After approximately nine months of living comfortably in your uterus, your baby is ready to take her first step in the outside world. This highly momentous occasion is symbolised by cutting the umbilical cord after birth. That one snip is the start of your little one’s independence. Now, she becomes her own individual being and is no longer physically connected to you. The lifeline cord that sustained her while in utero is no longer needed. But is there more to cutting the umbilical cord than just separating mother and baby?
While most doctors cut the cord within 10 to 15 seconds after the baby is born, there are plenty of benefits if you don’t snip the umbilical cord immediately. Traditionally, delayed cord clamping was done quite often, until things changed. If you want delayed clamping, discuss the pros and cons with your obstetrician to make sure you’re on the same page.
Advantages of delayed cord clamping
Delayed cord clamping is recommended and widely practised by doctors nowadays. By waiting 1 to 3 minutes post-delivery, there is a transfer of 80ml to 100ml of blood respectively to the baby. This gives the baby a huge boost of nutrition that enables:
- Increase in iron and haemoglobin levels: studies have shown that delayed clamping prevents or reduces iron deficiency during their first year
- Improves fine motor skills
- Increases blood circulation
- Can help prevent necrotising enterocolitis, which occurs in 5 to 10 per cent of premature newborns
Risks with delayed cord-cutting
There are high chances of getting infant jaundice due to delayed cord clamping. While generally the jaundice isn’t severe and can clear up on its own, some babies may need to stay in an incubator or spend time in the sun to recover.
When is immediate cord clamping necessary?
- If there is excessive bleeding after delivery
- If your baby is born with a nuchal cord which is when the cord is tied around her neck
- If the baby isn’t breathing or is in distress
Note: Your OB/GYN will take a call at the time of birth, depending on the baby’s and your condition, if the cord clamping can be delayed or not. Remember, it is a medical decision.
Then, there’s lotus birth
On one side, we have immediate clamping. The other end of the spectrum has what is called lotus birthing. This is a recent trend based on traditional practices. During a lotus birth, the umbilical cord isn’t cut at all. It stays attached to the baby until it shrivels up and falls off by itself. This could take a few days, a week or more. While this won’t hurt the baby in any way, there is no scientific research to prove that this has any benefits.
It is quite a significant act to sever the physical link between your baby and you. By waiting a few minutes longer, you ensure that your baby gets all the benefits and support you have to offer during her birth.