Delayed cord clamping (DCC) should become health care providers’ new standard practice because of the huge benefits to Baby.
Did you know that before the mid-1950’s, many babies were delivered by midwives who wouldn’t cut the cord until it stopped pulsating? This usually happened about five minutes after the baby was born.
Sadly, obstetricians, gynecologists, and medical doctors have been trained to cut the cord between 15-20 seconds after birth, and this practice wasn’t based on solid science (which most doctors base their practice on).
Thankfully, cord clamping is making a comeback and will hopefully become the new (old) standard!
WHAT IS DELAYED CORD CLAMPING
Delayed cord clamping is the practice of waiting to clamp the newly born baby’s umbilical cord until it stops pulsating. This allows the blood that is in the cord to travel back to Baby.
In the 1960’s immediate cord clamping (ICC) became routine. Health care providers believed it reduced the chances of postpartum maternal hemorrhage (PPH). WHO states that “early cord clamping is generally contradicted” when addressing recommendations for postpartum hemorrhage.
HOW LONG DO YOU WAIT TO CLAMP?
There is a debate on how long one should wait before clamping, but it is generally between one and five minutes after birth as opposed to mere seconds.
Different organizations recommend different waiting times.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been stating for some time that 1-3 minutes is the appropriate time to wait.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released research in December 2016 now recommending DCC. The American College of Nurse-midwives (ACNM) currently states that 2-5 minutes will provide the best results.
Dr. Maria Mascola, head writer of the new ACOG opinion states, “While there are various recommendations regarding optimal timing for delayed umbilical cord clamping, there has been increased evidence that shows that the practice in and of itself has clear health benefits for both [all] infants.“
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DCC THAT ARE DEBUNKED
Many concerns were brought up by health care providers in the past as to why delayed cord clamping may not be best. Many of these reasons have been found untrue during later studies.
1. POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
Immediate cord clamping was thought to prevent postpartum hemorrhages. This has been found false and without scientific backing through large studies like the Cochrane review. It found there was no significate difference between immediate cord clamping and delayed cord clamping.
2. BACKFLOW BLEEDING
This is an unlikely occurrence and is when the blood is transferred from Baby to the cord as opposed to the cord to Baby. Blood flow after an uncomplicated birth tends to flow primarily one way. Given the fact that DCC results in Baby’s blood supply increasing this supports that delayed clamping results in the opposite of backflow bleeding.
3. DANGEROUSLY HIGH LEVELS OF JAUNDICE
Bilirubin is the source of jaundice in newborns. More blood equals more bilirubin. However, the GOOD thing about having greater blood flow is it helps the liver process the bilirubin more effectively.
4. LEADS TO “THICK BLOOD.”
This is when blood becomes a thick “sludge” like consistency in organs such as the brain and kidneys. This possibly causes organ damage and strokes. Again, there are no actual studies proving that delayed cord clamping causes this anomaly.
BENEFITS OF DELAYED CORD CLAMPING
1. BLOOD SUPPLY
When a baby is born, he only has about 2/3 of his blood supply. About 1/3 of his blood is still in the umbilical cord. 1-5 minutes after the cord is done pulsating Baby will have almost 100% of his blood supply.
Delayed clamping will allow for Baby to receive optimal oxygen supply through his blood. This facilitates many functions as he will need all of the oxygen he can get after transitioning to life outside of the womb.
It also benefits the level of iron that Baby has thus offsetting anemia. Iron deficiency poses many concerns that parents should be informed about. Iron is essential in this time of rapid brain growth!
Lack of iron also causes fatigue.
According to the ACNM delayed clamping facilitates a smooth transition to life outside of the womb by increasing birth weight, iron level, and blood volume. This is a critical time for Baby, and he will need every advantage that he can get. Allowing for him to receive what nature intended for him will continue to help him in the long term.
4. STEM CELLS
Another benefit of DCC is the stem cells that are within the blood of the umbilical cord are transferred back to Baby. This plays a role in the development of his immune system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and central nervous system.
5. PRE-TERM OR SICK BABIES
Sick and pre-term babies have been shown to benefit from delayed clamping. One of the positives is that preterm babies have less risk of a hemorrhage and also lessens their risks for blood transfusions. There are lowered occurrences of necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe bowel infection.
Many healthcare providers are beginning to wait before clamping a newborn’s cord. Some hospitals have implemented this technique for preterm infants only. This should be changed and become the new common practice at every birthing facility.
6. VAGINAL VS. C-SECTION BIRTHS
Delayed cord clamping should be used in both c-section births and vaginal births as the benefits are the same. There is no real difference in the method of birthing. With both, Baby will still see great benefits from DCC.
WHAT DOES DCC LOOK LIKE?
Penny Simkin says, “There is a good reason to wait at least 2 minutes or until the cord stops pulsing.” She has a very informative video on our previous DCC article. It shows the process of delayed clamping and how much blood is transferred back to Baby during this procedure. Having this visual puts things into perspective.
Being able to actually see how much blood a newborn is losing through immediate cord clamping versus how much they can gain by delayed clamping is truly eye-opening.
There are so many positive aspects to delayed clamping. It only takes an additional few minutes after birth and gives newborns a head start. Having no actual studies presenting true negative facts about DCC makes the decision to have this be a standard practice all the easier.
No scientific research proves DCC to be a harmful practice.
Actually, there are many organizations like the ACOG that now have changed their stance on delayed clamping.
The recognization that delayed cord clamping can be beneficial is finally a step in the right direction.
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