The protective coating many babies still sport at birth is a kind of super-powered substance, proving just how amazing our bodies really are!
An image shared on the Birth Without Fear Facebook page has sparked lots of discussion about the miracle substance vernix and its importance during pregnancy and post-birth.
The post was captioned with an ode to the power of vernix (and an unsettling comparison to cake frosting!)
“Before you go “eew!” consider this: your baby may have been born with vernix as a protective layer from the ammonia in amniotic fluid–new research has shown that the smell of #vernix can even trigger the “love” hormone in the parent of a newborn. Image by Maren Sjøtveit of Tilstede – Fotografi. Info via albanydoula.”
Commenters on the post agreed that vernix is a sort of super-substance and shared their own pro-vernix stories with Facebook users. (Also, some were a little perturbed about the foodie frosting/cheese connection, so it’s not just us!)
“Looks just like body butter and isn’t sticky or smelly almost like shea butter… God doesn’t make any mistakes, he knew what he was doing in protecting babies skin from being in that water so long!” A woman commented.
“We didn’t bathe our daughter till she was a week old. We used the “frosting” as a natural moisturizer for her skin. She never had dry skin and it never peeled,” another posted.
“I didn’t bathe my youngest baby for three days after he was born. I can still remember how delicious he smelled. We nursed and cuddled, nursed and cuddled and waited on that bath. It was lovely,” one mum reminisced.
What is vernix?
Vernix is the waxy, creamy white coating many babies wear when they are first born.
Vernix is designed to protect a baby’s sensitive skin from sometimes acidic amniotic fluid and to guard against infection.
Vernix not only moisturises your baby’s skin as they grow in your belly, it makes the journey through the birth canal a more lubricated one, too!
Vernix helps your baby moderate their body temperature and is also thought to helpfully muffle the sounds from the outside world by coating baby’s ears.
Some babies are utterly smothered in vernix at birth, while others are less generously slathered. Overdue babies may be vernix-free at birth, with amniotic fluid thought to have dissolved this helpful coating.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises parents to delay bathing their baby for 24 hours after the birth, suggesting that it can help protect the newborn and encourage better bonding between mother and child.
Bathing should be delayed until after 24 hours of birth. If this is not possible due to cultural reasons, bathing should be delayed for at least six hours. – WHO
Vernix is usually a creamy, white, waxy coating, but can also be tinged with yellow or green if your baby has had a bowel movement in utero (meconium). If it’s not a nice creamy white colour, it’s best removed.