Vernix – what is it and advantages and disadvantages of wiping off…
When a baby is born it should be vigorous – this means the baby breathing, heartrate is over 100, color is pink, crying and able to move all limbs . If this is not occurring the baby will need to be suctioned, given oxygen, dried , warmed up , stimulated. Drying and stimulating is done with effort to stimulate the heart, promote circulation and provide warmth. In providing this care vernix may be almost or completely removed as part of the process – not purposely but in getting the fluids off because drying will help to keep baby warm. The vernix on the baby at this time is not important then the baby is unresponsive, getting the baby to a living state is. If the baby is vigorous then by all means do not have to remove the vernix. Baby safety is everything!!! Common sense is important. Immediate prompt and proper care of this baby is essential! If it is favorable leaving the vernix on the baby is beneficial .
Vernix caseosa, also known as vernix, is the waxy or cheese-like white substance found coating the skin of newborn human babies. It is produced by dead skin cells and is thought to have some protective roles during fetal development and for a few hours after birth.
Vernix: Don’t Wash It Off, Rub It In
Most doctors and nurses want to wipe vernix off baby immediately after birth, but vernix offers many potential benefits for baby when you leave it on.
You’ve just given birth to your beautiful little baby and you’re all ready for cuddles. You’ve been waiting for 9 months for this moment! But wait… What’s that white, waxy, cheesy substance coating baby’s skin? Yeesh, that’s kinda gross.
That waxy stuff is called vernix
And yes, the sticky, white, cheese-like coating covering your precious little one may not look that appealing. Which is why birth center or hospital staff may want to wash baby off right away.
Ask them not to wipe it off if all has gone well and your baby is pink, perky and active! Vernix offers a number of benefits for baby when you leave it on or rub it in. The best time to have that discussion is on admission – during labor. Speak to nurse and ob provider so you are all on the same page.
What is vernix?
Vernix begins to form on the unborn baby at about 20 weeks gestation, partially to prevent baby’s skin from getting too waterlogged after marinating in amniotic fluid month after month. Unlike skin cells, vernix is more mobile and fluid. It is also more permeable to the transport of water and other small molecules to the baby. (source)
Even though it helps protect baby’s skin from amniotic fluid, the creamy vernix itself contains about 80% water. There are plenty of beneficial components to the vernix. Scientists have identified lipids, amino acids, proteins, antibacterial, and antimicrobial compounds including:
- wax and sterol esters
- and amino acids, asparagine and glutamine
About 61% of the proteins found in this white substance, can only be found in vernix. And humans are the only ones that produce it, making it truly unique.
Vernix begins to form on the unborn baby at about 27 weeks gestation, in the third trimester.
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