From womb to breast: The fascinating first hour of your child's life
Read this enchanting account of those first precious minutes of a child's life...
The first 60 minutes after a child is born — how many of you have thought about the significance of this hour?
It’s the first hour of a brand-new human being’s life. In this period of time, a mother and father see, smell and hold their baby for the first time.
In this time, a baby senses his parents for the first time, and bonding that starts with touch and smell, and should ideally segue into a newborn’s first taste of his mother’s milk, is established for the first time.
This first hour of life, or “golden hour“, is undoubtedly important. But all too easily, this hour can get swept away, blurred into the many minutes of life that follow.
What really happens in the first hour of a newborn’s life? What is it like for this brand new person in a brand new world from the moment he leaves his mummy’s womb to the moment he first nuzzles at her breast?
Let’s slow down time, minute by minute.
0 minutes after birth: A brand new, very tiny person lets out a loud yell, announcing his arrival to the world, while clearing his lungs in the process.
2 minutes after birth: Now it’s time to relax after all that crying — for less than a minute — perfectly still and quiet on mum’s breast or tummy. The authors of the study think that this little moment of silence could have evolved “to keep babies hidden from predators.”
2.5 minutes after birth: Micro-nap over, a newborn will now open his eyes for the very first time. He will also slowly commence moving his mouth and head.
8 minutes after birth: Time for even more action with eyes kept over for five minutes or longer and more jerky movements of little limbs. It’s also right about now that a newborn will want to eat for the first time. He’ll look at his mummy’s face and breasts, while making little mewing sounds and moving his little hands near his mouth.
18 minutes after birth: Phew, all that action was way too tiring. Time to rest again.
36 minutes after birth: Energised by that little rest, it’s time for some serious dining business now. Using his sense of smell mostly, a newborn will begin creeping towards his mummy’s breast for that first taste of yummy nourishment.
62 minutes after birth: What’s that delicious taste? Baby has finally latched on to his mum’s breast by now and gets a good dose of ‘liquid gold’ or colostrum which is power-packed with antibodies and concentrated nutrients. This suckling also stimulates contractions in mummy’s uterus, helping it shrink, and eventually reach pre-pregnancy size.
70 minutes after birth: Hunger sated, it’s now time for a nap.
So there it is. The fascinating first one hour (and 10 minutes) of life, captured by minute by minute, documented by science.
Of course, the Science News article points out that “these minute markers are median numbers taken from a small number of newborns, and even these babies’ time tables varied quite a bit.”
But, with increasing advocacy for healthcare providers to implement baby-friendly practices such as skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding soon after birth, this snapshot of a baby’s first hour of life might assist in this regard.
Science News makes reference to another study which shows that that babies whose chins touched the underside of their mothers’ breasts in the first hour after birth were more likely to get breastfeeding established more successfully than those babies who didn’t do this.
What studies such as these do is provide a deeper understanding into what newborns need soon after birth and how parents can best introduce this very special tiny person into their lives, and into the world.
Image credit: Leilani Rogers
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