What is Vernix and Why is it All Over My Newborn?

What is Vernix and Why is it All Over My Newborn? | Baby Chick

What is Vernix and Why is it All Over My Newborn?

Waiting nine long months to have the big moment of the doctor putting a fresh new baby on our chest after carrying them around in the womb for the past year is a moment that keeps pregnant women excited for the labor and delivery part of childbirth. The moment will be magical, full of tears and joy and the smell of new baby, oh my soul!

But then, delivery happens, and the little bundle they put on your chest is not as soft and cuddly as imagined. Instead they are kind of slippery and there is even a white, waxy coating of vernix on them. So, what is this cheesy stuff they call vernix, and what is the purpose of it?

What is Vernix?

The “stuff”, or if you prefer the actual scientific name, vernix caseous, when broken down literally means vernix= to varnish, caseous=cheesy nature or, a greasy deposit covering the baby’s skin at birth.

Why are Babies Covered in Vernix?

The purposes of vernix are multiple. But ultimately it is there to protect the baby.

Vernix Protects Baby’s Skin

Vernix protects the baby’s skin while in the womb from the acidity of the amniotic fluid. Without this covering, the baby’s skin would chap and wrinkle. Vernix, while very important, takes a little while to fully develop. The ground work for vernix starts at about three weeks gestation with the start of skin cell production. It isn’t until the glands reach peak productivity in the third trimester or roughly 27 weeks that true vernix is produced, keeping all of that new baby skin nice and safe.

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There are many other benefits to this cheesy varnish besides being a protectant; it is also a moisturizer. Without it the baby would come out looking more like a raisin than a cute plump baby.

Vernix is a Lubricant

The “cheesy substance” helps the baby become slippery enough to slide, ahem, sort of slide out of the birth canal. Vernix is also a baby’s very first blanket, keeping them at a perfect cozy temperature during their last few weeks in the womb.

Vernix is a Sound Barrier

The baby can still hear your voice but this layer covers their ears giving them a muffled environment, protecting their little ears.

To Wipe Off or Not to Wipe Off. What Should You do with Vernix?

Vernix is truly remarkable; humans are the only species that have it. It is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties. Research indicates that holding off on the first bath is beneficial because vernix can protect the baby from infections after birth.

Some women choose to hold off the first bath for up to a full week. If you do not want to wait that long, 24 or 48 hours will still benefit the baby. You can opt to have the nurses or your midwife do a light wash with a wash cloth to remove blood and amniotic fluid, but tell them to not remove all the vernix caseous. Instead, rub the vernix in to the baby’s skin for the next few days. Luckily, babies are not born dirty so they do not need a bath right away. Aside from fighting off the bad bacteria, vernix helps the baby pick up good bacteria.

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Vernix is for the Parents, Too

There is a theory out in the scientific world that this substance along with amniotic fluid contributes to the “new baby smell,” which triggers the reward centers of women’s brains, sort of like compensation for going through all of the hard work of having a baby!

The vernix is also used to help tell doctor’s important things at birth based on the color and amount. It is not always white and if it is yellowish, brown or green tinged it is an indicator that the baby could have possibly already passed a bowel movement and in that case, it does need to be wiped off.

If the baby is born with very little or even no vernix it’s possible that you were “over due” and all of the vernix has already gotten reabsorbed into the amniotic fluid.

Don’t be surprised if you keep seeing little bits of the sticky substance after birth and even after their first bath. Vernix likes to hide and linger in nooks and folds. You can simply wipe it away or leave it.

The benefits of this “cheesy substance” are endless and it is just another thing about pregnancy and childbirth that is absolutely fascinating. Every part is needed to make it work right. So now when the doctor places that sweet little babe on your chest, instead of being grossed out you will be grateful for how it has and will continue to protect your baby for the next couple of weeks.

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About the Author /

Hannah Southerland is a stay-at-home mom and wife of two little boys. She blinked and now they are 3 and 4 and taking over her world with karate moves and an endless need for snacks. Over the past 4 years, she’s been researching topics on sleep, baby care, and motherhood, trying to parent the best way she knows how!

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Instagram post 18074272528164523 @debiandbebi wrote these words when she was a new mom and struggled with #postpartumdepression. She hopes to remind everyone that it is okay to struggle with being a new mom and that does not mean you don't love your baby. ❤️⁠
(quote by @debiandbebi)⁠
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Instagram post 17862171103601373 All of these things make me happy. What would you add to your self care toolbox?⁠
I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
📷: @hallmark⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
📷: @lawrenrosephotography⁠
Informative post and words by @bundleborn⁠
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Instagram post 17990835490280335 I totally felt this way when I was pregnant. And kinda feel this way after all that turkey. 🤣🦃 Happy turkey day to all you expecting mamas!!⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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📷: @hallmark⁠
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Instagram post 17855722339639264 ✈️ Tips to Survive a Plane Ride with Kids ✈️⁠
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Flying on a plane with your little one for the first time can be terrifying. Are they going to cry the whole time? How will they handle the airport, the turbulence and the landing? Well we have some tips that will help prepare you for your flight with your kids. Here's what to do to have a more enjoyable experience 😊 {Link in bio!}⁠
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