We are happy to report that the decade’s long debate about when to clamp and cut a newborn’s umbilical cord after birth, may be coming to a close.
Finally, more health organizations are beginning to understand and recommend delayed cord clamping, with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists being the latest to advise waiting at least 30 to 60 seconds before clamping and cutting. Currently, most Western countries, including the US, clamp immediately after birth and cut 10-15 seconds later. (FYI- both are FAR TOO SOON.)
From the article:
“Throughout a pregnancy, the umbilical cord carries important nutrients and blood from the mother to the baby.
In the first few minutes after birth, blood is still circulating from the placenta to the infant. When clamping is put off for two or three minutes, it allows a physiological transfer of oxygen-rich blood to flow into the infant — a process called placental transfusion.”
Experts have known for several years that for preterm infants, delayed cord clamping reduces the risk of several serious complications with prematurity (like anemia). But in recent years, delayed cord clamping has shown benefits for full-term infants, as well.
Traditionally, doctors cut the cord quickly because of the belief that placental blood flow would increase birth complications like neonatal respiratory distress, a type of blood cancer called polycythemia, jaundice from rapid transfusion of a large volume of blood, and risk of excessive blood loss at the time of delivery to the mother. However, research has shown that delayed clamping doesn’t cause complications for the mother or child.
More from the article:
“Placental transfusion in full-term infants — babies born between 37 and 42 weeks of gestation — has been shown to increase hemoglobin levels and provide sufficient iron reserves in the first 6 to 8 months of life, preventing or delaying an iron deficiency, according to the recommendation.
In preterm infants — those born before 37 weeks — delayed clamping has been associated with improved circulation in the infant’s heart, better red blood cell volume and decreased need for blood transfusion. It has also been shown to lower the occurrence of brain hemorrhage and an intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis.”
The American College of Nurse-Midwives recommends delaying clamping, in full-term infants, for five minutes if the newborn is placed skin-to-skin with the mother or two minutes if the newborn is at or below the height of the vaginal canal. A midwife we contacted in Michigan said, “Delayed cord clamping is just standard care. There was a time in the early 1900’s that midwives were being discredited by obstetricians so cord clamping was done in a more physician accepted way, but by in large, midwives have always seen this as a best practice, for both mother and child.”
If you are pregnant and are interested in delayed clamping, or any other process that most doctors and hospitals aren’t accustomed to, speak with your physician. However, never be afraid to voice concerns about YOUR birth plan. If you cannot find an MD who will abide by your wishes, find another doctor or can contact a midwife. (If you are in California and need a midwife, click here.)