What is Vernix Caseosa?
Vernix is a thick creamy waxy substance that covers the body of the newborn (reminds me of cocoa butter!). It’s seen more in babies born a couple of weeks prior to the ‘due date’ as it reduces towards the end of pregnancy. It is made up of water, fats and proteins.
The vernix protects and nourishes the baby’s soft skin, has antimicrobial properties and acts as a barrier in the uterus to stop the amniotic fluid macerating the skin in the womb. Can you imagine how your skin would look after 9 months in the bath!
Vernix is thought to help with an easier transition through the birth canal and it thought to aid temperature regulation at birth.
When a baby is born, the newborn skin undergoes a number of changes and adaptions to the outside world in terms of PH and hydration. Vernix helps to regulate these changes so its worthwhile not bathing baby to soon. Think of vernix as a moisturiser and rub it in rather than wipe it off!
It is recommended by WHO to wait at least 24 hours before bathing a newborn (I would even say 2/3 days) as it has its benefits including reduced risk of infection, better temperature regulation, more skin to skin time leading to better breastfeeding outcomes and blood sugar regulation. If your baby has a little dried blood in their hair and it bothers you, you can always wipe the hair gently with a cloth and warm water.
Caption by@midwifemarley on Instagram