I just read an article on Baby's First Bath from Bellies and Babies here. It reminded me how thankful I am of the fact that I was able to have a home birth.
The first bath was one of the things that I was worried about as an expectant mom. From all the literature I had read, talk that I had heard, my baby was going to be taken away from me and washed minutes after the birth. I came hesitantly to my midwives asking them what they were going to do about cleaning my baby after the birth, it was so ingrained in me by our culture that a bath was normal, that if I remember correctly my question was "So after the birth how soon do you have to give the baby a bath?".
The question reflected very well my position. I wanted my baby on me and nursing, not away in another room being washed. I wanted to smell her and love her and did not want the interruption. However I did not know if that was possible.
Luckily I had the very best midwives, and they raised an eyebrow at me exclaiming "We don't wash a newborn!". What a relief! They then went on to explain how beneficial the vernix is to babies and why we wouldn't want to wash her right away. It all made sense to me in a medical sense, but there was a deeper feeling to it, really... I didn't want my baby's first experience out of the womb to be a brutal uncomfortable bath to "clean" her of me... of us.
After the birth, she was on me warming up and nursing for a while before we even cleaned of the blood that had coated a bit of her hair, and after that there was no need for anything more, truly. The vernix was absorbed into both her and my skin, she smelled great... that new baby smell that I sometimes miss so much now that she's toddling around. She was not dirty... she did not need a bath... There would have been no reason for anyone to take her away from nursing and bonding with me for it.
Our first bath, the next evening I believe (those days are a bit blurry now), was exactly as the one shown at the end of the Bellies and Babies post as what should happen.
We poured a bath for both me and her, and I just held her in the water swaying her slowly in, bringing her head down and covering her ears a bit here and there, softly moving her hair from her scalp to make sure I washed every bit of her. And she enjoyed it so thoroughly. She was so content in that water and I couldn't be happier that I was able to wait for her to truly enjoy that experience.