So, if you are pregnant and thinking about your birth plan...I am sure you have heard the term "delayed cord clamping". If you talk with different moms, providers and doulas you have most likely been asked if you plan on doing delayed cord clamping. So, what exactly is delayed cord clamping and what are the benefits ?
According to cordblood.com, "Delayed cord clamping is the practice of letting the blood from the placenta flow to the baby for some period of time after the baby is born before clamping and cutting the umbilical cord" Most of us have seen or heard the of the typical cord clamping and partner cutting the cord, but did you know that the timing of this process can make a difference? Let's look at some of the benefits of delayed cord clamping!
#1: Thirty to Forty Percent MORE Blood Volume
As we know the baby's blood flow is coming via the placenta. By delaying the clamping and allowing the cord to stop pulsing, we are allowing the baby to get all of the blood that it needs. According to Dr. Mark Sloan "Nearly one-third of a baby’s total blood volume resides in the placenta at birth. Half of that blood is transfused into the baby by 1 minute of age. By 3 minutes, more than 90% of the transfusion is complete." Not only does Dr. Sloan state that the baby will be receiving this blood, but goes on to state the benefits on the baby's body. "Babies whose cords are clamped at 2 to 3 minutes—and thus, who have an increased total blood volume compared with their immediately-clamped peers—have a smoother cardiopulmonary transition at birth." (source)
#2: Decreased Risk of Anemia
Not only is baby receiving more blood from delayed cord clamping, but in turn is getting more iron. According to ACOG , "Delayed umbilical cord clamping improves iron stores in the first several months of life, which may have a favorable effect on developmental outcomes." By improving the baby's iron stores we are decreasing the chances of the baby becoming anemic. Yes, there are iron fortified formulas and supplements that can help with this, but delayed cord clamping is also proven to help!
#3: More Hemoglobin (oxygen carrying proteins)
"In term infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping increases hemoglobin levels at birth" (source) . I don't have to tell you that having a good hemoglobin level is a nice thing. Even we adults feel pretty crummy if our hemoglobin is low. By delaying cord clamping we are allowing baby to get oxygen carrying proteins in it's blood which will hopefully lead to healthy development!
#4: More Stem Cells
I am sure you have heard of stem cells. So first off, what are stem cells? Well... they do so many amazing things that I don't have time to write in one paragraph. Basically they build, repair etc. different body cells. Since I am no scientist or doctor, I will leave you a link to read about how incredible they are. Here you go! Regarding delayed cord clamping, Dr. Mark Sloan states, "Stem cells play an essential role in the development of the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular ,and central nervous system, among many other functions. The concentration of stem cells is higher in fetal blood is higher than at any other time in life. Immediate Cord Clamping leaves nearly one-third of these critical cells in the placenta" (source). Like I said, these cells are amazing and letting our baby get all that they can is a wonderful thing.
Are there any risks?
As with any decision you are making in regards to your baby and birth, it is always wise to ask your doctor or midwife about the benefits and risks.
According to ACOG, there is a small risk of jaundice in baby's who undergo delayed cord clamping. This may require the use of photo-therapy in order to get bilirubin levels where they need to be.
If you have any more questions about delayed cord clamping, I encourage you to talk to your provider! Find out whether your physician uses this practice and get to know the procedures in place where you plan to birth!