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Labor & Delivery

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What is Delayed Cord Clamping?

Sometimes, medical interventions are required during labor and delivery. Delayed cord clamping is one of the interventions alongside epidurals and emergency C-sections and simply means that the umbilical cord is rather clamped and cut one to three minutes after delivery as opposed to immediately.

There are indications that delayed cord clamping makes it possible for blood to continue to flow from the placenta to the newborn after delivery. Shreds of evidence from studies also suggest that this blood that flows to the placenta is very beneficial to newborn babies, especially to preterm babies.  Scientists have actually linked delayed cord clamping to increased iron and hemoglobin which are essential in reducing the risk of anemia in children. Of course, delayed cord clamping can also improve the circulation of blood in premature babies, thereby reducing the need for a blood transfusion. In addition, delayed cord clamping helps in reducing the risk of internal bleeding in the brain.

After delivery, the cord is normally clamped in two places: near the baby’s belly button as well as farther down the cord. Meanwhile, the cut is always made between these clamps by your partner, doctor, or midwife. Most medical experts however recommend that the baby be held near or at the level of the placenta before clamping as it increases blood flow. On the flip side it is believed that if the baby is raised above the placenta, gravity can instead pull back blood into the placenta, thereby depriving the baby of blood flow.

Even though the delayed length has not yet been standardized, clamping can be delayed if it happens more than 30 seconds after delivery.

Delayed cord clamping may be associated with jaundice, but its benefits still outweigh the risk since jaundice can easily be treated through phototherapy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has made it clear that delayed cord clamping does not add the risk of excessive maternal blood loss or postpartum hemorrhage.1

 

Reference:

  1. Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping After Birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) website. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/12/delayed-umbilical-cord-clamping-after-birth. Last accessed April 22, 2021.
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