Doula ~ Blog Posts



That Magical Hour

First hour skin to skin

It is during this first hour of life that this so called “magic” is able to happen between a mother and her baby.  In the first hour after birth babies are alert and begin to learn about their mother.  When baby is placed skin to skin it is beneficial to not disturb this bonding time between mother and child. It is now realized as being beneficial to hold off on many of the formerly normal things done at birth such as weighing, measuring, bathing, eye ointment and Vitamin K shots until after the infant has had their first breastfeeding. “For the first time, researchers have assessed the effect of the timing of the first breastfeed on newborn mortality – showing that mortality may be less if infants start to breastfeed in the first hour. ~ Unicef Fact Sheet  

When baby is placed on their mother belly to belly and skin to skin, she is able to regulate the temperature of her baby by her own body which is especially helpful for those of low birthweight. The baby will be less stressed by their environment and tend to have a steady heart rate and steady rate of breathing.  This in turn may have a great impact on the health and wellbeing of the baby and may in fact lower the mortality rate of those infants who begin to breastfeed within that first hour of life outside of the uterus.  By breastfeeding in that first hour you are insuring that you will be giving your baby all that he or she may need to get the best start to their life.  That first feeding will provide your baby with your nutrient rich colostrum which is exactly what they need to sustain them for the first few days of life.  Your colostrum is full of protective antibodies that will serve as immunization against any bacterial and viral infections they may come into contact with as a newborn.  Though it is small in quantity your colostrum also provides lactose to your baby which will keep your infant’s blood sugar from dropping too low and will also help aid in the excretion of bilirubin.

As the mother, you will also benefit from breastfeeding with in the first hour of delivery.  It will aid in the release of oxytocin.  Oxytocin is the hormone that is released with your baby’s repeated sucking which signals the beast to increase and “let down” your milk.  It also simultaneously produces contractions in the hours and days following birth helping to prevent hemorrhage as well as allowing your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state.

The benefits of breastfeeding in the first hour after delivery will not only benefit you and your baby in the short term but will contribute to your health in the long run.  Breastfeeding is economical and will promote a bond between you and your baby that will last a lifetime. Breastfeeding mothers have been shown in numerous studies to have a lower risk of reproductive cancers such as ovarian and uterine.  The calories needed to breastfeed will help your body get back to its pre-pregnancy state more easily as well.  I do acknowledge that breastfeeding is not ideal for all women, but allowing your baby to bond with you through skin to skin contact immediately after birth will benefit you both.

Baby’s Latch

When baby is left alone to explore skin to skin with its mother many times the infant will begin to nuzzle and smell their way to the mothers’ breast.  These infants will move their legs and arms almost as though they are crawling and will, many times, find the breast and will latch on.

Some infants may need some light touch or positioning to help baby latch which is absolutely fine. Either way this latch happens the baby’s latch will most likely be a good one and they will not usually have any trouble latching from that point on.

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Sources Cited or Consulted:

UNICEF Handout

Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding
























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