Q: When is delayed cord clamping okay?
Delayed cord clamping is when providers don’t immediately cut and clamp the umbilical cord after birth. It’s a practice that many midwives have followed for a long time.
In recent years, additional research has demonstrated the benefits of delayed cord clamping. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports the practice and hospitals have adjusted their protocols. The standard now is to wait at least 1 minute after baby is born before cutting the cord. This allows more blood to flow into the baby from the placenta, increasing blood volume and hemoglobin and reducing anemia risk.
It can also ease a baby’s transition to the outside world. When babies are born they must start managing their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature on their own. Delaying cord clamping (as well as putting the baby on the mother’s chest) helps make the change easier.
It’s often safe to use delayed cord clamping during caesarian sections and even when the baby needs extra help from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team. Of course, providers assess each situation individually. For example, it may not be an option if a baby needs assistance with breathing or if a mother is experiencing heavy bleeding.
Most of the benefits of delayed cord clamping occur within the first minute. However, some mothers prefer to wait longer and may even choose to hold off until the cord is done pulsating.
It’s a good idea to talk to your midwife and partner about your thoughts on cord clamping and to add your preferences to your birth plan. While birth plans change, sharing what you want helps providers support your birth goals.
—Marley Abrams, CNM
Vancouver Clinic was pleased to have Marley Abrams, CNM, as a member of our caregiving team from 2021 to 2022. Patients who are interested in finding a midwife can read about our expert providers here: https://tvc.org/services/midwifery/.