« Back to Home

Delayed Cord Clamping: What You Need To Know

Posted on

Every woman wants to make the best choice for her baby, and so you are probably researching labor and post-birth practices that are the best for giving your baby a good start. Some mothers choose natural birth without pain killers, and others opt to use the epidural in order to stay clam and relaxed. Both methods can be good for mother and baby. A similar issue is the practice of delayed cord clamping. What is this procedure, and what are the benefits and risks?

Delayed Cord Clamping And Its Benefits

This practice is also known as optimal cord clamping. It goes against the tradition of cutting the umbilical cord as soon as the baby emerges from the birth canal. Why does delaying the cut have benefits?

When the baby is making his or way into the world, it's a tight squeeze. Because of this, around 1/3 of the baby's blood is send back through the cord to the placenta. After birth, the placenta still hold a lot of blood, which can still benefit the baby. Waiting as long as one to two minutes, or until the cord stops pulsing, is the best way to make sure that the baby has plenty of life-sustaining blood.

Babies who have delayed clamping are less likely to suffer from iron deficiency, and have higher hemoglobin levels, which helps their cells receive the oxygen it needs. The World Heath Organization recommends delayed cord clamping because of the increased health benefits. 

The Risks

Like any other medical procedure, it's possible that optimal cord clamping is not best for every baby. In some cases, it's better to clamp early, especially when:

  • The baby needs immediate emergency care. Babies who are born needing resuscitation often need to by taken to the intensive care unit, and delaying the clamping of the cord can take up valuable, life-saving time. 
  • It increases the risk of polycythemia. This a condition where there are too many red blood cells in the blood, which can lead to bleeding and clotting issues. For this reason, it's best not to leave the cord too long -- prolonged placenta transfusion may cause this problem. If you're worried about this rare complication, ask for a specific cord clamping time, such as one minute or two minutes after birth.
  • It can make jaundice worse. Many infants suffer from jaundice, which is caused by increased bilirubin in the blood. Your baby gets benefits from the extra blood, and so, if you are worried about jaundice, you can make sure you have a treatment option lined up. Usually, UV light is the best treatment for jaundiced infants. 

For more information, talk to your obstetrician about what would be best for you and your baby.