The Golden Hour - What to do when your baby is born

The first 60 minutes following birth are incredibly important for mother and baby. This is a time for transition for the newborn and they exhibit physiological behaviours during this time.

1) Birth cry - immediately after birth as baby's new lungs expand - "I'm here!"

2) Relaxation - baby's body is totally relaxed - "just give me a moment - this new world is a bit overwhelming".

3) Awakening - small thrusting movements of head and body, eyes begin to open - "this all smells, sounds and feels familiar".

4) Activity - eyes remain open, rooting, salivating, hand to mouth, tongue protrusion - "I'm in a safe environment to start exploring".

5) Rest - lots of frequent rest periods after activity - "I'm really new to this so I'm just going to take my time as I process everything I have learned so far. Please be patient with me - it's hard work!"

6) Crawling - crawling, sliding, drawing up knees to push forwards. Lots of rooting and searching - "look at what I can do! I'm also helping mummy by massing her womb and encouraging oxytocin".

7) Familiarisation - very important and can last 20 minutes or more. Licking the nipples, touching, massaging, and nuzzling the breast - "don't rush me, I need to figure this out myself so that I won't need so much help later".

8) Suckling - self attaches after working out the best approach and begins to feed - "I did all by myself - okay, maybe with a bit of help by mum!".

9) Sleeping - "I feel satisfied and safe. Life is good so far! Now, I'll just rest".

This physiological process can take up to 60-90 minutes. It is important that an undisturbed Golden Hour is facilitated where possible as if the baby is disturbed, they will restart this process again until they have their first feed. There will be circumstances where this can't be facilitated immediately due to the clinical needs of the mother and/or baby, however, we recommend doing this as soon as you are able to.

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