Posted 13 Feb 2023
“What is Delayed Cord Clamping and what are the advantages”?
The practice of delayed cord clamping or also called optimal cord clamping, in which the umbilical cord is not cut or clamped immediately after birth but instead until the cord has stopped pulsating to allow the newborn to receive as much blood as possible from the placenta (Up to one-third of the baby’s blood is still in the placenta at birth), has been shown to offer several benefits for both the newborn and the mother. The advantages include improved blood flow, iron stores, decreased infant anemia, better cardiovascular health, and improved brain development.
“Guidelines for Delayed Cord Clamping”
International and Australian guidelines suggest that at least 60 seconds is an ideal amount of time to wait before clamping the umbilical cord, as approximately 75% of the blood available for transfusion from the placenta to the baby occurs in the first minute after birth (an estimated 80 millilitres). Although, It is recommended for care providers to “wait for white”, meaning that the umbilical cord has turned white and there is no longer blood flowing through it.
“Improved Blood Flow for the Newborn with Delayed Cord Clamping”
It has been observed that the umbilical cord, serving as a crucial link between the mother and baby, continues to provide the latter with blood from the mother after birth. By waiting to cut the cord, the newborn is given more time to receive blood, potentially leading to improved iron levels and decreased risk of anemia. An exerpt from the study Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes shares:
“Delayed clamping allows time for a transfer of the fetal blood in the placenta to the infant at the time of birth. This placental transfusion can provide the infant with an additional 30% more blood volume and up to 60% more red blood cells (McDonald 2003; Mercer 2001; Mercer 2006; Palethorpe 2010).”
“Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping”
The transfer of blood from the mother to the baby during delayed cord clamping can contribute to the establishment of the baby’s circulatory system and blood pressure regulation, leading to potential benefits for cardiovascular health in the future.
“Brain Development Enhancements with Delayed Cord Clamping”
The transfer of blood from the mother to the baby during delayed cord clamping has the potential to provide the baby with the necessary nutrients and oxygen for brain development, potentially leading to improved cognitive and behavioural development, overall health, and well-being. An excerpt from the study Science Update: Delayed cord clamping may benefit infant brain development, NIH-funded study finds shares:
“ Infants who underwent delayed cord clamping had higher levels of myelin in brain regions associated with motor, visual, and sensory functioning and processing. They also had higher serum levels of ferritin, a protein that stores iron.”
“A Safe and Effective Practice: Delayed Cord Clamping”
It has been determined that delayed cord clamping is a safe and effective practice for both the newborn and mother, with the delay of several minutes after birth not posing any harm. Delayed cord clamping can be done whether you are having a vaginal birth or a Cesarean.
“Considering Delayed Cord Clamping?”
If you are considering delayed cord clamping it is highly recommended that you speak with your caregiver team and ask them:
“What are their policies around delayed cord clamping and what are routine practices at the particular hospital you will be birthing at?“
Though this is now standard practice in most hospitals, what they consider in terms of timing for delayed cord clamping can vary. This will give you the opportunity to discuss with your caregivers and ensure your decisions are honoured. As an advocate for birth mapping (Your documentation of informed decisions) I would highly recommend being specific with your language and writing the following:
“The umbilical cord is not to be clamped or cut until the cord is white, limp and has stopped pulsating”
You can also specify to who you would like to cut the cord.
In conclusion, the advantages of delayed cord clamping, include improved blood flow, better cardiovascular health, improved iron stores, decreased infant anemia, and improved brain development. It is considered to be safe for both vaginal and cesarean birth have been shown to make it a beneficial practice for both the newborn and mother.
Your informed decisions matter and this comes from having the knowledge, tools and support to have the positive birth experience you deserve.
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Hi, I’m Suzy, Hypnobirthing Australia Facilitator, Mama Rising Practitioner, Birth Mapper and Matrescence Coach. My passion and mission is to support you in having the positive birth experience you deserve and transition into motherhood feeling empowered, prepared and in alignment with your most authentic self. The birth of your little one is also the birth of you.