A common routine practice within hospitals is to immediately clamp and cut the umbilical cord following the birth of the baby. Although care providers (doctors and midwives) give many excuses for this practice there is no evidence to support it. In fact, there is much evidence to support delaying clamping of the cord.
Below is some of the evidence I’ve collected that shows the benefits of delayed cord clamping. As you read through and view this information you can learn about the benefits for yourself and make the best choice for you and your baby.
Science and Sensibility, a blog by Lamaze International, has gathered a plethora of information on delayed cord clamping. Here is a post in which they refute, with evidence, some of the common objections care providers use in regards to delayed cord clamping.
“In some cases this continued practice is due to a misunderstanding of placental physiology in the first few minutes after birth. In others, human nature plays a role: We are often reluctant to change the way we were taught to do things, even in the face of clear evidence that contradicts that teaching.”
To view all the articles they have on the subject of delayed cord clamping, click HERE. They have a really informative video series about delayed cord clamping given by Dr. Nicholas Fogelson, MD A.P. Department Obstetrics and Gynecology USC School of Medicine. To watch this series click HERE.
Dr. Judith Mercer, PhD, CNM, FACNM, a member of the faculty at the University Rhode Island, is the Principal Investigator on a randomized controlled trial at Women & Infants Hospital examining the effects of delayed cord clamping on outcomes of preterm, very low birth weight babies. She was interviewed over at Science and Sensibility blog. She relates an amazing experience she had at a homebirth in 1979 that helped to influence her decision to research delayed cord clamping.
“I had an epiphany at a home birth in 1979. An infant was born very rapidly with the cord 2 and 1/2 times around his neck. He was as pale as the white sheet his mother had on her bed and limp and breathless. I was very afraid that I would not be able to resuscitate him. I placed him on the bed and immediately unwrapped the cord from around his neck and dried and stimulated him with no response. His heart rate was well over 100 and the cord was pulsating vigorously. I noticed that his color was changing from the pale white to pink as his body gained the blood back into it. His heart rate was always over 100. In about 1 and 1/2 minutes, he flexed his extremities, opened his eyes and took a gentle breath. He looked at us like “What is the fuss?” and never cried. I tried as hard as I could to get him to cry as I believed at that time that he should do but I could not get him to. He nursed very well and was a normal child at one year of age when I last saw him.
I knew that I had seen a miracle and one that I would never have seen in the hospital. In the hospital, we would have cut the cord and taken the infant to a warmer to resuscitate him. In doing so, we would have denied him exactly what he needed – the opportunity for the blood squeezed out of him in the birth process due to the tight cord around his neck to flow back into his body. This event marked the beginning of my research career. I vowed that at some point in my life I would research what I had seen but did not fully understand.”
To read the rest of her interview, click HERE.
Below is a video where Penny Simkin talks about the amount of blood lost when we practice immediate cord clamping. She talks about the benefits of delayed cord clamping in a visual way that really helped me understand the way it works. Watch the video, it’s a really great way to spend 5 minutes and you’ll walk away with some beneficial information on this important birth option.
Along with all of the clinical benefits and researched evidence noted in the above links, a benefit that I have seen is the way delayed cord clamping slows down the birthing process. Sometimes in the hospital there is so much routine that is practiced by the doctor/midwife and nurses everything happens so quickly. I believe it is important to slow this process down. When the birth of a baby is slowed down the mother and her partner have the chance to savor the moment and the experience is etched into their memory. Slowing down the birth process is one way to improve and protect the memory of the birth.
As you consider your birth options and preferences, I hope you will research the information available on delayed cord clamping to make the best choice for you, your baby and your situation.
The midwives that I know of who attend home births regularly practice delayed cord clamping. It is important to talk to your care provider to find out their regular practices.
Picture above take by OpieFoto. Taken at the home birth of my 3rd child.