Most babies are born coated in a waxy, creamy, yellowy-white substance called the Vernix Caseosa. Translating to ‘Cheesy Varnish’ in Latin, this coating may not look all that clean and cute, but it is extremely beneficial for your newborn’s entrance into the world.
Comprised of water, fats, and proteins, the Vernix is a newborn’s protective coating. Vernix Caseosa shields against the acidity of amniotic fluid which surrounds your baby in the womb. It acts as a warm layer that minimizes the shock factor of environmental changes the moments after birth.
Vernix is beneficial to mum as well. It acts as a lubricant to ease the friction of labor pushing. Basically, this magic substance safeguards the journey from the womb to the world!
Babies born past their due date may not have any Vernix Caseosa present; the amniotic fluid will absorb it if given enough time. Pre-term babies may have none or quite a lot, depending on the stage of pregnancy they are born at.
The World Health Organisation recommends leaving the Vernix Caseosa on newborns for 24-48 hours. Some sources suggest washing Vernix off after a few hours, some sources suggest several days. Consult your doctor and birth team about the best course of action for your baby’s Vernix Caseosa.
Newborn’s skin is particularly sensitive and prone to dryness. Vernix Caseosa is a totally natural and totally free moisturizer. Consider rubbing it into your little one’s skin like you would a body butter.
Skin-to-skin contact is recommended immediately after a healthy birth. This is a crucial bonding moment for mum and bub, and also ensures mother and child are exposed to the same bacteria as thoroughly and as soon as possible. Use this opportunity to bond with and relax your newborn by massaging the Vernix into their skin.