Quality, undisturbed skin to skin snuggles between mom and baby after birth is not only very well earned after all of mom's hard work but is also an important bonding opportunity for mom and baby. This first hour after birth is referred to as the "Golden Hour" and this is the perfect time to initiate baby's first breastfeed.
Once baby is medically stable after birth and as soon as possible, baby should be placed skin to skin on mom's chest. Mom and baby should then be covered with a warm blanket and allowed to snuggle in for a nice long cuddle. Babies who have experienced an un-medicated labor and birth will have a period of alertness where they actively seek out their mother's face and will often maintain prolonged eye contact with mom. Babies who have medications in their system from birth will need this snuggle time even more. They may seem to sleep on mom's chest and that's ok, allow them this time to transition to life outside the womb in a gentle way. No matter the method of birth, all babies will eventually begin to find the breast on their own. This usually happens within the first hour, the Golden Hour, after birth. Some babies may need a little direction and some will self attach all on their own, it's quite amazing to watch!
Ideally, mom and baby will be kept together until this first feed can happen. Birth interventions such as weight and length measurement can all wait until after the first breastfeed. Separation should only happen if mom or baby's health becomes unstable. This first breastfeed can be supported by your IBCLC, delivery room nurse or midwife but for the most part, should be left up to mom and baby. Adjust the latch if it is painful. Breastfeeding should never ever cause pain. It may feel strange, like a strong pull at the breast, it may feel like stretching or slightly burning but it should never feel sharp, pinching or intense. If you are experiencing pain ask your nurse, IBCLC or midwife for help.
Enjoy this Golden Hour. The first hour of your baby's life where nothing else matters. Welcome your new little one into your lives and your family with open arms and quality snuggle time. Once the first breastfeed has happened it's Dad's turn for some skin to skin while mom enjoys a well deserved meal, a hot shower and a nap!