You have been dreaming about this day and now, it's finally here! You are about to welcome your baby into the world! As new parents, we have so many questions and concerns about what to expect and what will happen. In that first hour after birth, you will have the opportunity to provide benefits to your baby that will have a lasting impact.
The first hour after birth is very special. It's a time that experts call the "Magic or Golden Hour." During this time, your baby is introduced to the world and welcomed into your family. Your baby can reap tremendous benefits from skin to skin contact, bonding with you and your partner, and starting to breastfeed.
These first contacts can calm both you and your baby. Research has proven that when baby is welcomed into the gentle arms of their mother and placed skin to skin with her, it helps them adapt to life outside of the womb. Their breathing, heart rate, and temperature are all regulated easier by this skin to skin contact. This critical time stimulates your hormones to decrease your postpartum bleeding and support breastfeeding. When given this opportunity, most babies will begin to breastfeed shortly after birth and receive the first milk, called colostrum. This first food is perfectly matched to your baby's nutritional needs. Research has also shown that breastfed babies have a stronger immune system. In turn, this supports the development of normal metabolism and can prevent diseases later in life.
Skin to skin care can begin immediately after birth. You will become the soft, warm place for your baby's first moments of life. Your healthcare team will care for your baby right there while you are witnessing your "little miracle." They will dry your baby, stimulate baby, monitor their heart, breathing and temperature as he or she transitions into this new life. After birth, your baby can rest on your chest with warm blankets covering you both.
Babies are naturally programmed to follow a unique pattern that leads to their first feeding. They will achieve this easier if held skin to skin through the end of the feeding. This can take up to an hour. It is best to be patient and let the baby lead the way. This can also help ease the nursing process with subsequent feedings because the baby will remember this "safe" place.
Everyone is excited to see your new arrival, but it is recommended that you protect this special time designed for babies and their parents. You and your partner can talk to the baby and caress their skin. They are calmed by familiar voices and may begin to study your faces. They can already see up to two feet away. Limiting visitors during the first hour will provide time to ensure that your baby reap the full benefits that only you can provide. These first interactions will facilitate lifelong bonding that you will treasture forever.
The Women's Hospital is actively pursuing the Baby Friendly Designation as part of a collaborative effort with St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children. Funding for this initiative was granted from the Welborn Baptist Foundation as part of the CDC's Community Transformation Grant. For more information on Baby Friendly, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org. August is National Breastfeeding Month. Stop by The Women's Hospital lobby to sign up for weekly giveaways during the month of August. Visit www.deaconess.com/lactation for more information on lactation services available at The Women's Hospital.