It seems so harsh — one snip of the scissors and that baby that has relied on you for months is on their own. Oxygenating, crying, eating all on their own. Of course, I’d rather it be scissors than my teeth…. but I digress…. Delayed cord clamping is being requested more and more by patients anymore and I’m excited to share some info on it for you:
This post was originally written in June of 2015 and has been updated in 2017.
The newest NRP guidelines encourage Delayed Cord Clamping of 30-60 seconds, so most doctors should be on board — but some are slow to come around, so here are some issues our doctors had previous to the new guidelines:
1. You can’t be skin to skin (at least not right away) and it’s REALLY hard to hold your own baby at your crotch for an extended period of time, especially after you’ve pushed out a baby. I’m just keepin’ it real. Because here’s the main issue with cord clamping (according to the doctors I have spoken with):
**See below, but I know some of the doctors I work with still keep to this rule**
Many doctors believe the baby still needs to be kept at the same level as the placenta.
You have to think of the umbilical cord as an open system where blood can drain down to the baby or the blood can drain out the placenta (leaving the baby). The mom’s blood does not flow TO the baby, all of the blood on the baby’s side of the placenta is his/her own blood.
Also, a lot of babies have a really short cord that won’t reach anywhere near your chest even if it was at placenta level (some have monstrously long ones).
Read more about this down below (ETA, I have changed my views on this somewhat, so be sure to read this whole article — BUT our OB’s have not changed their view, so be sure to talk to your doctor!).
Many of our doctors delay skin to skin by holding the baby until they clamp — even though it’s not necessary.
2. Delayed resuscitation. That means that we’re not performing the initial steps of resuscitation that we do at each birth. Drying the baby, stimulating them to breathe and putting them skin to skin to stay warm. The baby is often left in the doctor’s hands open to air. The doctor can dry them off but it’s still kinda cold as they just hold them there.
4. It can’t really be as easily done in a c-section. Doctors still have an issue with holding the baby above the placenta.
As I note below though, it is still fine. Our doctors have begun delaying clamping for 30 seconds in the OR.
4. If the mom has a placental abruption or any issues relating to her own health, the doctor can’t wait holding the baby to help mom out. You have NO idea how fast a postpartum hemorrhage can go.
5. Increased incidence of Jaundice. You might have heard of babies who “turned yellow” or had to go under the blue lights. Jaundice is a bi-product of extra red blood cells the baby isn’t able to get out of their system fast enough, so they stay inside turning them yellow. This can require extra days in the hospital or blue lights at home. You can understand that by giving them MORE red blood cells to get rid of, it can increase the chance of this.
6. If you’re doing cord blood collection you need a large enough sample to make it worth the money, and if all the blood goes out then that can’t happen. Although, frankly, I feel like I am seeing less and less cord blood collection these days.
Check out this stuff to help your baby’s cord dry faster!
Benefits of Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping
The study is talking about delaying it 30-60 seconds, and while that SEEMS short, it can feel like a lifetime... :)
*I found this great ACOG page about all the pro’s and cons, super interesting*
1. The extra iron can be beneficial to the baby in their first year of life and possibly prevent anemia.
2. Increased blood volume and decreased intracranial hemorrhage in preterm newborns.
It is now the norm, according to NRP guidelines — so be sure to talk to your doctor about it in one of your appointments!
**After writing this post I saw this YouTube video. It really changed my mind about delayed cord clamping even when NRP wasn’t recommending it.
ACOG is THE journal for OB’s — feel free to send them this link. It’s not like you’re handing them “Journal of Mother Earth Birth”. 🙂
You might also be interested in my post about placental encapsulation:
Hopefully, your doctor is on board. It will be interesting to see how guidelines change as studies on this improve.
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And be sure to check out all my other pregnancy posts: