We’ve always known there was something to it, but it’s official! Delayed cord clamping is now recommended by the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)!
Delayed cord clamping is when the umbilical cord is not clamped and cut immediately after birth. In fact, many parents choose to wait until the cord has stopped pulsating, or until the placenta is born before clamping and cutting the cord. The ACOG has a more conservative recommendation and advises a wait of 30-60 seconds prior to clamping the cord for healthy infants. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting at least a full 60 seconds and no less. In the end, the parents have the final say as to how long the wait will be before cutting the cord.
Wondering what all the fuss is about and why delayed cord clamping is so beneficial? Here’s what the ACOG says:
“In preterm infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping is associated with significant neonatal benefits, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume and decreased need for blood transfusion. It also lowers the incidence of brain hemorrhage and an intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis. For term infants, it increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores for several months, which helps prevent iron deficiency during the first year of life. Iron deficiency has been linked to impaired cognitive, motor and behavioral development.” (www.acog.org)
So, in summary, infants have a better chance of avoiding blood transfusion, brain hemorrhage AND necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious disease which damages and kills the intestinal tissue) when delayed cord clamping is imposed! Not to mention the increase in baby’s iron storage, which will greatly assist in baby’s brain development and lessen their risk of becoming anemic! Amazing, right?
At this point you might be asking why on earth anyone would NOT delay cord clamping. Well, there are a few good reasons to avoid it:
There is a small increase of jaundice (yellow colour of the skin and whites of the eyes that takes place when there is too much bilirubin in the blood) in newborns who have experienced delayed cord clamping, but studies show that this increase of jaundice is not at clinical levels requiring any medical treatment.
Side note: it’s important to state that, according to the most recent study done by the ACOG, delayed cord clamping does not increase the chance of maternal hemorrhage as was once thought.
Overall, delayed cord clamping gets a strong 'YES!' across the board from all the major health care organizations, making it something for every parent to consider. Pausing to cut the cord for even a few minutes could greatly benefit your baby!
And that is the 411 on delayed cord clamping!