The vernix caseosa is a greasy, cheese-like coating that covers baby’s skin in the womb to protect their skin from getting pickled by amniotic fluid prior to birth. According to present knowledge, vernix production is unique to humans. At birth, vernix may cover the entire skin surface or only be found in body folds. Its color may actually help indicate intra-uterine problems or disease.
😳In utero: When swallowed by baby in utero, vernix helps:
• Develop the gut
• Prevents loss of electrolytes and fluids
• Seals the skin to prevent the amniotic fluid from turning baby into a raisin
• Acts as a microbial barrier from pathogens
• Protects skin growing underneath it
😳In birth: The oily texture may naturally lubricate the birth canal to reduce friction as baby makes their exit. It can also help with mother’s perineal healing!
😳 In postpartum:
• Vernix protects baby’s skin from drying out
• Reduced risk of bacterial infections
• Help baby retain heat
😳 In breastfeeding: The scent of vernix might be involved in triggering neural connections in babies’ brain needed for breastfeeding. The immune proteins found in vernix and amniotic fluid are similar to those found in breastmilk. Swallowing vernix and amniotic fluid in utero help coat baby’s lungs and digestive tract, preparing the digestive tract for the similar peptides found in breastmilk. The smell may also help baby find the breast!
The majority of the vernix is absorbed within the first day, so so it’s recommended to wait until after the first 24 hours to bathe baby. Vernix doesn’t fully absorb until day 5 or 6, so it’s best to wait until then.
Did you know that not only do the volumes of milk produced by the left and right breast differ, the milk made in the left breast can also taste different than that made in the right… during the same feeding!!
What you eat used to change the flavor of your amniotic fluid, exposing baby when they were a fetus to the profile of your diet, preparing them for the flavors they would later experience in your breast milk. Eating a wide variety in your diet while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding exposes your little one to a wide variety of flavors, getting them used to the spices, herbs and tastes of food they will be given when they start table food eaten by your family. The more of a particular food you eat, research says, the better the chance your baby will also like to eat that food.
Eating allergenic foods during pregnancy also protects baby from food allergies, especially if you continue to eat them while breastfeeding suggests new research. So far, there is no evidence that avoiding certain foods while breastfeeding helps prevent baby from developing allergies or asthma. The exception to that might be eczema: avoiding certain foods may reduce the risk of eczema. Allergy studies are challenging because of many factors, including food introduction, genetics, and maternal diet. Most studies conclude that exclusive breastfeeding (even as little as one month) lessens how often some allergies occur. Evidence also suggests that exclusive breastfeeding during the first four months may offer protection against certain types of allergic diseases including cow’s milk allergy and atopic dermatitis. So while oatmeal 24/7 may help increase your milk supply, switch it up for baby’s sake (and yours!!)
A study in 2011 by Caldwell & Maffei found that mothers who did yoga six consecutive days in a row boosted their breast milk supply by an average of 3.5 ounces per breastfeeding. They studied 30 mothers who had babies 1-6 months old and found the increase in milk supply across the board. They hypothesize that this happens because Yoga can affect the mind, soul and spirit of the mothers, in which Yoga gives peace of mind, relaxation and a sense of comfort as well as increasing mothers’ confidence. This in turn affects the release of prolactin and oxytocin hormones for optimal breast milk production. Yoga promoted increased blood flow to the muscles around the breast, strengthening the muscles of respiration, stimulating the hormonal glands associated with milk supply and release, and relaxation with increased self-awareness. Yet another way our bodies are magical and when we include self care into our routine, not only do we benefit, but so does our milk supply.