The first hour after birth is known as “the golden hour” and is a magical period of intimate connection and essential bonding between the newborn, parents, and the world around them.
Why is skin-to-skin contact important?
Skin-to-skin contact allows the baby to feel the warmth of their mother’s body and hear the comforting sound of their heartbeat. This skin-to-skin touch has been shown to stabilize the baby’s heart rate and breathing, regulate their temperature, and even reduce stress levels for both baby and mother.
Furthermore, this contact releases a surge of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” in both parents. Oxytocin enhances feelings of love, trust, and emotional bonding, laying the foundation for a strong and nurturing parent-child relationship. It also promotes expulsion of the placenta, and decreases risk of bleeding.
The close contact with the mother’s skin helps colonize the baby’s skin with beneficial bacteria, which can boost the baby’s immune system and protect them from harmful pathogens. This initial colonization is thought to have a lasting impact on the baby’s overall health and well-being.
Additionally, during the golden hour, many babies instinctively begin to root and will latch onto the breast for their first breastfeeding session. This early initiation of breastfeeding has a positive influence on the baby’s health, as colostrum, the nutrient-rich early breast milk, provides essential antibodies and nutrients that protect against infections and support the baby’s transition into extrauterine life. It also helps to encourage the first flow of the mother’s milk supply, and promotes a positive breastfeeding relationship.
How to ensure skin-to-skin after birth?
Hospitals are increasingly recognizing the importance of the golden hour and are implementing policies to support this critical period. Medical interventions that can be delayed, such as routine assessments and measurements, are often postponed to ensure that parents have uninterrupted time to bond with their newborn.
Family-centered care during this time encourages a calm and relaxed environment, allowing parents to focus on their baby’s needs and soak in the beauty of these initial moments.
Even after a c-section, it is recommended to have the baby skin-to-skin with the mother as quickly as possible, even when still in the operating room. Every effort is made to keep the mother and baby together if possible.
With CWC Ashburn and The Midwives of Loudoun County at Inova Loudoun Hospital we do everything possible to encourage skin-to-skin during the golden hour.
The golden hour after birth is a precious time for both baby and parents. It is a time of bonding, empowerment, and connection that sets the stage for a loving and nurturing parent-child relationship.
Interested in learning more about what to expect during and after your birth? Register for one of our free classes here (hyperlink to the class registration).