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Benefits of The Golden Hour After Birth (skin to skin with baby)

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The Golden Hour after birth is that first hour when a mother has uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with her newborn baby. You’re probably wondering why it’s so important and we’re going to explain why.

Did you know, skin-to-skin has many positive benefits for mother, fathers, and their newborn infants? In fact, one study showed ‘how important skin-to-skin contact is for the brain development of preterm infants who end up in the NICU‘ [SOURCE].

Isn’t that fascinating?

Something as simple as gentle skin-to-skin contact can improve neurodevelopmental progression and outcomes.

If you’re ready to learn about even more awesome reasons skin to skin after birth is so important for YOU and YOUR BABY, keep reading!

The Golden Hour After Birth — Why is it Important?

Although the golden hour after birth has a tremendous amount of benefits, skin to skin beyond that immediate hour after birth is also very important.

However, the golden hour has proven time and time again to be an integral factor in mothers who choose to breastfeed journey. By allowing that hour after birth of bare skin-to-skin contact, oftentimes, the baby will attempt to latch to the mother’s breast on his or her own — increases the chances of maintaining an exclusively breastfed journey and even minimizing the chances of postpartum hemorrhage.

According to one article on PARENTS, they quote that “Depriving babies of skin-to-skin makes alternative stress pathways in the brain, which can lead to ADD, colic, sleep disorders, among other things — Bergman adds.

In addition, some of the benefits of skin to skin after birth include:

Promoting a positive breastfeeding experience

Newborns that experience skin-to-skin contact with mom after birth are more likely to be exclusively breastfed for longer durations of their lifespan (according to La Leche League).

Since infants are born ready to breastfeed via their heightened sense of smell, they tend to naturally be able to root and find mom’s breast to latch on much easier compared to those that don’t initially begin skin to skin immediately.

Are you worried you don’t feel 100% ready to take on the challenge of breastfeeding? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This is why Katie, an IBCLC in training, is here to help you get prepared and learn everything you need to know about breastfeeding your baby >> RIGHT HERE <<

It can help with baby’s brain development

As mentioned earlier in this post, studies have shown time and time again how skin-to-skin contact after birth can help premies significantly with their brain development & function! And, this extends to full-term babies as well!

Skin to skin contact can reduce your baby’s stress

One study from the AACN shows how as little as 10 minutes of skin-to-skin contact with babies can significantly lower their stress (cortisol levels); helping them to feel calm and safe.

This is SO important especially for babies who end up in the NICU, but also for full-term babies as they learn to cope with living outside of the womb!

Skin to skin can help PREVENT Postpartum Depression

One of the many benefits of skin to skin with a baby includes the release of oxytocin (the love or cuddle hormone) for both MOM & BABY!

Thanks to that sweet loveable hormonal release, it can actually help to combat postpartum anxiety and possibly prevent postpartum depression!

In fact, in an article that The Bump published, they stated that “According to the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing, skin-to-skin contact between baby and mother may be alternative therapy moms (who wish to avoid taking medication) can try.

Isn’t that crazy? I always find things like this so fascinating because it’s the simplest, yet impactful things we can do that have some of the most rewarding results!

Some of the other (many) ways that skin to skin contact can be so beneficial to you and baby include:

  • Promotes early bonding between mother and baby or dad and baby
  • Can help regulate baby’s heart rate and respirations
  • Potentially helps establish mom’s breastmilk supply
  • Significantly reduces crying
  • Can help your baby sleep more easily
  • Helps to boost baby’s immunity

How long should you do skin to skin with a newborn?

Ideally, 1 hour of skin to skin after birth is a great start for full-term (non-complicated birth) babies. If you have a baby in the NICU, this time frame will most likely be even more so.

After discharge, it’s ideal to continue skin to skin at home between baby and both parents! You should be aiming for as little as 1 hour per day up to 12 hours a day (or more if your schedule allows it).

Does breastfeeding count as skin to skin?

Skin to skin is the act of placing a diapered or bare baby chest to chest with the mother (or father). This can also be referred to as “kangaroo care”.

So, if you decide to breastfeed baby bare chest to chest, it, in fact, can account for skin to skin contact with mother!

Benefits of skin to skin with dad

We’ve spent SO much time talking about the amazing benefits of skin to skin with mom. But what about dad? Is it still possible to see these same benefits?

If you’re a dad reading this (or mama) I’m beyond happy to share that the benefits listed above DO in fact stand true for dad as well! Well, except for the breastfeeding ones ; )

In fact, just as much as mom will have that oxytocin flowin’ through her body when getting those skin to skin snuggles in with baby, dad will experience the same!

Lastly, one benefit that isn’t really talked about much is HOW CUTE it is as a mama, to see your partner with their shirt off snuggling with your sweet new baby.

I know there are no studies on it, but from experience, that sight definitely brought me instant relief and peace watching my son and husband snuggling together.

woman holding her newborn baby laying down in bed.

How to do skin to skin (with mom and dad)?

Now for the fun part, how are you supposed to do skin to skin with your baby?! Follow these easy steps below to get started today.

Skin to skin immediately after birth with mom:

  • Have mama sit in a comfortable reclined position.
  • Once the cord is clamped, place baby chest to chest with mama for a minimum of 1 hour. Usually during this time baby will naturally search for breast and begin nursing as well.
  • Most procedures needing to be done can be done during this time while your baby is resting on mom’s chest OR after the 1 hour of skin to skin with mom.
  • Make sure your baby’s head isn’t flexed down but instead turned to the side so that you can visually see them breathing comfortably.
  • To make sure you and your baby are at a comfortable temperature, typically a light blanket will be placed on top of baby.

Skin to skin with mom or dad:

  • Have mom or dad sit in a comfortable reclined position.
  • Place diapered or bare baby chest to chest with mom or dad.
  • Make sure your baby’s head isn’t flexed down but instead turned to the side so that you can visually see them breathing comfortably.
  • Place a light blanket on top of your baby to keep them warm.
  • Enjoy those baby snuggles all day long!

Did you know that uninterrupted golden hour after birth had so many benefits? Be selfish and soak up all those newborn snuggles. It’s one thing I promise you will never ever regret doing.

Read more postpartum articles here:

>> Things you should NEVER do after giving birth!

>> How to take your newborn out in public for the first time!

>> Lifesaving baby sleep tips for new parents

>> Newborn tips FOR DAD FROM MOM

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Why Uninterrupted Skin to Skin with Baby is crucial for Postpartum

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