Believe it or not, there’s actually a “Golden Hour” intertwined with the birthing process, and it has nothing to do with that photo-perfect light. In fact, it’s even more magical. The first 60 minutes after birth—often called “the Golden Hour”—is a magical period rife with bonding opportunities for mama and baby.
Many mamas are able to experience this intensely wonderful first hour immediately following that final push or once the doctors have safely removed baby via C-section. There’s an actual science behind it, but immediate skin-to-skin contact is said to help improve neonatal thermal regulation, decrease stress levels in mom and baby, improve mother-baby bonding and increase and extend breastfeeding among others. But we know that not every birth goes according to plan, and there are so many reasons a mama might not get to experience her initial golden hour. But don’t fret—there are ways to recreate your "golden hour" and reap the benefits.
Babywear for skin-to-skin
Kangaroo care is a form of developmental care that has benefits for all newborns, especially those who are in the NICU or for other reasons miss that initial golden hour. Also known as skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo care involves direct contact when a newborn is placed skin-to-skin on mom or dad’s bare chest.
When you’re recovering in the hospital, birth center, or at home, spend some time laying back in bed (with pillows propping you up) without a top on. Place baby between your breasts, and cover her with a light blanket to keep her back warm. Do skin-to-skin as often as you like, and try to leave baby there for at least an hour when you can. As long as you are able to hold baby, you can do skin to skin.
Babywearing helps you maintain skin-to-skin contact while also having your hands free. Wearing your newborn in a Solly Wrap can help restore the bond between the mother and infant after a sudden separation during birth, especially premature births. Once you’re home and cleared for wearing, forgo the shirt and just wrap that babe directly skin-to-skin. Which leads nicely into our next point…
Set boundaries with visitors
Whether you’re staying in the hospital for an extra day or two, or heading home with your tiny bundle, try to put a pause on visitors while you immerse yourself in your new tiny human. Tell hospital staff your intentions and make it clear to your family that you will not be accepting visitors immediately after the baby is born. As much as we love a well-meaning relative, this time is about you. Make sure you have your boundaries set with family well before birth, not the day of. If you have a take-charge relative or friend who also respects your wishes, you can put them in charge of communicating with inquisitive visitors.
Talk and sing
Talk to your newborn as often as you can in soothing, reassuring tones. You could talk about what you’re doing, or tell stories. This helps your babe learn to recognize the sound of your voice. And don’t worry if you aren’t exactly the next Adele—baby loves hear your voice and singing is a great way to help recreate some of that initial golden hour bonding.
Dedicate yourself to the lounge
Everything else can wait. Let bonding with your baby become your priority. Lie around with them, doing nothing. Cuddle. Stroke your baby’s cheek when you change their diaper. Touch, touch, touch. And if you feel guilty for doing nothing but laying around and soaking in that sweet newborn smell, don’t. Remind yourself that you’re building a connection that will comfort both of you for years and years.