After birth care: Why the golden hour is essential

 In Birth, Breastfeeding essentials, Cesareans, Newborns

After birth care: Why the golden hour is essential: The first hour after birth has a big impact on your newborn This is why it’s important to get it right. All too often, routine procedures such as weighing, cleaning and measuring are prioritised over what is a vital bonding period for mum and baby. The first hour, known as the ‘Golden Hour’, is essential for breastfeeding, bonding and baby having skin-on-skin time with mum.  With the exception of required medical assistance, there should be no reason for mum and baby to be separated.

Unsure about your hospital’s protocol? Advise your midwife that you want baby to be placed on your stomach immediately after birth. As well as creating a beautiful bonding experience, there are a whole host of health benefits that come with this practice. Here are eight really important reasons for an undisturbed first hour after birth

After birth bonding should begin immediately

Your midwife needs to check for breathing, alertness and startle reflex. This can all be done swiftly in the seconds after birth. With the exception of a medical emergency, there is no reason to delay handing baby straight to mum. He/she can be laid on either mum’s tummy or chest, depending on the length of the umbilical cord.

Good after birth care promotes bonding

If there has been no medication during labour, it’s likely baby will initiate breastfeeding soon after birth. When placed skin-on-skin, babies can smell the milk and colostrum and find their own way to mum’s nipple and attach themselves.

The golden hour boosts baby’s immunity

Babies emerge from a near-sterile environment in the uterus. They have never been exposed to any germs. It goes without saying, the less people that handle baby the better. When placed skin-on- skin with mum, baby is exposed to her bacteria. This gives the immune system a big boost.

Better after birth care improves breastfeeding

Early skin-on-skin contact boosts breast milk supply. Assistance may sometimes be needed from your midwife or a lactation consultant. But for the most part it’s a case of mum and baby just getting on with it.

The golden hour helps with post birth pain

Commonly known as the hormone of love, oxytocin is released when mum touches baby. This hormone has been shown to reduce pain. This is hugely beneficial to mum at a time when she may be feeling discomfort from the delivery.

 It helps to expel the placenta

Oxytocin  helps with detaching the placenta too, because it speeds up contractions. It’s particularly effective when baby is placed on mum’s tummy. This provides light stimulation of the uterus, which gets the placenta moving.

Mum and baby bonding time

Your baby recognises you  by the sound of your voice, the touch of your skin and the smell of your milk. Because of this, staying close to baby during that vital first hour helps to create a feeling of safety, which is crucial for bonding.

Permits body system regulation

Babies who experience prolonged skin-on-skin time in the first hour are better able to control their temperature and respiration. This practice was originally pioneered in the 1990s by Dr Nils Bergman, a Swedish specialist who was working in a remote part of Africa. Incubators for newborns were limited at the hospital where he practiced and he discovered that skin-on-skin contact helped to regulate babies’ heart rates, as well as stabilising their breathing.

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