Fort Collins' Newest Hospital Offers Swaddle Bath

December 16, 2015

New practice brings relaxation and calm to newborn’s first bath.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Banner Fort Collins Medical Center (BFCMC) has adopted a new practice for giving newborns their first bath, one that empowers parents and provides newborns a gentler introduction to the world. Called a swaddle bath, it works by swaddling a newborn in a blanket and slowly immersing them in a tub of temperature-controlled water, which simulates the experience of being back in the womb.

The practice was implemented by nurses at the Monfort Family Birth Center at North Colorado Medical Center (NCMC) in Greeley and is now being used throughout Banner’s three Northern Colorado campuses: NCMC, McKee Medical Center in Loveland and Banner Fort Collins Medical Center. This advancement in care is part of a larger initiative by Banner Health to follow the baby-friendly tenants as outlined by the World Health Organization encouraging more increased contact with mom and baby post partum.

“It’s part of a new way of thinking,” explains Dr. Antonino Barbera, MD, OB-GYN, Banner Health, who practices at BFCMC. “Our program is built on relationships and blending the best of our clinical expertise with the patient’s requests in order to create a patient-centered experience.”

“It was great, he was very relaxed and peaceful,” said Jules Whitman, a Windsor resident whose newborn son, Grayson, recently experienced the swaddle bath at BFCMC. “The nurse helped quite a bit. But my husband performed most of the bath, and I think it was special for him to give the first bath.”

As the baby’s first bath, the swaddle bath is delayed up to six hours in order to help stabilize blood sugar, increase breastfeeding rates and allow babies to benefit from the antimicrobial effects of the vernix, the white substance that coats the skin when babies are born. Following the swaddle bath, parents continue to practice standard sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off.

Dianna York, BSN, RNC-MNN, and Penny Vance, RN, BSN, both with Banner Health, spearheaded use of the practice at Banner after research showed it was healthier for the baby and promoted bonding with both parents and siblings. After receiving approval from Banner’s infection prevention team, Banner nurses throughout Northern Colorado have been trained in swaddle baths.

“It’s one of the best things we’ve implemented,” York explained. “It’s more baby-focused and creates an intimate moment with the entire family.”

“The birth is a time that you cannot get back,” she continues. “By using practices like the swaddle bath, we’re trying to ensure families always remember the experience in a positive light.”

Banner Fort Collins Medical Center is a nonprofit, acute-care hospital offering emergency services, medical imaging, general surgery, orthopedics, urology, labor and delivery, women’s services, gastroenterology, intensive care, and other medical and surgical services. It is part of Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country with 29 hospitals located in seven states.