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Newborn Hats - Necessary or Problematic?


DID YOU KNOW that those cute hospital hats for newborns may be causing more issues than not?


Postpartum hemorrhaging has been correlated to newborns in hats! Get this - when babies are born, mothers smell their babies and this causes an influx of hormonal reactions. This smell also signals to the mother's body that she has given birth and can begin internally healing. But when a hat is blocking the top of the head, this interferes with that biological exchange, thus contributing to hemorrhaging! It's also been scientifically proven that both mother and baby can recognize one another via their scent.


But wait... there's more.


"The smell of your new baby’s head isn’t just important for bonding, it’s important for your safety and baby’s well-being. The olfactory system expects certain cues right after your baby is born – these cues are supplied by the smell of your baby’s head as you snuggle with him or her after birth (it’s an even stronger cue than breastfeeding).


This trigger to your olfactory system (and limbic system) cues a massive rush of oxytocin, the “mothering hormone.” Oxytocin causes your uterus to contract, which shears the placenta from the wall of the uterus and forces an instant constriction of the blood vessels that were running to the placenta. This means a safe, effective third stage of labor for you (Odent, 2013).


This oxytocin high is also important for your mental well-being and for your baby. Your high levels of oxytocin increase your baby’s levels of oxytocin (in fact, they increase the oxytocin levels of everyone in the room!), which causes a stronger bond. It’s what’s responsible for the euphoria felt after natural childbirth – nature’s built-in safety and reward system. It’s triggered by snuggling and smelling your baby with no hat in the way."


We're told that these hats keep the baby warm, but science says otherwise. In fact, "Studies done decades ago proved conclusively that stocking caps do not help keep baby heads warm (Coles, 1979; McCall, 2010). They’re just ineffective. In fact, studies also show that the belief “we lose most of our heat through our heads” is also false (Pretorius, 2006). Hats on newborns may actually cause their heads to overheat. So how do we keep our newborn babies warm? Nature has the answer, and NICU units around the world already use it: you keep your baby warm.


That’s right, your body keeps your baby’s body at the correct temperature. It was designed to. In fact, you not only keep your baby’s temperature regulated, you also regulate your baby’s breathing pattern, heart rate, and even blood sugar levels (Ludington-Hoe, 2006). All of that magic happens when your baby is skin-to-skin with you and your body adjusts your temperature to keep your baby at the perfect temperature. NICU units call it “kangaroo care” – it works with preemies and full-term babies."


 

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