The Golden Hour After Birth: What is it and why is it so important?
What is the Golden Hour After Birth?
The Golden Hour is the time right after delivery where mom and baby have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for at least the first one to two hours. As long as mom and baby are well, immediate and continuous skin-to-skin contact is recommended.
Skin-to-skin contact during the Golden Hour after birth is highly recommended, when possible. It promotes bonding and milk supply. Skin-to-skin in the first one to two hours provides oxytocin production in both mom and baby. Oxytocin is “the love hormone” that helps with emotions such as trust, bond, and positivity.
When baby is placed tummy-to-tummy with mama immediately after delivery and left undisturbed for the first 2+ hours, most newborns are able to find the breast and latch with little to no, help. Read more about the benefits of skin-to-skin.
How do babies normally behave during the Golden Hour?
Babies have been found to go through 9 stages after delivery when placed in immediate skin-to-skin contact with their mother.
- Birth cry
In a nutshell, they will cry after they are born and, when placed in skin-to-skin contact, will go through active and rest periods while moving towards the breast to find and attach to the nipple and breast. Most babies can do this with little to no help. Waiting for them to latch-on on their own may help them to get a better, deeper latch. This latch should occur within the first 60 minutes after delivery.
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What can you do to help ensure skin-to-skin contact after delivery?
If all is well with you and baby, then it is recommended to do immediate skin-to-skin contact. The following are things you can do to prepare yourself and your healthcare providers for limited interruption.
Make your wishes known. Discuss wanting uninterrupted time with your doctor, midwife, nurses, doulas, partner, and anyone else involved with the labor and delivery—that way, they can help make sure this happens.
This means that all baby assessments can be done while they are on your chest. Anything unnecessary requiring baby to be removed from your chest during this time can be delayed, such as weight check, measurements, footprints, medications, bath, etc.
Make skin access easy. Allow access to the breasts during this time—wear clothing during labor and delivery that is easily removable for baby to have full access to your breasts. I recommend Dear Darby birth gowns.
What happens if mom and baby are separated?
Ideally, skin-to-skin contact will begin immediately after birth with no separation until two hours have passed and the first breastfeeding session is complete. Unfortunately, this cannot happen in all situations.
Situations such as C-sections, difficulty breathing, meconium in your amniotic fluid, pre-term delivery, and more can cause a need for baby to be assessed further and skin-to-skin contact to be delayed. If this occurs, start your Golden Hour as soon as possible.
Skin-to-skin contact can be done after a C-section. Be sure to request this if a c-section is necessary.
If a long separation is necessary, use your hands to remove milk in the early hours after delivery to maximize your breastmilk supply when it transitions.
No matter your birth circumstances, advocate for your post-delivery birthright to experience the Golden Hour. It’s a magical time for a reason, and you’ll find a significant amount of benefits as a result.