Honoring the Golden Hour

By Lindsay Ekstrom, RN St. Luke’s Birthing Center

How and why St. Luke’s supports bonding with baby right after birth

Watching a mom hold her baby for the first time still chokes me up. It just doesn’t get old, even after years of being a labor and delivery nurse and having three of my own. On top of being incredibly sweet, this first meeting is also a crucial opportunity to start things off on the right foot for both mom and baby. In fact, it’s so special and important that we have a name for it: the Golden Hour.

What is the Golden Hour?

As quickly as possible after delivery, baby will be placed skin-to-skin on mom’s chest. Even though we call this time the Golden Hour, it can last as long as desired by the immediate family. The idea is to give parents and their brand new little one all the time they need to bond and enjoy each other without interruption.

During this time, we put a sign on the birthing suite door so visitors know to give the family this time to bond.

Benefits for mom and baby

Having a mom hold her baby against her bare skin right after delivery offers lots of benefits. Snuggling with her, hearing her heartbeat and feeling her breath helps the little one:

  • Build trust and bond with mom
  • Feel calmer
  • Sense and respond to mom’s love
  • Stay warmer for better blood sugars
  • Regulate their heartbeat and breathing


The Golden Hour is also an ideal first opportunity for breastfeeding as a baby’s sense of smell will help them latch on. It has been proven that babies who are given skin-to-skin contact with mom early on have an easier time breastfeeding. They are also more likely to breastfeed exclusively.

However, even if you don’t plan to breastfeed your baby, skin-to-skin contact during the Golden Hour is best practice due to all the benefits it provides. Best of all, it costs nothing, requires no special training and is always within a mom’s reach.

Honoring this time at St. Luke’s

Some circumstances may require us to care for a newborn first before we are able to honor the Golden Hour. However, this time is a priority at St. Luke’s and we will do everything we can to see that you are able to fully enjoy it. We even make it a priority when a mom delivers via c-section, which I can attest to first-hand!

If you have any questions about the Golden Hour, talk to your OB-GYN provider. If you haven’t selected an OB-GYN provider yet, get to know our expert team of OB-GYNs, Nurse Midwives and Family Practitioners and schedule with someone you can connect with.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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