The benefits of delayed cord cutting at birth include: More closely mimicking natural birth.
The potential risks of delaying cord cutting include: Increased risk of jaundice.
When your baby’s cord is clamped it prevents any further transfer of blood from the placenta back into his body.
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.
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.
There is an increased likelihood 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.
Talk to your birth team if you would like to delay the cutting your baby’s umbilical cord as this should be an option in low-risk 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:
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).