Umbilical cord blood is a baby’s life blood until birth. It contains many wonderfully precious cells, like stem cells, red blood cells and white blood cells (including cancer-fighting T-cells) to help fight disease and infection.
Yet common practice is to quickly cut off this source of valuable cells at the moment of birth. Three reasons for this are:
**Caregivers might believe that there is little or no benefit in delayed cord clamping, despite numerous studies and recommendations
**Caregivers who might believe that delayed cord clamping can cause complications, despite numerous studies and recommendations.
**Carers being in a hurry to finish the birth. Giving birth ‘in the system’ plays a big part in whether or not the medical caregiver or establishment you deliver with wants to hurry up the process and get onto the next birth.
Studies like this one (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/7612098/) published in 1995 have shown that infants who have delayed cord clamping end up with a whopping 32% more blood volume than infants who have immediate cord clamping.
“Delayed cord clamping clearly increases fetal haemoglobin, blood volume and iron stores. The evidence supports a clinical benefit of delayed clamping. There’s really no strong evidence against delaying the cord clamping. When we talk about interventions in medicine, really, the burden of evidence is on the intervention. People say, “Delayed cord clamping, you can’t prove that that’s an intervention that helps.” I’m like, “Oh, no, no, no, no! Delayed cord clamping is what we evolved to do. We evolved to get the blood that’s in the placenta. I don’t have to prove that that’s right. You need to prove to me that phlebotomizing the baby of forty percent of its blood volume is right.” — Dr. Nicholas Fogelson (You can watch his full presentation to other medical professionals at the end of this article).
In 2010, yet another study on the benefits of delayed cord clamping was published, which you can read here (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/189803.php). They stated that early clamping may interfere with ’nature’s first stem cell transplant’. A 2013 study on delayed cord clamping has just been published in the Cochrane database, again supporting the practice of delayed cord clamping. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004074.pub3/abstract)
There has been an increasing number of studies published with regards to the timing of cord clamping, including a 16-month study which was published in 2006. You can read more about that study here (http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=7729). It was conducted at Hospital de Gineco Obstetrica in Mexico City, where over 350 mother/baby pairs were part of the study.
This study, consistently with many others, has provided solid evidence of the benefits of delayed clamping. The main benefits being:
**Increased levels of iron
**Lower risk of anaemia
**Fewer incidences of intraventricular haemorrhage.
A two-minute delay in cord clamping increased the child’s iron reserve by 27-47 mg of iron, which is equivalent to 1-2 months of an infant’s iron requirements. This could help to prevent iron deficiency from developing before 6 months of age. A study from the University of Granada (2007) has similar findings.
While delayed clamping is beneficial for babies across the board, the studies found that the impact of delayed clamping is particularly significant for infants who have low birth weights, are born to iron-deficient mothers, are premature, or those who do not receive baby formula or iron-fortified milk. Given that mother nature provided breastmilk for babies and not formulas, you would think she also supplied that valuable source of iron for a reason too. You may have noticed that formula companies promote iron deficiency rates to sell their products.
The studies have suggested that delayed clamping, for as little as two minutes, should be implemented as standard practice, however this is yet to happen at many hospitals. Some couples choose to leave the cord unclamped until it has stopped pulsating, which could take a few minutes or it could take ten – either way, the baby is able to have his or her supply of placental blood.
You may be told that delayed clamping causes jaundice in babies by your carer or hospital. This is not true.
Babies are no more likely to become jaundiced by delaying cord clamping and there is no relation to jaundice and the time of the cord being clamped. In the studies, the bilirubin levels were within normal range no matter when the cord was clamped. (Excess bilirubin levels are what is associated with jaundice).
Here are some statements from recent studies to back this claim:
“There were no significant differences for other secondary outcome measures: plasma bilirubin levels at 24 to 48 hours, neonatal morbidity (respiratory distress, tachypnea, grunting, jaundice, seizures, sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis), mortality (none), neonatal intensive care unit admission, length of hospital stay, disease up to 1 month of age, weight or rate of breast-feeding at 1 month, maternal postpartum blood-loss volume, and maternal hematocrit level at 24 hours postpartum.”
“Plasma bilirubin values as well as hyperbilirubinemia rates were similar in the 3 groups, which goes along with other authors’ observations.”
from the 2007 study at the University of Granada:
“…the clamping of the umbilical cord of newborns from full-term pregnancies, two minutes after the infant is expelled from the womb, makes no difference to hematocrit or hemoglobin levels of the umbilical cord vein compared to clamping the cord within 20 seconds. Thus, the study shows that early clamping (which is widely performed) is not justified.”
Further to this, Dr. Sarah Buckley’s well-researched article, A Natural Approach to the Third Stage of Labour’ states:
“Some studies have shown an increased risk of polycythemia (more red blood cells in the blood) and jaundice when the cord is clamped later. Polycythemia may be beneficial, in that more red cells means more oxygen being delivered to the tissues. The risk that polycythemia will cause the blood to become too thick (hyperviscosity syndrome), which is often used as an argument against delayed cord clamping, seems to be negligible in healthy babies. (Morley 1998)
Jaundice is almost certain when a baby gets his or her full quota of blood, and is caused by the breakdown of the normal excess of blood to produce bilirubin, the pigment that causes the yellow appearance of a jaundiced baby. There is, however, no evidence of adverse effects from this. (Morley 1998). One author has proposed that jaundice, which is present in almost all human infants to some extent, and which is often prolonged by breastfeeding, may actually be beneficial because of the anti-oxidant properties of bilirubin. (Gartner 1998)”
You may be wondering why delayed cord clamping isn’t standard practice around the world. Why wouldn’t it be, if it means healthier babies and has no adverse effects? The answer is very clear – most obstetricians are reluctant to take up this practice.
According to a survey done by WHO the ‘Attitude of Obstetricians Towards Delayed Cord Clamping’, as published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the results came back glaringly demonstrating that the reason obstetricians haven’t implemented delayed cord clamping is… wait for it… ‘difficulty implementing it into practice’. Yes, really.
I’m sure many of you are wondering why so many obstetricians REALLY are so reluctant to implement a simple process which has such massive benefits for babies at the very beginning of their life. Why can’t a midwife clamp the cord later if the obstetrician is too busy?
Allowing the cord blood to flow until pulsation has ceased is yet another very sensible and healthy process that was practiced decades ago, before obstetrics even existed. So why doesn’t every baby deserve at least two minutes undisturbed? What happened to The Hippocratic Oath, historically sworn by doctors and other healthcare professionals, to practice medicine ethically? First, do no harm, is what they are taught in medical school as a major principle.
Erasmus Darwin published this in 1801:
“Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases. As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.”