In days gone by, the moment a baby was born in the Western world, someone would whisk them off. They’d have their cord clamped and cut, and they would undergo checks and perhaps have a quick clean. But times are changing, and now the benefits of a “golden hour” of togetherness are being recognized.
Indeed, the recommendation is now to leave the baby in “skin-to-skin” contact with mom if its health allows until baby has breastfed for the first time. All that’s needed is a covering to keep mom and bub warm. Baby’s first check can come while it’s on mom’s chest, and anything more thorough can wait – after all, there’s no hurry to find out how heavy baby is.
For baby, everything has just changed. They have gone from a world in which everything was provided through the umbilical cord, and they felt safe and warm to one in which they are assailed by sensations and light. Now they need to breathe, and they feel things that they’ve never experienced: cold, warmth, thirst and hunger.
But the baby’s introduction to the world need not be scary. Having a “golden hour” together with mom is a gentle start to life that has some huge benefits. Being next to each other can help boost bonding between the two. Mom may get an upsurge in oxytocin production, promoting breastfeeding and motherly feelings. And the cord can be clamped a bit later, so that baby enjoys the remaining products of the placenta.
On top of this, baby’s regulation of breathing will get a boost from feeling safe and protected. And being next to mom will help keep the newborn’s temperature stable. Of course, the first hour of becoming a mother may introduce conflicting, even difficult emotions. It’s okay not to feel gooey over the baby – the benefits of the golden hour exist even if it takes a bit more time to fall in love with them.