We’ve all seen those movies or TV shows (or heard a real-life experiences) where baby is born and is instantly whisked to the other side of the room for weighing, measuring before being swaddled and returned to the eager parents for their first real look at their baby.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be like that, and in face, that’s not best practice.
There’s an abundance of well conducted research which shows that keeping mum and baby together and as undisturbed as possible for at least the first hour helps the baby adjust to terrestrial life, reduces the chance of postpartum haemorrhage for the birthing parent, and can help get breastfeeding off to a positive start.
An undisturbed or minimally disturbed first hour (aka the Golden Hour) means waiting for the weight and length, and keeping mum and baby together and skin to skin while APGAR tests are completed, injections are administered and ID bands are attached.
Having an undisturbed Golden Hour also gives your baby the opportunity to find the breast and self-attach to it for the first time, which can be beneficial for establishing breastfeeding. If you’d like to view a breast crawl, there are some great examples of it here (great example from 45 seconds to 1 min 15).
A minimally disturbed Golden Hour can be completed even if the baby is born by caesarean section (either emergency or planned) BUT you will need to discuss your preference with your care providers. This is why it’s so beneficial to have a discussion with your birth partner/s about your preferences for birth in different scenarios. See also my suggestions on what to consider when thinking about your birth preferences.
Of courses there will be instances where an undisturbed Golden Hour is not possible. If, for whatever reason you’re not able to have this time with your baby, do not fret. Your baby will still have an opportunity to learn to breastfeed, you will still bond with each other, and they will still adjust to terrestrial life. Skin to skin at any point in the first 6 weeks post birth will be hugely beneficial for both yourself and your baby.
No matter what happens, you’re an amazing parent and your child will love you for whatever you’re able to provide them.
Rachel Angelone is the founder of Your Birth Your Baby and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Postpartum Doula and NurtureLife Pregnancy Massage Practitioner based in Melbourne. Rachel offers independent childbirth and early parenting education to pregnant families before baby arrives. Once your baby is Earth-side, she offers practical and emotional in-home support as you adjust to your new life as parents. Along both journeys she can provide relaxing and restorative massage treatments. She is also a loving wife and mother to two young girls.