I know that this practice is often part of traditional midwifery practice, and during my training, it was considered routine. Once mom gets up, get her in the herbal bath and take baby too, because they like it.
I am an observer. I observed this practice many times during my midwifery training and often saw a bored mama sitting in an inadequate American bath tub just wanting to go back to bed and get some sleep. When I was able to implement my own practice I then began to ask women what they actually wanted to do. Most of the time they opted for a shower and back to bed.
Additionally, we live in Colorado, where sometimes it is cold and the air is very dry. If we are concerned about baby’s heat loss/retention, then why are we dunking them in water as soon as they get used to the light and air? Questions, always questions that I have.
I am also a reader. I read constantly. I can give you the gist of what I have read, but please, don’t ask for direct quotes- I do know the global thoughts and ideas. In recent years there has been much talk and research about the microbiome. The very beginning of our lives is really important and guess what? Vernix! The coating of “stuff” that baby has before and after birth is amazing and protective and good for baby.
Then there is the skin to skin revolution. If the new environment for baby is now mom, then that is probably where baby should be. Let them revel in each other’s presence. Let mom and baby smell each other. Let baby colonize its gut with its own and with mom’s birth goo. Just do it.
To take this a bit further, if we are interested in low impact birthing practice, then why are we interfering with the process? Baths are not really normal. Adding herbs is not really normal. Moms and babies want to sleep/snuggle/nurse. That is normal.
Vernix is also normal. If one is interested in low impact birthing, such as forgoing the vitamin K, not treating GBS positive with antibiotics in labor, then this vernix goo is probably invaluable. I don’t have research or sources for this handy (it might not be available) but it is something to ponder. Feel free to question along with me.
So what do we do with these wonderful herbs (or maybe essential oils)? If mom is really a water and bath person. Then it seems like she can do this after she has had some rest. Go for it! If she wants to take baby in with her after 24 hours or so, great, that is her choice. I am just not going to insist or oversell the idea that it is necessary. Let’s discuss it.