Being a doctor, I get email updates on new guidelines, recommendations, and the latest research. My disclaimer: I am internal medicine, meaning I treat adults over the age of 18 that aren’t pregnant. I don’t pay much attention to surgery, pediatrics, and Ob updates because I don’t practice that kind of medicine.
Well now I’m pregnant and those Ob updates are suddenly fascinating to me. A couple of weeks ago, one article really caught my eye titled “The ACOG Now Recommends Delayed Cord Clamping“. My thoughts, “Cool, what the hell is delayed cord clamping?!” Again, I don’t deliver babies! I did in medical school, I know what cord clamping is, but what is the part about delaying it…
So I read the update on the ACOG website, I google scholared research articles, and then I asked my Ob about it. Here is my summary:
- Delayed cord clamping is waiting for a period of time after the baby is born before clamping the blood flow from the cord to the baby.
- There are several studies showing the benefit in preterm babies and apparently this is a known thing that is already in practice.
- For preterm babies, delayed cord clamping decreases intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), sepsis (blood-stream infection), increased hematocrit levels (amount of blood that transports oxygen), and increase cerebral (brain) blood flow in the first 24 hours of life.
- There are also a smaller amount of studies out there that show some benefit for full-term babies.
- The ACOG recommends a delay of 30 – 60 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord.
My Ob’s take on Delayed Cord Clamping
After all this research, I asked my doctor what she thought. She chuckled (I ask lots of ridiculous questions) and said, “we already do this”. Her standard practice is to deliver the baby and place him/her into mothers arms. They clean up the baby and ensure the placenta has delivered. This basic routine care accounts for about one minute, at which time she then cuts the cord. The only times she would skip this practice would be if there were any emergency with myself or the baby or if I was to get a c-section. A c-section means a large open incision in my abdomen and uterus = bleeding that needs to be stopped. And lastly, delaying the cord clamping for too long can lead to an increased rate of jaundice. Therefore, she does not recommend that a full-term baby need any more delay than 30 – 60 seconds.
So in summary, feel free to ask your Ob about their standard practice when it comes to delaying cord clamping. Understand that there are instances that this can not happen. Trust your Ob to make these decisions in emergency situations. Be informed, but every pregnancy is different and your doctor will be more than happy to talk to you about your individual situation.