Why would you want to do that? was the puzzled Obstetrician’s response, to my seeming rational birth request. Like so many other women, I have asked our birth providers to delay cord clamping (DCC). In other words; after our baby is born, wait until the cord stops pulsating and then cut the cord.
Hypnobirthing Hub has been promoting the overwhelming benefits of delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord and the World Health Organization agrees.
WHO states the late cord clamping; that is one to three minutes after delivery or longer, is recommended for all births. However, most midwives would advise delaying cutting the cord until it stops pulsating for maximum benefit.
Why delay the cord clamping?
Delayed umbilical cord clamping is usually performed 25 seconds to 5 minutes after giving birth. This allows more blood to transfer from the placenta to the baby, sometimes increasing the child’s blood volume by up to a third.
The iron in the blood increases the newborn’s iron storage, which is vital for healthy brain development.
Why delaying cord clamping not routine?
DCC is typically only used with preterm infants, as babies born before full-term are said to benefit greatly from the extra blood received.
Many obstetricians are simply not aware of the overwhelming evidence to support delayed cord clamping in all births. My obstetrician, was very quick to state that babies at birth have ‘too many red blood cells’ and these need to be broken down. He added with a firm shake of his finger ‘your baby will get jaundice, mark my words!’
Studies from the 50’s cited as evidence
Most obstetricians still rely on old research yet these studies were more observational and assumed the new born baby was perfectly fine without the extra waiting time needed to delay the cutting of the cord. It was also thought, the more blood equals more jaundice. This is not proven to always be the case either.
New studies prove overwhelming benefits
The American college of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (ACOG) have published their findings in January 2017. They state overwhelming evidence to support the delaying the cord after birth. Their recommendations are for all babies to benefit from this process.
The ACOG benefit of delaying cord clamping
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice makes the following recommendations regarding the effectiveness of delaying umbilical cord clamping after birth:
- Full term babies: Increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores in the first several months of life, which may have a favorable effect on developmental outcomes.
- Pre term babies: Significant neonatal benefits in preterm infants, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume, decreased need for blood transfusion, and lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage.
- Delayed umbilical cord clamping does not increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
A small risk of Jaundice in delayed cord clamping
The ACOG study did find there is a small increase in the incidence of jaundice that requires phototherapy in term infants undergoing delayed umbilical cord clamping. However, they ACOG continued to say, the risk was very low. This risk did not outweigh the proven benefits of delaying cord clamping. Jaundice in most cases is easily treated through phototherapy.
Should I Add Delayed Cord Clamping To My Birth Plan?
Ultimately, the benefits of DCC do outweigh the hypothesized risks. A final study by The JAMA Network also suggested a couple more minutes attached to the umbilical cord can translate into a small boost in neurodevelopment.
For me, the choice is very clear and I wish everyone had the full knowledge and birth information. Hypnobirthing Hub has a hypnobirthing birth plan that includes delaying the cutting of the cord, that is easily edited.