Nine months of anticipation, hours of labour. And then the moment when time stands still.
While it may seem like the world stops spinning when bub is finally earthside, the truth is that first hour slips by so very quickly. Known as the Golden Hour, the first 60 minutes after a baby is born is an incredibly important time for both mum and bub. As the magical first minute’s tick by, amazing things happen in a woman’s body while fascinating benefits for baby are set in motion.
Here are five things that happen during babies first hour.
1. Helps regulate baby’s body temperature
Back in the day the first priority for newborns was being cleaned, weighed and checked. But the profound benefits of skin-to-skin have now been proven, so long as bub is breathing well and healthy it happens immediately. This primal contact releases hormones that help mum and baby bond and connect.
Newborns can’t regulate their own body temperature, but being skin-to-skin with mum helps them retain heat. If that’s not amazing enough, it also helps reduce the risk of low blood sugar in a fresh babe.
2. Promotes a strong breastfeeding relationship
After skin-to-skin contact, it’s likely that your new bub will start looking for their first breastfeed. This moment is hugely important because the hormones released while feeding help mum’s uterus start to contract and stop bleeding.
Research has shown that breastfeeding within that first Golden Hour after birth improves baby survival rates and it’s also more likely mum will continue to breastfeed.
3. Boosts bub’s immunity
When baby arrives from the safety of the womb, there’s a whole world of germs waiting. During a vaginal birth they are ‘seeded’ by their mum’s bacteria which trains their cells to know which bacteria are good and bad. It’s like a kickstart for baby’s immune system.
Research has shown that if bubs don’t get the chance to be exposed to mum’s bacteria (through vaginal birth, skin-to-skin contact or breastfeeding) their immune system might not reach its full potential. That’s why skin-to-skin contact in the Golden Hour is so important after a c-section.
4. Promotes attachment
The urge to hold our babies straight after birth is strong. After so many months waiting and dreaming, we finally get to look, smell and touch our little ones. It’s a natural instinct, and there’s a really good reason for it. Research has shown that mums who have skin-to-skin contact after birth are more likely to feel confident and comfortable as mums.
This attachment is instinctive. The oxytocin receptors in our brains increase while we’re pregnant so that when our baby is born we’re more responsive to the hormone, which in turn promotes maternal behaviour. And that hormone is produced when we’re holding our babies and during breastfeeding. Isn’t science brilliant?!
Even more incredible – mums who had early skin-to-skin with their babies are more likely to keep a strong bond with their child as they grow.
5. Baby cries less
While we’re all desperate to hear that first, lung-stretching cry from our baby, our next instinct is to soothe and calm our child. Studies have shown that babies who are given immediate skin-to-skin contact cry less than those who were separated.
The research has also found that newborns are very aware of being physically separated from their mums, with their cries described as ‘separation distress calls’.
If you’re getting your birth plan together, it may be worth discussing the important first hour after birth, so you can soak up your new bub and get all of these benefits.