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When a baby is born, they are covered in a thick, cheese-like layer called ‘vernix caseosa’. Watching your baby covered in it may seem unusual and you may be tempted to ask the nurse to bathe the baby, but vernix caseosa offers several benefits to your baby.
What is Vernix Caseosa?
Vernix caseosa which is also called vernix is a natural formation on the baby’s skin that can be seen during childbirth. It’s said to keep the formation on the skin for a while before rubbing it away. Vernix caseosa helps babies stay protected from bacteria and infections while keeping the baby’s skin soft and supple.
When Does Vernix Develop?
Vernix caseosa tends to form over the baby’s skin during the second or third trimester of the pregnancy. Some of the vernix dissolves into the amniotic fluid after 34 weeks of pregnancy and the remaining of it is removed by the doctor once the baby is born.
What Does it Contain?
Vernix is a thin layer over the baby’s skin that plays a crucial role in protecting the baby’s body. The formation is mostly water content, but apart from water, there is fat content as well as proteins. There are other substances too that help with the baby’s immunity.
What is the Colour of Vernix?
Vernix caseosa is mostly white in colour but at times the colour of the vernix may change. Vernix can appear to be yellowish-brown, and at times it may even get a slight greenish tinge to it. The colour can change after the baby has pooped for the first time. By this time, you can wipe the vernix away from the skin.
Does it Wash Away Easily?
It is possible to wash the vernix from your baby’s skin. However, it is best not to wash it away, immediately. You can wait for a while and wipe it away from your baby’s skin, instead of washing it away. The WHO has even said that the vernix caseosa after birth can be on the baby for as long as 24 hours. In fact, even weeks later, you might still find some layers of it here and there. It might not completely come out when you wipe it for the first time.
Should You Delay a Newborn’s First Bath?
The vernix caseosa keeps the baby’s skin soft and protected. Although many parents prefer that the baby should be taken for an immediate wash, it is best to delay the first bath for as much time as possible, as the vernix protects the baby during the time.
What If the Vernix Caseosa is Missing?
If the labour is delayed, vernix caseosa may be hardly there on the baby. It can be completely missing too. This might happen because the vernix may slowly dissolve in the amniotic fluid over time, especially when the delivery time approaches.
Benefits of the Vernix Caseosa
The vernix caseosa has many amazing benefits for the mother and even for the little baby. Some of them are explained below:
1. Helps in Delivery
As the vernix caseosa is quite slippery, it may act as a lubricant and help the pregnant woman deliver the baby with ease. Due to its presence, the baby may slide out of the birth canal a lot easier.
2. Fights Germs
Vernix caseosa also helps in fighting bacteria and other germs that are quite harmful to the baby. This is also because the vernix has an antibacterial property and highly protects the baby from any such dangers.
3. Acts as a Moisturizer
Vernix caseosa acts as a natural moisturizer that helps keep the child’s skin smooth and soft. Although it may be unpleasant to look at, it keeps the baby’s skin soft and healthy. Without the vernix, the baby’s skin might get chapped and even have wrinkles.
4. Keeps the Body Warm
In many cases, babies are kept in a warm place right after they are born because their bodies are still getting used to the temperature around them. The vernix is a natural layer that helps the baby stay warm.
6. It Protects the Baby
Vernix caseosa is unique to human beings. It has many amazing properties including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the baby.
Vernix caseosa is beneficial for a baby’s skin and should not be washed away right away. You can ask the nurse to do it after some time. The vernix may even be present in skin folds days or weeks after the baby’s birth, and it’s alright. You can easily wipe it away.
Also Read: Peeling Skin in Newborns