The First Hour, The GOLDEN Hour.
As a Doula it is within my role to help facilitate the critical first hour after birth as
undisturbed as possible for both mother and baby. A large part of ensuring this starts with educating women and their families of the utmost importance of skin to skin, long before they meet their baby earth side!
Supporting parents to make informed choices from the very beginning is key toward positive birth outcomes including protecting the GOLDEN hour, the first juicy love bubble hour immediately following birth that has extensive evidence-based research proving the powerful effect on mum and baby both physically and emotionally short term and long term.
Human babies are biologically hardwired like every other mammal, they need their mothers as close as possible as they adjust to life outside the womb!
So what IS the Golden Hour?
Immediate skin to skin in a calm, warm and preferably low lit environment where mum feelssafe, supported and undisturbed for a minimum of one hour post birth or for as long as possible within the first 24 hours. Baby is held close, prone and naked on the mothers bare chest or torso, both covered with a blanket promoting the following to naturally and instinctively ensue;
+ mother-baby attachment and bonding
+ breast crawl/baby led breastfeeding establishment (and longer term success rate)
+ baby physiology including thermoregulation, respiratory and cardiac regulation, neuro
behaviour and metabolic function
+ delayed cord clamping
+ baby immunity boosted naturally (via being exposed to mothers bacteria)
+ baby glucose level maintenance
+ reduced risk of maternal postpartum haemorrhage and quicker placenta expulsion/third stage of labour
+ improved maternal healing
This 'sensitive period'; primes mothers and infants to develop a synchronous, reciprocal,interaction pattern, provided they are together and in intimate contact. Routine separation shortly after hospital birth is a uniquely Western cultural phenomenon that may be associated with harmful effects including discouragement of successful breastfeeding.
Baby Friendly USA recommends all infants should be placed with their mothers immediately post birth for at LEAST an hour as skin on skin is a strong vagal stimulant on both mum and baby through sensory stimuli such as touch, warmth and odor which among other things releases maternal oxytocin, the potent hormone of love.
The intricate dance between mum and baby is nothing short of amazing, fascinating and mind blowing!
Did you know that Oxytocin causes the mothers breast skin temperature to
rise thus providing optimal warmth to the infant far superior to being placed under a warmer?
The same hormone also antagonizes the flight or fight effect decreasing maternal
anxiety, increasing feelings of calm and social responsiveness, enhancing parental behaviors and of course facilitating bonding and attachment. Most incredible of all to witness is the “crawl” of a newborn up the mothers torso, finding and latching onto the nipple all on his own! Mother and baby are primed to stay together and fall in love!
The World Health Organisation states “putting newborn to breast within the first hour of life is critical to newborn survival and to establishing breastfeeding long term” and the benefits are in fact so clear that it is recommended that ALL newborn babies should receive skin-to-skin care, no matter the baby’s weight, gestational age, birth setting, or clinical condition
Skin-to-skin should begin immediately after birth and continue uninterrupted
for at least one hour or until the first breastfeeding session for mothers who are
Unfortunately early postpartum hospital routines often seen in Western cultures (which only began in the early 1900s when moved to hospitals) disrupt the innate behaviors of breastfeeding and maternal behaviors we recognize in all other mammals, yet we know that these routines can most certainly be held off until the mum is ready.
Because of this trend in western cultures we've hand crafted our 'Breast Milk Tincture' to boost and encourage supply in nursing mothers.
Even in neonatal emergency situations resuscitation can and should be performed right next to or even on mum.
Cleaning, weighing, examining, measuring, labeling, clothing, swaddling and jabs CAN wait.
The Golden Hour cannot. This time is sacred, stupendously intoxicating and critical. Mother Nature’s superb design. Keep mother and baby together, it is the best for mother, baby and breastfeeding!!
Childbirth educators and other health-care professionals have a responsibility to support this physiologic need through education, advocacy, and implementation of evidence-based maternity practices. This is an essential practice for safe, healthy birth including caesarean birth also.
May it be noted that whilst skin to skin with the mother is optimal, this cannot always happen (straight away or at all) for whatever reason individual to that mother and baby, however skin to skin with dad (or other important person there for the mother or baby) is a wonderfully beneficial bonding experience highly encouraged also due to its statistical significance on breastfeeding, newborn physiology as well as reducing dads anxiety, depression scores whilst also increasing better role attainment.