I think we all have an idea about labor and birth— whether we’ve been in the room to witness it or how it’s portrayed on the tv screen. Usually, it’s a laboring woman giving birth while screaming her head off, then out comes the baby, the doctor clamps the cord and they ask the dad to cut it almost immediately, the baby is then rushed off to the exam table to be wiped cleaned, weighed and given all hospital procedures. The media has a lot of influence on our society whether it’s about styles and trends or about the way a laboring women “looks” when giving birth. By showing women these images of what birth might look like in a hospital setting, women go in expecting a similar outcome. Most of the time, what we don’t see, is a women in labor feeling supported, strong and fully aware she is capable of giving birth in a peaceful, calm and relaxed setting.
“If a woman doesn’t look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn’t treating her right.”
-Ina May Gaskin
I witnessed my first birth almost five years ago. As soon as the baby was born he was whisked away, dried off, hospital procedures followed, and wrapped into a blanket as mom was delivering the placenta. Yes it was a beautiful miraculous scene to witness a baby being born— which is the case no mater how you birth. But after witnessing this, I was left with the question of ” is this what birth really is?” This question raised my awareness and ignited something in me that lead me to investigate birth more and more. This post will shed some light on the importance of undisturbed skin to skin contact for the first hour(s) of babies life, often called: The Golden Hour.
Studies have shown that undisturbed skin to skin contact for the first hour of babies life can have many positive effects for mother and baby.
- Are happier, calmer and cry less
- Stay warmer
- Have higher blood sugar levels
- Are protected by some of your good bacteria
- Have more stable heart, respiratory, and oxygen rates
- Breastfeed better which helps them be healthier. Breastfed babies have less risk of getting painful ear infections, asthma, diarrhea, RSV, diabetes, obesity, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Bond more with your baby
- Gain confidence and satisfaction from caring for your baby
- Learn when your baby is getting hungry
- Breastfeed more easily and make more breast milk. Breastfeeding is good for moms too! It helps you bleed less and lose weight. It decreases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
I wish to have a natural hospital birth and to achieve undisturbed skin to skin contact within the first hour of my little ones life. This might be a little difficult since almost all hospitals wont be too comfortable breaking out of routine procedures. Although it is not impossible to let nurses know my wishes, I’m hoping that they will be understanding of the endless benefits of skin to skin immediately following birth. Weighing and measuring can wait… my baby isn’t going to suddenly gain ten pounds or grow five inches. The shots and the eye ointment can wait and the apgar score can be done while my baby is resting on my chest.
My husband and I have also decided we do not want to have any visitors in the hospital at least for the first day after giving birth. I really want to focus on bonding with our baby and having such precious moments as a family of three only shared between us is something he and I will cherish together for as long as time. Breastfeeding is also a huge thing I want to focus on and having visitors come in and out will no doubt take away ours and our baby’s focus on latching. Visitors is something I don’t want to deal with especially after hours and hours of labor and pushing a watermelon sized baby out of me.
Some might think it’s rude to be asked not to come visit in the hospital and some might even take it too personal. But it’s not really about how others feel it’s really about our wishes. It’s most importantly about the health, healing and happiness of our baby and wanting time and privacy to get acquainted with the life we created and bond with her.
The first few hours of a newborns life is so crucial. I really am hoping for an undisturbed skin to skin hour after birth because it is so important not just for me but for my baby as well. Feeling obligated to have people in the delivery room or visitors after is something you should not feel pressured into saying yes to. The moments after birth and following are so vulnerable for both you and your baby. After all, YOU’RE the one putting in all the hard work, so stand strong in your own truth and don’t feel like you have to give in to other people’s wants. I’m lucky to have a partner who is on the same page as I am and I’m hoping my doctor and nurses are too.