When your babe is born, they will still be attached by the umbilical cord to the placenta. The cord will continue to pulsate for a few minutes, because the baby’s blood will still be passing through it to the placenta – where it picks up oxygen and nutrients – and then back to your baby.
Did you know that one third your baby’s blood is retained in the placenta and umbilical cord at the time of their birth?
Clamping the baby’s cord as soon as they are born (as is normal in most medical settings) your newborn is deprived of this blood volume, and it can cause haemodynamic disturbance. It has been said that early cord cutting can be detected in the composition of baby’s blood for 3 months!
Just for context: when we donate blood, they take around one twelfth of your whole blood supply. Approximately 8%. And how weak and lightheaded can that make you feel? It’s no wonder that some little ones can take a while to recover from the event of being born.
If you choose to though, you can ensure that the blood can be transferred back to your baby’s body during the third stage (the time between the birth of your baby and the delivery of your placenta) if cord clamping is delayed. The WHO currently recommends that standard newborn care at birth is that their cord remains unclamped for at least 1 minute post-birth. This should allow a good amount of blood to flow back to your baby.
You could go one better than this though, and request ‘optimal ‘ cord clamping.
This tells your caregivers to not clock-watch and wait for a certain amount of minutes to pass by, but instead to wait until the cord is white, limp, and bloodless , a.k.a. ‘waiting for white’.
‘Waiting for white’ ensures that the process of sending oxygenated blood back to your baby has completed before they are separated from the placenta. They’ll have their full supply of gorgeous fresh blood, and enough iron stores to last their first year. A plentiful supply of white blood cells helps them to fight any infections, and antibodies stem cells help them to repair their little bodies.
Basically, youre helping them to start the journey of life on earth with a full tank!
Any delay is better than none though. Delayed and optimal clamping can be facilitated in most cases – even during caesareans – unless there is a true emergency.
But like with lots of things in life: if you dont ask, you wont get!
If you feel that delayed or optimal cord clamping is right for you, have a good chat with your midwife and let her know your preferences. If it is something you’d like to include as part of your birth story, make sure you’ve included it clearly on your birth planning paperwork.
Let me know if you’d like any more information or to chat about the benefits – this is my happy place!
Photo Credit Emma Jean Photography