A practice that seems to be becoming more popular. Many new parents are adding delayed cord clamping to their birth plans. In this post I will outline my opinions and reasons why my husband and I choose to delay cord clamping with our babies. With our first child, my birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window. I did have delayed cord clamping on it, but the attitude of the doctor and nurses once a csection was decided was that they made the decisions from then on out. With our second son, I also had a birth plan written out and cord clamping was on it again. We got our wishes and did let the cord stop pulsing and go limp before it was cut.
Delayed cord clamping has been a somewhat controversial topic for decades. To me it is one of the most unnecessary medical intervention doctors have adopted. I think it all goes back to just rushing birth so the doctor can finish up as soon as possible. Many doctors still clamp and cut the cord within the first 5-10 seconds baby is born, then the baby is whisked away to be weighed, cleaned off and checked over. But why not just let nature be? In nature, mammals deliver the placenta on their own and the cord pulses, goes limp and turns white and it actually will sever and disconnect from the baby on it’s own. Guess what!? Same goes for us humans.
Benefits of Delaying Cord Clamping
- Baby will receive ALL of the blood they are intended to have. When the cord is cut right away, up to half of their blood may remain in the cord and placenta. To me, this is a big deal.
- To go along the lines of the previous reason, baby will receive around 30-35mg of iron when they receive all their cord blood. This is important considering pediatricians seem to be so concerned about infants getting enough iron in the first 6 months of life especially. Many moms are told to supplement with formula that is fortified with iron or give iron drops. Studies have shown that babies whose cord was clamped early were at much higher risk of anemia. It is important for babies who are born to mother’s who are anemic to delay cord clamping as it may help them avoid low iron levels. Plus, when our babies get all their blood and no sign of anemia (history in family could be another exception), there is no need to supplement with iron at all as we were designed to have enough iron stores to last the first 6 months, maybe even longer. Most babies start solids by 6 months and can receive iron from foods instead of artificial supplements.
- In preterm babies, late clamping has been shown to decrease need of blood transfusion and decrease in chances of hemorrhaging.
- Decreased chance of blood loss of the mother. Why!? Because early cord clamping has become an intervention to get the placenta delivered quicker which can lead to complications and potential blood loss in the mother.
- Baby will get skin to skin and won’t be taken from mother right after delivery. This was another important one for me. Since baby is still connected to you, baby cannot be taken away, washed, weighed etc. Baby (and mother) will benefit from skin to skin contact, the cord will empty on it’s own and placenta can be delivered at a natural pace.
- Decrease in breathing difficulties in baby. Your blood carries your oxygen, right? When baby gets all his blood, he gets more oxygen.
There are really no risks when it comes to delayed cord clamping. Several studies have shown that when delaying cord clamping, there is a slight increase in jaundice. However, many studies have proven these increases to be of no worry and jaundice is actually NORMAL in most cases.
Another question that comes up, is can parents still bank cord blood AND delay cord clamping? In short, most likely not. I have heard and read of some being able to let the cord pulse for 60 seconds before clamping it for cord blood banking, but typically the cord blood banking companies need the cord to be clamped within the first 5-10 seconds. If you absolutely want to bank your baby’s cord blood, I would see if it is possible to let the cord pulse the 60 seconds as a minute is better than right away. So this is another thing to consider when deciding and I encourage parents to really research it thoroughly.
I highly encourage all mamas to be to consider and do their research on this topic. To me, it’s a no brainer. Delayed cord clamping can even be done with cesarean sections and preterm babies as long as there is no medical complication, as even if you let the cord be for 2-3 minutes, baby will receive so many of the above benefits! Make sure to include it in your birth plan and talk to your provider.
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