According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a baby’s cord should not be clamped earlier than one minute after birth unless the newborn or preterm baby requires positive-pressure ventilation. This only means that immediate cord clamping isn’t really necessary—despite it being a common practice for some mums.
Here are five things you need to know if you’re considering delayed cord clamping during childbirth:
#1 Every second counts
When a baby is born, the umbilical cord is still attached to the mum. This cord is part of the placenta and the only way to separate them is by clamping. Early cord clamping happens within the first 60 seconds of birth. On the other hand, delayed cord clamping happens after a minute or more, sometimes lasting until the fifth minute.
#2 Delayed cord clamping increases blood flow to your baby
By waiting for 60 seconds or more before clamping the cord, the blood flow between the placenta and the newborn increases. This, in turn, may help improve certain nutritional needs of babies including iron, according to the WHO.
#3 Increased iron supply helps brain development
With increased blood flow, your baby gets more iron through higher volume of red blood cells, sometimes even up to 50% if the delay lasts up to 5 minutes, according to a University of Rhode Island study. This prevents the possibility of iron deficiency. Remember that iron is crucial for your baby’s brain development and so the lesser supply of it, the more chances of having central nervous system issues.
#4 Kids who experienced delayed cord clamping develop better motor skills
Another study suggested that delayed cord clamping exhibits benefits at a later stage of a child’s life. Kids observed during the study seemed to have better social and motor skills than those who did not undergo delayed cord clamping.
#5 There are reported risks, although not yet scientifically proven
Some risks posed by delayed cord clamping are: polycythemia or having excessive red blood cells and hyperbilirubinemia, which happens when bilirubin levels in the blood of the baby is too high, potentially resulting in jaundice. Mums are also said to be at risk of postpartum hemorrhage. However, it’s best to discuss options with your doctor as there is no reported evidence of these risks just yet.