In the womb, the umbilical cord serves as your baby's life line, transferring blood, nutrients, and oxygen from the placenta directly to your baby's blood stream. Why are we so quick to clamp and cut a baby's umbilical cord only moments after birth? Could we be denying babies the benefits of the functions of their umbilical cord outside of the womb?
Recently, The World Health Organization as well as the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) have dropped the practice of premature cord clamping from their guidelines. Several studies suggest that the early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord may even be harmful to newborns.
Choosing to delay cord clamping has many potential benefits for your baby's health.
Allowing blood and nutrients from the placenta and umbilical cord to continue reaching your baby after birth could increase your baby's iron supply, reducing the occurrence of anemia. This poses considerable benefit in countries where anemia is a major problem. Increased iron stores in newborn infants is often a matter of life or death in these parts of the world.
Backup Oxygen Supply
Premature cord clamping may be linked to the occurrence or increased severity of respiratory distress syndrome. During labor and birth, the umbilical cord carries oxygen-rich blood to the lungs until breathing establishes. An intact cord acts as a backup oxygen supply as your baby adjusts to his or her new surroundings.
The time immediately following the birth of your baby represents one of the most critical stages of bonding in his or her life. Leaving your baby's umbilical cord intact ensures that your baby stays attached to you, delays the hustle and bustle of measurements and tests, and promotes breastfeeding during this very important time in you and your baby's life.
Scientists are just beginning to discover the amazing contents of umbilical cord blood, including stem cells and cancer-fighting properties. Instead of opting to “bank” your baby's cord blood, why not let your baby receive the full benefits of cord blood at the moment of birth, the way nature intended?
Delayed cord clamping may have even greater benefits for premature infants. Although fewer studies have been done for babies born prematurely, delayed cord clamping has consistently shown reduction in the occurrence of anemia, bleeding in the brain, and the need for transfusions.
If you encounter skepticism or unwillingness from your care provider to delay cord clamping, you can remind them gently that the medical literature fails to support reasoning behind premature cord clamping. You may also wish to present the potential benefits of delayed cord clamping to your provider for discussion.