Respecting the Golden Hour

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Respecting the Golden Hour

The time immediately following your birth is crucial to the well being of our child. Research says that respecting what is called “The golden Hour” can help give your child the best possible start. If it is possible, requesting that your medical staff and birth team respect this time can help your baby adjust to life on the outside before they are poked and prodded with newborn tests and passed from person to person for birth stats. 

The way in which the golden hour mentality is carried out varies from culture to culture. In some cultures an extended golden hour called “lying in” is a practice in which women are waited upon and only allowed to do minimal tasks such as getting up to use the bathroom, but not to shower. It is said to be supportive of postpartum healing and mother-child attachment. However, in some cultures, parents aren’t afforded any paid time off of work to recover from birth and bond with their baby. 

Visitors are no exception to the rule. It varies widely from culture to culture and family to family. Some parents choose not to have visitors for at least a few days after the birth and some parents prefer to be surrounded by family and friends immediately following. Whatever your preference, respecting The Golden Hour can be done in a quiet, intimate room or a room that looks like a birth after-party! 

What’s the Golden Hour?

This typically refers to the first 60 minutes of your child’s life. This hour will feel like a lot of emotions and physical feelings and, sometimes, feels a little blurry looking back. This is all the more reason to take the first 60 minutes after your birth to do nothing but let your medical team repair you, hold your baby, relish in the fact that you did it, and just soak up this magical moment. Your baby will be so delicate. The first hour of life can be reserved as a gentle and tender time to help your baby transition. 

What to say to visitors?

The Truth: You can always be straight forward and let them know they you are excited to share your baby, but you’ve made a decision to delay visitors until [when] except for [who] because [why]. Most people will understand. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground if something is important to you. 

My Midwife/Doctor Said No: ie. for the people who didn’t understand above reason. You can always blame your provider. Even your doula might agree to be the blame. Your birth team will understand why it is so important. 

What’s the low down?

Consider requesting delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin contact. This can help keep the environment as calm and comforting to your baby as possible. Delayed cord clamping has several benefits and allows your baby to remain supported while learning to breathe on the outside. Your body will adjust its’ temperature to be whatever your baby needs so you’re a natural heat lamp for your baby. There is research suggesting an uninterrupted golden hour for low-birth weight infants to help support their temperature and their blood pressure. Babies generally make attempts to breastfeed within the first hour of life. Allowing them this uninterrupted time to explore and figure out the breast can be crucial to breastfeeding. Your baby is born knowing how to do what is called “The Breast Crawl” and is able to get their way from your belly (when placed there after birth) to your breast on their own. It is incredible to watch. You can watch it for yourself here (It takes a minute, not a process you want to rush). 

Laying your baby on your chest has benefits for you such as pain relief. Skin to skin with your baby will elicit certain chemicals to release in your brain and they will help deliver your placenta, but also block pain receptors. Your baby can benefit too because your body and breast will have germs that “initiate” your baby, if you will. These are germs that your baby needs to help build their immunity and letting them just lay on your chest for an undisturbed hour will give them so much exposure to your healthy bacteria. (Chapter 2, part 2 of this book does a great job explaining this. Disclaimer: this book was published by InTechOpen which has some controversial funders. You can take a look and make your own decision if you want to seek out other sources for yourself here.)

Don’t Feel Bad 

If you feel strongly that you want to ask visitors to wait a certain period of time, then you have every right to do so. If you know that people holding and kissing and snuggling your baby will make you anxious, then it’s worth considering. Please know science has your back on this one! You can see our blog about asking visitors to wait here! If you feel it will be lonely without your parents and siblings and partner’s family, then do just that! Whatever you choose should be what makes you most comfortable and what makes sense to you. 

At the end of the day, you don’t get to do this birth over. Being able to request things that are important to you and have those decisions respected and honored by those around you is essential in making this a spectacular memory. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. 

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