Baby shampoo on your vulva during birth?

As I typed the title for this blog post, I almost wrote “vagina” instead of “vulva”  and I remembered this image I saw on Instagram depicting the common confusion between the two. (Via the Positive Birth Movement)

So why am I talking about the vulva?

Well, I recently found out that some care providers are now pouring baby shampoo (Johnson & Johnson), mineral oil, olive oil, Betadine, or Hibiclens on the vulva at the time of birth for “lubrication”  or “cleaning” purposes.

You might not care if this happens during your birth, many women don’t mind. However, it’s good to know that it’s actually a “thing” so if you don’t want it you can say, “no, thanks.”

Let’s talk about a few reasons why you might not want this…

1. You might not want the ingredients listed coming into contact with your body or your baby’s body.  “In the regular formula of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, it lists water, cocamidopropyl betaine, PEG-80 sorbitan laurate and sodium trideceth sulfate. Citric acid, PEG-150 distearate, polyquaternium-10, fragrance and tetrasodium EDTA are also ingredients. The last three ingredients are quaternium-15, yellow 10 and orange 4.​” source

2. It can interfere with the inoculation of bacteria and the establishment of your baby’s microbiome. More on this here. The establishment of the microbiome at birth is important for many reasons, one being that the microbiome plays a big role in the development of your baby’s intestinal immune system. Learn more about this on episode 14 of the Pure Nurture Podcast where I interview the author of Microbirth and producer of the documentary Microbirth. 

3. Even though the shampoo is “tear-free” this additional product could potentially get in your baby’s eyes and cause irritation. If you or your baby have sensitive skin, it could cause further irritation.  

I went on a few mom blogs to see what people are saying about this. Some are, as one woman put it, “horrified” by this new practice. Other moms shared that they don’t mind at all. As with everything related to pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and life you get to decide what is best for you and your family and leave the rest.  

With that being said, and regardless of your stance, I think it’s important to be educated about things so you can make informed decisions. So, check with your provider, see if this is something they do, ask him/her questions, do your own research, and then decide what you want or don’t want.

Do you care if you have baby shampoo or mineral oil used at the time of your baby’s birth? Did you know this was a practice in some hospitals? Let me know what you think!

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