The moment you give birth and your baby is placed skin-to-skin is one that can compare to no other in your lifetime. After so much waiting and sacrifice, you finally have the opportunity to meet the newest love of your life. There are many advantages to both mother and baby in the standard practice of placing the baby immediately skin to skin and leaving them undisturbed for at least one hour, a time called the golden hour. Here are five reasons why you should participate in the golden hour after your birth.

1. Regulates Baby’s Body Temperature

It is difficult for newborns to regulate their body temperature after birth and skin to skin contact can help them to regulate it. When a newborn is placed skin to skin with a parent, the parent’s body heat helps keep the baby warm and comfortable, especially during the first few hours after birth when the baby is still adjusting to the outside world.

2. The Golden Hour Promotes Breastfeeding

Another amazing benefit of skin to skin contact in the first two hours after birth is that it helps to promote breast/chestfeeding. Baby being skin to skin helps to stimulate the release of hormones in the birthing person, such as oxytocin, which can increase milk production. Another important reason is that when a baby is placed skin to skin with their parent, they are more likely to latch and breast/chestfeed successfully.

3. Improves Baby’s Immune System

A newborn’s immune system is immature making them vulnerable to infections. Skin to skin contact during the golden hour can help transfer good bacteria from the parent to the baby, which can help boost their immune system and reduce the risk of infection in those early months. Already, you are introducing your baby to what might be normal in the environment of your home! This is just another reason the golden hour is so important.

4. Reduces Stress in Both Parent and Baby

Let’s be honest, childbirth can be a stressful and intense experience for both the parent and the baby. Skin to skin contact has been shown to reduce stress in both parent and baby. Skin to skin helps release hormones which can reduce stress levels and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. This is just another reason the golden hour is so important.

5. Strengthens Parent-Child Bond

In my opinion, the most significant benefit of skin to skin contact is that it promotes and strengthens the bond between the parent and the child. It can help to create a sense of calm and comfort for the baby and help the parent to feel more connected to their child. Skin to skin contact is not only for the birthing parent either! Once baby has had the golden hour with the birthing parent, is it also beneficial for the baby’s other parent to soak up those skin to skin cuddles. This can also allow the birthing parent to get some much needed rest.

When it comes to skin to skin contact after childbirth, you can’t loose! With numerous benefits for both the parent and the newborn, the practice of respecting the golden hour has become standard practice in many birthing facilities. Be sure to ask your obstetrical provider if your birthing location practices immediate skin to skin as a standard practice. Unable to participate in the golden hour for whatever reason? Not to worry, the benefits of skin to skin last well beyond the first few hours after birth. Practice skin to skin whenever you have the opportunity and you are sure to set yourself up for success. 

About The Author

Kaleigh Daigle Birth DoulaKaleigh Daigle is a certified birth and postpartum doula, newborn care specialist and certified lactation counselor. She is the owner of North Shore Doula Co. and finds much joy in supporting families on their journey into parenthood.