lotions, lip balm, toothpaste, body wash and shampoo bundled in the bag. To my delighted surprise, the product labels boasted:
- Paraben Free
- Botanical Nutrition
- Petrolatum Free
- Sulfate Free
But they still had scent added, and for some mom and baby bonding time, I knew I wouldn't use them for awhile.
- The newborn's sense of smell is especially acute in the first few hours after birth. Let her smell YOU, not the vanilla planifolia fruit extract scent that's part of your sweet-smelling liquid lotion.
- A newborn placed on her mama's abdomen within the first hour of birth will instinctively crawl toward her mama's breast to nurse. This study showed there was a marked difference between the newborn who was removed first for bathing and the one who wasn't.
- When a baby's hands are not washed, she is more likely to do the instinctual hand-to-mouth movements that are typical in the first hour of birth.
- In sum: both baby and mama should avoid bathing, and using scented products, for at least the first 24 hours after birth.
- One more consideration: you might want to avoid the antiseptic liquid soap provided for you in the bathroom of the hospital recovery room. My husband used this highly sterilizing soap, and I don't know if it was due to the high alcohol content or more likely, the fragrance, but his skin became extremely itchy, thin-feeling and irritated after use. Bring your own unscented handcrafted soap instead.
Sources here and here.
I'm grateful that the hospital staff was more than willing to respect my wishes for a gentle wipe down and rub instead of a baby bath.
Baby Sophie is on day 9 without a bath. Does she smell? Not at all...unless you count the sweet baby scent more likely associated with newborn skin and mama's milk. I found that her umbilical cord stump fell off (likely while I was typing this!) and in my opinion, she can take a light bath now. I'll use a soft wash cloth and some of our Milk & Honey Goat Milk soap.