Delayed Cord Clamping

Among a lot of the natural things that parents are choosing today for their births and children delayed cord clamping is something that tends to come up. Early cord clamping became standard practice in the 1960’s because it was believed to reduce the likelihood of postpartum maternal hemorrhage however, later research revealed that it does not reduce hemorrhaging or offer any other benefits but the practice continued as standard to today.

Delayed cord clamping is the practice of not clamping or cutting the umbilical cord until it has completely stopped pulsating and has lost color. Research has shown that when the cord clamping has been delayed the neonate with receive up to 30% more of the fetal-placental blood volume then it would with immediate clamping. This can be especially beneficial to pre-term infants. When the baby is born, the placenta and the cord will hold up to 1/3 of the babies blood while the rest is inside of baby. The iron in the blood increases infants’ iron storage and we know that iron is essential for healthy brain development and with the increase of iron, baby’s risk of anemia is reduced.

“The extra blood at birth helps the baby to cope better with the transition from life in the womb, where everything is provided for them by the placenta and the mother, to the outside world,” Rabe said. “Their lungs get more blood so that the exchange of oxygen into the blood can take place smoothly.” Says Dr. Heike Rabe, a neonatologist at Brighton & Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom. Rabe’s editorial accompanied the study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

So what are the benefits of this?

While the cord is pulsating it is providing baby with oxygen, nutrients and increased blood volume. A normal, healthy blood volume for the transition to life outside the womb is important and ensures a full count of red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells. From the website they tell us a little bit about the placenta and it’s roll in birth and baby:

“Before birth, the baby and placenta share a circulating blood supply that is separate to the mother’s. Inside the uterus, the placenta and umbilical cord provides the baby with oxygen, nutrients and clears waste. During fetal life, the baby’s organs only need a small flow of blood while the placenta performs the role of lungs, kidneys, gut and liver for the baby. This is why a significant portion of the baby’s total blood volume is in the placenta at any given time. The blood circulating the placenta and cord is not ‘extra’ blood or waste – it belongs to the baby.
Immediately after birth, the cord pulsates as the placenta continues to provide essential oxygen and nutrients, and begins to deliver blood back to the baby. This transfer of blood is called placental transfusion and it is a vital part of the birth process.
Placental transfusion is the system that provides the baby with red blood cells, stem cells, immune cells and blood volume. Delayed cord clamping allows time for the placental transfusion, ensuring safe oxygen levels and blood volume in the baby.
The World Health Organization states the “optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord for all infants regardless of gestational age or fetal weight is when the circulation in the cord has ceased, and the cord is flat and pulseless (approximately 3 minutes or more after birth).”

Are there risks?

There has only been one study showing any small risks of delayed cord clamping and that showed that of the babies who had delayed cord clamping 5% of them experienced jaundice like symptoms as opposed to the 3% of babies who experienced jaundice who had immediate cord clamping. These risks are very small and in our experience our midwife had informed us that a little jaundice is normal and breastfeeding can help alleviate minor symptoms if the situation arose.

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