Babies benefit from right-after-birth process changes

baby Charlotte by Josephine Leonard PhotographyWhen it comes to what’s best for bringing new babies into the world, Carle’s Labor & Delivery team follows the guidance of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Recent advice calls for slowing things down just a bit after birth in two very noticeable ways:

  • Umbilical cord clamping
  • And baby’s first bath

Sarah Asklund, RN, knows all about both from a couple perspectives—as a Labor & Delivery nurse and the recent birth of her second daughter, Charlotte (photo by Josephine Leonard Photography).

“I always ask about patients’ delivery preferences and if they have a birth plan. If they haven't mentioned delayed cord clamping or delayed bathing, I talk about Carle's practices and the reasons behind them,” she said.

“I've never had a patient decline delayed cord clamping. Most everyone wants what is best for their baby.”

Waiting just 30 to 60 seconds to clamp the umbilical cord increases blood volume to babies, which can mean babies’ hearts adjust more smoothly to life outside the womb and better iron levels to support growth and development.

Delaying baby’s first bath raises an eyebrow or two.

Isabel watches as baby sister Charlotte gets her first bath“I’ve had some patients and their support people look puzzled or grossed out about delayed bathing, but I simply explain it to them like this. ‘Vernix is the best moisturizer of your life, and you only have one opportunity to let it soak in as best as possible,’” Asklund said.

“If I could bottle it up and sell it, I would. It's that great.”

The list of benefits continues.

  • More bonding time during the important first hours
  • Keeps blood sugar stable
  • Breastfeeding starts more easily
  • Helps form immunity

“Delayed bathing is all about keeping moms and babies together, plus it regulates temperature and protects babies from infection,” said Carissa Swiatek, CNM.

When Asklund had Charlotte this spring, “Her grandma gave her her first bath at 14 hours old, with the help of big sister Isabel.”

Both Swiatek and Asklund love seeing the many bonds new babies create.

“It is really touching to be a part of the birthing process,” Swiatek said, adding Carle’s nurse midwife practice is the largest in downstate Illinois, with more than 50 years of combined experience.

Carle Registered Nurse Sarah Asklund and her familyAs best practices evolve, birthing experts encourage families to learn all they can. Expectant and new parents can sign up for the right information at the right time with this helpful free service.

“I believe that as a parent, it's my responsibility to make informed decisions for the benefit and safety of my child. This includes being ‘in the know’ about evolving practices,” Asklund said. “Evidence shows the benefits of delayed cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin contact are much more beneficial than whisking the infant away to the warmer.”  

With her parting advice, the Nike slogan comes to mind.

“If any mom is questioning it, I say, ‘Absolutely do it.’ It’s a smart decision to do both because it’s good for your baby,” Asklund said.