Benefits of delayed cord clamping
Delayed cord clamping has been practised more regularly in recent years as a result of several international organisations (such as The World Health Organisation), recommending that it should be carried out routinely. However, many parents-to-be are still in the dark about what the process involves and how it can benefit their little one.
Delayed cord clamping is the practice of postponing the clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord for between one to three minutes following birth, or until the cord stops pulsating. In full-term babies studies have found that leaving the umbilical cord intact following delivery can allow for the transfer of 80 to 100 mL of additional blood when compared with immediate cord clamping.
Studies have shown that this additional flow of blood from the placenta to the baby can improve iron stores in their first several months of life – which in turn reduces the risk of anaemia. The additional time leaving the umbilical cord intact also allows for the transfer of immunoglobulins and stem cells to the baby, both of these being essential for tissue and organ repair.
During the process of delayed cord clamping, your caregiver will also be providing initial newborn care such as drying and stimulating the baby along with maintaining skin-to-skin contact and mother-baby bonding time.
One study found there to be a small (2%) increase in jaundice among babies who had received delayed cord clamping – yet many other studies and data analyses concluded that it was likely to be a beneficial practice as long as access to treatment for jaundice that requires phototherapy is available.
There are, however, certain situations where delayed cord clamping would not be recommended. If there were any concerns about the baby’s heartbeat or the condition of the umbilical cord then immediate cord clamping would be advised. If you also wanted to save your baby’s cord blood for stem cell collection, delayed cord clamping may not be possible due to the large volume of blood that would be transferred straight to the baby instead of being available for collection.
Delayed cord clamping is now becoming more widely available in Hong Kong both in the public and private sectors – though some practitioners have differing views. So if any of you mamas and papas-to-be would like to opt for delayed cord clamping following delivery of your baby, be sure to discuss your wishes with your obstetrician or other healthcare provider when formulating your birth plan.
Read more: Choosing Your Hospital: Public or Private?