The Golden Hour - and why it is so important
The first hour of your baby’s life immediately after birth is a very important time. It is so special that it is sometimes called ‘the golden hour’.
The golden hour should be regarded with extreme respect, and nothing should interfere with this time of bonding and the new family getting to know each other.
Most hospitals in the UK respect this hour and facilitate skin to skin contact of you and your baby, but sometimes not with total respect. Immediate skin to skin contact when your baby is born means just that, immediate. We can’t imagine the shock to a baby of being born. It must be like being suddenly dumped in a completely alien environment with no explanation at all. All your baby wants is to get back to the reassurance of what it knows, the feel of your skin, the rhythm of your heartbeat and your breathing, and the sound of your and your partner’s voices. And it needs this fast.
It doesn’t want to be picked up and wiped by a midwife who says, ‘Welcome to the world,’ and then passes you your baby. Those few seconds would be the longest few seconds of a baby’s life and it would be screaming blue murder by the time it settles into your arms. It is best for you to receive your baby yourself, with the midwife there to guide you if necessary, and immediately hold your baby close against you. A baby that is greeted in this way will very often not cry at all. After all, crying is a baby’s way of communicating and, if nothing traumatic is happening, it doesn’t have anything to tell you.
Our golden hour was such a special time for us, it allowed us the time we needed to process the birth and take everything in. It felt as though the world stood still for a moment whilst we enjoyed every moment with our new baby ❤️
The golden hour is sacrosanct; it can be respected even if your baby is born by caesarean section. Your baby does not need to be taken away to be wiped, checked or weighed, unless there is an unusual clinical need. Checks can be done with your baby in your arms, and the baby can be weighed after that special bonding time. It will weigh the same then.
Birthing the placenta, optimal cord clamping to allow time for all the baby’s blood to flow back into the baby from the placenta, and the establishment of breast feeding all happen naturally in this hour, and work best if mother and baby are undisturbed.
Think about the respect you would like to be given to you and your baby in this special hour and include it in your birth plan. This is a very special and wonderful time so make sure it is respected and relish it.