The Golden Hour
Before you even start this lesson – make sure that you watch the video – I know that its way longer than most of the videos (and this lesson is longer too!) but its packed with valuable information – in fact you may need to watch it a few times and possibly even again once your baby is born. In fact one of the Due Date Club members sent me this message “
“This is such a good video. I was watching it again. It’s sad how a lot of medical staff don’t educate you like this and let you believe you aren’t making enough for your baby.”
Here are the key takeaways to remember:
Breastfeeding in the first three days after birth is a critical time for establishing milk production and ensuring the success of breastfeeding in the long term. During this time, there are several key factors at play that make breastfeeding different than at any other time. Understanding these factors and knowing what to expect can help ensure success and a positive breastfeeding experience.
The first few days after birth are known as the colostrum period. Colostrum is the first milk that your body produces and is highly concentrated in nutrients and antibodies that are essential for your baby’s health and development. During this time, your baby’s stomach is tiny, so even a small amount of colostrum is enough to meet their nutritional needs.
However, it’s important to note that colostrum is produced in small amounts, and it may take a few days for your milk to come in fully. This can be a source of anxiety and frustration and you may worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat.
To ensure success during this critical time, it’s important to know what to expect and to seek support and guidance from a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional if needed. Here are some tips to help you navigate the first three days of breastfeeding:
Practice skin-to-skin contact: Skin-to-skin contact is a powerful tool for establishing breastfeeding and promoting milk production. It helps regulate your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and stimulates the release of hormones that promote milk production.
Nurse frequently: Frequent nursing helps stimulate milk production and ensures that your baby is getting enough colostrum. Aim to nurse at least 8-12 times per day, or whenever your baby shows signs of hunger.
Look for signs of effective nursing: Effective nursing involves a deep latch and rhythmic sucking that stimulates milk production. Look for signs such as audible swallowing, relaxed hands and body, and a contented look on your baby’s face.
Seek support and guidance: If you’re struggling with breastfeeding or have concerns about your baby’s feeding, don’t hesitate to seek support and guidance from a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding professional. They can help address any challenges or concerns and provide guidance on positioning, latch, and milk production.
By understanding the unique factors at play during the first three days of breastfeeding and seeking support and guidance as needed, you can help ensure success and a positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby. Remember that breastfeeding is a learning process, and it’s okay to ask for help and support as you navigate the early days of nursing. With the right mindset, information, and support, you can establish a strong and positive breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
Now, let’s chat about the Golden Hour.
The Golden Hour
Babies are born with a mammal’s primal instinct to stay in a safe environment (With their mother). They preserve energy and heat this way, are comforted and feel safe.
Babies should immediately placed tummy down on their mother’s stomach with a blanket placed over both to keep them warm. This is to slow down the production of adrenaline hormone in the mother so as to not interfere with oxytocin and prolactin hormones being produced – essential for bonding and breastfeeding!
The mother is still in labor at this time – for the delivery of the placenta. Typically, the placenta comes naturally within 10-15 minutes after baby is born.
Unmedicated babies (meaning, no drugs at all during labor) who are placed skin to skin with their mothers (and left undisturbed) will instinctively crawl to the breast and attach themselves to breastfeed. This is now known as the ‘breast crawl.’
The Golden Hour allows for complete cord pulsing before clamping and cutting. Leaving the umbilical cord intact, while it is still pulsating, after birth holds so many benefits for baby.
This time is quiet, peaceful and full of little to no interruptions. There is no one poking and prodding mom or baby, and the environment is calm and soothing.
A mother’s chest is warmer than any other parts of the body and continues to regulate the baby’s body temperature even after birth to keep the baby from cooling down.
The Golden Hour allows the natural act of breastfeeding to occur without pressure and on the baby’s timeframe. Instead of becoming lethargic or disassociated and crying in despair, the Golden Hour provides instinctual close contact to keep baby calm and allow the natural progress of newborn development to occur.
The Nine Stages of The Golden Hour
Skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby during the first hour or two after birth provides the natural location, and the cues, for baby to move through the nine instinctive stages. (If the mother isn’t able to hold baby skin-to-skin during this time then the father can take on this role.) If there are medical reasons why baby can’t be held skin-to-skin right after birth, then start as soon as possible.
During the Golden Hour, the sweet new baby is acclimating to life outside of the womb, and discovering his parents from the outside. He is learning to breathe, letting his eyes and ears adjust, regulating his temperature, and discovering how to breastfeed. There are nine stages that occur during this time, but you don’t need to keep track.
It’s just interesting to learn what your baby is experiencing! These stages are instinctual and will happen when a baby is able to lay skin-to-skin with his mother immediately after the birth, for at least an hour without interruption.
Stage 1: The Birth Cry
Baby’s lungs fill with oxygen for the first time, and he lets out a cry. Everything is bright, loud, and new. Being placed directly onto the mother’s chest (with blankets overtop of them), his cries will subside.
Stage 2: Relaxation
After crying, the baby enters the stage of relaxation. His mouth remains still, eyes may close, and hands will be soft and open. He will breathe gently and rest after the effort he put forth during the birth.
Stage 3: Awakening
Typically, around 5 minutes after birth, Baby will move his head and shoulders, opening his eyes and mouth. He may make small noises and open his hands a bit.
Stage 4: Activity
Movements increase and become more noticeable. “Rooting” for breastmilk begins. He may look towards mom or the breast and may use his hand-to-mouth signal to show hunger. He is preparing to latch. His instincts kick in.
Stage 5: Rest
Quiet stillness will occur throughout the Golden Hour, as baby is working hard and often needs to rest. He will move at his own pace.
Stage 6: Breast Crawl
Baby is born with a “stepping reflex” that allows him to scoot up Mom’s chest toward the breast. He will try to align himself with the nipple, and allowing him to do this on his own actually improves the chances of a successful latch.
Stage 7: Familiarization
Baby will learn the breast, becoming familiar with it. He may touch, rub, lick, and “talk” to the breast to get his mother’s attention. This raises the oxytocin levels in both mother and baby, creating a strong attachment, and signaling milk to start being produced.
Stage 8: Suckling
Between 45-60 minutes after birth, Baby will latch himself to the breast and begin to nurse.
Stage 9: Sleep
Both baby and mother tend to drift to sleep as baby nurses. Sleep may last a few hours and is much needed. Birth is tiring and the body needs rest to recover.
Benefits of the Golden Hour for Mother and Baby
- Undisturbed Time:
- Both Mother and Baby’s Heart Rates are More Stable
- Baby Cries Less
- First Nursing Session is Better Digested
- Baby’s Body Temperature Remains Stable
- Risk of Infection for Baby Significantly Decreases: The mother’s good bacteria is picked up via skin-to-skin contact and protects baby.
- Physiological Signs of Stress Decrease for Baby:
- Breastfeeding: The Golden Hour allows the natural act of breastfeeding to occur without pressure and on the baby’s timeframe.
- Bonding: Not only are mother and baby bonding, but father, mother, and baby are all getting to know one another.
- Reduced Risk of Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar levels): Newborns can produce glucose from their body’s stored energy until they have figured out breastfeeding, but being skin to skin enhances their body’s ability to do so.
- Increase in Mother’s Confidence: Oxytocin receptors increase during pregnancy, and when a baby is born, the mother is more responsive to this hormone. Oxytocin promotes maternal instincts, and is produced in even larger quantities when breastfeeding and being skin-to-skin.
- Successful Breastfeeding Relationship: Mothers who enjoy this time period are more likely to have a successful breastfeeding journey. Even more so if the baby is left to self-attach to the breast without help or force.
- Protection Against the Effects of Separation: Babies are born with a mammal’s primal instinct to stay in a safe environment (With their mother). They preserve energy and heat this way, are comforted and feel safe.
The first feed after birth.
Most hospitals actively encourage unlimited skin to skin time from the moment of birth. Given enough uninterrupted time skin-to-skin, your baby may move towards your breast and begin feeding without assistance. This is called the “breast crawl” and is your first reminder of how instinctive feeding is for your baby. Do not rush the process. Allow your baby to show you when he or she is ready to feed.
The first feed helps to stabilize baby’s blood sugars and protect baby’s gut (NCT).
Most babies will nurse better at this time than they will for the next couple of days. Take advantage of this. “A full-term healthy newborn’s instinct to breastfeed peaks about 20 to 30 minutes after birth if he is not drowsy from drugs or anesthesia given to his mother during labour and delivery” (La Leche League). Breastfeeding in the delivery room or the recovery room after a caesarean section lays the hormonal groundwork for your future supply of mature milk.
Quality not Quantity
Your baby’s first feeds are about quality, not quantity. At the moment, and for the first few days after birth, your breasts are producing small quantities of colostrum (about 3-4 teaspoons daily). This is a concentrated clear yellow secretion which is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, as well as antibodies that protect your baby from bacterial and viral illnesses.
As you feed, the hormone oxytocin will help your uterus regain its tone after birth. This process also protects against excessive bleeding as you recover from childbirth. You may feel mild menstrual-like cramps whilst your uterus shrinks.
Your newborn should generally not go longer than three hours between feedings. However you may find that he is very sleepy for the first few days and may not be interested in feeding. This is especially true if the first feed was very good and lasted longer than 20 – 30 minutes.
Undressing him and giving skin to skin contact will help wake him up and encourage him to feed. In the event that he does not wake to feed, request that a heel prick test is done to reassure you (and the staff) that the blood sugar level is within normal range. Keep your baby close and keep trying to wake him at 3 hrly intervals until he feeds again. Enjoy your time together.