If you, or someone you love, is pregnant and preparing for delivery day you may be debating the benefits of delayed umbilical cord clamping. Delayed cord clamping involves waiting to cut the umbilical cord anywhere from 25 seconds to five minutes after the child’s birth.
For many years the majority of parents and practitioners practiced immediate cord clamping (umbilical cord cutting within the first twenty seconds of the delivery), but studies are now showing that waiting may have numerous benefits.
What are the Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping?
Previously, delayed cord clamping was only used with preterm babies, as the placenta continues to provide blood and iron to the infant after birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, preterm infant benefits from delayed cord clamping include:
- improved transitional circulation;
- better establishment of red blood cell volume;
- decreased need for blood transfusion; and
- a lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage.
Recently it was discovered that the benefits of delayed cord clamping may also benefit full-term (or near full-term) infants by increasing hemoglobin at birth and improving iron stores for the first few months of life. This may help with the infant’s development post-birth, particularly with fine motor and social skills.
Are There Disadvantages to Delayed Cord Clamping?
The primary cause of concern with delayed cord clamping is a higher risk of jaundice. However, with health care providers constantly monitoring the birth and the availability of phototherapy, this risk is minimal.
Another potential area of concern to delayed umbilical cord cutting is that it could increase an infant’s chances of polycythemia, hyperbilirubinemia, and respiratory distress.
The American Pregnancy Association reports, however, that studies show no higher risk of these conditions during delayed cord clamping versus immediate cord clamping. If problems arise during a child’s birth, the medical staff will perform the best option for the mother and child depending on the situation.
How Long Should You Wait for Umbilical Cord Clamping?
Delayed cord clamping can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, so how long should you wait? The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurses-Midwives recommend waiting at least two minutes and possibly up to five depending on whether the birth was routine or not.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30-60 seconds for both preterm and term infants. Speak with your medical staff beforehand to allow for the smoothest transition from birth to delayed cord cutting.
Involving Your Partner
All this talk about delayed cord cutting may have you wondering if your birth partner should be involved with cutting the cord. Studies have shown that the partner’s active participation during childbirth, including cutting the umbilical cord, results in increased emotional involvement with the child and a faster bonding experience.
So, if you are asking, “should they or should they not?” The answer is yes – but only after consulting with your OB/Gyn!
Are you looking for an OB/Gyn that you trust with your pregnancy journey, book an appointment with us today!