Don't Cut Too Soon: The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
Delayed Cord Clamping – Why?
You may be hearing more about delayed cord clamping at the time of birth, but why? What are the benefits of doing this?
According to researchers there is 25-30% of fetoplacental circulating blood volume found in the placenta. In English - this means the newborn baby has left behind 25-30% of his/her blood volume in the placenta and cord upon being born. This blood contains iron and many, many stem cells.
Allowing the cord to continue to pulsate and “pump blood” back to the newborn delivers this important iron, preventing anemia over the next 6 months, blood volume which helps the newborn to open the aveoli (little air sacs) in the lungs, and receive many stem cells that may be used by this new baby to help grow new cells of any type needed in their body.
So, how long do you need to delay cord clamping to achieve these benefits?
The current literature recommends 3-5 minutes of delay. It is believed that about 1-2.5 oz. of blood will reach the baby during that amount of time.
The latest NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Provider) guidelines recommend at least 30 seconds of delay even in the preemie in need of resuscitation. And “milking” the cord toward the baby prior to clamp and cutting.
Historically cords were not clamped and cut immediately after birth. In fact, the first manufactured cord clamps came with directions that stated that the clamp SHOULD NOT be applied until the cord had stopped pulsating. Somewhere along the way those directions got overlooked and a procedure of early clamp and cut became standard operating procedure at a birth.
At The Birth Center, Sacramento we allow the cord to stop pulsating prior to clamping and cutting the cord. Anecdotally – babies born at the center appear to benefit from this prolonged transition time from intrauterine to extra-uterine life, especially those that have had a harder time being born. They have a chance to still have cord blood flow while their little bodies are going through the many cardiovascular changes that happen once they have exposure to oxygen through their lungs. It makes intuitive sense that slowing the whole process down for 20-25 minutes might help the transition be a smoother one.
At The Birth Center our hope is that one day all babies, wherever they are born, will be allowed to receive the blood left behind at birth in their placenta and cord. That babies who most need it (distressed babies) will be resuscitated right on top of mom allowing blood to continue to flow to the baby while extra-uterine transitions may move along more slowly and gently.