The Golden Hour offers benefits for both of you.
What Is the Golden Hour?
As you may remember from the last post, the term Golden Hour is used to refer to the time immediately after your baby is born when being in close contact with you is beneficial for both of you. Holding your baby skin to skin is one of the most important parts of this practice that allows a myriad of benefits to unfold.
Because your newborn has a sustained period of wakefulness in a quiet-alert state, this hour or so after birth presents the perfect opportunity for bonding, imprinting on each other, and learning about each other to occur. Although other shorter periods of wakefulness will present themselves later, the high levels of oxytocin present right after birth play an important role in establishing, and maintaining, this special bond between you and your baby. Oxytocin acts to lower stress levels for both of you, setting the perfect stage for short and long-term benefits to unfold. Oxytocin generates changes in brain chemistry that increase your desire for nurturing, and creates the desire for further contact for both you and your baby. Dads who have significant contact with their newborns also experience a rise in oxytocin that creates this desire for further contact too. All of this bonding activity is beneficial for your new family, and provides long-term benefits for your baby’s overall health and development.
Skin to skin contact makes it easier for your newborn to transition from the womb to the outside world. Research has shown that your baby will be able to regulate heart rate and rhythm more easily, will breathe more regularly and easily, and will be able to maintain a warm body temperature more easily when held skin to skin. These three things are the important measurements of your newborn’s stability and vitality. Scientists first made these observations about the power of skin-to-skin contact in the early 1980s when the practice of Kangaroo Care (mothers holding their premature babies skin to skin) in Bogotá, Colombia more than doubled the survival rate for these pre-term babies. We now know skin-to-skin holding is beneficial for all newborn babies.
Skin to skin contact also encourages successful breastfeeding, but especially during this first hour after birth. Your body chemistry during this Golden Hour promotes more successful letdown and latching, allowing breastfeeding to occur more easily. The same hormones that help you push your baby out also help to release the flow of milk for your baby (letdown). The readily available milk makes feeding more interesting for your newborn. The smell of the milk, the instant gratification, and the calm-alert state work together to help your newborn “figure out” a proper latch for sustained and successful feeding. And for your benefit mom, the combination of skin contact and breastfeeding releases hormones which cause the uterus to contract and to stop bleeding, both of which are desirable outcomes after delivery.
The Golden Hour with your newborn held skin to skin offers many wonderful benefits. My hope for you is that you both get to have the intimate and amazing experience of sharing this first hour of life together.
For you and yours,
D. Fravert, RN
The role our thoughts and expectations play in breastfeeding.
When you first know you want a baby in your life, you begin to plan for the best experience for both of you. You realize you have many choices to make, and one of those important choices is how to feed your baby. If you choose breastfeeding, I believe there is something you can do to positively influence your experience. Epigenetics, and my own experience, each convince me that it is possible, and therefore worth sharing.
There is an interesting article I just discovered about epigenetics. The scientist in me is intrigued by the results of the experiment shared in “Genetics, Epigenetics, and the Mind-Body Connection” by Eric Nelson, posted in the PaloAltoPatch 6/6/13. (Click here)
Essentially the experiment demonstrates that taking identical stem cells (growing in a Petri dish), and dividing them into three different Petri dishes with three different environments causes the originally-identical stem cells to grow into three different things (in this case muscle, bone, and fat). The only change was their environment. I find that amazing!
What It Means for Us
The article goes on to say that the human body is just a Petri dish full of cells (about 50 trillion cells) covered by skin. Like the stem cells in the experiment above, our environment has an influence on us. Everything from what we eat to how we think influences the cells in our body. Think of the possibilities!
My Breastfeeding Experience
Because I’ve loved babies all of my life I started making choices about the baby in my future long before I became pregnant. When I discovered the benefits breastfeeding offers babies, I decided at that moment that I would breastfeed my baby.
It was several years before I had my baby, but my conviction to breastfeed held true. The thought never ever crossed my mind that I could not breastfeed.
My positive thoughts and unwavering conviction about breastfeeding gave me a wonderful experience. I sincerely believe your positive thoughts and beliefs can do the same for you too!
And now, inspired by the thought that I am a walking Petri dish, I am excited to think about the possibilities!
For you and yours,
D. Fravert, RN
It is my observation as a baby nurse that “nipple confusion” is not what it seems.
Bottle versus Breast
When you introduce a bottle to a baby who is learning to breastfeed, some babies do refuse to nurse at the breast again … temporarily. This is what lactation consultants call “nipple confusion.” But I believe your baby is not “confused” but is simply choosing the path of least resistance.
By comparison, at the very beginning of feeding it’s easier for your newborn to get milk from a bottle than from your breast. Milk from a bottle flows easily and immediately. Milk from your breast requires some sucking without reward until letdown (release of milk from the glands) allows the milk to flow easily. Your baby made a discovery, and wants the path of least resistance. There is no confusion about it.
Helping Your Baby
Knowing this may happen, there are some things you can do to help your baby transition from bottle back to breast.
You may express some milk with your hand or a pump to stimulate letdown and get the flow of milk started before you put your baby to breast. This readily available milk makes it easier for your baby to get instant gratification without too much work.
You may also leave some expressed milk on your nipple to give your baby the smell and taste that promotes a good latch (that is, a wide-open mouth as full of mom as possible) that will help your baby get the milk more easily.
You might also try putting your baby to breast before fully awake, letting natural sucking cues take over while your baby is still sleepy.
After successfully feeding with a bottle, and returning successfully to feed at the breast, your baby should be able to switch between the two methods of feeding as needed. It just may take a little patience and understanding.
For you and yours,
D. Fravert, RN
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health article “Why Breastfeeding Is Important” breastfeeding is not only beneficial for your baby, but as you will soon see it’s beneficial for you, and for society too!
Breast milk composition changes naturally (like magic) to exactly match your baby’s growing needs.
Breast milk proteins are easier for your baby to digest than cow’s milk proteins.
Breast milk is rich in antibodies and nutrients that help your baby’s immune system provide protection against: ear infections, stomach viruses, diarrhea, respiratory infections, atopic dermatitis (dry itchy skin), asthma, obesity, diabetes types I and II, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That’s powerful!
Breastfeeding burns calories and has been shown to help mothers with weight loss after birth.
Breastfeeding releases the amazing hormone oxytocin which helps you to relax, gives you that feel-good sensation, and acts to create a special bond between you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is less expensive because you don’t need to purchase food (until solids of course) or bottles.
Breastfeeding saves you time and money, with fewer trips to the doctor for yourself and for your baby.
Moms who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk for diabetes type II, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, and osteoporosis … thank you Mother Nature!
Babies who are breastfed are protected against many diseases and illnesses, therefore:
There are fewer visits to the doctor.
There are fewer medications prescribed.
There are fewer admissions to the hospital.
Breastfeeding reduces health care costs.
Fewer mothers miss work, given that their babies are healthier.
Work productivity is higher and medical costs to the employer are lower.
Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, due to less waste from plastic bottles and cans.
As you see breastfeeding your baby has many life-affirming outcomes and benefits for you, your baby, and society.
For the full article click here.