Facebook Pixel

Why Delayed Cord Clamping is Good For Your Baby

Rate This

Some parents are banking their baby’s cord blood at birth to be used in the future if he or she is ever in an accident or have cancer or another life limiting illness. But cord blood is useful for babies from the moment they are born.
In hospital births, most obstetricians view the umbilical cord as a mere waste product of birth and cut it as soon as the baby is born, but it is actually a lifeline for the baby, providing him with oxygen in the moments after the birth when he may be slow to breathe. An umbilical cord can provide oxygen for a baby for around five minutes after delivery. This is natures plan in case he doesn’t breathe straight away.

During this time, blood is still pumping through the cord and into the baby. This blood is rich in nutrients and stem cells and reduces the baby’s risk of anemia, vitamin K deficiency bleeding, respiratory distress syndrome and even death.
Doctors have known this for decades but continue to practice immediate cord clamping. As far back as 1941, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that:

“The placental blood normally belongs to the infant, and his/her failure to get this blood is equivalent to submitting the newborn to a severe hemorrhage at birth.”
Immediate cord clamping may be one of the reasons why all newborns are now offered vitamin K injections or drops at birth. They are more at risk of bleeding and nutritional deficiency if they are not allowed to receive their own placental blood after the birth.

A study published in the Lancet, followed 476 full term infants born in Mexico City. Some had their cords clamped 10 seconds after birth and in others it was delayed for two minutes. When the babies were reviewed again at six months old, those babies who had their cords clamped at two minutes had a significantly better iron status than those where it was clamped immediately.

“The data show that the two-minute delay in cord clamping increased the child's iron reserve by 27-47 mg of iron, which is equivalent to one to two months of infant iron requirements. This could help to prevent iron deficiency from developing before six months of age”, said Kathryn Dewey, a Nutritionalist at the University of California, who took part in the study.

So if you’re pregnant, consider delaying cutting your baby’s cord so he can fully benefit from his own blood.

Sources: The Lancet, Volume 367, Issue 9527, Pages 1956 - 1958, 17 June 2006
De Marsh, Q. B., et al. "The Effect of Depriving the Infant of its
Placental Blood." J.A.M.A. (7 June 1941).

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thank you so much for your response! I will check out those websites you recommended. It made me so mad to read how that medical community ignored you, both at the time of birth and when you were seeking support and information about your daughter. Grrr
My son does not appear to have been affected physically. He was a lethargic baby that would fall asleep at the breast very quickly and therefore needed to feed very regularly. I thought it was because he was large (9lb10oz) but realise now he was probably anaemic from the hypovolemia.
He sat, crawled, and walked much earlier than my daughter, however toilet training was a struggle and he occassionally wets the bed. The damage appears to be behavioural/learning. I mentioned he speaks in incomplete sentences, and when it comes to schooling he has a fairly short-term memory, poor concentration and is impulsive. He is scoring very low in his testing so far.
He is a loving, brave and sensitive boy, he loves dancing, music and football.
I have arranged for him to start music lessons to see if this can help "flex his brain muscle" (as I call it, to assist him to focus).
We're off to the doctors tomorrow for a referral to a specialist for testing, thankfully his school is very supportive and aware that all is not right.

With the recent discussions with his school and the need to have this testing done, it has been a painful time for me reliving his birth, the trauma, and all the regret I feel. Not to mention anger. Thank you for letting me share on your page, it has been helpful.


May 29, 2011 - 4:44am


I am very sorry to hear about what happened to your son. I think cutting the cord before birth is very dangerous and if I had known at the time I would have said no. There was a couple of minutes between cutting the cord and her birth so she was without oxygen and she was born this weird grey colour and didn't cry or move much and I remember asking the midwife, 'Why is she like this?' but she brushed off my concerns and said all newborns were like that but I knew they weren't because my first newborn came out pink and screaming. She also wasn't interested in feeding and didn't 'root' like babies are supposed to, couldn't suck at the breast properly and made me bleed every time she tried to feed and my supply ended up drying up when she was only 10 weeks due to this suckling problem. She was floppy all the time, didn't hold her head up, was late on nearly every milestone (she couldn't sit unaided till she was 10 months old).

We were told we were over-wrought parents as we took her to the pediatrician repeatedly from when she was 2 years old. To start with we thought it may be a genetic disability that her father has, but that proved negative, yet she was still falling over all the time. They at one point thought it was a type of spina bifida where your spine is only frayed at the end rather than open (can't remember the name of the disability), but this turned out to be not the case.

She wouldn't toilet train at all and for years she would have to go immediately as soon as she felt the urge, or it would be too late, kind of difficult when you're stuck in traffic.

Intellectually she's a bright child and can hold intelligent conversations but she always preferred to be with kids younger than herself and play with them, rather than kids her own age. She also had no concept of joining in and in school would not even do what the teacher said and would not sit in a group when they had story time. She actually got suspended on her first week for non-cooperative behaviour and she was only 4 at the time! We decided to home school after that because the schools just weren't geared up to deal with 'special' children.

Her reading level was above average but if she tried to write anything down it would either come out backwards or she'd tell you she couldn't put words down on paper.

When she was 12 they finally believed us and gave a diagnosis of ADHD, aspergers syndrome, dyspraxia and dyslexia so we at least know where we are with her now. When she was 13 she finally became toilet trained and she is now part time home schooled and part time in a very small, parent run private school so that she can study for her exams in a couple of years, so things are looking up for her. I used to worry about how she would have a normal life if she was not toilet trained, and how she would get married when older, but now I'm not worried, I think she'll do fine.

I'm not sure about online support groups. I never joined one, but I did try the DAN! approach (defeat autism now). I know my daughter doesn't have autism but I thought if it helped with that it might help with her problems so we put her on omega oils, vitamin therapy, took her to a chiropractor to improve her coordination and concentration etc. Here's the website about it:


They do have a resources for parents section. I'm not sure what your son's developmental disability is but they might be able to help or point you in the right direction?

Good luck to you,


May 28, 2011 - 7:49am

Well, although there are fractionally more babies requiring phototherapy after birth, the numbers of babies who had clinical jaundice after birth did not differ statistically between the delayed cord clamping babies and the immediately clamped babies, according to this review of the literature: (scroll down to page 7, see clinical jaundice)


Some concern has been shown for premature babies having delayed cord clamping because the increase in red blood cells obviously causes an increase in bilirubin, but even research on that has come out saying that there are many benefits to delayed cord clamping for the pre-term infant:


The whole picture must also be looked at. Did the mother have pitocin? These days many hospitals give it as standard, particularly if the mother isn't following the 1cm per hour hospital model for birth, but neonatal jaundice is a recognised and listed side-effect of pitocin:


Go to side-effects and it's there.

Obviously this drug will get through the placenta and if the baby has his own blood reinfused in delayed cord clamping, he may possibly get more of the drug, too.

It would be very interesting to see what the overall results were if they studied delayed cord clamping in naturally born, unmedicated babies.

I have had five children, the last two were born at home with no drugs and I did delayed cord clamping with both. My daughter stayed attached for an hour, my son for about 20 minutes when it all 'died' and came away anyway. Both are extremely healthy and never had any jaundice.

One of my daughter's whom I had in hospital had her cord cut BEFORE birth as it was round the neck. She came out grey and not very responsive, was slow at reaching milestones and is now learning disabled. I wonder if she would have been if she could have had the benefit of her own blood?

I know that's classed as 'anecdotal' but I thought I'd share my experience.

June 28, 2010 - 1:29pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Joanna Karpasea-Jones)

Hi Joanna
Thank you for a great article - I just wanted to say I read your comment about your child having the cord cut before birth. This happened to me and my precious son as well :( He had a double nuchal cord and the midwife immediately tried to unravel, pull etc and disturbed my natural labour. She then cut the cord without permission and my son's shoulders had not rotated, I couldn't push him out quickly. He too had very low apgar scores, required resuscitation and we were separated for many hours. At age 7 he speaks in incomplete sentences and has learning difficulties - both his parents are academics and his older sister starting writing books at the age of 10yrs.
The articles about immediate cord clamping are so important, I think more of them should also mention that in the event of a nuchal cord a 'care' provider might also cut the cord before the baby is born - before any attempt to deliver or proof the baby cannot continue to descend. I saw a video of a hospital birth with this happening only last night, and I felt physically sick knowing the life-long impact that unnecessary and cruel procedure can have.

Are you aware of any blogs, articles or online support groups that exist?

My son is in the process of being referred to a specialist to be assessed for behavioural/learning difficulties, have you already been down this road?

Kind regards,

May 28, 2011 - 4:08am
EmpowHER Guest

"Potential adverse effects on the infant of delayed cord clamping and cutting, such as jaundice requiring phototherapy, should be considered, especially in under-resourced settings."


June 28, 2010 - 10:13am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!