Explaining Delayed Cord Clamping
Generally speaking, “early” or “immediate” cord clamping is within the first 10-30 seconds after birth, and delayed cord clamping is more than 30 seconds after birth. (4, 5)
Depending on individual preferences and cultural practices, the cord can be left attached from a few minutes (usually until after the umbilical cord stops pulsating) to a few hours or even a few days. (1)
OB/GYNs are starting to take a second look at what midwives have been practicing for years.
Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping (DCC)
The reason for delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord has to do with the high iron content of the blood still in the placenta. (4)
Studies conducted by the World Health Organization have shown that waiting to cut the umbilical cord can allow the newborn to receive between 40 and 50 mg/kg of iron, and a 32 percent increase in blood supply.
With iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia being associated with poor brain development worldwide, this initial increase in blood supply and iron could have a huge effect on newborns.
To read more about how DCC benefits iron levels in infants, refer to any of the sources cited at the end of this article.
Other benefits may include:
• Reduced incidence of bleeding of the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage) and late on-set infections particularly in very preterm infants (1)
• Increased tissue oxygenation levels in newborns (1)
• Increased total body iron levels and iron stores (1)
• Decreased lower blood lead levels in lead-exposed infants (1)
Addressing Fears Regarding Delayed Cord Clamping
The primary concerns associated with the increase in blood supply and iron were about increased incidence of jaundice and too many red blood cells in DCC babies.
Polycythemia occurs when there is an increase in circulating red blood cells in the body. In infants, this may happen due to the increased blood the baby receives from the placenta.
Babies with polycythemia may not feed well, experience low blood sugar and difficulty breathing.