You’ve made the important decision to breastfeed your baby, and to start nursing right after birth. Did you ever think that where you give birth could inadvertently sabotage your plans?

Capture the Golden Hour

The first hour after birth, the “golden hour,” is a critical time for bonding and starting breastfeeding. As long as everything is OK with you and baby after birth, you should go skin-to-skin with your newborn.

This is the best time to try breastfeeding. Some newborns take to it right away; others need coaxing. Ask your nurses to delay the routine checks, as possible, until you’ve tried to start breastfeeding. After all, research shows that starting breastfeeding during this hour will help keep it going. Also, after that first hour, your newborn will be ready to rest from labor and birth.

Room Together

Most hospitals practice mother/baby nursing that keeps you and baby together in your room. Request that if your baby goes to the nursery no other nipples or pacifiers and that no supplements such as glucose, water or formula are given to her. Unless medically needed, giving baby any of these can confuse her sucking ability and interfere with breastfeeding.

Some hospitals are designated “Baby Friendly,” which means these hospitals promote breastfeeding efforts and include practices to support it, not sabotage it. The goal is to have you exclusively breastfeeding—that is, breast milk is your baby’s only food—during your hospital stay.

Remember, breastfeeding is a learned skill and both you and your newborn are learning this together. Be patient, drink lots of fluid, rest when baby is sleeping, and most of all be kind to yourself and baby from that first hour onward.

Baby Friendly Hospitals

At a Baby Friendly hospital, your plan to start breastfeeding post-birth will be supported with nurses and other care providers who:

  • Share your plans and goals
  • Are skilled at supporting and promoting breastfeeding
  • Want you to begin breastfeeding baby within an hour of an uncomplicated birth
  • Can demonstrate how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation if you’re separated from baby
  • Will only give supplements when medically indicated
  • Encourage mothers and infants to remain together for at least 23 hours of the day
  • Encourage breastfeeding on demand—not on a set schedule
  • Limit the use of pacifiers
  • Support breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them

Find a Baby Friendly birthing center at


Joanne Goldbort, PhD, MSN, RN, is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University and an expert nurse adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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