The Golden Hour (or hours) refers to the immediate hour after you have given birth to your baby and the connection that takes place during this time.
This quality time between you and your baby will have lasting effects on your relationship and how your baby adapts to their new environment. Your beautiful baby arrives alert and responsive. They are able to gaze into your eyes, hear your voice which they recognize, and be soothed by your warm touch. Taking advantage of this instant alertness carries big benefits.
It is recommended that you have uninterrupted skin-to-skin time for at least one to two hours after birth. Your baby has just left the safety and familiarity of the womb. Your body is still their home.
Skin-to-skin time during the golden hour has multiple benefits for both of you that last long after your hospital stay.
Skin-to-skin contact during the golden hour after birth helps establish breastfeeding.
This closeness stimulates your breast milk production at the exact right time. It has a positive impact on your milk production and supply. This helps you breastfeed for longer which is good for you and your baby.
Once your baby is on your tummy or chest after birth, she may find her own way to your breast and latch on with little to no help if left undisturbed. Her instincts kick in which helps to establish breastfeeding early and make the process easier. You may notice your baby rooting, squirming and turning their head toward your breast and opening their mouth. This means your baby is ready to attempt to latch on and feed. Getting to know each other and having this first feeding during the golden hour benefits your long term breastfeeding journey.
Cuddling your baby next to your skin floods you both with oxytocin, the love hormone.
Oxytocin helps with creating trust, comfort, contentment and reducing stress for both of you. Smelling, touching and holding your baby increases your confidence. This makes you feel more sure of yourself as a new parent. Oxytocin also helps to contract your uterus back down to size. This is an important part of your healing after giving birth.
Snuggling with your baby for that first hour is good for your baby’s health.
It helps them to regulate their temperature and heart rate. Your baby is learning to breathe out in the world. Being against your body assists them with regulating their breathing. The sight of your face and your smell stimulates your baby’s brain, which results in less crying and more alertness.
What can you do to help ensure skin contact during the golden hour after birth?
Instead of whisking your baby away for screening tests, weight checks, measurements, footprints and a bath, ask to have these things delayed until after the golden hour. Some assessments can be done while your baby is lying right on your chest. Let your doctor, midwife, nurses and doula know you would like to have an uninterrupted golden hour with your baby to preserve all of the benefits of this bonding time.
If you and your baby are separated after birth due to medical reasons for either one of you, that’s okay, don’t worry. Just advocate for having your golden hour with your baby as soon as possible when you are reunited. Your partner can also participate in the skin-to-skin time by cuddling your sweet newborn on their bare chest.
The golden hour after birth is truly a special time and you will benefit significantly from making this a priority for you and your baby!