The first hour immediately after your baby is born is often referred to as the golden hour because so many beautiful and perfect things happen in this hour. They are “golden” and you don’t want to miss out. Your baby is usually awake and alert during this time, so bonding is easy. Oxytocin has been released in you which helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage and love and excitement are in the air.
It’s during this hour that skin to skin contact is the most important. In fact, skin-to-skin snuggling is important on every level of physical, psychological, mental, emotional, and spiritual for both mom and baby. It helps facilitate bonding and it’s a natural way to keep your baby warm.
When I welcome a new baby, I put him directly up to mom’s chest. I can assess heart rate, respiratory rate, color, and muscle tone just fine when he is snuggled into mom’s chest.When you are making your birth plan, make sure you include skin to skin contact in the first hour of birth. I assure you that if everything is okay with baby, the quick assessments that need to be made right away for APGAR scoring can be done with you holding your baby at your chest and even breastfeeding. Everything else can wait.I’m always happy when mom establishes breastfeeding with a good latch within the first hour of birth because this ensures her milk supply will be at its best.
Skin to skin contact is psychologically important for your baby as he transitions to his new life outside of your womb. He has been in your womb for nine months all comfy and warm, now he’s traveled through the birth canal which couldn’t be very comfortable, he’s born in bright lights, he’s cold and I’m guessing he’d probably like to crawl back up in his warm and familiar home he’s known for nine months. Skin to skin contact helps ground your baby to this side of the womb and now the bonding process takes on a whole new meaning, one of protection and love.As a midwife I try to keep that golden hour sacred, allowing mom to cuddle her baby on her chest rather than removing him for assessments, weight and other things that can easily wait. I give mom and dad time to bond with their new little family member alone only checking in every few minutes to make sure all is well.
There may be family members who are anxiously waiting to hold your sweet baby, but I always encourage mom to make the decision ahead of time that the first few hours are for her and dad alone. It’s easier to set those expectations with family a head of time rather than in the moment.
This hour will be here and gone before you know it but you will remember the feeling you have for a lifetime, make them “golden”.