If you read my previous post detailing the contents of my natural birth bag, you may have noticed that one “crucial” element was missing: a hat for the baby! In addition, our birth plan details that our daughter should never be put under a warmer. Wondering why?
Yes, these decisions were completely intentional! While newborn caps may be cute, and warmers seem necessary, the truth is that nature’s design for regulating your newborn’s body temperature is much more convenient: YOU keep your baby born!
Most term babies are born with a waxy, cheese-like substance coating their bodies called vernix. This protective layer coats the baby while they are in utero, yes- but don’t wipe it off just yet! As we discussed last week when we talked about delaying the first bath, the vernix is great to help moisturize the baby’s skin, contains protective immunity-boosting properties, and, yes- it helps regulate the baby’s body temperature.
In addition, practicing immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby will allow your body temperature to regulate theirs. This is, without a doubt, the most effective way to keep your baby’s temperature where it should be, in addition to facilitating the beautiful bonding that happens within the first few hours and days after birth.
Speaking of bonding- lose that hat! There’s actually a chemical bonding that takes place when the mother of a newborn smells the head of her new baby. This smell triggers the release of a high amount of oxytocin, the mothering hormone, which stimulates bonding but also stimulates uterine contractions that will expel the placenta and decrease hemorrhage risk, as well as signal the production of breastmilk. Now, why would you want to cheat yourself out of such a powerful whiff of that cute little head?
Of course, when you go to take your baby home from your place of birth (especially if it’s cold outside!) a hat is perfectly fine and may even be necessary. But in the sensitive window after birth, snuggle skin-to-skin with your new little one and forget all about those extra measures. Celebrate the beauty of nature as you bond with your baby!