Golden Hour Provides Benefits After Birth
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Golden Hour Provides Benefits After Birth

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Mothers and their newborns are able to bond and start the breastfeeding process during the "Golden Hour."

Bringing a newborn baby into the world is an exciting time for any new parent. 

At UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital, we take that excitement to the next level giving a mother and newborn baby a chance to bond during the “Golden Hour.”

The Golden Hour refers to the first hour after birth. During this special time, the baby is placed on the mother’s chest to benefit from skin-to-skin contact, which includes achieving the first latch onto the breast for those nursing, regulating body temperature and heart rate, along with developing a mother and baby bond.

By using the Golden Hour as a chance to start the breastfeeding process, both the mother and baby are able to take advantage of its benefits. 

For breastfed newborns, they typically see lower rates of ear infections, asthma, diabetes, childhood leukemia and Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) Syndrome. 

Mothers are able to benefit in two primary ways from breastfeeding their child, particularly during the Golden Hour. Skin-to-skin contact and the baby latching onto the mother’s breast assists in releasing hormones that help the uterus contract and stop bleeding. In addition, mothers that nurse their babies are exposed to lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, along with diabetes.

Laura Knabel, Finley’s International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), said the Golden Hour is an ideal time for the mother and baby to connect. 

“The Golden Hour is a time that we are calling that first hour after birth,” Knabel said. “We want the baby to remain skin-to-skin, until that first latch is achieved. Golden means that it’s a prime time for babies to bond with mom, regulate their heartrate and body temperature. We typically don’t want a lot of visitors in the room, because we don’t want to remove the baby from the chest. We want them to stay there.”

After the birth, a newborn baby is placed directly on its mother’s chest, still allowing for nurses to do vitals, putting bands on the mother and baby, along with getting the baby’s footprints.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following guidelines for the Golden Hour:

  • Healthy newborns should go immediately skin-to-skin with their mother, until the first latch is achieved while breastfeeding.

  • Medical staff is still able to conduct the first physical assessment of the baby, while it stays on the mother’s chest.

  • Additional procedures (i.e. weighing, measuring, bathing, etc.) should wait until the baby is finished with the first round of feeding.

  • The newborn and mother should stay together throughout the recovery period.

Jenni Scott, Family Birthing Suites manager, said the Golden Hour is a priority, allowing the mother and baby to continue bonding. 

During the Golden Hour, Knabel and Scott strongly advise against visitors, simply because it’s important for the mother and baby to bond with one another, especially to start the breastfeeding process. 

Scott said the staff in Finley’s Family Birthing Suites department can help their patients partake in the Golden Hour by keeping visitors out of patient rooms until that time is over.

“I think sometimes it’s helpful for parents to know that we give them a reason to not have visitors come in right away,” Scott said. “Sometimes, they just feel bad because people can’t come in. We can be that buffer right there and then.”

The chance for uninterrupted time between mother, support partner and baby is another advantage to the Golden Hour.

With no distractions, the mother, support partner and baby are able to connect with one another and begin their lives as a new family. 

“It’s really nice just to enjoy that moment as a couple, as a small family unit, without any interruptions,” Knabel said. “You never get that time back.”