Delayed cord clamping is when a baby’s umbilical cord is not clamped immediately after birth.
The umbilical cord transports nutrients and oxygen between your baby and the placenta. Once your baby is born the blood remaining in the placenta continues to flow to your baby.
The timing of when you clamp the cord will determine how much of this blood will be transferred. Studies have shown that the majority of blood the baby can receive will be transferred in the first 60 seconds after the baby is born.
Parents-to-be should check with their obstetrician or midwife about the policy at their maternity hospital.
There are some circumstances when delayed cord clamping is not appropriate, for example, if a baby needs help with breathing immediately after birth.
Advantages and disadvantages of delayed cord clamping
The benefits include:
- babies have more body stores of iron at 3-6 months of age.
- more studies are needed, but delayed cord clamping may also be associated with minor improvements in child development.
For babies born prematurely benefits also include:
- reduce need for blood transfusion.
- reduced brain and bowel complications
The disadvantages include:
- Babies who receive extra blood from the placenta are more likely to need phototherapy treatment for jaundice. When the body breaks down red blood cells, it produces a chemical called bilirubin. Jaundice occurs when there is a build-up of bilirubin—giving the baby’s skin a yellow look—and it is common after birth. Some babies with jaundice need phototherapy, which is a treatment using ultraviolet lights.
- If you would like to donate or bank your cord blood, you will not have enough blood left if you choose delayed cord clamping.
Delayed cord clamping and caesareans
If you’re having a caesarean section it is best to chat to your obstetrician about the option to delay cord clamping.
There are some circumstances in which it is not suitable, for example, if your baby needs help breathing immediately after birth or if there are concerns around bleeding from the operation.
Extended delayed cord clamping
Research has shown that the majority of blood is transferred at the one-minute mark however it might be your preference to wait until the cord stops pulsating before it is clamped. It is always best to chat to your midwife or obstetrician about your preferences and options.
The content in this article should be used as a guide only. If you experience any health-related concerns you should contact your local healthcare provider or nearest emergency department.