Delayed cord clamping – what is it and why should you consider doing it?
What is delayed cord clamping?
Delayed cord clamping is the choice many parents make of delaying the clamp and cut of their baby’s umbilical cord instead of immediately after the birth, clamping and cutting the cord. Some consider “delayed” to be anything 30-60 seconds or longer, while some believe it to be two minutes or more, while still others want the heartbeat pulse that can be felt in the cord to stop pulsing and others want it to be done pulsing and turn completely white.
We are going to go through the acronym B.R.A.I.N.D to help you decide if delaying the cutting of your child’s cord is right for your family. B.R.A.I.N.D stands for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives. Intuition, Nothing and Decide
Benefits of delayed cord cutting to full term baby according to ACOG would be higher hemoglobin levels and higher iron levels which could result better developmental outcomes and pre term infants have many more benefits to having their cord cutting delayed.
“In term infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores in the first several months of life, which may have a favorable effect on developmental outcomes”
“In preterm infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping is associated with significant neonatal benefits, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume, decreased need for blood transfusion, and lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage”
What are the possible risks with delayed cord cutting?
Jaundice, postpartum hemorrhage, not being able to encapsulate their placenta, and not being able to bank cord blood are four of the main concerns we hear about as doulas when discussing delayed cord cutting with our clients.
Studies show your provider should (as always, even if no delay happens) should be monitoring your child’s jaundice levels, but NO risk was to mom for postpartum hemorrhaging or even lowering your hemoglobin levels…(meaning your iron levels are not going to be negatively effected because your baby’s iron levels would be positively effecting by the delay of cutting the cord.).
It is true that you do need blood left in the cord in order to get enough stem cell for cord banking. If you are going to privately bank your child cord blood, you can still safely delay the cord cutting process for 30-60 seconds. However, if you plan to use that cord blood for a specific reason like a transplant, then having as many stem cells is best for your family.
If you are planning to donate your cord blood for research or to another person, you will also not want to delay the cutting process. However, if you don’t plan to bank any of the cord blood, then choosing to delay the cutting will allow for more stem cells to go directly into your child through its cord blood pulsing in that minute or so.
As far as placenta encapsulation goes, you may fully have your cord blood delayed. You can even do a lotus birth for a few hours as long as the placenta is kept on ice while you finish the longer version for delayed cord cutting.
“Consequently, health care providers adopting delayed umbilical cord clamping in term infants should ensure that mechanisms are in place to monitor for and treat neonatal jaundice. “
“Delayed umbilical cord clamping was not associated with an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage or increased blood loss at delivery, nor was it associated with a difference in postpartum hemoglobin levels or the need for blood transfusion. “ACOG
Alternatives to delayed cord cutting would be…not delaying and lotus birth (which is more like long term delaying).
I stands for Intuition. What does your gut immediately say about this option. Worth it? Not worth it? It’s just okay? Maybe you want to do whatever your provider normally does? Maybe it’s super important now that you are aware of the benefits? Deeply don’t want to because of the possible risks? Dig deep and listen to your inner most self and trust what it’s telling you.
What if you did Nothing and didn’t make a choice? Simple, you will then go along with whatever the midwife or OBGYN you hired and catch your baby usually does.
Lastly, decide! Sit down with your information. Look at the benefits, the risks, your options, ask your medical provider for their recommendations, talk about it with your birth doula, and then decide what feels the best for your family. There is no right or wrong answer.