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Making the most of the Golden Hour

Your baby has arrived. Now what?! Let’s walk through the first few hours and days of your baby’s life at Madison Hospital or Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

The first hour of life following delivery is known as “the Golden Hour.” Your baby is going through changes to prepare for life outside of your womb. To help this transition go smoothly, your baby will be placed on your chest for skin-to-skin (STS) care. During STS care, your baby’s naked body is placed next to your naked chest. There are many proven benefits including:

  • Calms both you and baby
  • Helps baby cry less
  • Releases hormones that relieve stress and help baby stabilize their breathing, heart rate, temperature and blood sugar. Hormones release in mom as well to help lower her stress and pain and promote healing.
  • Helps colostrum production
  • Boosts baby’s immune system
  • Lowers moms’ risk of postpartum mood disorders
  • Helps cultivate the connection between mom and baby as well as the whole family

We encourage uninterrupted STS care for the entire Golden Hour. The nurses caring for your baby will be able to complete their first assessment, APGAR scoring (to help assess baby’s transition), vitamin K injection and erythromycin ointment all while baby is on your chest. The nurses will also help your baby establish their first feeding.

Even though there’s a lot going on in that first hour, it is a great time to rest, relax and focus on baby bonding and feeding.

After your recovery from delivery, you and baby will be moved to the Postpartum or Mother Baby room. This is where you and baby will stay until being discharged from the hospital. Here’s a checklist of things that must be completed prior to leaving the hospital:

  • Baby feeding well, peeing and pooping lots. Baby will lose weight, but we need to ensure it is not too much weight loss.
  • Check for yellowing of baby’s skin which can indicate jaundice. This too is normal in infancy; we just make sure it is not too high.
  • Circumcision for boys, if desired
  • Hearing screen
  • Metabolic screen, also known as a PKU test.
  • Congenital heart screening. This is a simple test that checks the baby’s oxygen saturation in the hand and the foot.
  • Birth certificate
  • Lots of teaching!!

Our postpartum nurses will make sure you know everything about caring for baby – from diaper changes and burping to feeding and everything in between. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask. You will have a communication board in your room. Write down any questions you have so you don’t forget before you see your nurse again.

Once your OB writes orders for your discharge from the hospital, you will need to have a follow-up appointment for baby in 2-3 days. Your OB will let you know when you need to follow up with them.

Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Renee Colquitt, CRNP, NNP-BC
Director of Perinatal Services at Madison Hospital

This information highlights the services of the HH Health System as well as current health topics important to families. The information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. Every person is different, so please contact a physician to help you make the appropriate health care decision. HH Health System has made an effort to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of publication.

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