Delivery causes a lot of stress for a newborn baby and the mother. Both the mother and the newborn experience significant mental and physical strain during childbirth. Here comes the importance of the “golden hour” after birth.
The first hour after a baby is born is known as the “Golden Hour.” More focus has been placed on the first postpartum hour in recent years because of its significance to maternal and infant health.
So many new moms wonder, “What is the golden hour after birth?” This article will talk about the “Golden Hour”. Discover the significance of the golden hour after birth and how it benefits both mother and baby. Unlock the profound bond that can be established during this precious time.
What Is The ‘Golden Hour’ After Birth?
The physical and mental trauma under which the mother is going through labor and delivery is well known, and the newborn is also equally under pressure. It is normal for babies to feel stressed when they leave the safety of the womb and enter the world.
The process of being born involves the baby making its way through the birth canal, which can be a tight squeeze. The uterine contraction and the compression of the umbilical cord will temporarily reduce the oxygen supply to the baby. Further, their head will be under immense pressure while passing through the birth canal.
When it comes to reducing stress and fostering a healthy environment, the golden hour is crucial. The golden hour after birth is the first hour after a baby is born. It is a crucial time for bonding. Immediately following birth, the baby is placed tummy-to-tummy with the mother and left undisturbed. It is a precious window where the world outside fades away, allowing the bond between a mother and her baby to flourish.
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This uninterrupted period offers numerous benefits that can positively impact both the mother and the newborn. Even though a lot of websites talk about the “3 golden hours after birth,” research has found that the first hour after a baby is born is super important for building a bond between the mom and the baby1, with the remaining hours simply being an extension of that.
So, is there a way to keep the “golden hour” after a C-section? Yes, you are still entitled to your golden hour after a C-section, even if it isn’t 100% uninterrupted.
What Happens During The Golden Hour After Birth?
Parents are advised to focus on their newborn with as few interruptions as possible during this “golden hour.” To understand how important this time is, you need to know what happens during it.
Here’s what typically happens during the golden hour after birth:
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1. Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child is one of the most important things that can happen during the golden hour. This method involves putting the newborn baby on the mother’s bare chest so that their bodies can touch.
Skin-to-skin touch is good for babies in many ways, like keeping their body temperature stable, keeping their heart rate and breathing steady, and encouraging the release of hormones like oxytocin.
According to studies, providing immediate, uninterrupted skin-to-skin care for the first hour is one of the best ways to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.
2. Cutting the Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord can be clamped and cut after the initial skin-to-skin contact. Initially, it was done right away after birth. However, delaying umbilical cord clamping and cutting has several advantages. If you clamp down on the cord after the umbilical cord has stopped beating, this is called delayed cord clamping.
3. The First Breastfeed
The first breastfeeding is often initiated during the golden hour. This first feeding is very important because it starts the production of breast milk and teaches the baby how to latch properly. If a baby is breastfed within the first hour, they can get the benefits of the mother’s colostrum, a nutrient-rich fluid that is made before milk is made.
Because it has antibodies and proteins that help it grow and keep its immune systems strong, the first breast milk plays a role in keeping babies healthy in the first few months4.
4. Certain Evaluations and Assessments
During the golden hour, healthcare providers carry out various tests and evaluations to make sure the baby is healthy. They may measure the baby’s weight, length, and head circumference, check their general health, and check for birth-related issues. A newborn will receive an Apgar assessment within the first few minutes after birth. A newborn’s Apgar score measures their heart rate, respiratory rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color5.
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The Apgar score helps determine if immediate medical care is needed. The mother may also receive evaluations, such as checking her vital signs (such as blood pressure and temperature) to track her postpartum healing. They check for postpartum bleeding or other complications and offer support and care as necessary.
5. Establish a bond and offer emotional support
The golden hour after delivery also offers an exceptional chance for bonding and undivided emotional support for the mother, infant, and other family members present. The emotional bond created during this period is critical for the baby’s emotional well-being and future growth. It fosters a sense of safety and trust, which can have a positive effect on the child’s emotional development and capacity to form lasting relationships in the future.
6. Take steps to create a calm and quiet environment
During the golden hour, it is important to make sure the room/area is calm and peaceful. This means making sure there are not too many interruptions, noise, or bright lights
7. Some basic newborn medical procedures
Certain medical procedures, like giving vitamin K and eye ointment (to prevent infections) or doing a hearing test, might be done in the golden hour based on parental preferences and the protocol of the hospital.
8. Partner involvement
Encouraging the involvement of the partner or a support person during the ‘Golden Hour’ can enhance the bonding experience for both parents and the newborn. This can include active participation in skin-to-skin contact, learning about breastfeeding support, and emotional support for the mother.
Advantages Of Golden Hour After Birth
If you do not know about the “first golden hour,” you might be tempted to take photos with the newborn or pass the baby around to friends and family. However, doing so can cause stress for the baby, and it may affect even the first breastfeeding. The first hour after birth is very important for both the mother and the baby. It has a lasting effect on them, both physically and emotionally. Following are some of the top benefits of a golden hour after birth:
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Golden hour after birth: Advantages for the Mother
The “golden hour” after birth provides the mother with several advantages, not just physiologically but also emotionally.
Here are some key benefits she experienced during this time:
- Skin-to-skin contact causes the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” This hormone helps mom and baby bond on an emotional level, which is essential for the development of a deep-loving relationship
- Colostrum, the nutrient-rich liquid that is the first form of milk, is made more easily when breastfeeding starts early, during the “golden hour.” In this way, the baby gets important antibodies and nutrients right from the start
- When the mother holds her baby close to her, endorphins are released in her body, making her feel calm and less stressed. This speeds up the healing process and lessens any discomfort or pain that might have resulted from giving birth6.
Golden hour after birth: Advantages for the baby
During the “golden hour,” not only does the mother reap many benefits, but so does the infant. Let us take a look at the benefits of golden hour for the baby7:
- Since newborns are unable to control their body temperature, their body temperature drops quickly after birth, even in the case of full-term babies8. A baby’s body temperature is more easily maintained when they are in close contact with their mother’s warm skin
- Beneficial bacteria can more easily be transferred from mother to child through skin-to-skin contact, which in turn strengthens the child’s immune system9. This lowers the risk of developing infections and allergies in the immediate future
- A baby feels safe, stable, and comforted when held against its mother’s chest. This helps to control their blood sugar, respiration, and heart rate—all of which help to calm the newborn
How To Make The Most Of The ‘Golden Hour’ After Birth?
It is suggested that you give immediate skin-to-skin contact with your newborn top priority in order to make the most of the precious “golden hour” after birth. This close and intimate connection serves multiple purposes, including fostering bonding between you and your baby, regulating your baby’s body temperature, and facilitating the early initiation of breastfeeding.
It is advisable to communicate your preferences and desires regarding this special time to your healthcare team in advance. This ensures that they are fully aware of your wishes and can work towards creating a supportive environment for the ‘Golden Hour’.
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This hour holds significant emotional significance for both mother and baby. It is very helpful to have someone there who can give the new mother emotional support, reassure her that she can handle the role, and educate her about newborn care. This support greatly eases the transition into motherhood.
It is important to minimize unnecessary interventions and distractions during this crucial period, allowing you to fully savor the profound moments of meeting your baby and establishing a strong foundation for a healthy and loving mother-child relationship.
The period known as the ‘Golden Hour’ following childbirth is a valuable and cherished time for both mother and newborn. It marks the beginning of a lifelong journey filled with love, a period dedicated to building strong connections and providing care. Hospitals and birthing centers are increasingly recognizing the importance of this critical period and are implementing practices that promote immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding initiation.
Birth can happen at any time, and the golden hour isn’t always possible because of some possible complications that may happen to a mother or child. However, if you and your baby are in good health and stable, it is important to advocate for your right to experience the Golden Hour.