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The Golden Hour: Questions and Answers

Maybe you have heard the term “golden hour” in relation to childbirth. Let’s take a look at what the term means for you and your baby.

What is it?

The golden hour refers to the first hour after birth when mother and baby have a period of skin-to-skin contact. Ideally, this happens after birth, as soon as the medical team knows that the baby is stable and doing well.

Unlike previous times in history when a baby was whisked away from mom for measurements and tests, now most agree that the best practice is to immediately place the baby belly down on mom’s chest while caregivers conduct a physical assessment of the baby and mom. Everything else—like weighing, measuring, bathing, or any tests—can wait until later.

Besides being a sweet time after labor and delivery, it has tremendous benefits for both mother and baby.

Why is it important?

Skin-to-skin contact during the golden hour promotes a strong bond between mother and baby. Also, the baby has been in a controlled environment for nine months (or more), so skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth has a calming effect and regulates the baby's temperature, respiration, and glucose levels.

How can it help establish breastfeeding?

When a newborn is placed on her mother’s chest, instincts kick in and the baby begins to root, looking for the breast. Babies who are given this extended time to self latch often have better tongue positioning and a more successful start at breastfeeding.

How can it benefit postpartum recovery?

Did you know that breastfeeding and suckling release hormones, like oxytocin and prolactin? This, in turn, helps with the delivery of the placenta, causes the uterus to contract, and stops internal bleeding sooner.

So there is a strong link between skin-to-skin contact in the golden hour, successful breastfeeding for baby, and the release of key hormones for mom.

What if there is an emergency or interruption?

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances, like a C-section or a medical emergency, mean that the golden hour can’t take place immediately after birth. It’s okay. There will be plenty of time for bonding, establishing breastfeeding, and getting to know your baby! Skin-to-skin contact is powerful, even after that initial golden hour elapses.

And, Tennessee Family Doulas would love to be your advocate and encourager during labor and delivery, your golden hour, and those early days of bonding, breastfeeding, and caring for your newborn.


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