Are you trying to figure out what you want your birth plan to look like? Terms like delayed cord clamping, cord blood banking, and the magical-sounding golden hour are probably being thrown your way and it can feel a little overwhelming.
In this article, we are going to break down everything you need to know about the golden hour after birth so you can decide if it’s something you want to include in your plans. What actually are the benefits and how do you inform your care provider about your preferences? Here’s our advice!
Everything You Need to Know About the Golden Hour After Birth
When a baby is born, they are suddenly outside of everything they’ve known and missing the comfort and protection that they are used to in the womb. For this reason, many people believe the “golden hour” (the first 60-minutes after birth) is crucial for mama and baby bonding. It has become super popular recently, so I bet you’ve heard about it!
The golden hour is when the newborn and mother spend the first 60-minutes after delivery skin-to-skin bonding with one another. This helps both the mother and baby get to know one another and get familiar with breastfeeding.
According to Medela, “There is a surging oxytocin release after birth that causes your senses to be intensified, allowing you to connect with the smell and feel of your baby,” (medela.us, 2022). Oxytocin also helps with your milk letdown, so this can give you a little headstart on milk production and breastfeeding.
3 Benefits of the Golden Hour
- The Golden Hour can increase Oxytocin production, this is also known as the “love hormone” and it helps with milk letdown. It is a beautiful way for you and your baby to begin your bond.
- When babies are placed directly on their mother’s chests, there is an increased breastfeeding success rate. This is because newborns are typically wide awake right after birth and ready to latch. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus contract and stop bleeding.
- Skin-to-skin helps your newborn regulate their temperature.
How do I plan for the golden hour after birth?
Traditionally, things like weighing, measuring, washing, injections, and blood testing are all done quickly following your baby’s arrival. If you want to spend the first hour of your baby’s life bonding and getting to know one another instead, it is really important that you talk to your care providers ahead of time and let them know your preferences.
I recommend writing out a birth plan with your partner and presenting it to your doctor or midwife early in the second trimester. This way you can make sure your preferences will be honored. Luckily, the golden hour after birth is widely practiced now in 2022 as the benefits are well known. Most hospitals should have no problem allowing you to have an undisturbed hour with your baby.
It is also a good idea to talk with your partner about how they can help advocate for your wants during this time. They can assist you in creating the ideal birthing environment, such as soft lighting, a warm setting, or soothing music.
What Will Happen During the Golden Hour
After waiting so many months to meet each other, your sweet baby has finally arrived. At this point, you will have previously told your care provider about your preferences and have a doula or birthing partner who can help advocate for your desires in the moment. Once your baby arrives, they will be laid on your bare chest, dried off, and blankets will be laid over you both.
Your baby has incredible natural instincts, if they are placed on your abdomen they will be able to army crawl independently toward your breast and latch on to breastfeed. Like we said above, skin-to-skin interaction also causes the brain to release the hormone oxytocin, which pulls the milk down via your milk-producing glands, delivering it to your baby.
Besides feeding you and your baby will spend this time just getting to know one another. It will probably look something like this:
- Skin-to-skin snuggling
- More breastfeeding
- More resting and snuggling
What if I don’t get to have the golden hour?
Birth doesn’t always go as planned. I have to start out by saying that labor and delivery look different for everyone and that’s okay! In some cases, it just won’t be possible to have your baby laid on you for skin-to-skin time immediately following birth.
If a medical emergency alters your birth plans, the priority is that you or your baby gets the care they need. Once everyone is stabilized, there will be a chance for bonding and you can request skin-to-skin time then.
Remember that the “golden hour” is a special period for you and your child. Therefore, this calls for serenity, tolerance, and support. Unless otherwise ordered by your care provider, spending private time with your newborn soon after delivery will help you better understand their needs and forge stronger bonds with them. Without a doubt, you and your loved ones will cherish the “golden hour” as a wonderful memory for the rest of your lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the first hour after birth so important?
When a baby is born, they are suddenly outside of everything they’ve known and missing the comfort and protection that they are used to in the womb. For this reason, many people believe the “golden hour” (the first 60-minutes after birth) is crucial for mama and baby bonding.
What are the 3 golden hours after birth?
Although it is typically referred to as the singular “golden hour” the 3 hours following birth can all be considered golden hours. It is in this time that babies typically latch and breastfeed for the first time and bond with their mother.
Why do they wait 24 hours to bathe a newborn?
When your baby is born they are covered in vernix, which works as a barrier for your baby while they build up their immune system. It is best to wait a bit to bath your newborn so that they don’t lose this barrier too quickly.
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