Did you get your Magical Hour?

“Birds do it, bees do it,  Even educated fleas do it, Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”  It’s Valentine’s Day, and the drive to love  — and all the hugging, holding, and kissing that goes with it– is instinctive.   It’s like breathing: primary,  involuntary, and life-giving.  We don’t need science to tell us the benefits of love and loving touch – once we experience the magic of love we  forever believe in it’s positive effects and we wouldn’t dream of deleting it from the equation of human experience.  And we don’t need science to help us do it.  Actually, we sometimes need science to take a back-seat to our instincts and just give them the space to do what they do.  Nowhere is this more true than during that pivotal first first hour of a newborn’s life when the magic of love begins to unfold and the blueprint for trust, security and relationships is created.

The Magical Hour is a new documentary that all expecting and new parents, all providers, — really, everyone should see.  It touches on one of the lesser-known booby traps parents encounter — being robbed of the opportunity to experience the miracle that happens when healthy babies are given immediate skin-to-skin time on mom’s tummy for at least an hour post-birth, and of the physical and emotional health effects for both mother and baby that having that time brings. Dr. Kajsa Brymdr, the video’s author, ethnographer, and international expert, and colleagues Drs. Ann-Marie Widstrom and Lars Ake Hanson can prove it to you.  In this video, they reveal how ALL healthy brand-new babies will take an active role in transitioning themselves  from womb to life-outside-the-womb  by journeying through 9 predictable behaviors –each meeting a vital need including security, comfort, warmth, touch, familiar sounds, trusting, exploring, learning, and eventually suckling.   An exquisite and instinctive dance between mother and baby unfolds.   That hour awakens in moms their own instincts, prompts a “knowing” that they already have all it takes to mother brilliantly, gives newborns a baseline of emotional and physical security and begins their early learning aptitudes.  Dr. Brimdyr’s research shows that mother-baby pairs who are given this magical hour become moms who feel more attentive and confident, and babies who are better self-regulators at ONE year, whether they continue breastfeeding or not! Wow!  This short but powerful interlude has the potential to stymie skyrocketing postpartum depression rates, facilitate trouble-free breastfeeding,  and provide babies with a really healthy start! Sign me up!

How so?  In a wonderful article for Birth Unlimited, we read that mammalian mothers, when given the proper time and space to do so, engage in nuzzling, kissing and caressing behaviors (for animals, it also involves a good bit of licking.) These instinctive mothering behaviors “expose the five senses to the young so that she knows the taste, smell, feel, sound and sight of her new baby. In this way, a mother claims her child as her own.”  These are the behaviors that attach mother to baby, whether she is breastfeeding or not, and breastfeeding just deepens and enhances that bond. “It is not unusual to find that women who are deprived of the privacy required to create this immediate bonding right after birth often say they feel a distance between them and their baby.”  Indeed.  We suspect that one of the causes of epidemic postpartum depression rates is that moms and babies are being robbed of the opportunity to “claim” each other and forge a natural bond.  Although bonding still takes place later, one wonders if it is as deep and protective.    Hospitals that routinely separate mother and baby immediately after birth, and return babies to their mothers cleaned and wrapped up like a Christmas present over an hour later, are doing moms and babies no favor.    Parents in the video who stood their ground and experienced this magical hour talk about  the miraculous the exchange between mother and baby, and as one interviewed mom put it “it’s time you can never get back.”

Though self-attachment and suckling at the breast is the last step in this beautifully orchestrated dance, and proponents will tell you it definitely helps breastfeeding get off to a great start, the Magical Hour goes far beyond that.  The transition period is is is a crucial time of falling-in-love both for new parents and for their baby— moments to be relished and which should not be rushed or missed.  Being shown the amazing ways that you and your baby fit together is empowering and affirming that you are on the right track.  As one of the video’s participants said “No one is asking anyone to do anything.”  No need to.  Babies know exactly what they need.  This research puts the icing on that cake.  What we need is to stop preventing mothers and babies from doing what instinct compels them to do.  So, we say it again, with love:  You are the Miracle.  Your Baby is the Miracle.  Ask for your Magical Hour and let your love drive. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Did you get your Magical Hour?






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7 Responses to Did you get your Magical Hour?

  1. Justine says:

    Amazing! I cannot wait to get my hands on this DVD and share it with my doula clients! This magical hour is often extended to 2 or 3 (or more) hours with many homebirths. I have also seen a wide range of experiences at hospitals: zero time skin-to-skin (handing mom a perfectly-swaddled, fully-bathed, pacifier-sucking, sound asleep bundle 2-3 hours after a birth) but at the other end, I just came home from a planned “natural cesarean” where the baby got a gentle, slow birth, delayed cord cutting, and put s2s with mom SECONDS after being born—baby even latched on right in the OR! Working towards that wonderful day when EVERY hospital in the world will honor this incredible time for families.

  2. With both of my girls, the baby was given to me for a few minutes, then they weighed her, did the Apgar, checked her over etc and then she was given back to me (within that first hour) to breastfeed/bond.

    Even though I am not having another baby, how would I have asked (and how would other moms reading this ask) to have the baby with me for the first hour completely? I feel that nurses and doctors would want to get their duties over with and in my doctor’s case, go home.

    I just think some moms wouldn’t be assertive enough to request this.

    Thanks!

    Wendy

    • Bettina says:

      It’s true that moms have to be assertive and demand this time, and that nurses and doctors want to fit moms and babies into their own schedule. As long as the baby is healthy, those tests can wait. The best bet is for moms to communicate this clearly to their ob/gyn, physician or midwife, and provide the hospital with a written request upon check-in. Having a partner, doula or friend who can advocate for the mom and baby at this vulnerable time helps also!

      • Phyllis Adamson says:

        The explanation given at the hospital where I used to work was: they could not create a patient chart for baby without having weight and length to enter into the electronic data system. And they were concerned for Compliance & Baby Patient Safety issues by not having an official patient chart until an hour after birth. Worst case scenario: apparently healthy baby suddenly begins to have health issues and has to be taken quickly to NICU. But baby is not an official patient yet and time is critical. Would be nice if the computer charting system allowed an hour or more just to complete the data entry (everything but the length & weight) then add that after first feed is completed and hit Enter to create the patient chart. If an emergency happens, you don’t have time to take length and weight; critical data for any medications. Solution ideas anyone?

  3. Monster Mom says:

    My baby girl was born on Feb 11, and I made it very clear to the doctors and nurses that unless our baby needed immediate medical intervention, I would be “catching” her as she entered the world and immediately placing her on my abdomen. I was not willing to allow them to clean her up first, or run any tests, and if they couldn’t handle my demands, I would walk right out of the hospital and deliver my baby on their front lawn. They objected at first but I stood my ground. That hour after her birth was the most magical and amazing experience of my entire life. I can tell you it made all the difference. My first child was whisked away immediately after birth, and although she was returned within 20 minutes or so, that immediate bonding time was lost, and there was less of a connection between myself and my baby. I feel that not having that time also played a part in my not breastfeeding successfully. I was only able to nurse my first child for 2 days before giving up because it was too demanding and painful. I have been nursing my newest daughter since birth, and even though the same obstacles are there, I have been more determined to get through it. That magical hour really is… well, magical!

  4. Carly says:

    Despite natural labor and midwives I did not get my “magic hour” with my little one. She passed meconium and had to be whisked off to get her to breath. After she was cleaned, weighed and tested she was handed over to her dad while I was being repaired. It was over an hour before I got a chance to nuzzle her.
    She never learned to latch, and I do wonder if that had anything to do with it. I have EPed for almost 8 months now.
    It might seem sad, but what was magic was watching her dad become a dad, in an instant. She didn’t nuzzle with me, but I watched with joy as she and her father stared into each others eyes. Watching my husband become involved with this new life, his joy, and respect for the work I had done was the happiest memory of her birth.
    So we lost our magic hour somehow. But we have a magic life. It is good to morn the things that did not happen how expected them, and then focus on the beautiful things today. I have a happy, healthy joyous kid who smiles and giggles at everything around her.

    • Carly, we are 100% behind you — of course missing this opportunity doesn’t mean that you can’t have a magical relationship with your babe — I didn’t have this experience with my first born either! And you absolutely should shift your plans when higher priorities (like clearing meconium) take precedent and feel no regret about it because the magic doesn’t end in the delivery room — as you have proven. Your decisions to have a natural birth, with a midwife, and to have your husband hold your baby when you could not, all bespeak a level of understanding that served all of you well and continues to. But many parents are not similarly situated and are not making informed decisions when it comes to birth or breastfeeding. This post was meant to prepare, inspire and empower the many parents who may not be as aware as you of the positive physical and emotional effects that minimally invasive birth and perinatal procedures (delaying routine tests and the bath) have on their babies — making it easier for them to follow their instinctive desire to bond with a loving parent in an intimate, close-range way, instead of with a blanket, pacifier and plastic carrier. We applaud you for EP’ing for 8 months — that is an amazing effort and an invaluable gift and you should be so proud of yourself.

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