Bathing Your Newborn: Why You Shouldn’t

Posted: 2043 days ago in Health Parenting Pregnancy Wellness


Why shouldn’t you be bathing your newborn?

Not long ago I was with a patient as she delivered her baby in a hospital. As soon as the cord was cut and it was determined that the baby was perfectly healthy, the nurse whisked her away for her first bath to “scrub all the gunk off her”. Scrub she did. It hurt me to watch.

Well, Nurse Ratchet, that “gunk” is there for a reason, you silly little wench.  Studies actually support a delay in bathing your newborn for several days.

The medical term for the cheesy white stuff that covers most newborns during birth is Vernix Caseosa (translation: cheese varnish – ha!), or Vernix for short. You can even see it in-utero…check it out here below.

Vernix is produced by baby’s sebaceous glands starting in the 3rd trimester. Rich in emollients and antibacterial properties, vernix protects baby’s skin while in utero. You know how your skin wrinkles in the bath after only a few minutes?   Imagine being in fluid for 40 weeks!   Vernix buffers the skin and prevents loss of fluids and electrolytes in utero. During birth, vernix provides an antimicrobial layer against the bacteria-rich vagina and protects the skin from friction as baby is squeezed down the birth canal – baby lube!

But what about after baby is born? Shouldn’t we wipe that shit off?   It’s gross!

Gross though it may be, vernix is thought to help with regulation of baby’s body temperature in the first hours after birth – it acts as an insulator. That’s a big deal, because it can be really difficult for babies to maintain proper body temperature.

It is also known to assist in the adaptation from life in the womb to life outside the womb. It’s a different world out there, people! Wet-to-dry, different pH, scratchy clothes, etc. Vernix is the perfect moisturizer/insulator/antibiotic ointment.

Johnson’s baby lotion has nothing on vernix (more on that train wreck later…but I’ll leave you thinking about why it’s PINK!)   If only we could bottle the stuff!

Rubbing your newborn with a soft towel or blanket after birth will help to stimulate respiration and rub some of the vernix in, without wiping it off.   There is no need to be bathing your newborn until day 4 or 5, when the great majority of the vernix will flake off by itself. A soft, wet cloth around the mouth, eyes and genitals will take care of hygiene needs until it’s really time for the first true bath.




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Posted: 2128 days ago in Pregnancy

Childbirth Education Series: Episiotomy

Posted: 2142 days ago in Pregnancy

6 Pregnancy Perks That Make It All Worth It

Posted: 2161 days ago in Pregnancy


Weight gain.  Stretch marks.  Nausea. 

What’s in this pregnancy thing for me? (Besides a bundle of joy after an endless 10 months, that is?)

Actually, there are a few little secret scoobies, a.k.a. pregnancy perks to look forward to. And they are…

  1. Your body increases blood flow to all of your mucous membranes (read:  pink parts!)  in preparation for birth.  What does that mean to you?  Well, if you keep up with the Kardashian’s at all, you know that all of them pay a pretty penny to plump their puckers.  You, my dears, will get the prettiest pouts EVER, just by being pregnant!  It’s true!
  2. Guess what other pink part benefits?  Your vajayjay.  Increased blood flow means increased arousal + lubrication = more enjoyable sex.  Yeah, yeah, I know that ‘the bump’ can preclude feeling sexy.  To avoid this, just dim the lights; but between those lips and those lips, hubba hubba – it’s smokin’ hot in preggo town!
  3. And did I mention the visit from the booby fairy?  In preparation for breastfeeding, the milk factory is working overtime to nourish your baby.  Until s/he arrives, let your new curves work for you – show a little cleavage, buy a sexy bra – no padding needed!
  4. What about the pregnancy glow?  You’ve seen it, haven’t you?  Once the puking stops (and for the great majority of us, it will!), the green pallor can turn a luminous peachy glow seemingly overnight, as a result of hormones and great prenatal vitamins.  This also contributes to shiny hair and strong nails.  And with great skin, hair, and nails — a girl doesn’t need much else!
  5. More kindness and courtesy than you can stand to handle!  It’s a proven fact that society typically caters to pregnant women.  You’ll get a seat when there isn’t one, more doors held for you, and maybe even some freebies.  I say live it up while you can, because it really is short-lived.
  6. One word.. Babymoon.  Book it and enjoy. (This one only holds true for baby #1, sowwy!)

See what you have to look forward to? 

Instead of moaning and groaning about the downsides of pregnancy, focus on the many upsides. You did choose this, right?  No one is pregnant forever, and trust me, you will have many bigger fish to fry once the baby comes.


Childbirth Education Series: The Use of Pitocin to Induce Labor

Posted: 2167 days ago in Pregnancy

Should Your Doctor or Midwife Break Your Water?

Posted: 2189 days ago in Pregnancy

Ultrasounds: Pretty as a Picture?

Posted: 2219 days ago in Pregnancy


Ultrasounds. Sonograms. Whatever you call them, they are the grainy black and white pictures that many women get of their unborn babies.

Ultrasounds were traditionally taken if there was a suspected problem with a woman’s baby, or perhaps to see if there was more than one kid in there.

91584560Then, they started being used routinely to ‘confirm’ or ‘date’ a pregnancy.

And seemingly all of sudden, women are having multiple ultrasounds to check if baby is ‘too big’ (btw – what’s too big?), or just to have another photo to add to the picture album.

Does any of this improve outcomes for mom or baby? Not so much.

Before you start screaming at me, please know that I think an ultrasound is a great tool to use if there is a suspected or known complication of pregnancy. For sure. However, the vast majority of pregnant moms are ‘no’ or ‘low-risk’.

Not to mention, ultrasounds in fact do a really poor job of determining the size of baby in utero. How many of you know someone (or are someone!) who had their baby induced early because an ultrasound estimated that he or she was getting ‘too big’ to deliver vaginally, only to have a petite 6 pounder? And again, what the heck is too big? A 4’11” friend of mine had a 12 pound baby. At home. With no drugs.   No problem!

And let’s not get into the false positives that happen all too often. I was in the room when a good friend had an ultrasound.  She was told that her baby would have one leg that was significantly shorter than the other. It’s no surprise that she was a nervous wreck for months before the baby was born – perfectly healthy, with no leg issues. Or my friend who was told in no uncertain terms that her baby had multiple physical deformities – to the point where they considered termination of the pregnancy – only to delivery a healthy baby.

My advice to you? Ask questions and be an informed consumer.

  • “What is the indication for this test?”
  • “What will you do differently with the information gained from this test?”
  • “What are the side effects?”

To this last question, I’m quite sure most doctors will say there are no negative side effects. However, I will leave you with this direct quote from the National Institutes of Health: “Despite widespread application of ultrasound imaging and Doppler blood flow studies, the effects of their frequent and repeated use in pregnancy have not been evaluated in controlled trials.”

I’ll pass, thank you very much.

The Myth of the Due Date

Posted: 2225 days ago in Pregnancy


If you are pregnant, fuggedabout your due date.

It’s a myth. Mmm-hmmmm, you heard me right. Due dates don’t really mean anything.

Think of how unique each of us are; we are many different combinations of height, weight, hair and eye color. No two noses look exactly alike, and let’s not even get into how different Kim Kardashian’s rear end is from Chelsea Handler’s.

So why do we think that each and every baby should be born exactly 280 days from the onset of their mom’s last period? That, my friends, is the myth of the due date.

There is, in fact, a window of 4-5 weeks in which babies can be expected to come and be considered full-term, with no complications.

Why babies come when they do is a little-understood science. Some theorize that when a baby’s lungs are mature, this triggers a hormone that starts labor. Others say that since those last weeks are when baby shows the most growth, they come when they are at their peak survival time – fat stores, brain growth and reflexes are ready for the outside world.

So if most babies will be born healthy and happy between 38-42 weeks, why do so many doctors start talking induction 38 weeks (or earlier!)?

I dunno, but I can guess.  

An induced labor is a controlled labor. There is no mystery about when, where or how labor will start. It’s all nice and tidy, tied up in a package of hospital gowns, Pitocin and a 9-to-5 work day. Nice for the doctor, but is it good for the baby or mama? I think not.

The contractions stimulated by Pitocin are waaaaay stronger and more painful than those you would have had if labor had started naturally. The use of Pitocin also necessitates that you have other interventions like an IV and constant fetal monitoring, not to mention it increases the likelihood of the need for a C-section.

Not. Cool.

Who are we to think we know better than nature about when a baby should be born? In a complicated, high-risk pregnancy, perhaps yes. But in the vast majority of healthy pregnancies? Step away from the induction, please!

Our belly buttons may pop out toward the end of pregnancy, but alas, it’s not the same as the turkey thermometer. There is no “done” button.

Only Mother Nature knows when the time is right for your baby to come. So, Listen to your mother, ya hear?

Nursing 103: “The Football Hold”

Posted: 2236 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

Successful Nursing Tips

Posted: 2237 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy


Successful nursing starts before the cord is cut.

Best circumstances, you’re going to have the baby on your chest as soon as he/she is born, and while the cord is still pulsating. Unfortunately in a hospital birth, they take the baby after the cord is cut to be cleaned up. So an unmedicated – natural birth – can be in the hospital, but you will need to request that the baby is placed on your chest immediately following the birth. I also suggest requesting to let the cord naturally stop pulsating before it’s cut.

If you don’t believe me when I tell you how miraculous this process is – then watch this breastcrawl video (so long as you’re not faint of heart). It’s of a baby working its way up momma’s chest directly after giving birth. Babies have a rooting reflex where if their cheek and mouth is stimulated, and they feel the nipple, they will move toward it; it’s a natural reflex. Babies are hard wired to nurse, it’s us momma’s that need some training.

Here are some training tips.

  1. Baby positioning is really important – baby’s chest to mom’s breast is the mantra/visual to have when nursing your baby. Many moms make the mistake of holding their baby in a traditional cradle hold (face up in arms) – necessitating that baby should turn its head to nurse. Have you ever tried to swallow with your head turned to one side? It’s pretty hard to do. Position your baby where his or her head is in a neutral position when latching on. For a visual on this, watch the video below.
  1. Make sure that baby’s mouth is really wide open, and literally shove as much of your breast as you can into their mouth. A lot of moms make the mistake of just trying to pry the nipple into the mouth, when really the whole areola  should go into the baby’s mouth.
  2. I’m a big fan of letting the baby nurse on demand in general, but definitely in the first week. The more baby sucks, the more your body stimulates the production of milk – you cannot spoil baby at this age.
  3. Rooming in – i.e. keeping baby close to you is critical for getting to know your baby’s signs, especially those signs telling you that they want to nurse. That’s why I’m not a big fan of babies being in the nursery down the hospital, or being in their own room the first few weeks.breastfeeding
  4. I would avoid giving a bottle at all cost, it creates nipple confusion. A baby has to work in order to get milk from a breast, and has instant gratification of high volumes of milk from a bottle. They will definitely boycott the breast if a bottle is introduced too quickly. Eventually I love the idea of pumping, and letting dad feed but I would hold off for at least 6 weeks or more before bringing a bottle into the picture.
  5. A lot of women feel pressured to supplement with “formula” because they’re told that they are not producing enough milk, or their baby is losing weight. It is very normal for a baby to lose up to 10% of its body weight after birth when nursing. As long as baby is wetting his/her diaper, you should be fine. If you have a serious concern, consult with your doctor.

If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns – I’m happy to help.

Good luck to all the new moms!