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When to Cut the Cord

We waited to cut his cord...when did you cut your baby's?

If your baby is born in a hospital, then the cord is typically cut right away.  I know that was our experience when our daughter was born, and we didn’t question it.

However, it is a question you should consider.  When to cut the cord isn’t “nothing,” it can matter.  And although some will tell you it’s “dangerous” to wait, that’s not true at all.  In fact, there are benefits to waiting!

So when should you cut the cord?

I first researched this when I was pregnant with my son and didn’t know what I wanted to do.  Cutting the cord can vary from immediately (in some cases, before the baby’s even fully out) to never (wait until both cord and placenta naturally dry out and fall off; until then you carry it all around together — it’s called a ‘lotus birth’).  Well, ‘lotus birth’ to me, was too much.  I know there are people who believe that’s the best way and maybe it is…but I couldn’t do it.  Delaying awhile, though?  That absolutely made sense to me.

I’ve heard some doctors say (to friends of mine), “You have to cut the cord right away, or all the blood will run out of the baby and it will have bad jaundice or die!”  That is a complete load of crap.  That will not happen.

Here are some benefits to waiting:

  • The blood runs into the baby, increasing blood volume by up to 50% (baby is meant to have this blood)
  • Baby is less likely to suffer from jaundice
  • Baby is less likely to have trouble breathing (as long as the placenta is attached to mom, baby’s still get oxygen from the cord)
  • Higher iron levels, less likely to be deficient
  • No need to save cord blood for future use (see link above)

Most say to wait at least 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cord stops pulsing.  We chose to wait a full hour.

Are there circumstances in which the cord should be cut immediately?  Yes.  These include:

  • Baby is severely distressed and needs immediate medical attention
  • Cord is too short and/or wrapped around baby in such a way that makes full delivery impossible

These are the only two circumstances I can think of.  Even if the cord is wrapped tightly around the baby’s neck, the baby can be safely delivered without cutting it, as long as it is long enough.  (Yes, this happened to my son.)

If you choose to delay cutting the cord (barring unforeseen medical circumstances, of course), make sure to write it in your birth plan.  Talk to your doctor or midwife about the right decision for you.

When do you choose to cut the cord?

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