05 Jun Delayed cord clamping: 10 reasons to do it
Throughout pregnancy, your baby is connected to your womb through the umbilical cord. It plays a vital role in supplying your baby with essential nutrients and oxygen. And towards the end of pregnancy, it passes key immunity antibodies onto your baby.
Since the 1950s, umbilical cords has been routinely clamped in the first 60 seconds after birth. The misguided theory is that swift clamping reduces the risk of haemorrhage, and other complications, by cutting off the blood supply to the placenta. Not true. Doctors may be in a rush, but the umbilical artery is a star performer. And a growing number of medics are saying: wait.
Research increasingly – indeed almost overwhelmingly – suggests there are major benefits in delaying cord clamping by a minute or more. Benefits to baby – and mum. Think of it as a natural blood transfusion for your baby. No plastic tubes. No bags of blood. Just beautiful human tissue giving your baby a final cocktail of nutrients, stem cells and infection-fighting goodness.
Still wondering if you should ask for delayed cord clamping? Here are 10 top reasons to do it.
1. It’s working – let it be.
When your baby is born, the umbilical cord continues to pulsate for a few minutes. It still has fetal blood flowing through it. So why intervene when it’s still functioning? If it’s doing something, don’t touch.
2. Increase that iron.
According to the World Health Organisation, delayed cord clamping could provide your baby with an valuable boost of iron. What’s more, it can max out your baby’s iron levels for the next six months. Many medical bodies say a delay of one to five minutes is optimal.
3. Boys: don’t be deficient.
Waiting longer to clamp the cord could reduce the risk of iron deficiency and anaemia, particularly in boys. Iron deficiency is more common in boys and is linked to developmental delays. Delayed cord clamping for three minutes allows an extra 100 grams of blood to transfer to your baby. For a small person, that’s significant.
4. Improved placenta delivery.
As well as the benefits to your baby, the risk of complications when delivering the placenta may be reduced by delayed cord clamping. It’s as if your placenta is thanking you. Less blood is generally transferred during a Caesarean section. So delayed clamping may work even better for c-section babies. More studies needed.
5. Better for tiny ones.
If your baby is born with a low birth weight, delayed cord clamping could be particularly beneficial. She’ll get a top-up of blood and nutrients, which could boost her immediate and longer-term health. Those extra grams could make all the difference.
6. Jaundice? The jury’s out.
Some say delayed cord clamping could increase your baby’s risk of developing jaundice. Not necessarily true. Newer studies suggest there’s no higher risk. Whatever the reality, the advantages of clamping may outweigh that risk.
7. The new social network.
A recent study into delayed cord clamping found that the extra dosage of umbilical blood could improve a child’s social and motor skills. A group of children were tested, aged 4, with various tasks and exercises. Those who had delayed cord clamping at birth generally performed better and interacted more.
8. Reduce the trauma.
Not cutting the umbilical cord so quickly could be less traumatic for your baby. Bidding farewell to her uterine home is a big shock for any baby. So keeping that lovely link, just for a few moments, might well be an added comfort.
9. Promising for premmies.
Experts from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believe delayed cord clamping could really help babies born prematurely. The reason is all too obvious. Pre-term babies will continue to absorb vital nutrients when they need them the most. Umbilical cord milking, where the cord is massaged and squeezed after birth, may particularly help pre-term babies born by Caesarean section.
10. Longer together.
Finally, by delaying cord clamping, your unique pregnancy bond with your baby lasts a tiny bit longer. There’s something very special about holding your baby in your arms for the first time while she’s still connected to you. Savour the moment. Let the clinic staff wait. And start nurturing your baby the natural way – without a clamp in sight.