That first hour after baby is born is often called the Sacred Hour because it's such a special time. Your skin is the most natural place for your baby to be after birth and baby should stay there uninterrupted for at least an hour, the sacred hour. Skin-to-skin time is actually really important. Studies have shown it has lasting health benefits for all babies and moms.
Skin-to-skin helps baby stay warmer and maintain a normal body temperature even better than a baby warmer. Baby will also have a more stable heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. And babies held skin-to-skin cry less, which is always a good thing.
Let's look at the stages baby will go through in that first hour after birth:
- You'll usually see the birth cry, then relaxation, then awakening, then increased mouthing activity and head movement. And eventually, most babies will self attach after an hour or two.
- Most babies are actually able to crawl toward the breast and latch on to start breastfeeding all on their own.
- Some babies just lick the nipple and try to get on, and that's a great start. Others may nurse for even a longer time.
- Remember it's normal no matter if they latch or for how long they nurse. It's good for you and your baby.
- And the nurses will help if your baby doesn't latch on his or her own.
- Studies have shown that babies who breastfed or did skin-to-skin in the first hour ended up breastfeeding longer, and their moms' milk came in earlier.
- Remember to try to feed the baby first, then the nurse can get baby's weight. Tell your family to "wait for the weight!"
- By the way, if you have a C-section, many hospitals will still let you do skin-to-skin - just talk to your doctor and your support team. No matter where or how you are delivering, tell your doctors and nurses what you want ahead of time.
- And dads can do skin-to-skin, too. Babies get great benefits by bonding with dad. If dad isn't comfortable taking off his shirt off, he can wear a button-up, open it, and hold baby on his chest.