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Delaying newborn’s first bath could make breastfeeding easier, studies show

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Breastfeeding wasn’t as simple as new mom Jill Enustun had hoped.

Before she gave birth to her now 5-month-old daughter, she researched ways to make the experience a little easier.

“Delaying her bath was a way to help your breastfeeding relationship start as smoothly as I could, so I definitely wanted to do that," Enustun said.

Doctors allowed Enustun to wait nearly two days before her daughter took her first trip to the tub.

It’s a trend Dr. Suyog Kamatkar at Community Hospital East has been seeing more and more in recent years.

A study by the Cleveland Clinic found exclusive breastfeeding rates increased nearly ten percent after the delayed baths.

“It improves skin to skin, it improves bonding, there is reduced chance of infection, and it helps mothers actually enjoy the first bath,” Dr Kamatkar explained.

At Community Health Network, babies go at least eight hours before the first wash.

But parents can opt to wait even longer as long as it’s not medically necessary.

“If there are mothers with HIV or Hepatitis or Herpes, those are the only exceptions which case we would bathe the infant as soon as the baby is medically stable,” Dr Kamatkar added.

Every hospital has their own policy on delayed baths. Community Health Network, IU Health, and St. Vincent Hospital all wait eight hours before a baby’s first bath.

If you’re expecting, doctors encourage you to look into all of your options and know your hospital’s polices beforehand.

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