Celebrating the Golden Hour

Posted on: December 27, 2021 | Babies, birth, Body, education, Information, Labor, Labor Doulas

Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. from Pexels

Claudia had read about it. She had heard about it. Claudia even asked her doulas about it. And here she was finally experiencing it! The infamous golden hour that is known to have a multitude of benefits to both her and her baby. The moment began so quickly as Claudia pulled her vernix covered baby up to her chest and wept. 

What is the Golden Hour

The golden hour is the first hours after delivery. During this time, immediately after birth of the baby, the baby is placed on the chest of the birthing person. Newborn screenings are delayed, umbilical cord detaching is delayed, breastfeeding is promoted, and skin-to-skin is prompted. Birthing facilities around the country have adapted the golden hour into their routine protocols for labor and delivery. Many of these birthing facilities have also been designated ‘baby-friendly’. 

Why is it important

The golden hour is important to the first hours of life after a baby’s birth as it provides benefits to both the baby and the birthing person. The benefits to honoring the golden hour are:

  • Immediate bonding
  • Decrease in stress levels in the baby and birther
  • Regulation of body temperatures
  • Increased success of breastfeeding

Immediate bonding to the baby occurs as the birther in most instances are the first to hold the baby outside of the womb. The familiar beats of the heart are heard. Due to the flow of oxytocin in childbirth, stress levels are kept at bay for the birther and baby. With skin-to-skin being practiced, the body temperature of the birther heats and regulates the body temperature of the baby. One of the most important aspects of the golden hour is that that first hour after birth promotes breastfeeding success. A breast crawl may be seen from the baby, as they make their way to the dark areola to feed. 

Routine Protocols for the Golden Hour

While any form of skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, breastfeeding in the first hour after birth, or delaying (or on birther) newborn assessments are ways of celebrating the golden hour. It’s not an all or nothing type of indication. Deciding on what fits your birthing philosophy and tailoring your birth experience to that is what constitutes the golden hour for YOU. Routinely, there are four pillars to the golden hour, but not limited to and can be personalized for each birthing family.

Skin to skin contact. Baby is placed immediately on the birther or chosen member of representation from the womb. Regulating baby and birther’s body temperatures. 

Delayed cord clamping. The delaying of the detaching of the umbilical cord has benefits of allowing as much as the blood from the placenta to be delivered to the baby. Cord blood banking can also be a benefit.

Initiation of breastfeeding. That first hour includes one of the most important feeds of the baby’s life. The first breastfeeding session can set up breastfeeding successes from the start. Allowing the baby to latch on to the breast and suckle the colostrum creates many benefits of building up antibodies, immunities, and coating the belly and utilizing mouth muscles in preparation for the increased milk volume. Colostrum that is fed to the baby in the first 3-5 days of life is often considered “liquid gold” due to its incomparable benefits. 

Newborn assessment delayed or conducted on birthing person. The wipe down, the measuring, the suctioning, the poking and prodding can all wait in most cases within a healthy delivery of the baby and a healthy baby. By doing so, this can eliminate unnecessary stresses put on the baby coming from one environment to another. 

Congratulations Claudia!

For the past nine months, Claudia pondered, planned, prepared, and prayed for an ideal birthing experience. This little being that she held tightly to her bosom was hers. The past 24-hours was a whirlwind of emotions, thoughts, tears, and celebration; and it was all worth it for this very moment in time. As Claudia sat with her new baby skin-to-skin, alone for a moment from the carousel of nursing staff and caressing her baby’s cheek, she was grateful for the experience she had. She was grateful for the expertise from her provider. Most of all, she was grateful for the continued compassionate support of her birth team, her labor doulas. Stay tuned for Claudia’s complete birth story!