As a past instructor of the Bradley Method of natural childbirth and a certified Pediatric Chiropractic Specialist, I am lucky to have a unique viewpoint of childbirth that I treasure. The entire process of child birth is magnificent. There are so many variables that have to fall perfectly in line, proving that the entire process is an intricate miracle. One very important aspect of the birthing process is called the “Golden Hour”. This is a very special time of bonding between new parents and their child.
As we look at the golden hour, it is important to remember the journey that it has been (or will be) to get to the birth: the seemingly infinite trips to the bathroom, the crazy cravings, the back pain and sciatica, not to mention the emotional whirlwind that it has been. This whole time, the expectant mommy and family have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new addition and the excitement has been teeming to get to know him or her.
Before you know it, it starts to happen, the baby is coming! In both the mother and the baby, hormone levels rise to do very important jobs, and they also have wonderful side effects. Specifically, there are elevated levels of three major hormones: oxytocin, prolactin and adrenaline. The main jobs of these hormones in the mother are to start and continue contractions, to stimulate milk production and to give the mother the strength and energy to birth the baby. Because the mom has elevated hormone levels, the baby does as well. One of the key hormones for the baby is adrenaline, because the baby has to go through a lot of stress during birth as well.
One of the amazing things about the body is that these hormones serve a dual purpose. Oxytocin is also the hormone of love; it’s what stimulates that feeling of camaraderie or “well-wishing” when you spend time with friends or family. Prolactin is what causes a nurturing feeling and adrenaline has caused both the mother and baby’s pupils to dilate and makes their eyes enticing to look at.
Now, after 9 long months, your baby has made it, and your body has provided a wonderful mix of love, nurturing and captivation that has surged to the highest point that you and your baby will ever share. The mother’s hormones will not reach this level again unless she gives birth to another baby. The baby’s brain won’t be as active as it is now for another 3-4 months, and, coincidentally, your baby’s clear line of sight is only from the crook of your arm to your face. This is when the bond is forged between the parents and their child.
In summary, you and your baby have locked eyes, the hormones of love and nurturing are at their all-time highest and your baby has his or her most heightened awareness of Mommy and Daddy. The birth partner has also been integral in the process, they have run the pregnancy gamut too, so they’re also sharing in the endorphin high, and the bonding is just as powerful. This is the Golden Hour, and it is the most precious time of bonding. Be sure to make plans with your doctor, because this is a very important time that should be cherished dearly and shouldn’t be spoiled with any interruptions.
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