Delaying clamping the umbilical cord at birth may have far reaching benefits for your baby according to researchers at the University of South Florida’s Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair — and should be delayed for at least a few minutes longer after birth. This new recommendation published in the most recent Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (14:3) notes that delaying clamping the umbilical cord allows more umbilical cord blood and crucial stem cells to transfer from mama to baby.
With this transfer of blood University of South Florida notes that babies gain many benefits. Benefits include:
- Babies receive beneficial stem cells have many therapeutic properties vs. when you clamp the cord and shut off that flow of stem cells.
- Researchers note that “In pre-term infants, delaying clamping the cord for at least 30 seconds reduced incidences of intraventricular hemorrhage, late on-set sepsis, anemia, and decreased the need for blood transfusions.“
- Receiving cord blood may also reduce a baby’s risk of other illnesses, including respiratory distress, chronic lung disease and eye disease.
- Delayed cord clamping also ensures that a baby receives important clotting factors.
This USF research may be new, but the idea of waiting to clamp the umbilical cord is anything but. Routine cord clamping has only been around since the 1930s and even since then many health care providers, midwives in particular, but many MDs as well, have disagreed with this practice. A 2003 study discusses waiting to clamp the cord specifically to protect the brains of babies who suffer birth trauma or asphyxiation at birth. Sarah Buckley’s “A Natural Approach to the Third Stage of Labour,” Midwifery Today Issue 59 lists multiple studies reaching as far back as the 1960s which point to delayed cord cutting as beneficial.
So why clamp early?
Science Daily notes, “In recent Western medical practice, early clamping — from 30 seconds to one minute after birth — remains the most common practice among obstetricians and midwives, perhaps because the benefits of delaying clamping have not been clear.” However, what’s not quite clear is WHY the current research is considered unclear. Multiple studies and books over dozens of years have mentioned much of what is mentioned in this new USF research. Most advocates of waiting to clamp the cord suggest waiting for more than a minute, or until the cord completely stops pulsating to cut the cord thus allowing your baby the full benefits of umbilical blood.
In the end, at least right now, why hospitals are still clamping early is a problem left to parents. As parents waiting to cut the cord is something you can include in your birth plan and an issue you should discuss with your midwife or doctor.