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  • Writer's pictureJulia Iddir


Updated: Aug 18, 2022

‘The hour following birth is undoubtedly one of the most critical phases in the life of human beings’ – Michael Odent

It’s not a new thing, it’s just an old thing with a new name.

The Golden Hour is the first hour after birth. Why is it Golden? Because of the wonderful benefits for mum and baby that it brings. Having an undisturbed Golden Hour can make all the difference for a little one transitioning from life inside the womb, to life outside.

Let’s have a look at some of them.

  1. Babies are better able to regulate their heart rhythm, body temperature and respiration, when placed skin to skin on mama (better than if placed on another person, although dad comes a close second place). Having spent 9 months listening to mums heartbeat, this sound becomes the best way to continue this symbiotic relationship and reduce the shock of birth for the baby.

  2. It promotes delayed or optimal cord clamping. We used to clamp the cord immediately after birth, but we now understand the benefits of delayed (around 3 minutes) or optimal (when the cord finishes pulsating) clamping. Having baby skin to skin stabilises their respiration and is more likely to lead to delayed clamping, allowing all the iron, white blood cells, antibodies and red blood cells to pass into baby (reducing their chance of anaemia).

  3. It promotes attachment. The movie image of mothers immediately bonding with the new human in their lives is very romantic, but not always the case. Many mothers take a little time to develop a bond with baby, and a Golden Hour helps facilitate this – mothers who have an undisturbed Golden Hour feel more confident and comfortable meeting their baby’s needs than those who have not. This skin to skin contact helps mums body to produce the nurturing, mothering hormones (oxytocin and prolactin) that are important for ‘mothers intuition’.

  4. Breastfeeding success rates are higher. Baby will often crawl to the breast herself by the end of this first hour (known as the Breast Crawl, first discovered by Swedish researchers in the 1980s) and – if left to self attach – will usually have better positioning, leading to a greater success and duration of exclusive breastfeeding.

  5. An Immunity Boost. Research tells us that baby emerges from a near-sterile environment in the womb, and needs to have it’s gut seeded to establish a flora of friendly bacteria, fed by oligosaccharides, a product found in breastmilk. In a vaginal delivery, mum passes on her friendly bacteria to her baby, but regardless of the kind of delivery, baby can also gain a great dose of friendly bacteria from immediate skin to skin with mum. This is the best possible bacteria with which to develop the flora of baby’s gut, as it is the bacteria she is most familiar with – it has been her home for 9 months.

  6. An easier delivery of the placenta. The surge of oxytocin and suppression of adrenalin that occurs thanks to all those newborn cuddles, helps encourage the placenta to detach from the uterine wall by contracting and shrinking the uterus more quickly. The hormones, which surge greater still when baby latches on for her first feed, reduce bleeding and the risk of a postpartum hemorrhage.

This applies to all kinds of birth: even if baby needs a little help initially to establish respiration, or mum needs to be seen to after a cesarean. As long as there is no immediate concern that needs to be addressed, all mums and babies should be able to enjoy this skin to skin time soon, if not immediately after birth (the APGAR test to baby can usually be done while baby lies on mum). Infact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a healthy baby should be placed directly onto the mother’s abdomen or chest and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact until the first feeding is finished. The World Health Organisation also makes this recommendation.


  • Inform your caregivers of your desire to have this undistrubed hour

  • Create a calm, warm, dimly lit, private enviornment

  • Ensure your caregivers know your desire for have delayed / optimal clamping, or a lotus birth.

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