Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Delayed Cord Clamping is Best for Babies

Delayed Cord Clamping Should be Standard Practice in Obstetrics

The photo to the left is of my 9 year-old son cutting his newborn brother's umbilical cord, at least 30 minutes after birth. The placenta had been delivered and wrapped in a chux pad and placed at the baby's feet while I held him and we bonded before cutting the cord. It was very peaceful and nothing felt rushed or hectic. Notice that the cord is white because there isn't any more blood going through it at that point.

The article above discusses clinical findings that support delayed clamping of the umbilical cord after birth. I've read other books and articles on the subject which have supported this as well, and with all three of my un-medicated births we waited to cut the cord. From what I've read, it generally takes 8-20 minutes for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating after birth, and it's best to wait until the pulsating stops before clamping and cutting the cord. This is because there is vital blood being pumped from the placenta, through the cord, to the newborn, and early clamping can rob the baby of this precious blood and potentially cause problems. I'm happy to see more research being done on the subject.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"For the majority of my career, I routinely clamped and cut the umbilical cord as soon as it was reasonable. Occasionally a patient would want me to wait to clamp and cut for some arbitrary amount of time, and I would wait, but in my mind this was just humoring the patient and keeping good relations. After all, I had seen all my attendings and upper level residents clamp and cut right away, so it must be the right thing, right?

"Later in my career I was exposed to enough other-thinking minds to consider that maybe this practice was not right. And after some research I found that there was some pretty compelling evidence that indeed, early clamping is harmful for the baby. So much evidence in fact, that I am a bit surprised that as a community, OBs in the US have not developed a culture of delayed routine cord clamping for neonatal benefit."


  1. I was really upset that Jennifer cut the cord so quickly. Sometimes I really wish I knew what exactly was happening so I could understand why she made the decisions she did (such as just cutting the cord immediately) after Stephen was born. We really wanted a delayed clamping and cutting (and for Josh to cut the cord) because of the health benefits for the baby.

  2. Jamie, I'd really like to know as well! Jennifer did some things that I wondered about, and she didn't offer any explanation of why she was doing it. I was surprised she didn't even ask Josh if he wanted to cut the cord. She did seem to be in a big rush, but I'm not sure if there were medical reasons to back up what she did. You can request a copy of your medical records from the midwife's office as well as from the hospital. Many times they document things like that, but you have to request a copy if you want to see it.