The most common practice in today’s hospitals is to immediately cut your baby’s umbilical cord after delivery, a practice once thought to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging (an unfounded claim). There now is, however, overwhelming and growing evidence that delaying clamping a newborns umbilical cord can be the best choice for you and baby.
Delayed Cord Clamping is the act of waiting, generally 3-5 minutes after birth before you cut the umbilical cord. Delaying clamping, by even just one minute, can increase a newborn’s blood volume while improving their iron stores and hemoglobin levels.
An analysis release in July of 2013 confirms the benefits and may also ease the minds of those with reservations. The report found that those with delayed clamping had higher hemoglobin levels 24-48 hours after delivery, increased blood volume, reduced need for blood transfusion, decreased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in preterm infants, and decreased frequency of iron deficiency anemia in term infants. When left on for just an extra couple of minutes, the umbilical cord is able to transfer up to 40% more blood from the placenta to baby, which can be critical for your newborns start. The analysis also ensured that doing so did not increase the moms risk for extra bleeding. Of course, there are times where the cord will need to be clamped immediately upon delivery, including if a newborn is severely depressed and needs immediate medical intervention.
The minutes after your little one arrives will be joyous and overwhelming. Many new parents get lost in the moment and, rightfully so, aren’t focusing on the umbilical cord. I can tell you from personal experience that the advocates I had at my births were crucial as I was truly focused on the little being that I just held for the first time a few short minutes ago. I had no concept of time, and honestly would not have been able to say whether 1 or 10 minutes had passed. If you have decided to delay the cord clamping, ensure that it is well known with your caregiver and anyone else who will be present at the time of birth. These attendees will be crucial in ensuring that your desires are met so you don’t have to think about it.
While we did choose to work with Midwives for all of our pregnancies, I appreciate hearing from OBs and medical doctors who are open to new information and are willing to go against the grain to share this information with others. Dr. Stuart Fischbein is an OB/GYN who aims to teach, speak and write about the normalcy of birth choices. Dr. Fischbein speaks frequently about birth choices, the ethics of respecting a woman’s autonomy in decision making and reasonable, evidence supported options of selected VBAC, breech and twin vaginal birth. Below is a 2.5 minute long video about his honest feelings on cord clamping and how they changed as he has gained new information and knowledge on the subject matter.