Not so fast: ‘Wait for Eight’ for baby’s first bath


Does it matter how soon after birth a newborn is bathed? In fact, yes.

Goshen Hospital’s Circle of Caring Birthplace holds off on the first bath for least eight hours, and with good reason: The delay results in both high breastfeeding rates and better temperature control for babies at the hospital.

The “Wait For Eight” campaign was presented to Circle of Caring Colleagues at an AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) conference. Circle of Caring Birthplace adopted “Wait For Eight” guidelines for breastfeeding mothers in 2016.

“Before that, we were just giving the baby a bath whenever the parents wanted it,” said Teneesa Stuckey, Goshen Hospital’s director of obstetrics. “A lot of times, that was within a couple hours after delivery.”

Research has shown that delayed bathing is best.However, research has shown that delayed bathing is best.

“Now we educate our parents that we wait eight hours for a bath so the baby has time to transition,” Stuckey said. “Babies can control their temperature better if the bath is delayed. Once we started delayed bathing, we found that on average 94 percent of our newborns had the majority of their temperatures within the normal range for newborns.”

Circle of Caring has also noticed a correlation between delayed bathing and higher breastfeeding rates.

“The literature has shown that if you allow a baby to be skin to skin with mom for at least that first hour after delivery, they feed better and have better temperature and stability,” Stuckey said. “What we also find is that for moms who do skin to skin for longer than an hour, that time also increases successful breastfeeding initiation and helping the baby get latched on.”

“Wait For Eight” is working at Circle of Caring Birthplace, where the breastfeeding initiation rate is 90.3 percent. That far exceeds both the national rate of 81.1 percent and the Centers For Disease Control’s Healthy People 2020 program goal of 81.9 percent.

“Wait for Eight” isn’t the only example of Goshen Hospital’s commitment to successful breastfeeding and infant care. Since 2010, the hospital has been certified by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It recognizes hospitals and birthing facilities that complete a 10-step process to help parents make the best choices about feeding and caring for their newborns.

The Colleagues at Circle of Caring Birthplace take pride in the care they provide, and in reviewing results from the most up-to-day clinical trials to do their jobs even better.

“We’re here to support our moms and babies and make sure they have as smooth a transition as possible from pregnancy to delivery to that period of their bonding together,” Stuckey said.

At Circle of Caring Birthplace, “getting off to a good start” is more than a saying. It’s a mission, and one that improves the lives of mothers and babies every day.