Delayed Cord Clamping: A Complete Guide

Cord clamping is a practice where the umbilical cord through which the baby is attached to the womb is clamped and cut. After the baby is born, the cord is no longer needed and is therefore removed. The umbilical cord allows oxygen and nutrients to be transmitted from the mother to the fetus while maternally removing waste products from the fetus at the same time. 

Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is no longer needed, hence it is tightened and cut close to the navel a few minutes after the birth or immediately. It helps avoid bleeding from the umbilical cord blood vessels.

There are different theories about it. In case of delayed clamping, some amount of blood flows back into the baby. Some people say that the cord should be allowed to stop pulsating before clamping it. However, the transfer of blood takes place within 60 seconds after birth. 

Doctors claim the transmission of blood happens within the first 30 seconds after birth. In the mid-1950s, the cord was cut within 1-5 minutes of birth. Now the common practice is cutting the cord within 30-60 seconds. Though there are no specific benefits established in researches related to delayed cord clamping yet this is a common practice by surgeons as they claim that the mother loses lesser blood comparatively. 

Delayed cord clamping allows the continued flow of blood from the mother to the newborn and is said to be beneficial for the baby, especially for the premature babies.

Delayed Cord Clamping

Sometimes, people opt for a lotus birth, in which the cord is left to detach on its own from the placenta. This process usually takes 3-10 days or a few weeks post-delivery. Otherwise, the usual practice is to clamp and cut the cord within a few seconds post-delivery. The cord is clamped near the baby’s belly and it is cut a little way down from between these clamps. 

There is no standardized time limit within which the cord must be cut, the usual practice is to cut it within 1 minute. In the span of 1 minute, about 80 ml of blood flow takes place between the mother and the baby. 

After three minutes, the blood flow increases to 100 ml. it is suggested that the baby must be kept near the placenta during the process as it aids in blood flow, if the baby is placed far from the placenta or vagina, at a height, the blood flow may not be smooth due to the effect of gravity.  Although, according to research conducted in 2014, stated that the position of the baby from the placenta does not affect the blood flow.

Benefits of delayed cord clamping

It is often said that delayed cord clamping is beneficial for the baby as well as the mother and especially for a premature baby. According to research conducted in 2013, it was found that delayed cord clamping helps to increase haemoglobin and iron in the babies. This reduces the risk of the baby being exposed to anaemia. 

Another study conducted in 2015 on toddlers, stated that children whose cords were clamped after 2-3 minutes post-delivery, performed better in the tests (fine motor and social skills) as compared to those whose cords were clamped within 10 seconds or less post-delivery.

Delayed cord clamping proves beneficial for reducing the need for blood transfusion and helps to improve blood circulation among premature babies. This practice helps to minimize the risk of bleeding in the brain and necrotizing enterocolitis. It is an internal disease among premature.

Delayed cord clamping risks

According to a study, a delayed cord clamping may expose the child to a higher risk of jaundice. But such risks are outweighed by the benefits that this practice offers. Jaundice is also a curable disease, so the child may not be exposed to a great risk due to delayed cord clamping. Another research claimed that delayed cord clamping reduces the chances of postpartum haemorrhage or excessive maternal blood loss. This practised can be done in both – normal or cesarean delivery. 

A research was conducted, wherein the effects of delayed cord clamping were examined on 449 women and it was found that delayed cord clamping does not expose women to any kind of risks or negative effects, even after multiple births. 

Also, a woman is exposed to no risks even if she delivers twins, and delayed cord clamping is performed. The cord may be cut immediately in situations where the mother bleeds excessively, or the baby is not able to breathe or any such situation which requires immediate medical attention.

Pros and cons of delayed cord clamping

Pros

  1. Delayed cord clamping gives more time for blood transmission, which proves to be beneficial for the newborn.
  2. Delayed cord clamping helps to increase the blood count in the baby by 60%. 
  3. It also helps to prevent diseases like anaemia and iron deficiency.
  4. It aids healthy transmission of the baby from the womb to the outside world.
  5. This also helps the mother, as it reduces post-delivery risks.

Cons

  1. Delayed cord clamping may increase the risk of jaundice
  2. Delayed cord clamping may result in exposing the baby to the risk of hyperbilirubinemia.

Preservation of blood from the umbilical cord

People these days have started to preserve blood from the umbilical cord, as the stem cells have the potential to save lives. Stem cells are the master cells that serve as the human body’s fundamental building blocks. 

These cells have a unique capacity, like the blood cells, brain cells, muscle cells, bone cells etc. This blood proves beneficial for stem cells which can be used in future to treat conditions like leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease. Though delayed cord clamping and stem cell preservations are not performed together. If one wants to preserve blood as well as go for delayed cord clamping, the doctor must be consulted. 

One must go for the option of preserving stem cells as it has the following benefits-

  • Has to potential to save the life of the entire family.
  • Proves to be beneficial in treating 80+ medical conditions.
  • It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as stem cells can only be preserved right after the baby is born.
  • Stem cells have 96% chances of finding a match.
  • Stem cells can be preserved at an affordable price. It has an EMI equal to 950/month.

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