Delayed cord clamping: a parent’s guide
There has been a lot of buzz going around the parenting world lately about the practice of delayed cord clamping, with expecting mothers asking questions like what it is, what are the benefits, and how it will affect my child down the road.
Though the conversation has been happening for many years, a study published by JAMA Pediatrics sparked even more interest in the subject after reporting that the fine motor and social skills of 4-year-olds improved in children who underwent delayed cord clamping during childbirth.
Enhanced neurodevelopment? Potential health benefits? A smarter baby? Mommies-to-be everywhere are saying sign me up!
While it seems like a simple answer, it is important to fully understand what it is exactly you are signing up for. That’s why we wanted to give you everything you need to know about delayed cord clamping in one place: the what, the how, and most importantly, the why.
Simply put, delayed cord clamping is the practice of waiting to cut a newborn baby’s umbilical cord until after the placenta is delivered.
Studies show that only 80 ml of blood is transferred from the placenta in the first minute following birth, while 115 ml are supplied after three minutes. Halting blood flow too early reduces the total supply of blood to a newborn and decreases the amount of iron intake, while waiting longer than 3 minutes offers no additional benefit to the baby.
Instead of cutting the cord directly after birth, you can ask your doctor to wait until your baby has received the maximum amount of stem cells and oxygenated blood from the placenta.
“There is growing evidence from a number of studies that all infants, those born at term and those born early, benefit from receiving extra blood from the placenta at birth. The extra blood at birth helps the baby to cope better with the transition from life in the womb.”
— Dr. Heike Rabe
While the evidence in support of delayed cord clamping increases, so does the evidence against immediate cord clamping, which can actually be detrimental to the baby. Research shows that clamping too soon disrupts the natural birth process and prematurely disconnects the baby from the placenta, which is still circulating blood to the newborn.
The benefits of delayed cord clamping to your baby include:
- Lower frequency of iron deficiency anemia
- Reduced need for blood transfusion
- Higher blood volume
- Neurodevelopment may be enhanced
While the potential benefits to newborns are great, this process may not be best for every mother. Be sure to have a discussion with your midwife or doctor to see if delayed cord clamping it is the right choice for you and your baby.