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The Golden Hour & Breastfeeding

Mom holding new born baby

The first hour after birth when a mother has uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with her newborn is referred to as the “golden hour.” This period of time is critical for a newborn baby who spent the past nine months in a controlled environment. The golden hour helps regulate the baby’s termperature, helps control their respiration and lower the risk of low blood sugar.

“Ideally, we don’t want any separation between Mom and baby immediately after birth,” says Wellstone’s Erin Jeanes, FNP, IBCLC. “As soon as we know the baby is stable and doing well, we lay the baby directly on Mom, skin-to-skin.”

Skin-to-Skin Helps with Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all mothers who want to breastfeed spend skin-to-skin time with their baby right after birth.

Skin-to-skin contact promotes strong bonds between mothers and babies. Research shows that babies who have the benefit of skin-to-skin time actually breastfeed better and longer after the infant naturally latches on to the mother’s nipples on their own. Breastfeeding early on can also speed up the delivery of the placenta, reducing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).

Jeanes’ best piece of advice for mothers is to never underestimate the power of skin-to-skin contact with baby outside the delivery room, even after the initial golden hour.

“When I’m talking to a Mom on the phone and she is having difficulty breastfeeding, I always tell her to get skin-to-skin with her baby. Mom should have her chest exposed with no bra and no tank top. Place the infant on your chest between the breasts where you are directly skin-to-skin,” recommends Jeanes.

The staff at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights respects and values the golden hour for mothers and their new baby, so it is something you can plan on. As you prepare for the birth, speak to your doctor about your expectations, especially how you would like to spend those minutes immediately after the birth of your little one.