It goes without saying that we here at Plumtree Baby are committed to the idea of making thoughtful decisions throughout pregnancy and labor. We also believe that this process of making decisions extends into the newborn period and one of the first decisions expectant parents will be confronted with is when to clamp the umbilical cord of their newborn. Many expectant parents don't even realize that the actions taken with the cord can be greatly influenced and/or dictated by parental preferences.
Before we jump right into this topic, however, let us first say that there are some circumstances in which it is necessary to cut the cord immediately following birth. Midwives and doctors are there to make the call on this for when more serious conditions with the cord present themselves. Yet, for most normal, uncomplicated, vaginal births, the necessity of cutting the cord may be done more out of habit and protocol than out of need.
A large body of research is now suggesting that there are many significant benefits of delayed cord clamping, specifically to the infant. A 2009 opinion paper by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states that “Infants who have immediate cord clamping have lower iron stores for up to 6 months after birth. The potential implications of the reduced iron status in early childhood have not been adequately investigated. Iron deficiency in the first few months of life is associated with neurodevelopmental delay, which may be irreversible.”
This article by Kelly Winder, BellyBelly creator, gives great details on the process, benefits and concerns about delayed cord clamping. She also states, echoing back to our common idea of making thoughtful decisions that "[j]ust after you have given birth, the last thing you are paying attention to is the umbilical cord. So if...you have decided not to have the cord clamped immediately, make sure you make it well known with your caregiver and at the hospital that you want to delay clamping of the cord, so your baby can have it’s full store of blood. I’d highly recommend you consider a doula to help protect your birth preferences, amongst many other benefits which will make a difference to your birth experience. Also consider writing out your birth preferences and making sure the hospital, doctor and midwives have a copy – even leave one in your room to make sure they are clear."
This topic certainly deserves consideration by all expectant parents and the benefits and risks should be weighed.
It's Your Turn!
What are your thoughts on delayed cord clamping? Doulas, have you seen it in practice? Midwives and OB's, do you do delayed cord clamping if parents request it and there are no medical situations that would prevent doing so? What do you think the future is for routine cord clamping - will it move the way of the episiotomy and fall, largely, out of favor? If so, do you think there will be significantly seen benefits, long-term, to infants who have delayed cord clamping?
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