Delayed cord clamping was something I knew nothing about before studying midwifery. I thought, baby comes out…baby goes onto Mum’s chest…the cord gets clamped and cut. But there’s so much more to it!
Delayed cord clamping (waiting 1-3 minutes after birth) is recommended for all births of well babies, not requiring resuscitation, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines (2012). This is something that can be carried out for both vaginal and caesarean births. Simply put, it’s waiting until the cord stops pulsing and blood transfusing to the baby is somewhat completed. WHO reported that 29% of all newborn deaths around the planet, are a result of babies not getting enough oxygen at birth (birth asphyxia). So if you consider the ability to increase your baby’s blood supply…increasing its oxygen carrying components (red blood cells)….it’s something to consider.
1/3 of a baby’s blood is outside of its body at birth- the rest is still inside the umbilical cord and the placenta, the way in which Bub has been receiving its oxygen and nutrients for 9 months. By delaying cutting and clamping the umbilical cord by 90 seconds it allows iron-rich, oxygen-rich, stem cell-fuelled blood to enter Bub’s little body. This has the ability to:
- give your baby 30% more blood
- give it a natural iron supplement – minimising childhood anaemia risks
- increase their oxygen carrying cells – whilst they’re transitioning to life outside
- 60% more red blood cells
- transfuse stem cells – which prevent and repair damage throughout the body
- improve systemic blood pressure
- reduce the chance of baby needing a blood transfusion
Some people are worried that by delaying clamping, you’re giving baby “too much blood”, and there have been reports that delayed cord clamping causes jaundice. The fact of the matter is that since 1980, according to Mercer and Erikson-Owen’s, there has not been a randomised controlled study to show statistically significant findings in a link between increased jaundice levels and symptomatic polycythemia with delayed cord clamped Bubs.
So why isn’t delayed cord clamping happening all the time?! Personally, I believe the reason behind slow reimplementation of it is personal habit of practitioners as well as ‘patience versus intervention’. Living within a fast paced society, sometimes the hardest thing to do, is not much at all. We, as people living in 2015, are all trained for intervention. No one wanders lost (we have GPS and iPhones), we tap cards to pay for just about everything and have access to information (sometimes too much!) at our fingertips. We’re all about what’s next, what’s easiest, what’s faster, what’s quicker… but what if slowing down Bub’s first few moments, and allowing them the time to take a second to soak up as much nutrients as possible, before they’re officially their own little unit, is the first decision you have to make as new parents? It’s something worth reading up on, and making an informed decision about – and let your midwife of doctor know your view. After all, life is fast paced, should it have to start out that way?
Image via journeyofparenthood
Alan Greene’s Ted Talk: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw53X98EvLQ
Mayri Sagadi Leslie, 2015, “Perspectives on implementing delayed cord clamping, http://nwh.awhonn.org