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Alison Ross
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Registered Midwife, DipHe, BSc (Hons) Was a midwife at Kingston Hospital and Specialist Midwife in Perinatal Mental Health.
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Birth and Labour

The benefits of delayed cord cutting for your baby

The practice of delaying the cutting of your baby’s cord at birth is increasing in popularity as people understand the benefits of doing so.
In Short

Delayed cord cutting means delaying for around 1-10 minutes after the delivery of the placenta. This is usually after the cord has stopped pulsating and replicates natural deliveries of mammals in the wild.

The benefits of delayed cord cutting at birth include:

Up to 30% higher blood volume, higher blood count, higher iron stores, lower chance of anaemia.

Some studies suggest the extra blood volume enhances brain development

Increased levels of stem cells to boost baby’s immunity

Less interference to mother and newborn after the birth.

The potential risks of delaying cord cutting include:

Slightly increased risk of jaundice affecting 2-3% of babies but this can be prevented through early and frequent feeding.

Discuss with your team whether this might suit your particular situation.

Benefits of delayed clamping for premature babies

Delaying this clamping may provide benefits to your baby and was first encouraged in babies born prematurely. As well as allowing more red blood cells transfer to your baby (which reduces anaemia) it is also thought that immunoglobulins and stem cells will pass into him which could improve his body’s ability to e.g. repair organs and also helps with ongoing brain development.

Benefits of delayed clamping in full-term babies

After birth, the artery in the umbilical cord keeps pulsing and if this is allowed to happen babies may benefit with a 30% higher blood volume, a higher blood count and higher iron levels after the birth. There is also evidence that women are less likely to haemorrhage with delaying clamping.

Higher iron stores for your baby are particularly important since adequate iron is important for your baby’s early neurological development.

Cons of delayed clamping

There is a small increase 2-% of jaundice that might require phototherapy. This is because delayed cord clamping literally means that your baby will have more blood cells in his body and jaundice is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells in the blood vessels. However, with early and frequent feeding this can be prevented.

Cord clamping in your birth plan

Talk to your birth team if you would like to delay the cutting your baby’s umbilical cord as this should be an option for most births. Delaying clamping is being more frequently done as doctors learn about the implications of newborn anaemia and the fact that in other mammalian births the cord has stopped pulsating before the mother breaks the cord connecting her baby to the delivered placenta.

Delayed cord cutting goes along with having your baby in skin to skin contact and initiating breastfeeding in the golden hour after birth. This video explains the benefits of skin to skin and early breastfeeding after birth:

This video explains the benefits of skin to skin and early breastfeeding after birth:

Delayed cord clamping is generally possible in low-risk births including a caesarean section.

The delay in cord clamping might range from 1-10 minutes in a birth where the mother has delivered the placenta (third stage) without a managed third stage.

If you do have a managed third stage (where the delivery of the placenta and the contraction of the uterus is sped up with the administration of an oxytocin-like injection) you can still request a delay to cord clamping.

Managed third stage is sometimes recommended for high-risk births to reduce the risk of bleeding in the mother after the birth (although there is an increased chance of bleeding after the birth due to e.g. retained placenta).

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.