Delayed cord clamping is where the baby’s umbilical cord is not clamped and cut until the cord pulsations have ceased, as a minimum, and often not clamped and cut until the placenta has been born. Another option is to have a lotus birth, where the cord is not clamped and cut at all, and instead the placenta is left attached to the baby until the cord falls off. Many parents are now aware of the benefits of delayed cord clamping, and are starting to request this of their midwives and obstetricians.
Parents who wish to delay or avoid cord clamping should discuss this with their midwife or obstetrician ahead of time. It is also something that you might like to include as part of your birth plan which your midwife or obstetrician will be interested to read.
There is good evidence that delayed cord clamping has important health benefits for babies. The benefits for the baby include:
- An increased blood volume which boosts the baby’s blood pressure and oxygen levels
- It supports a baby who is transitioning from not breathing (in the uterus) to breathing (once born). We often see that the cord pulsates longer if a baby is having difficulty breathing on its own once it is born, whereas a baby who is breathing well will usually have a cord that stops pulsating sooner
- As well, a baby whose cord has been left attached until pulsations have ceased will have a fuller count of red blood cells and stem cells
For the mother, delayed clamping ensures that mother and baby remain together, and this facilitates early breastfeeding and bonding, and it can help to minimise complications with the placenta being born. I tend to find that the cessation of cord pulsations tends to coincide with the time that the placenta is ready to be born and the time that the baby is breathing well on its own.
Studies on delayed cord clamping show:
- For babies who are born prematurely, the benefits are even more compelling, as they also include the baby spending fewer days in the nursery needing oxygen, fewer blood transfusions and better feeding.
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