Delayed Cord Clamping is a really good idea and the health benefits of this practice are so compelling.
When your babe is born, as much as 25-60% of the fetal blood supply remains inside the placenta. Waiting to clamp the umbilical cord, for just 30-60 seconds after birth, allows the placenta to pulse this extra blood to the baby. Crazy right?!
With this particular post, I will be covering exactly what delayed cord clamping is, the benefits and negatives of delayed cord clamping, a case study
around this topic and more.
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There are a lot of aspects to consider when investigating the merits of delayed cord clamping and I am here to help guide you (in-depth) so you can make the smartest decision for your little one.
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What Is Delayed Cord Clamping Exactly?
Delayed cord clamping is a medical practice of simply waiting a minute or two to clamp off your baby’s Umbilical cord.
It has been a common practice for a long time that the cord would be cut straight away. The main reason was that it would supposedly prevent heavy bleeding.
But It has been long since discovered that the delayed cord clamping does not prevent nor change the outcome of bleeding.
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The benefits of delayed cord clamping are awesome. The baby benefits by having an increased number of red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells. Delayed cord clamping provides essential life support, restores blood volume and protects against organ damage, and brain injury.
It’s especially beneficial for premature babies as it helps to lower the risk of infection and blood transfusions. Within the scenarios of planning an emergency c-section and giving birth to twins, delayed cord clamping can also be applied.
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The Official Guidelines around Delayed Cord Clamping According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the World Health Organisation say it’s better to wait between 30 to 60 seconds after the birth before cutting the umbilical cord (if both you and your baby are healthy). Maybe a little longer if you want.
This approach is suggested for both term and preterm infants.
When Delayed Cord Clamping may not be appropriate
Delayed cord clamping may not always be right for the baby or mother, depending on the situation. Sometimes there are times where the mother’s and baby’s health may be at a higher risk.
The situations, where delayed cord clamping may not be appropriate are as follows;
There is a problem with the placenta, such as placenta praevia or placental abruption
(where the placenta detaches early from the uterus) before birth.
There are concerns about the baby’s heartbeat.
The umbilical cord is damaged or bleeding.
If the mother is bleeding heavily
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Why Delayed Cord Clamping Is So Beneficial
There are stark contrasts between applying the cord clamping procedure immediately and
waiting a few minutes to do so. Here are the biggest benefits to the baby in more detail:
Increased blood volume to thirty percent.
For the first couple of days, an increase in red blood cell density (increased blood
volume by 30%).
Improvement of blood circulation.
The decreased likelihood of the need for a blood transfusion.
Lower incidence of the following issues; necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular
Increased and improved iron levels for around six months. It is found that this
particular influx of iron helps contribute to a reduction and prevention of iron
deficiency during the first year of the baby’s life.
The delay can ultimately allow for transfusion from the placenta to baby to take place.
This allows more time for immunoglobulins and stem cells, to be transferred
between placenta and baby. These are absolutely essential for both the repair of tissue
and organs within the body. Immunoglobulins and stem cells, also help support the
healing of cells, inflammation and organ dysfunction, which occur often in preterm
The Negatives of Delayed Cord Clamping
Overall, there aren’t many negatives to delayed cord clamping but there is at least one:
May increase jaundice, which would need light treatment (phototherapy). This is
caused by a build-up of Bilirubin.
Most experts agree that the benefits of delayed cord clamping far outweigh the risks.
Delayed umbilical cord clamping has been evaluated in a small number of case studies, to
see what the major differences would be and whether there would be any effect, in terms of
development and growth.
In one focused case study, the ages studied were from 4 months to 4 years
Development within the brain pathways did not differ within the different timings of
umbilical cord clamping, but….
To further support and encourage the use of delayed cord clamping, it was found that
those that had the delayed cord clamping procedure applied, had moderately higher
scores in both social and fine motor skills. The group that was tested on were 4
Umbilical Cord Milking
Umbilical cord milking is an additional or alternative procedure to delayed cord clamping, that can be applied to newborn babies.
It’s a procedure, where the doctor holds down the umbilical cord between the thumb and forefinger, squeezes gently and pushes the substance held within the umbilical cord, right down into the baby’s abdomen.
In this way, newborns can receive all of the additional blood flow and ultimately, all the important nutrients and hemoglobin from the mother to the baby.
• It is highly useful for situations, whereby the 30 – 60 second delay in cord
clamping may be too long (in certain risk situations). Umbilical cord
milking can be implemented very quickly (less than 15 seconds).
****Other Helpful Resources: What To Expect The First 24 Hours After Birth
So as you can see, Delayed Cord Clamping is an excellent idea! It such a small thing yet it makes such a huge difference. I don’t know why they don’t always wait and I wish I had known about this when I was having my three babies.
Best of luck to you and your upcoming babe!
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