By Stacy Liberatore for Dailymail.com
5:44 PM 15 Mar 2023, updated 5:45 PM 15 Mar 2023
The first time a mother pulls her newborn close to her skin sets the tone of their relationship, but science shows that this “golden hour” is vital to their health.
Medical experts have found that the first 60 minutes of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact helps regulate the baby’s temperature, control breathing and lower the risk of low blood sugar.
Not only is it crucial for the new life that has just come into the world, but the experience also triggers the production of oxytocin in the mother, which promotes bonding and milk production.
Professionals recommend immediately placing the baby face down on the mother’s stomach, with a blanket covering both of them.
This position slows down the production of adrenaline hormones in the mother so as not to interfere with the production of oxytocin and prolactin hormones.
Tenelle Choal, a registered nurse midwife at Sanford Health in South Dakota, said in a statement, “The golden hour is very beneficial and crucial for even years down the road between both mother and baby.
“It’s super helpful for stabilizing the newborn coming out of the womb, but also for bonding.”
French obstetrician Michael Odent described in 1977 that newborns sought the breast within the first hour of life, sparking the idea of the golden hour in the medical community.
And studies have shown that 60 minutes or more of immediate skin-to-skin contact increases the percentage of a child who breastfeeds at three months.
The golden hour has also been proven to extend the time the baby is in a calm alert state and reduce crying.
As soon as a mother brings her newborn close, oxytocin is immediately released into her body, reducing postpartum bleeding and the risk of postpartum bleeding and delivering the placenta and uterine involution more quickly.
“For babies, it helps with thermal regulation, or a fancy term for helping the baby regulate temperature and stabilize blood sugar,” Choal said.
“And for mom, it helps mom produce hormones that help her breastfeed and produce milk, and reduce stress and anxiety and depression for her.”
Another way to facilitate bonding is to hold your newborn long after you leave the hospital.
New parents have long been advised to put their newborns down so as not to spoil them, but contrary to popular myth, cuddling activates oxytocin, increases bonding and stimulates their brains to further develop.
Holding your little one close to you not only keeps them warm, but it also curbs crying, regulates breathing and heart rate, helps with weight gain, and improves growth.
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These findings are compared to children who have been deprived of physical attention and are at greater risk for behavioral, emotional and social problems as they age.
Years of studies have proven the importance of touch between a caregiver and a baby, Parents reports.
An article, published in 2020, applauds skin-to-skin contact, where a baby wears only a diaper and is placed on the mother’s bare chest.
This result results in the release of oxytocin, which is associated with trust and relationship building, and the activation of sensory nerve fibers.
The study highlights several others, with one noting how the contact is also beneficial to the caregiver.
“Their findings point to the nurturing and predictive quality of parental touch as a primary means of early contact and communication,” the paper reads.
A team of researchers from Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital observed 125 preterm and full-term babies to see how they responded to touch, such as cuddling with a parent or not-so-light touches during medical procedures.
The results showed that newborns who were touched gently showed more brain responses than when they were touched again during procedures.
This, according to Parents Magazine, suggests that “good” touching helps with brain development.
Nathalie Maitre, who was involved in the study, said in a statement: ‘We certainly hoped that more positive touch experiences in the hospital would help babies have a more typical perception of touch when they went home.
“But we were very surprised to find that if babies go through more painful procedures at a young age, their sense of gentle touch can be compromised.”
“For new parents, including those whose young children have to undergo complex medical procedures, take heart: your touch is more important than you know.”