If you're pregnant and staring childbirth in the face, chances are you've heard about the golden hour. It's the first hour after birth, when moms are encouraged to spend time bonding, feeding, and snuggling their newborns. But what about dads? After they support their partners during childbirth, are there things a dad automatically does during the golden hour, or should be doing if he wants to stay on top of things? The answer, of course, is yes. Just like a mom's job isn't done after labor and delivery, a dad's job isn't done either.
While most new dads are understandably excited to meet their babies, it can be argued that the golden hour is not for them. Their partner just spent months literally growing a human inside their body, and likely hours going through childbirth. They deserve a break, or at least an hour, to spend with their babies and not worry about anything else. And during that break, there are things dads can do to make the golden hour a magical experience. For example, my husband knew that I needed a little downtime with our baby, so he watched patiently as I got my snuggles in, tried breastfeeding, and basked in my love hormones, all before he asked to hold our newborn.
He also did a great job running interference with the nurses, especially when they wanted to move me to the postpartum wing well before I was ready. He took it upon himself to ask for some formula, too, so we could supplement. He took a billion pictures of our baby and me, which I will treasure forever, and only after I was ready did he take the baby off my hands so I could rest. Having a supportive partner during labor and delivery, and for the golden hour that came after, makes a huge difference, so partners should absolutely be doing the following for the first hour after birth, no questions asked.
Asks His Partner What They Need
The first and main thing I really needed after childbirth was for someone to ask me what I needed. It seems like as soon as your baby is born, all focus shifts away from you and on to them. So, grown-ass dads and supportive partners, you should start off the golden hour by asking if there's anything they can do or get for your partner.
Hands The Baby To Mom
As tempting as it can be to want to spend time snuggling your newborn, dads and other partners should know that the golden hour belongs to mom, unless she needs a break. Let her have the first moments with her baby. After they are done measuring and weighing that newborn, too, make sure he or she gets back to mom. She just went through an intense, emotionally and physically taxing experience. She deserves to spend time with the baby first.
The first hour after childbirth might not be all that serene and peaceful for mom and baby. After my births, the nurses wanted to kick me out of the delivery room, and as I was getting stitches on my labia and perineum. Plus, my parents and other family and friends were anxious for updates. It was so nice to have someone run interference with everyone else so I could focus on my baby.
After my first two deliveries, my now ex-husband didn't take any pictures of my baby and me. So, after my youngest was born, I was so glad my current partner took hundreds of photos, and without even being asked. I will cherish them forever.
After childbirth, I was exhausted. It was nice that my husband called his parents and mine to let them know that we were doing fine.
Gets Their Partner Food
I was starving after childbirth. Of course, I missed the deadline for dinner. So my husband fed me the granola bar from his bag, then ordered sandwiches to be delivered. It was so thoughtful, and just what I needed after I exerted so much energy.
Posts On Social Media
I was grateful that my husband posted an update on social media to let all of our friends and family know that our baby and I were doing just fine. I posted my own birth announcement later, but at that moment it was nice to just be able to snuggle with my new baby and not have to worry about anything else.
Advocates For Their Partner
While it’s frustrating that he needed to advocate for me after childbirth, I'm so glad my partner was able to. Honestly, I was too exhausted and emotionally drained to deal with any of that myself. My husband stepped up to advocate for my son and me about things I wanted and needed, like my choice to supplement with formula and me needing help in and out of bed due to an injury. I was in no condition to advocate for myself, so he provided support when I needed it.
Takes A Turn
Dads should, of course, pay attention during the golden hour. If your partner is unable to hold or feed your baby, or simply looks like she needs a break, you should totally step in and ask if she wants you to take a turn and hold your baby.
Tells Their Partner How Amazing They Are
This should be a given, but a little reminder can't hurt. Your partner deserves to hear how badass they are. Oh, and a thank you would be nice, too.
Goes With The Baby If She Can't
Our baby needed to get checked out by a doctor, and then needed to be admitted to the NICU. I was so glad my husband volunteered to go with him, and without having to be asked. While it was intense and scary to have a baby in the NICU, knowing that my husband was there with him made me feel so much better.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.