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There is magic in the moment when you meet your child for the first time. Something so precious, so indescribably powerful, it’s hard to imagine any aspect of it is quantified. And yet, it is.

Why is this Golden Hour so important?

Studies* show that a close mother-child bond is critical for the baby’s ongoing growth and development. Skin-to-Skin contact in the first hours and days of your baby’s life will play a key role in helping you become bonded. Months after birth those moms and babies who spent this time together skin to skin following birth show more positive contact with their child.

Benefits to both moms and babies from holding skin-to-skin

Babies:
• Are happier, calmer and cry less
• Stay warmer
• Have higher blood sugar levels
• Are protected by some of your good bacteria
• Have more stable heart, respiratory, and oxygen rates
• Breastfeed better, which helps them be healthier with less risk of getting ear infections, asthma, diarrhea, RSV, diabetes, obesity, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Mothers:
• Bond more easily with the baby
• Gain confidence and satisfaction from caring for the baby
• Learn when the baby is getting hungry and what the eating cues are
• Make more breast milk and breastfeed more easily, which is good for moms too! Breastfeeding helps you bleed less, lose weight, and decrease your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

What to expect during the Golden Hour

The Golden Hour is a time for mother and baby to bond without having the interruption of procedures such as medications, footprints, etc. that can be done after the one hour bonding time with mom. It’s also a time for the nuclear family, parents and baby, to bond.

We ask that families and friends visit after the golden hour not during this time, allowing mom and baby to focus entirely on each other during this critical period.
1. When does the Golden Hour begin?

Immediately after delivery, as long as mom is stable and baby is healthy, the baby is placed skin to skin on mom’s chest with a blanket covering the baby. (If you have to have a Cesarean section baby placed skin to skin with you immediately on your return to the Labor and Delivery room as long as you and baby are stable.)Baby stays in Labor and Delivery unit with mom for 2 hours after the first vital sign is done on baby, usually done within 5-15 minutes after birth. Baby will stay with mom and bypass the nursery as long as baby meets criteria of a healthy term baby.

2. What will baby do during the Golden Hour?

Expect baby to cry at first and then relax. Following this relaxation baby begins to open their eyes a little and perhaps even look at mom’s eyes. Baby might begin to salivate a little and begin to root, moving their head around on your chest. Often baby will bring their hands to their mouths and to mom’s breasts.Baby will be placed at the breast, but baby initiates actual feeding. It’s okay if all baby is doing at this point is nuzzling and licking explains Alicia Lang RN., Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at TMC. Expect periods of rest amid the activity, that’s perfectly normal.

3. What about breastfeeding? Shouldn’t baby be eating straight away?

Debra Derck Clinical Manager of Labor and Delivery states, “A nurse is there to support the mother and baby and breast-feeding is not forced at this time; instead the baby is given the time to seek out the breast and the nurse is there for guidance and encouragement.”

4. What happens if there are some concerns about baby?

Babies need a little closer observation will be in a room designated for transitioning babies. After the transition period is over, baby will either go to mother’s room or be admitted to NICU.

5. What happens after the Golden Hour?

After an hour or so, baby may begin suckle on the breast, and after the first feed it isn’t unusual for both mom and baby to sleep. You should continue to enjoy this special closeness as often as possible during your postpartum stay with us on the Mother Baby Unit, and in your early weeks at home. Our Mother Baby Unit is designed so that mothers and newborns remain together as much as possible. Read more about why rooming in is important in our upcoming post.

The best place for baby is with YOU!

Resources

The Effect of Skin-to-Skin Contact (Kangaroo Care) Shortly After Birth on the Neurobehavioral Responses of the Term Newborn: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Sari Goldstein Ferber, PhD*, Imad R. Makhoul, MD, DSc‡ PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 4 April 1, 2004 pp. 858 -865

Care Practice #6: No Separation of Mother and Baby, With Unlimited Opportunities for Breastfeeding, Jeannette Crenshaw, RN, MSN, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE J Perinat Educ. 2007 Summer; 16(3): 39–43.doi: 10.1624/105812407X217147