Monday, January 28, 2013

Mama Monday - Delayed Cord Clamping

What Is Cord Clamping?
In order to cut the umbilical cord, the doctor or midwife must first clamp the cord with a small piece of plastic, similar to a hair barrette, to stop the flow of blood and stretch the tissue making it easier to cut. Many hospitals and caregivers have adopted the routine practice of immediately clamping the cord (within one minute) once the baby is born. Research shows that delayed cord clamping (2-3 minutes, or until the cord stops pulsating) has multiple benefits for the baby including reducing jaundice and anemia. 
There are also benefits to the mother, which include keeping the mother baby unit intact, and not interfering with the placental delivery. Severe blood loss and other complications can occur if physiological placental delivery is interrupted. It is important to ask your caregiver what his or her routine procedures are, as well as the evidence and reasoning behind them.

Why Delay Cord Clamping?

There is an interesting phenomenon that happens where blood pulsates between the placenta and your baby for several moments after the baby is born. This is called placental transfusion. What is happening is your baby’s blood volume is being regulated. While inside your uterus, your baby’s blood volume, blood flow, heartbeat, oxygen level, nutrient intake and so much more was regulated by your internal systems, via the placenta. Once outside your body, your baby has a transition time where her body learns to regulate its systems on its own. During this time, your baby's lungs are excreting the fluid that was in them and learning to breathe air. It's important that your baby have adequate red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells to transition from life inside the womb to life on the outside. 
Almost half your baby’s entire blood volume is in the cord at the moment of birth, and if the cord is clamped and cut too soon, your baby’s body will have to work that much harder to replenish the proper amount of red blood cells, oxygen and nutrients. Once the cord has stopped pulsating, we know this process, called placental transfusion is complete and the cord can be safely cut. If the cord is cut too soon, the baby may receive poor APGAR scores or have more jaundice than usual.  
What Should You Do?
First, you should learn for yourself the evidence and benefits of delayed cord clamping. Books like The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Your Best Birth are great places to start. 
More information about the practice of delayed cord clamping can be found at the following websites: 
Also, check out this great video that explains it all with an excellent visual!
Secondly, it's imperative that you talk to your healthcare provider and find out what her routine practices are regarding cord clamping. The best way to do this is to write a birth plan and use it as a communication tool for you and your doctor or midwife.  

I have written a detailed Birth Plan Manual that can help you with this process. Please contact me for more information about my products and services. Be informed and empowered about your choices!

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