Some Mums Lick Their Newborns…. Should You?

You’ve probably heard of delayed cord clamping and about the practice of not washing a newborn for a few days to preserve the vernix. And you may have even heard about women eating their placenta. But mums who lick their newborns? In a time when even hugging has begun to feel foreign the idea of licking a newborn can seem jarring, but when you think about it kind of makes sense! Literally, almost all other mammals lick their newborns. Not only does it help with bonding, but for non-human animals it helps with cleaning, removing the baby from the amniotic sac and allowing the newborn to breathe freely.

There are, however, some things you – as a human – might want to consider before you get that saliva flowing. “We always recommend frequent hand washing and extreme care for infection control with newborns, particularly in the first three months, and especially in the first month,” says pediatrician Dr. Manasa Mantravadi. “They don’t have the immune system to protect themselves.”

No one wants to pass on an infection to their newborn, which is frighteningly easy to do, so make sure if you’re considering licking, that your mouth, tongue and hands are clean and that you avoid the eyes, nose and mouth. If you’re looking for a “safe” spot to lick, opt for the top of the head. Now, if licking your baby after birth doesn’t seem too  appetizing (see what we did there?), you shouldn’t feel badly about it. It’s not something all mums feel compelled to do.

Here’s to putting a whole new spin on “eating your baby up!”

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