In traditional childbirth, the umbilical cord is cut soon after the baby is out. However, recent research studies recommend delayed cord clamping for a number of benefits to the baby.
Last Updated: 22 October 2020
During pregnancy, placenta supplies the required nourishment for the baby’s growth and development. Umbilical cord connects the mother’s placenta to the baby in the womb. In both vaginal delivery and C-section, the baby and the placenta will be delivered and the umbilical cord will be cut.
The age-old practice was to cut the cord within 10-15 seconds after the baby is born. With more and more studies on cord clamping, it is now believed that delaying the clamping of the cord between 1 – 5 minutes after the baby’s birth is beneficial to the baby.What are the benefits of delayed cord clamping?
After the baby is born, the placenta continues to pump blood to the baby for a few minutes before it becomes white. Waiting for 1 to 5 minutes for this post-birth placental blood to flow to the baby before the cord is cut (delayed cord clamping) gives the following benefits to the baby:· Increased blood volume
Allowing the maternal blood to be passed to the baby after birth, through the umbilical cord, for one minute, increases the blood volume in the newborn by 80mL. It becomes 100 mL in three minutes. That is, a baby who has a delay in cord clamping during birth receives 30% increased blood flow than one whose cord is cut immediately after birth.· Decreased risk of iron deficiency
Anemia can occur in infants with lower levels of iron in their blood. Delayed cord clamping can supply increased levels of hemoglobin and iron to the newborn. Surprisingly, babies who had a delay in cord clamping have shown healthy levels of iron even up to six months of age.· Increased number of stem cells
The placental blood supply in the first few minutes of birth increases the number of stem cells passed to the baby. One of the areas where stem cells help, is in the development of baby’s immunity against infections.· Helps in motor skills development
Children who had delayed cord clamping have shown better fine motor skills development and better social skills at the age of four than those who had an immediate cord cutting.What are the risks of delayed cord clamping?
Immediate cord cutting was practiced earlier for the following reasons:
· It will cause the mother to lose more blood
· There is a risk for the baby to develop jaundice
However, now it has clearly been proved that the benefits of delayed cord clamping outweigh more than the risks involved. It must be noted that World Health Organization (WHO) and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend delayed cord clamping for both natural births and caesarean deliveries.When must delayed cord clamping be not performed?
In spite of the potential benefits of delayed cord clamping, there are certain situations when it is not recommended to perform delayed cord clamping, like in the following cases:
· When there is a risk of over-bleeding for the mother
· When the baby shows breathing difficulties and needs immediate resuscitation
· When there is an abnormality in placenta (placenta previa or placental abruption)