The Golden Hour After Birth: Nurturing Newborns for a Bright Beginning


“The first hour after birth offers a precious window for bonding, health, and well-being for both mother and baby.”

Unlocking Potential: Understanding the Golden Hour for Newborns

In the neonatal world, the “Golden Hour” after birth emerges as a crucial period that offers a myriad of benefits for both mother and newborn. Although this time, also known as the “scared hour,” is not a new concept, it’s adoption by certain medical communities has been gradual. Similar to the Golden Hour used in photography which is ideal for capturing stunning images, this time is coveted by both photographers and developmental care specialists for its ability to enhance the beauty of their subjects and create a magical atmosphere. In both contexts, the Golden Hour represents a brief yet significant window of opportunity. For photographers, it’s a chance to capture the beauty of nature in its most enchanting light. For healthcare providers and families, it’s a chance to provide the best possible start for a newborn’s life, promoting bonding, health, and well-being.

From Womb to World: The Adjustment Period After Birth

The intrauterine environment is a perfect environment that controlled and predictable. It is warm, provides protection and containment, and regulates and feeds the baby. Therefore, leaving this perfect environment through birth requires the baby to have a profound and complex physiological adjustment. Following birth, the baby feels gravity for the first time, they have equipment attached to them, bright lights are loud noises are all around–it’s an intrusive and invasive time.

Nurturing Beginnings: The Multifaceted Benefits for Mother and Baby

Did you know that the Golden Hour offers many benefits for both mother & baby that can support this transition?

  • Bonding/Attachment: releases oxytocin which fosters feelings of love, trust and attachment
  • Regulates Body Temperature: the mother’s body helps baby stay warm & provides a comforting environment
  • Stabilizes Vital Signs: the calming effect of being next to mom reduces stress, positively impacting vital signs
  • Initiates breastfeeding: placing baby skin-to-skin stimulates their natural instinct to seek and latch to the breast to initiate breastfeeding
  • Improves Breastfeeding Success: early initiation of breastfeeding during the Golden Hour has been linked to breastfeeding success, better milk production, and longer duration of exclusive breastfeeding
  • Boosts the immune system: exposes baby to beneficial bacteria from mom’s skin, which helps to seed the baby’s microbiome in order to protect against infections
  • Pain Relief: reduces pain and stress in both mom and baby which can be particularly helpful after the trauma of birth and medical interventions.
  • Psychological Well-being: promotes relaxation and reduces stress and provides a positive start to the mother-baby relationship

To download a pdf of my New Parent Feeding Journey, click here.

Healthcare and Family Advocacy: Promoting Optimal Care for Newborns

Healthcare providers can play a pivotal role in promoting and supporting the Golden Hour. By educating expectant parents about its importance, facilitating immediate skin-to-skin contact, and prioritizing essential care, they can optimize this critical period for maternal and neonatal well-being.

Families can also play a significant role in advocating for the Golden Hour in hospital settings. By educating themselves, communicating their preferences to healthcare providers, seeking support from experts, and asking questions, they can ensure that they receive the benefits of immediate skin-to-skin contact.

Navigating Challenges: When the Golden Hour is Not Feasible

While the Golden Hour after birth is generally a beneficial practice, there are scenarios where it may not be safe or appropriate, such as during medical emergencies, maternal instability, or neonatal resuscitation. In such cases, healthcare providers must prioritize medical interventions and adjust practices based on individual circumstances.

In an event when a baby is transported to the NICU and experiences immediate separation from parents, here are a few suggestions to decrease stress and improve bonding:

  • Use a Lovie or a scent cloth to help baby keep parents’ scent close in approximation
  • Have one parent near if the other parent is still in the recovery room. This parent’s presence can provide calm to the baby through tactile touch and a familiar voice.
  • Cover the baby’s eyes in order to protect vision and decrease the stress from the overstimulation of visual input.
  • Delay tasks which are not emergent. If there is time to complete the task later, do it later.

“Strong scientific research exists about the importance of skin‐to‐skin in the first hour after birth. This unique time for both mother and infant, individually and in relation to each other, provides vital advantages to short‐ and long‐term health, regulation and bonding. However, worldwide, clinical practice lags. A deeper understanding of the implications for clinical practice, through review of the scientific research, has been integrated with enhanced understanding of the infant’s instinctive behaviour and maternal responses while in skin‐to‐skin contact.” Widström AM, Brimdyr K, Svensson K, Cadwell K, Nissen E. Skin-to-skin contact the first hour after birth, underlying implications and clinical practice. Acta Paediatr. 2019 Jul;108(7):1192-1204. doi: 10.1111/apa.14754. Epub 2019 Mar 13. PMID: 30762247; PMCID: PMC6949952.

The Golden Hour After Birth: A Fleeting Moment Not to Miss

The correlation between a photographer’s Golden Hour and the Golden Hour after a baby’s birth lies in the fleeting nature of these moments. Just as the light in the sky shifts quickly during the Golden Hour for photographers, the first hour after birth is a critical time that must be maximized to ensure the best outcomes for mother and baby.

By recognizing and embracing the significance of the Golden Hour in both contexts, we can appreciate the beauty and importance of these fleeting moments and strive to make the most of them, whether through capturing a breathtaking photograph or providing the best possible care for a newborn.

Have you experienced the Golden Hour after birth? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments below.


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Hi, I'm Micha.

There’s gonna be lots of ups and downs, frustrations and tears…. BUT there are snuggles and firsts and freshly bathed baby smells and tiny miracles every single day. I know you have it all within you to make it through this journey. I’ll be right here, right beside you the entire way.



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