Now before I got pregnant, I didn’t even know this was a thing! I just assumed that when the baby arrived, your partner would cut the cord, the baby would be taken away to be cleaned up and weighed and then we would start this crazy journey of having a little one rely on us all of the time! However, since being pregnant and getting all of the information passed to me from either birthing forums, midwives, health visitors etc I have actually decided to do some research on several things and delayed cord clamping is one of the things I have researched.
Obviously being a first time mum, I’d like to do whatever is going to be the best for our baby! Some of the research I have found for cord clamping insinuates that delaying it is more beneficial for the baby than cutting the cord straight away. This is some of the research that I have found:
After the baby has been born, the umbilical cord, which links the placenta to the baby, continues to pulsate and transfer blood and oxygen and stem cells to the baby until baby has transitioned to life outside the uterus and becomes stable. Cutting the cord immediately after the birth has been a routine practise for between 50-60 years but with the ongoing research it is beginning to show that this is not good for the baby and they miss out on a large amount of blood (approximately 214g!) This has led to the recommendations of delaying the clamping of the cord.
Waiting until the cord has stopped pulsating and becomes white is becoming increasingly normal practise in births where there is no medical reason to speed things up. In most circumstances, the midwife should be able to feel when this happens by just touching the cord.
There are now NICE recommendations which suggest cord clamping is delayed in all maternity units for at least 1-5 minutes in all babies unless the fetal heart is less than 60 beats per minute and not getting any faster, for practical reasons, the baby may need to be taken away to get breathing support.
The benefits of delayed cord clamping can include:
- increased iron levels in the baby even up until they are six months old which helps with growth and both physical and emotional development
- increased amount of stem cells, which helps with your baby’s growth and helps with their immune system
Babies who have immediate cord clamping (particularly in boys) have also been shown to be more likely to:
- be anaemic at four months of age
- has decreased fine motor skills (coordinating small muscles, such as hands and fingers) at the age of four years
- have decreased social skills at the age of four years
There are times when delayed cord clamping cannot be practised. Some of these circumstances include:
- if the mother is bleeding heavily
- there is an issue with the placenta, such as placental abruption, placenta praevia, vasa praevia or the cord is bleeding so the blood is not getting to the baby.
If the baby needs help with breathing, the cord may need to be clamped early is there are no facilities in the hospital to do this beside the mother, however it should be possible to delay cord clamping while the baby is assessed and the breathing support starts.
So delayed cord clamping is something which I am definitely going to be speaking to my midwife and Aaron about and getting their opinions on it and whether they either agree or recommend it and how I go about letting the midwives know if this is a decision which I decide to take.
There is so much more information about delayed cord clamping on Tommy’s website where it also goes into details about the delayed cord clamping if having a caesaraen section or if the baby is premature!