Have you ever heard of the “Golden Hour” in childbirth? The Golden Hour refers to the first 60 minutes immediately after giving birth to your baby, an unique window that can provide many benefits if well-utilized! Let’s explore everything about the Golden Hour together!
What is the Golden Hour?
The Golden Hour in childbirth refers to the moment immediately after the baby is born, i.e., the first 60 minutes of life outside the mother’s womb.
This is a crucial and special moment for both the mother and the newborn, encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby and the first breastfeeding. This sensory exchange not only brings immense benefits (which we’ll discuss shortly) but also greatly strengthens the mother-baby bond.
And it’s not just another trendy concept, you know? An example you may have witnessed at home, especially if you’ve had dogs, is what happens when a puppy is removed from the mother immediately after birth, before the mother has the chance to smell or “lick the offspring.” It’s common for the mother to reject the pup upon reunion, as she doesn’t recognize the scent of her offspring.
In other words, the initial contact between mother and newborn is vital for various aspects of development, from thermal regulation (considering the baby has just literally emerged from inside the mother’s body, where the temperature was perfect for its needs) to the formation of emotional and social bonds.
A story with no Golden Hour
Adriana was 25 years old when she gave birth to my nephew, Ângelo Gabriel. It was a complex situation that demanded a cesarean section due to Ângelo’s diagnosis of Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a rare condition affecting 1 in every 30,000 births.
The pregnancy was challenging and full of obstacles, much like the delivery, which had to be a cesarean section due to Ângelo’s hydrocephalus condition. Given the rarity of the syndrome, especially in the context of Mato Grosso where we were, there were no doctors equipped to handle it 14 years ago. Consequently, my nephew was born and immediately taken to the ICU.
My sister was heavily sedated during the delivery due to the complications. She could only hold her child for the first time when he was already 25 days old, a fact that still pains her today. She bravely shared with me that there were days when everything seemed hazy, as if it wasn’t real, and she didn’t know why she was there.
There were days when she forgot she had a son; it was like he didn’t exist. Not because she wanted it that way, but because there was no contact, no presence. She neither saw nor felt her own delivery; her baby was taken away immediately after birth. It was as if all of it had been a distant and confusing dream.
Can you see the connection with the golden hour? Let’s get back to the topic.
Golden Hour Benefits for the Mother and the Newborn
The golden hour in childbirth brings numerous benefits for both the mother and the newborn, which is why it is strongly advocated by major health regulatory bodies, such as the World Health Organization. Some of these benefits include:
Strengthening the Mother-Baby Bond
Physical closeness during the “Golden Hour” facilitates the establishment of an emotional bond between the mother and the baby. Skin-to-skin contact, in particular, is known to promote this bond.
Regulation of the Newborn’s Body Temperature
Direct contact with the mother helps regulate the newborn’s body temperature. This is crucial, especially in the early moments after birth, as babies are adjusting to the external environment.
Stimulation of Breastfeeding
The Golden Hour is an opportune time to initiate breastfeeding. Placing the baby on the mother’s breast during this period can facilitate proper latching, stimulate milk production, and establish positive breastfeeding patterns.
Transfer of Beneficial Microorganisms from Mother to Baby
Physical contact during this period allows the baby to come into contact with beneficial microorganisms present in the mother’s body, contributing to the development of the newborn’s immune system.
The tranquil environment and close contact with the mother during the “Golden Hour” can help reduce the baby’s stress, providing a smoother transition from intrauterine life to the external world.
Stimulation of Hormone
Release Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding during the “Golden Hour” stimulate the release of hormones such as oxytocin, promoting feelings of attachment and well-being in both the mother and the baby.
Stimulation of Brain Development
Physical contact and interactions during this critical period can have positive impacts on the baby’s brain and emotional development.
Aids Placental Expulsion (Decquitation)
Continuous contact with the baby and breastfeeding aid in the release of oxytocin, which, in turn, assists in the expulsion of the placenta, contributing to the safe completion of the birthing process.
Can you get golden hour with C-section?
Although the “Golden Hour” is commonly associated with vaginal births, it is feasible to incorporate certain elements of this concept into cesarean deliveries to provide a better experience for both the mother and the baby.
Here are some practices that can be implemented during cesarean sections to promote an experience similar to the “Golden Hour”:
It is still possible to facilitate skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby during or immediately after the cesarean section, depending on clinical conditions. Immediate physical contact can help establish the bond between mother and child.
Breastfeeding in the First Hour
Breastfeeding can be initiated early, even in the surgical environment. Some healthcare institutions are implementing policies that encourage the initiation of breastfeeding in the operating room or in the post-anesthetic recovery room.
Presence of the Partner or Support Person
When possible, allowing the partner or a support person to be present during the surgical procedure can provide emotional support to the mother and create a more welcoming environment for the baby.
Calm and Tranquil Environment
Creating a more tranquil surgical environment with soft lighting and reduced noise can help alleviate stress and contribute to a more positive experience.
Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping
If desired, it is possible to delay the clamping of the umbilical cord to allow for a more gradual transfer of nutrients to the baby.
In conclusion, although the dynamics of a cesarean delivery differ from a vaginal birth, healthcare professionals are increasingly aware of the importance of adapting practices centered on both the mother and the baby, even in surgical settings, to optimize the benefits of the “Golden Hour.”
It’s worth noting that practices may vary among hospitals and healthcare professionals, so it is ideal to create your own Birth Plan and discuss your options with your birth team and doula.