The newborn golden hour can be one of the most beautiful parts of the “fourth trimester”.
This term was actually new to me in the last 5-6 years.
I know there are many different types of birth plans. Natural births, water births, births with epidural, C-sections, etc.
Part of the birth plan I wasn’t as aware of was what happens after the baby is delivered.
Most of the birth plans, I thought, focused on what happened prior to the baby being born.
Now, while I was pregnant with my first, Jaden, I heard ALL sorts of crazy birth plans and ideas. Some of which sounded a bit interesting but I wasn’t interested in myself.
One of the birth plans I heard about that was interesting to me involved the newborn being laid on the mom’s tummy (not the chest) after delivery.
Then the doctors or midwives would let the baby crawl up to their mother’s chest to nurse.
This seemed AMAZING to me that a newborn could have the strength and the instinct to do so!
When I originally heard of the golden hour, I’m pretty sure I categorized it along with a birth plan similar to the one I just described.
So I kind of shrugged it off as a bit “too crunchy for me” possibly.
(Honestly, I wasn’t even sure my doctor would let the baby do that even if I wanted him to…)
However, the newborn golden hour is actually something that is amazingly helpful to both mom and baby! And it is just a simply magical moment with you and your babe.
WHAT IS THE NEWBORN GOLDEN HOUR?
So if you were like me, some of you may be thinking… What IS the newborn golden hour?
The newborn golden hour is an amazing moment right after the mom delivers. The baby is laid on mama’s chest to have skin to skin contact which helps establish mom/baby bond.
Skin to skin contact in the first several hours as well as the first several weeks of a newborn’s life is SO good for the baby!
There are many incredible benefits from skin to skin contact such as regulating the baby’s heartbeat, helping develop “good” bacteria from the mother’s skin to later help fight infections, helps the baby with nursing, and so many more!
We’ll touch on these more in a minute!
WHY IS THE NEWBORN GOLDEN HOUR IMPORTANT?
I touched on some of the benefits to the newborn golden hour above, but I thought I’d “unpack” them a bit more!
First of all, let’s chat about what skin to skin actually does for a baby.
When the baby is first born and laid on their mama’s chest, the skin to skin contact initiates a hormonal release in both the mom and the baby.
These hormones help the baby to bond with mama as well as boosts the baby’s instinct to nurse.
The baby starts to learn mama’s smell (outside of her now!) and her sounds. Also, the baby opens his eyes for the first time to see his mama!
ALL these new amazing things outside the womb!
The longer the baby can have skin to skin contact with mama after birth, the better!
Most babies that do skin to skin contact during the newborn golden hour nurse right away. This is EXTREMELY helpful for both mama and baby for several reasons.
1. Nursing is HARD!
I had THE WORST struggle getting my first baby to nurse (more on this story in a minute).
When we left the hospital with Jaden, he had never successfully nursed yet! It was a huge problem!
I finally was able to get in a groove with him (AFTER A MONTH OF INSANITY! HAHA!) but I 100% chalk it up to him not nursing in the first hour or even first NIGHT!
Using the golden hour to help your baby to nurse right away will set you on a path towards successful breastfeeding!!
2. Colostrum is most powerful after birth!
For those of you who don’t know, colostrum is considered mama’s “liquid gold”. It’s the thick, yellow, creamy “milk” that is produced before mom’s milk comes in.
(It usually takes about 3-6 days on average for your milk to come in.)
Before your milk has arrived, your baby will be drinking colostrum instead of milk.
Colostrum is SUPER charged with an amazing amount of antibodies that help the baby’s immune system start to develop as well as fight infection.
Also, colostrum is extremely full of nutrition for the baby.
3. The bond will form even more so.
When babies nurse right after birth, the bond between mom and baby will begin to form even more so than just skin to skin.
While newborns are nursing, hormones are released in both mom and baby. Many of them help form the bond between the two even stronger than with just skin to skin.
It’s very helpful for newborns to nurse straight away also, because these hormones that strengthen the bond can also help prevent or “lessen” postpartum anxiety and depression.
4. Helps get a jump start on your postpartum healing.
Nursing during the newborn golden hour also releases hormones that help your body recover from your delivery.
I can distinctly remember with both boys while nursing, feeling my uterus contracting and pulling tighter. It was SUCH an odd sensation.
Once I knew what it was, I was actually glad anytime I felt it because I knew my boy was healing but also my baby was really nursing well.
MY NEWBORN GOLDEN HOUR EXPERIENCE
Like I said above, when I was pregnant with Jaden, the newborn golden hour wasn’t as encouraged or really that well known.
Being my first baby, (and being the social mama that I am), naturally, I had A LOT of visitors. And I didn’t really mind.
BUT! I didn’t know what I didn’t know….
Although it was so special for my family and very close friends to be there the night I had Jaden, SO many people held him in that first 3-4 hour span, it confused him and didn’t give me a chance to bond with him properly.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was bonded to him and over the moon thrilled for this sweet baby. However, ….He. Wouldn’t. Nurse.
Like I said before, we left the hospital without him nursing ONCE which was not good!
NURSING WASN’T GOING WELL
When we got home, our nursing sessions would be about 2.5 hours… at a time…
And if you’ve read my newborn routine posts, you’ll know that meant that I only had about 1.5 hours in between feeds to “recover” and try again.
Newborns usually are on a 3-4 hour cycle of eat, “play” (or some form of activity like getting changed), sleep. They usually sleep about 2.5-3 hours at a time and eat the other hour or so.
This meant Jaden was SO exhausted because he was “trying” to nurse so long that it would be time for him to go back to bed before he even latched.
Every nursing session resulted in him FINALLY latching. But it usually took over an hour to latch.
Then 30-45 minutes of nursing on one side before switching (which required me to start ALL over again with the latching process….)
We went through the ringer. I suffered from thrush so badly it wrapped around to my shoulder blades. (That’s usually just a nipple infection….)
That lasted for 6 months.
Jaden also tried so hard to latch that he actually ripped one of my nipples open. At one point it was hanging off… (sorry for the visual!)
I. Was. Determined. to breastfeed him though!
Finally, as the weeks past, he became quicker at latching and I knew more and more what I was doing as well.
ALL this to say. We went through QUITE a rollercoaster and journey to finally get to a place where he was nursing well.
And I TRULY believe a lot of our woes would have been solved had I known about the newborn golden hour and tried to nurse him in those first few moments.
MY SECOND BABY
If you’re like me, anything you “try again” you try to improve. Of course I wanted to take all the wonderful things about my first delivery and make my second even better.
Jaden’s delivery was a breeze. 30 seconds of 2 “half pushes” and he was out… Not your normal first time birth story!
Because of this, the doctors knew my second would probably come FAST!
Also, because of how things went with Jaden learning to latch, I was ALL about the newborn golden hour.
However, if you read Parker James’ birth story, you’ll know… nothing went as planned.
Not only did I not get to deliver the way I wanted to, I didn’t even hold him for the first 1-2 hours of his life.
Besides being incredibly shook up by the whole traumatic event, I was SO disappointed I didn’t get to do the newborn golden hour I planned with him.
Once they rolled me back to the recovery room, they laid him on my chest. I kept thinking “it’s too late… I missed the window again”.
However, the nurse got Parker James to start nursing in just about 5 minutes! I was SO thrilled.
(To be honest… aside from finally holding him and knowing he was safe, that was one of the only “happy things” I held on to that day…)
ALL THIS TO SAY…
All this to say, I have had two very different delivery experiences.
And even though my second delivery was not “normal” or natural, the newborn golden hour still benefited me and my sweet newborn babe.
The newborn golden hour can be one of the most magical and intimate moments with you and your baby.
Even if you don’t plan on nursing, I would still encourage you to hold that baby on your chest as long as the world will let you!
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Did you have a good experience or benefit from the newborn golden hour with your babies? I’d love to hear from you and hear your story too! Shoot me an email! Be sure to subscribe below so you don’t miss a thing as well as follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!