We asked Midwife Lauren Brenton all about the famed Golden Hour, what is happening during that Golden Hour after you birth your baby? What are the benefits? And how can we make sure we get a Golden Hour?
What is the Golden Hour?
The golden hour refers to the first hour after a baby is born. This period is a time of hormonal and physical changes for both the mum and the baby to help baby transition to the world. Having uninterrupted skin to skin and your first breastfeed with your baby for the first hour after birth, will enable you to take full advantage of the golden hour.
What changes occur for the mum?
After you have given birth, the hormone oxytocin is at its highest level in the blood stream. Oxytocin is the ‘Love Hormone’ which has many roles, including encouraging the uterus to contract during labour and after birth to prevent a large blood loss, creates feelings of love and protection of the baby and plays a major role in breastfeeding. Skin to skin with your baby in the golden hour, increases the oxytocin and therefore reduces blood loss, increases bonding with the baby and enables the early initiation of breastfeeding.
After birth, the mother’s natural pain-relieving hormones, beta-endorphins are also at their highest level. This means that doing skin to skin with your baby during the golden hour, will stimulate the reward activation centres in both the mother and the baby. Therefore, increasing your bonding with your baby.
Skin to skin with your baby during the golden hour, will encourage your baby to attempt an early breastfeed. Early initiation of breastfeeding increases the mother’s prolactin levels, an essential hormone for maintaining and sustaining a successful breastmilk supply. Furthermore, early initiation of breastfeeding enables prolactin receptors to form in the mother’s brain, cells and breast tissue. Therefore, setting up a successful milk supply for the entire breastfeeding journey.
What changes occur for the baby?
When babies have skin to skin in the first hour after birth, it reduces stress and regulates the baby’s heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate. Therefore, helping your baby with the transition from the womb to the world.
Babies are most awake in the first hour after birth, meaning they are more likely to show interest in breastfeeding and have an early first breastfeed. Therefore, helping baby to maintain their blood sugar levels. This means that they are less likely to need supplementation with formula and less likely to be admitted to the special care nursery.
Finally, skin to skin in the golden hour enables colonisation of the baby with the mother’s normal bacteria. This helps build the baby’s immunity and therefore, reduce the risk of infections.
How can I have the Golden Hour?
The good news is most Midwives will enable you to have the golden hour as part of their normal practice. To ensure that you get the golden hour, It is important to tell your midwife and/or doctor that you would like to have uninterrupted skin to skin and an early breastfeed within the first hour after birth. It can be useful to talk through some scenarios with your midwife of how the golden hour can be maintained if things don’t go to plan. For example, you can still have skin to skin and the golden hour if you have a caesarean however, this will need to be discussed prior to your caesarean.
So, now you know all the benefits of the golden hour for both the mother and the baby. Take your shirt off and cuddle that little baby of yours as often and as long as you can to continue reaping the benefits!!
Written by Lauren Brenton,