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A first in North America, the Golden Hour practice in neonatal care celebrates one year

The interdisciplinary practice has been increasing family togetherness and changing the trajectory of care for the province’s sickest babies.
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​The first few moments of life are full of emotion for parents. For high-risk births or babies in severe distress, the stress can be overwhelming for families. The Golden Hour practice protects the first hour of life by keeping mom and baby together in the delivery room rather than separating the care environments, diminishing parental stress and increasing family togetherness when life-saving interventions are needed for baby. 

The practice decreases post-traumatic stress when new parents can see and be in the room as medical teams work on babies needing critical care. 

“I had to be airlifted from my home to BC Women’s Hospital and it was very frightening for my partner and me,” says Nicole Dillman who delivered her daughter, Eleanor, at 32 weeks. “I thought she would be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit right away but she stayed with me and I was able to watch her first moments of life alongside my partner. 

"Holding her in my arms meant the world to me and helped me bond after a traumatic birth. I am forever grateful to the staff for the opportunity to participate in the Golden Hour program.”

Eleanor celebrates her first birthday on August 12, 2020.


The goals of the Golden Hour, in addition to maintaining family togetherness, includes providing breathing support, access to IV medicine, and temperature regulation as needed for vulnerable newborns. The reduction in time to critical clinical interventions can lead to improved outcomes when done in the first hour of life, but to accomplish this task was no easy feat. It involved collaboration between multiple departments within both BC Women’s Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital. 

“Every department committed to adjusting their workflow to make Golden Hour happen. They gave so much of themselves to ensure families were supported,” says Danica Hamilton, senior practice leader for the neonatal program at BC Women’s Hospital. “This was a highly collaborative initiative utilizing skill sets from multiple teams including the neonatal program, neo resus teams, maternal newborn program, diagnostic imaging, anesthesia, surgical, pharmacy and even housekeeping departments were involved in this initiative.” 
Details down to the number and placement of garbage cans within the room were discussed jointly and collaboratively.

Before taking on their first patients, interdisciplinary teams of maternal and neonatal care providers ran approximately 168 simulations to prepare for any possible scenarios including multiple births, maternal emergencies, and more. 

After months of planning and preparing, the practice launched mid-July 2019 and was the first program of its kind in North America. Since then, the Golden Hour practice has supported more than 200 babies and their families as of July, 2020.

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre; newborns
Women's Health; Children's Health
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