Delayed (Optimal) cord clamping is a practice in which the umbilical cord is not immediately clamped and cut after the birth of a baby. Instead, the cord is left intact for a period of time, usually until it has stopped pulsing or for a few minutes after birth. There is growing evidence to support delayed cord clamping, which can have significant benefits for both the mother and the baby.
One of the main benefits of delayed clamping is an increase in the baby’s blood volume. When the cord is left intact, the baby continues to receive oxygen and nutrients from the placenta, which can lead to an increase in blood volume of up to 30%. This additional blood can help to improve the baby’s iron stores and reduce the risk of anemia, which is common in newborns.
There is also evidence to suggest that delayed clamping can improve the baby’s long-term health outcomes. Studies have shown that delayed cord clamping can lead to improved cognitive and motor development, as well as a reduced risk of respiratory distress syndrome and other neonatal complications.
Benefits For Mom
Delayed cord clamping can also benefit the mother. By increasing the baby’s blood volume, delayed clamping can help to reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage in the mother. This is because the additional blood volume can help to stimulate the uterus to contract and reduce bleeding.
The World Health Organization recommends delayed clamping for all births, stating that it should be the standard of care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also supports delayed cord clamping, stating that it should be practiced for at least 30-60 seconds for all uncomplicated births.
Your provider may have a different definition of what “delayed” means. Be sure to discuss your cord clamping preferences with your provider, support person(s), labor nurse, and add it to your birth plan.
There is a growing body of evidence to support delayed cord clamping as a safe and effective practice for newborns. Some benefits include an increase in the baby’s blood volume, which can improve their iron stores and reduce the risk of anemia. It can also benefit the mother by reducing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. With the support of organizations such as the WHO and ACOG, delayed cord clamping is becoming more widely practiced and is an important consideration for parents and healthcare providers.