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World Health Org Supports Delayed Cord Clamping

photo : flickr.com/nagobe

The term “delayed cord clamping” is probably something most readers here have never heard of, but as someone deeply involved with the childbirth community, it is something I have been hearing for years.

The basic explanation of delayed cord clamping includes leaving the umbilical cord intact until it stops pulsating, or passing blood from the placenta to the newborn baby.  Pregnancy.about.com explains the process as:

Definition: The severance of the umbilical cord from the placenta after a period of time. While there is no standard definition of time, some suggest that as little as 30-94 seconds could be beneficial, while other practitioners have personal definitions, including waiting until the cord has stopped pulsing.

The benefit is that anemia in the baby could potentially be eliminated or reduced by allowing the baby to receive more cord blood. It also increases the risk of jaundice which may require phototherapy in full term infants.”

In fact, back in March, I sat down with OB/GYN Nicholas Fogelson MD, also known as The Academic OB/GYN from his online blog, and spoke about delayed cord clamping for nearly an hour on my internet radio show. I thought I knew a little about it when we started, but I almost felt like an expert by the time the show ended. He is an outspoken advocate in the obstetric community for delayed cord clamping and believes it should be a common practice by obstetricians and birth professionals — as do I after learning more about it. The benefits clearly outweigh the convenience factor which drives immediate clamping and cutting.

Some of the benefits of delayed cord clamping include:

  • Increases the level of iron in your infant
  • Decreases the instance of intraventricular hemorrhage
  • Less need for blood transfusions

While most studies show that delayed cord clamping benefits babies across the board, studies of preemies and infants with low birth weight have shown a greater benefit following delayed cord clamping. The same studies concluded delaying cord clamping for at least two minutes should be the standard practice across the board, of course excluding emergency situations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has had the same policy in place that really hasn’t come into light until recently with all the debate over the practice. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, a section of WHO, has advised against early umbilical cord clamping. Dr. Mercola posted a great quote from The British Medical Journal yesterday I really enjoyed:

Dr. David Hutchon argues:

“Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproved intervention. Lack of awareness of current evidence, pragmatism, and conflicting guidelines are all preventing change. To prevent further injury to babies we would be better to rush to change.”

I know for my upcoming birth, I am going to discuss with the providers who will be in the operating room about delaying clamping, and cutting the cord. C-sections are rough enough on newborns, and I don’t want it to be any rougher than it needs to be.

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