Benefits of waiting to cut the umbilical cord
By delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord, both baby and mum can benefit. Baby will enjoy a gentle transition from life within the womb to life outside.
The decisions parents make about their birthing and immediate care of their newborn may have effects that last a lifetime. Therefore, it is important to make sure that we have all the up to date research based information on which to base these decisions. The goal of parents is to have a healthy and alert baby, with an optimum start to their external life.
To clamp or not to clamp, that is the question! The evidence is growing that immediate cord clamping after birth may actually cause our baby harm by depriving him/her of vital blood volume, iron stores, and (more recently discovered) stem cells.
Benefits of delayed cord clamping
Lets consider the benefits of delayed cord clamping for you and your baby:
- A gentle transition from life within the womb to life outside, emotionally and physically
- Initial bonding between mother and baby is supported
- In the first minutes after birth oxygen rich blood is allowed to flow freely into the baby fulfilling respiratory and cardiac requirements for his/her first breaths
- A higher blood volume and red blood cell count has numerous benefits including less iron deficiency anaemia, better kidney and organ function, and warmer skin temperature
- The baby receives over 1 billion stem cells in the first minute or two after birth, with their miraculous potential for healing being transferred to your baby
- Premature babies benefit from delayed cord clamping (cord milking may be performed) with evidence of less respiratory distress, less need for blood transfusion, less infection and anaemia.
Reduce post delivery bleeding
Many midwives and doctors advocate delivering the placenta by active management using an oxytocic drug and immediate cord clamping after birth, as a strategy to reduce post delivery bleeding. A simple delay in cord clamping before active management is commenced can easily accommodate both goals with all the
benefits to mother and baby.
Benefits outweigh concerns
Concerns have been raised in the past over transfusion with delayed cord clamping, and fears that the baby may receive too much blood leading to complications such as newborn jaundice. New research suggests that these fears are unfounded, and the benefits far outweigh any concerns.
In conclusion, however you give birth and whatever the requirements medically, there are easy ways to support and initiate a gentle transition for your baby to life in the outside world by choosing delayed cord clamping with all its inherent benefits, both physical and emotional for your newborn baby.
Where to now?
Photography: Dave Herholz @Flickr