For non-parents, the golden hour is the time of day with the perfect light. Occurring around sunrise and sunset, it's an ideal time for photography. But for new moms and dads, the golden hour occurs right after your baby is born. And not because it's been a moment 10 months in the making. Many in the medical community deem the golden hour as the best time to bond with baby, and consider it developmentally essential. There are many benefits to having mother and baby together right after birth, but can the golden hour help you with breastfeeding as well?
As you may have figured out, the golden hour is the first 60 minutes right after your baby is born, according to the Sanford Health website. In the past, babies were whisked away after birth to be weighed, examined, cleaned, tested, given a Vitamin K shot, and more. But as the site explained, there is a new view circulating as to what is actually best for mom and baby following birth. This view emphasizes mom and baby being together, uninterrupted and immediately, after birth. Many supporters of giving moms and babies this golden hour tout it as critical to the development and growth of the baby.
The research also shows that the benefits of the golden hour extend into the success of breastfeeding. According to the Women's Memorial Hermann Hospital website, skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is crucial for bonding and attaching. During this time, the site explained that many babies seek out their mother's breast and begin to nurse on their own. Babies are really quite incredible creatures.
These intuitive processes and stages your baby goes through in that first 60 minutes of their lives that can have a big impact on breastfeeding, as noted on the Magical Hour website. Many babies cry after being born, but once put skin to skin they tend to relax.
Throughout that initial hour the baby may awake a bit and start sucking movements with their mouths. They may even "crawl" or move themselves closer to a mom's breast and may start licking, touching, or massaging the breast or nipple. Sometimes, if the baby is having trouble during the golden hour, a nurse or midwife will step in to help guide the baby to the breast.
It sounds almost magical that a little human, only minutes old, can do these things instinctively, but many healthcare professionals back this up. From my search online, the golden hour and all of its scientific benefits seemed so important and embraced by the mainstream medical community that many hospitals and birthing centers actually make the golden hour a mandatory part of the birthing process. I found many hospital online brochures and websites that state the mom and baby should be together as soon as possible (assuming there are no complications and doing so doesn't put either at a medical risk).
Not everyone will get a chance to experience the golden hour with their baby. Some mothers or babies experieince complications during pregnancy that make this impossible. They will get the opportunity to bond, just later. If you do have the opportunity to take advantage of the golden hour, it sounds like a very good way to start the mother-baby bonding process. A bath can always wait (whether they're babies or not), making time for closeness is always so worth it.