I’m not sure if this is practised these days and if today’s mom’s will allow this to happen, but as a recommendation from the World Health Organisation, a newborn should be bathed 48hrs after birth.
I’m not a strong advocate for this but what do I know? We don’t do it this way anymore– it is now standard protocol at many hospitals to wait 8-24 hours to give a baby his or her first bath, and up to 48 hours if the baby was delivered by cesarian section.
This is why you should wait just a few hours before the ‘baby showers’
Reduced risk of infection
Babies are born covered in a white substance called vernix, which is composed of the skin cells your baby made early in development. Vernix contains proteins that prevent common bacterial infections. Think of vernix as a sort-of natural antibacterial ointment.
Your baby is born covered in this anti-germ barrier. Bacteria such as Group B Strep and E. coli are often transmitted to newborns during delivery and can cause bloodstream infections, pneumonia and meningitis, and can be fatal.
Stabilized infant blood sugar
Bathing a baby too soon after birth can cause low blood sugar. Here’s why: in the first few hours after birth a baby has to adjust to life outside the uterus, including losing the placenta as a source of blood sugar. Bathing causes crying, stress and the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones can cause a baby’s blood sugar to drop, which can make a baby too sleepy to wake up and breastfeed, causing the blood sugar to drop even more. Rarely, low blood sugar can cause neurological injury.
Improved temperature control
Giving a baby a bath too soon can cause hypothermia. Inside mom it was about 98.6 degrees, but most babies are born in rooms that are about 70 degrees. In the first few hours after birth a baby has to use a lot of energy to keep warm. If a baby gets too cold, he or she can drop their blood sugar or have other complications.
Improved maternal-infant bonding
New babies need to snuggle skin-to-skin with their mom be given a chance to try to breastfeed. Those first few minutes are meant for bonding between baby and parents. As long as the baby does not need help breathing or immediate resuscitation, babies need to be held by their mother. Infants who are held skin-to-skin on mom’s chest have better blood sugar and temperature control and have an easier time learning to breastfeed. .
Breastfeeding can become a stressful burden on a very tired mother. But babies who breastfeed in the first hour of life—and preferably in the first 30 minutes—have a much easier time learning how to latch. Why? Because when the baby is inside mom’s uterus, she is constantly and rhythmically sucking in amniotic fluid and swallowing it. At birth, she cries, breaths air and starts to forget how to suck and swallow.
Parents get to enjoy bathing their baby: After mom has had time to recover, parents can more easily participate in baby’s first bath and it becomes a teaching opportunity between nursing and parents. You can use whatever special baby bath products you choose and watch your baby coo and smile.