A mother breastfeeding an infant

In order to increase the rate of breastfeeding for new born babies during the stay in hospital, medics are now advocating to delay the first bath for 12 or more hours.

A team of nurses at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital decided to do a research after encountering mothers who requested to hold off on the first bath.

The study which was published in the Journal for Obstetrics, Gynaecologic and Neonatal Nursing in January 2019 showed that the breastfeeding rates increased from 59.8 per cent to 68.2 percent after the intervention.

According to Heather DiCioccio, the study author and nursing professional development specialist, new born babies are given a quick sponge bath after birth due to the natural coating of blood and amniotic fluid covering the baby within the first two hours.

“Most mothers have been delaying the first bath for many hours since the amniotic fluid has a similar smell to the breast, which makes it easier for the baby to latch,” said Ms DiCioccio.

The study which comprised of 1000 healthy mother-newborn pair had 448 babies bathed shortly after birth while 548 delayed the bath. This resulted to the delayed bath group being more likely to have a discharge feeding plan that was exclusive to human milk.


Ms DiCioccio further added that in the delayed bathe, nurses wipes off blood then immediately gives the baby to mom to be held skin-to-skin which reduces stress in the newborn, increases bonding and regulates temperature.

Some research have pointed out that bathing a baby after birth tend to stress the baby and make them cold, as a result, they are less likely to breastfeed.

Medics recommend an exclusive breastfeeding for around six months as human milk is good for the development of the brain, immune and digestive system of the children.

Breastfeeding also reduces maternal illnesses such as breast and ovarian cancer.



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