The Golden Hour

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Have you heard of the golden hour? I’m not talking about that magical time right before sunset when the light is low in the sky and it illuminates the world so beautifully — although the golden hour I’m referring to is just as gorgeous.

I’ll be totally honest with you. I had NEVER heard of it with my first child – let alone did I experience it. Baby was put on my chest, on top of my super fashionable hospital gown, I got to look at his sweet perfect face and then off he went to a warmer, as I gazed longingly at him from across the room. I wanted him in my arms, I wanted to cuddle and smell and discover him. THAT my friends, that yearn, that want to hold your baby, is part of what makes up “the golden hour”.

Every birth is different, and so is every mama — so that desire I’m talking about might not have been there, and that’s okay. But what I have found, is that those who know about it, end up wanting it and enjoying it. There are no disadvantages of this time together.

So, what is this “golden” hour that I speak of? It’s right after delivery when a baby is put onto it’s mamas chest, skin-to-skin, without any interruptions. If it was normal delivery and there was no medical complications to either baby or mom, this can happen right away and you can ask that all procedures be delayed.

It’s all about the chemistry. Literally. 

Our bodies are AMAZING. Not only do we grown, nourish and birth our babies, our bodies are also help us “become” mothers. When a baby is put on a mama’s bare skin after birth, so many things happen, stress levels are reduced for both mother and baby — a lot of work just happened and adrenaline is rushing! This period of time helps slow the production of this hormone and allows for the “love” hormones oxytocin and prolactin hormones to do their thing! Oxytocin plays a huge role in becoming a new mama — it’s released during labor, after and during breastfeeding. The more time we have to cuddle up skin-to-skin with our babies, the more this hormone has a time to help build that mother-child bond!

One of the most interesting things about this “golden” hour — is that if babies are left uninterrupted, they will find the breast and begin to breastfeed automatically! It’s a strong instinct that they have, and while breastfeeding is a learning curve, our babies are designed to search for their mamas milk, and will always find it, given enough uninterrupted time.

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Some other pretty awesome stuff that can happen during this time:

  • Skin-to-Skin right after birth also helps regulate baby’s body temperature.  A mothers body can help regulate their baby’s temperature — how fascinating is that!?
  • Our Skin is the largest organ, and during this time, the good bacteria on the mother is picked up by their baby and helps protect baby. 

What happens if you have to have a cesarean? Well, if it’s not an emergency, talk to your doctor about having skin-to-skin right in the operation room! This practice is becoming much more common and more doctors are finding that allowing new moms to have this “golden hour” in the operating room really helps moms feel more included in a birth situation that might not have been their first choice.

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Did you do skin-to-skin right after birth? We would love to hear what your experiences with it!

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Hi there, I’m Jeannie

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I am a CLC Certified Lactation Counselor. I’ve become a certified instructor in the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth(AAHCC), a labor doula certified by Doulas of North America (DONA), certified by the National Association of Childbirth Assistants (NACA), Dad Certified™ by Empowered Papa and a certified instructor in the Gena Kirby Rebozo Technique  for professionals. Since 1989, I have attended 800+ births as a doula. In 2014, I completed the Skills Training with Stacy Hunt, CPM, at The Farm.

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