In many hospitals, cutting the umbilical cord as soon as a baby is born (known as ICC or immediate cord clamping) is still a fairly common procedure. But decades of research has proved that delayed cord clamping — waiting at least 60 seconds, or until the cord stops pulsing blood, is highly beneficial to a newborn infant. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends cutting the cord one to three minutes post-birth, for all newborns. It seems like common sense, to allow a baby to receive all the nutrients from a mother’s placenta, before severing the cord, but hospital procedure, which often moves quickly in order to examine a newborn immediately post-birth, doesn’t always allow even a few minutes for that important pause. Certainly, there may be emergency situations when a baby needs immediate medical attention, like resuscitation, when the cord needs to be cut quickly. But in most cases, the extra nutrients are crucial and a baby should be given the time to absorb every last drop.
Here are five reasons why delayed cord clamping is so important:
Increases child’s blood volume
According to research, about one-third of a baby’s total blood volume resides in the placenta. This is same same amount of blood necessary for the infant’s body to perform important tasks. The maximum blood volume is needed to perfuse the fetal lungs, liver, and kidneys. equal to the volume of blood that will be needed to fully perfuse the fetal lungs, liver, and kidneys at birth. Babies who have DCC will have an increased total blood volume, which also means a smoother cardiopulmonary transition at birth. The increased volume of blood will also help to drastically increase blood platelet levels, which are necessary for blood clotting, as well.
Improves iron stores
Anemia is fairly common in newborns. But delayed cord clamping has huge impacts of decreasing the risk of anemia. One study found that delaying cord clamping by two minutes increases iron stores by 27 to 47 mg. But the best part of the research is that the increased iron isn’t just crucial immediately after birth. It can help decrease rates of iron deficiency in babies throughout their first year of life as a result.
Significant health benefits in preterm babies
While delaying the snip of the cord is good for almost all babies, it’s especially important for preemies, who need all the extra support they can get. Improved outcomes like better circulation, increased red blood cell volume, a decreased need for blood transfusions, and a lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage are just some of the major ways the DCC impacts premies. While it’s not uncommon to rush a premature baby away from its mother, a little extra blood-flow can go a long way.
Better neurodevelopment skills
Certain studies have found that a few extra minutes attached the umbilical cord can translate to a boost in brain development. Children whose had DCC had high social and fine motor skills that cord that was cut within seconds. And the results weren’t short-lived. They showed positive results for several years to come.
Increased levels of stem cells
Stem cells are important to the human body for a number of incredibly important reasons. DCC results in more stem cells making their way into the body, which play crucial roles in the development of almost all the bodies systems, such as the immune system, respiratory function, cardiovascular, and the central nervous system. However, when the cord is cut immediately, many of those important stem cells remain in the placenta and are essentially, wasted.
With new research coming out all the time to support DCC, hopefully, it will be the standard of care everywhere soon. But you know we have you covered at SCV birth center, where we strive to give the time and space for your baby to get absolutely everything they need, especially from your amazing placenta. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at the SCV Birth Center if you have any questions about your pregnancy, your birth plans or birth options. We are the only nationally accredited CABC birth center in the SCV, Antelope, and San Fernando Valley and we are happy to serve you.