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The Umbilical Cord, the very lifeline between mama and baby. The umbilical cord carries nutrients and oxygen through the mothers blood from the placenta to your little baby.
Maybe you have heard the term "wait for white"? This term is referring to the practice known as "delayed cord clamping". Delayed cord clamping has numerous benefits for mother and baby!
It is common practice in the US to clamp and cut the cord the instant baby is born, but why? While there are reasons to cut the cord ASAP such as, administration of Antimicrobial medications given to the mother (Increased risk of sepsis in infants), or the newborn is asphyxiated and needs resuscitation.
Early cord clamping has only been predominantly done since the 1960s. The practice began to prevent maternal hemorrhage, but recent studies have shown there is no correlation. Some studies actually suggest the opposite! The practice of clamping the cord contributes to both postpartum hemorrhage and retained placenta by trapping extra blood (about 100ml) within the placenta. This increases placental volume, which the uterus cannot contract efficiently against, and more difficult to expel (Walsh 1968)
Many care providers are now beginning to switch their protocol and delay cord clamping (yay)!
Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
We know that the umbilical cord is a baby’s lifeline before birth, but after birth does it still have a purpose. Yes! A full term baby may have as much as one third of their blood in the placenta when labor begins.
During labor, the uterine muscle tightens, creating a firm uterus and lots of compression around the baby. This forces blood through the placenta. A significant amount of the blood is not inside the baby during birth: it is still in the placenta. At birth your baby only has 2/3 of their blood, but if you wait 3- 10 mins, lots of this nutrient rich blood can go back into baby. For the best benefits, you should wait until the cord is white and no longer pulsing.
A newborn receives a plethora of maternal antibodies from the placental blood supply; therefore, by delaying cord clamping you are increasing the quantity of theses immune-enhancing antibodies in baby! These antibodies continue to provide protection to the infant for months. Placental blood is shown to contain antibodies to Haemophilus influenza type b, strepococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides, and many more potentially fatal infections.
Placental blood also supplies a great number of stem cells, which have the unique capability of dividing into specialized cells, replacing those that die or are lost.
Delayed cord clamping for preterm babies is extremely beneficial and even life saving! ACOG recommends waiting 30 – 60 seconds after birth in these cases due to a nearly 50% reduction in the incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage or bleeding within the brain, a life threatening condition. Preterm infants also benefit from reduced need for blood transfusions and improved circulation when cord clamping is delayed by at least 30 seconds.
A shorter delay in cord clamping is recommended for preemies, since respiratory problems are common in premature infants. 120 seconds for premature infants is the maximum time available in research, but remember even 30-120 seconds can be extremely beneficial and worth it
If you have the opportunity, delaying cord clamping (even for 30 seconds) has amazing
life long benefits for baby! Talk to your care provider about delaying cord clamping!