My sister is due to have a baby next week, and I have been trying to think of the best, natural, newborn baby advice. My sister’s labor will be quite different than mine, as both of my children were born at home in water, and she will be giving birth in a hospital. My midwives had prepared a list of things needed for a home birth, and one item on the list was organic olive oil.
I have read many books on natural childbirth, such as Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Special Delivery. When I saw olive oil on my midwives’ list, I assumed it was for massaging the perineum to prevent tearing during labor. After my first child was born; however, I discovered the real reason every newborn’s parent should have olive oil on hand.
A newborn baby’s first stools are called meconium. Meconium is a dark, tar-like substance created in the baby’s digestive system in utero from ingesting amniotic fluid, epithelial cells, etc. In fact, the term meconium is derived from the term meconium-arion, meaning “opium-like”, because of its thick, dark appearance.
Meconium is difficult to remove from newborn babies’ bottoms. Diaper wipes and warm soapy wash clothes just smear the substance around. Olive oil is the best substance for removing meconium, and it also leaves a protective barrier on the baby’s bottom, which makes future meconium clean up easier. In fact, some doulas and midwives recommend putting olive oil on the newborn’s bottom before any meconium appears to ease the first diaper change. Some hospitals recommend parents use Vaseline, but it is a petroleum product and not something I would want to put on my children’s skin.
Olive oil is great for baby’s skin! It makes meconium clean up easier and is useful for treating other common infant problems, such as cradle cap. Next time you attend a baby shower, give the gift of olive oil!
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