When we first brainstormed the idea of the lotion, balm and oats soak for our baby care product range, Vernix was one of the main things that came to mind.
When did I learn about Vernix?
When I was preparing for the birth of my eldest child, like many mums, I started educating myself about the birthing experience. I was really amazed with the HypnoBirthing Mums in the videos I saw on YouTube - i wondered how they could be so calm, relaxed and have such a wonderful birthing experience. After my doctor told me that due to my lower back injury, epidural was no longer an option, I felt really scared. Growing up, I had been told so many times about how my mum screamed for 18 hours in the labor room, all alone, while she was trying to give birth to me. Given epidural was no longer an option and inspired by those calm birthing videos, I contacted the local HypnoBirthing Practitioner and I signed up for classes on the spot. Through this, I thought I would learn how to birth calmly; but I got more than I bargained for - not only did I have 3 painless birth experiences, after learning about the benefits of vernix, keeping it on for my baby was one of the main things in my Birth Plan.
What is Vernix?
Vernix is the white, creamy coating that envelopes your precious newborn. It starts to form in the third trimester and helps protect baby’s skin from amniotic fluid. Vernix itself contains about 80% water and is permeable to the transport of water and other small molecules to the baby.
Many beneficial compounds are contained in the Vernix. Humans are the only ones that produce if, and a majority of its proteins (about 60%) are unique to the Vernix. In it, scientists have identified lipids, amino acids, proteins, antibacterial, and antimicrobial compounds (For those of us who are scientifically inclined, read more here).
Benefits of the Vernix
- Germ fighting superhero. One of the primary purposes of the vernix is to protect the infant from unwanted pathogens, both in the womb, and outside. It is a skin cleanser, antioxidant and acts as a protective covering while the baby goes through the birth canal. This allows baby to pick up good bacteria as well as potentially avoid overgrowths of bad bacteria, viruses and fungi in the mother’s vagina including pathogens that can cause things like diarrhea, meningitis and pneumonia in newborn infants. Leaving the vernix on your baby would mean that your baby stays covered in good bacteria and continues its road to a balanced microbiome from womb to birth.
- Best Moisturiser in the World. I wanted to say that "second best would be the Bare Balancing Baby Lotion", but in all honesty, it is not even comparable. Remember that part where 60% of proteins are unique to the vernix which can only be produced by humans? It locks skin moisture better than coconut oil and shea butter! Not only does it provide a waterproof barrier in the womb, but it also acts as a moisturiser while baby is in the womb. In fact, it is such a great moisturiser that scientists are trying to create a synthetic version for premature infants, burn victims, and those with dry skin.
- Keeping your baby warm and safe. The vernix also acts as a lubricant in the vaginal canal. This helps baby make the transition into the outside world, and decreases friction during birth. After birth, vernix, with its thick, waxy coating, helps to insulate the baby and as it also smells of mama, it provides comfort and eases bonding post birth.
How do we keep the Vernix?
Discuss with your Gynaecologist and make sure you specify that you do not want to wash off your baby's vernix, write it in your birth plan. You'll be surprised to find that it is Standard Procedure to rub or wash off all vernix!
As soon as baby is born,have skin-on-skin bonding with Mummy. This is the perfect time to gently massage the vernix into baby’s skin. It absorbs really fast and is really easy to do. Rub it in just like body butter.
This is why, when we formulated our products, we aimed to produce the world's best moisturiser (ok, second best!) that would contribute to a balanced skin microbiome.