Your baby's arrival marks the end of a long journey filled with kicks, hiccups, and cravings, and the beginning of an incredible adventure. During the Golden Hour after birth, that magical 60-minute period when time appears to stand still, you and your newborn can create memories that will last a lifetime. This special time allows for skin-to-skin bonding and early breastfeeding, setting the foundation for physical health and emotional well-being. Cherish every moment of this Golden Hour as it sets the stage for a beautiful and healthy journey ahead.
What are the Benefits of the Golden Hour?
The Golden Hour creates a surge of oxytocin, also known as the “love” hormone. This release of oxytocin not only turns the mother into a welcoming and comforting space for the newborn but has several more benefits for both the mother and the baby:
The skin-to-skin contact helps strengthen the mother-baby bond, which fosters emotional well-being and attachment. It creates a sense of security for the infant and nurtures trust. The warmth and scent of the mother's skin provide reassurance to the baby, easing the transition from the womb to the outside world.
Skin-to-skin contact during the golden hour helps initiate breastfeeding and promotes the production of milk. The baby's natural instincts are heightened during this period, making latching easier and more successful. The mother's body also produces colostrum, a nutrient-rich, antibody-packed substance that provides the baby with the first essential nutrition.
Regulates body temperature:
Newborns are not able to regulate their body temperature, and skin-to-skin contact with the mother helps keep them warm, prevent hypothermia, and reduce the need for supplemental heating.
The warm and secure environment of skin-to-skin contact promotes relaxation in both mother and baby.
Your baby is experiencing a brand-new world, which can be intimidating. This time offers them a feeling of comfort as they finally get to "see" the person whose voice they've been hearing for the past nine months.
Benefits for the mother:
Starting the postpartum journey with a positive and intimate experience sets the stage for a mother's confidence and her overall maternal role.
The love hormone, oxytocin is relaxing to both you and your baby.
What Role does the Golden Hour Play in Facilitating Breastfeeding?
The Golden Hour provides an ideal environment for the mother and baby to initiate and establish nursing. When babies breastfeed within the first hour, they are more likely to breastfeed successfully in the future. If you are a new mom, you may be anxious about breastfeeding, so remember, the skin-to-skin contact stimulates your baby’s natural instinct to latch. There are a variety of ways you can promote latching:
Gently massaging your breasts encourages the milk to drop. Understand that the first few days of breastfeeding, you are releasing colostrum, also known as liquid gold. It is thick, golden substance rich in nutrients and antibodies to help build your baby’s immune system. Colostrum production will last for a few days.
Position the baby:
Yes, your baby has a natural latching instinct, however guidance may still be needed. Holding the breast in one hand directing it toward the baby’s mouth while positioning the baby’s head up to the nipple will help the baby latch.
Breathe and ask for help:
Breastfeeding is as old as time. Your body and your baby know what to do. If you are stressed and feeling anxious, your baby can sense it. This is new for both of you, so be sure to ask your nurse for assistance.
Frequent breastfeeding boosts milk supply:
Newborns typically nurse every 2 to 4 hours, but it can be as often as every one to one and half hours. Whether you are breastfeeding or pumping, that stimulation enhances and sustains milk production.
How Can You Make the Most of the Golden Hour?
Now that you understand the significance of the Golden Hour, let's explore some ways to make this moment truly exceptional:
Communicate your birth plan:
Before the big day arrives, communicate your wishes to your healthcare team. Let them know that you'd like to maximize the Golden Hour and have a birth plan that accommodates it. Discuss your preferences for minimal intervention during this time, allowing you to focus on bonding with your baby. If you don’t have a birth plan, be sure to check out our blog
on how to craft one.
Ask your healthcare providers to limit unnecessary procedures and assessments during the Golden Hour. This will allow you to focus on bonding with your baby without interruptions. Most routine checks can wait until after this magical hour has passed.
Capture the moment:
The Golden Hour is typically just the parents and the baby. However, some parents may opt to have a professional photographer or family member capture this intimate moment. These photos will become treasured memories that you can cherish forever.
Relax and savor
During the Golden Hour, relax and soak in the experience. Put aside your worries and simply enjoy the miracle of your newborn. Gently stroke your baby's skin, talk to them, and maintain eye contact. The more you engage with your baby during this hour, the stronger the bond that will develop.
Keep visitors at bay:
While friends and family may be eager to meet the newest member of the family, it's essential to limit visitors during the Golden Hour. This time is about bonding and should be as distraction-free as possible. You can arrange for visits later in the day when you've had this precious moment to yourselves.
Should my Partner also do Skin-to-Skin Contact?
In the past, skin-to-skin contact was often considered an activity exclusively for the mother and baby. However, research has shown that involving the partner in this practice offers numerous benefits:
Just as the baby bonds with the mother during skin-to-skin contact, the same emotional connection occurs between the baby and the partner. This creates a strong family bond from the very beginning.
Support and comfort:
Having the partner involved in skin-to-skin contact can provide emotional support to both the mother and the baby. It's a reassuring presence during an often intense and emotional time.
Equality in parenting:
Involving the partner in the Golden Hour and skin-to-skin contact reinforces the idea of shared responsibility in parenting. It's a beautiful way to kickstart the journey of parenting together.
The Impact of the Golden Hour
The Golden Hour can have long-lasting effects on both the baby and the mother. For the baby, it promotes a sense of security, reduces stress, and aids in overall development. It is also associated with improved breastfeeding success, which has its own set of long-term health benefits.
For mothers, the Golden Hour fosters a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. This special time marks the beginning of a unique and profound bond with their child, setting the stage for a nurturing and loving relationship. The positive emotional impact of this hour can extend far beyond the early days of motherhood. By understanding its importance and following the suggested tips, you can make the most of this extraordinary hour, creating beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. Cherish every second of this experience and embrace the incredible journey of motherhood. The Golden Hour is not just an hour; it's the start of a beautiful and transformative chapter in your life.