V is for Vernix

When babies are born, they sometimes look a little goopy. Parents may wonder what the white, sticky substance covering their newborn is. That cream cheese looking stuff is vernix and there are a host of benefits that come with it.

What is Vernix?

Vernix is a thick, creamy substance that covers your baby’s body during the last trimester of pregnancy. It is made of water, lipid, and proteins. Vernix provides protection for your baby’s  skin while they swim in the amniotic fluid. Some babies are born covered head to toe in vernix. Others only have the vernix left in the creases of their body, like under their arms or behind their ears.

What are the benefits?

Vernix provides protection of the baby’s skin during pregnancy, but also after the baby is born. Your baby’s skin goes through a transition outside the womb. The skin is no longer surrounded by water and has to adjust to whatever comes in contact with it. Leaving the vernix on your baby’s skin can help with this adjustment by decreasing water loss through the skin. Vernix is also a natural moisturizer, and there are anti-microbial properties present which can help protect the baby against bacteria.

What do I do with vernix?

Most of the time, baby will be placed skin to skin after birth and the nurses will use a towel to dry baby off and to stimulate baby to breathe and cry. During that time, some of the vernix is wiped away. If you prefer that the vernix is left on baby, you can put that information in your birth plan, and also let the nurses know you wish the vernix to remain.

If you are someone that does not want your baby skin to skin while still goopy, you could ask the nurse to place a towel between you and your baby. Once the baby is de-goopified the towel can be removed and you can enjoy skin to skin with a less goopy baby.

Whatever vernix is left on your baby can be massaged into its skin or just left to absorb on its own. It can take up to 5 days for the vernix to disappear. Since newborns are sponge-bathed until the umbilical cord falls off, the vernix has time to absorb into their skin without being wiped away.

However you choose to use the benefits of vernix, we wish you a peaceful and beautiful birth.


By: Lois Perks

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