Delayed Cord clamping is another crucial part of birth that continues my "get this off my chest" series. I am a labor and delivery nurse who believes in the natural side of birth and doing it the best way for you and your baby.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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The umbilical cord plays an important role in your newborn's life. Its importance starts in the womb and continues throughout the first few valuable minutes after birth.
The Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord connects your baby to the placenta. It contains three vessels: two arteries and one vein. The arteries carry blood away from the baby, and the vein carries it to the baby. The blood in the arteries contains waste products. The waste products travel through the arteries, filter through the placenta, into you, and then you get rid of it. The reverse is true for the vein. The vein brings nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to the baby from your system.
Delayed cord clamping is just that; it's waiting to clamp the cord. You guys know what used to happen, right? The baby is born, the doctor grabs the clamp, and then boom clamps the cord. No delay.
Waiting a few precious minutes is valuable to your newborn.
Evidence-Based practice shows that the opposite that delaying clamping the cord is the most beneficial to the baby.
Why do you hear more and more about Delayed Cord Clamping?
I bet you hear more and more about this important aspect of birth because more and more authorities are recommending it as best practice.
Delayed cord clamping used to be done only by the "home birth hippies" and midwives, and now, lo and behold, doctors are joining in.
For the record, I have been called a home-birth hippie, so don't take offense if you identify.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends a delay in umbilical cord clamping for all healthy infants for at least 30-60 seconds after birth given the numerous benefits to most newborns - ACOG
Everyone is jumping on board and agrees that delayed cord clamping is the best way to go unless it delays necessary resuscitation measures.
Midwives have been screaming this point out for a long time and even recommend longer delays than 30-60 seconds.
The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping for Your Baby
By choosing delayed cord clamping for up to three minutes after birth, you reduce the risk of anemia in your little one's first year of life! Holy Smokes, this is reason alone! Anemia in a newborn is pretty dang severe and can lead to lifelong issues in learning delays, behavioral problems, and more.
Why? The extra few minutes allow all the good stuff to head from mom to baby!
Remember, the blood flowing to the baby from the placenta is full of nutrients, including; oxygen, iron, and stem cells.
Delayed cord clamping increases the chance of the improved iron levels, which leads to my first point, enhanced mental and physical development. Boom!
Total Blood Volume
The placenta holds about 1/3 of your baby's total blood volume. If the cord is clamped immediately after birth, then guess what? They start life with 2/3 of their blood volume. Unless they need to be resuscitated, then this is bonkers to choose!
Can you imagine donating 1/3 of your blood volume and taking your free movie ticket from the blood bank? HELL NO!
By allowing the baby to take their blood volume with them, we improve their clotting factors, increase their platelet levels and boost their circulation!
Allowing the stem cell-rich blood to transfer to the baby from the placenta after birth is a no-brainer.
Delayed cord clamping improves all the baby's systems, but immune system improvements are critical.
Immunity is an integral part of protecting our babes, momma!
I could go on and on about the benefits of delayed cord clamping. Surely you see the point and, hopefully, have been spurred on to research more about this topic!
First Breastfeeding After Birth Doesn’t Always Come Naturally
Delayed Cord Clamping and Emergency Support
I want to stress again and again throughout my content one important key factor.
When you enter the hospital for the birth, you are putting your trust in your caregivers.
This is why you should carefully interview your provider early in pregnancy. Finding out at birth that your values don't align is not cool.
You have rights. For sure, you have rights, but you should also trust the education and wisdom of your nurse and doctor. Let them know your birth preferences early on, but also let them know you believe in them. If you don't trust them, then change providers.
If you choose delayed cord clamping, you should understand when it is not the best choice for a newborn.
If your newborn comes out and needs to be resuscitated for any reason, then allow the team to do their job. Lack of oxygen to the brain is not to be messed with.
Delayed cord clamping holds no benefit to a baby who is not breathing.
Delayed Cord Clamping and C-sections
Delaying clamping the cord is beneficial for both vaginal and cesarean births. Again, this must be discussed with your providers before you run to the OR for a c/s. Be sure to include it in your birth preference plan.
Cord Blood Banking
The effect that cord banking has on delayed cord clamping is time and amount of blood the baby will be able to get from the placenta. If you plan to bank your cord blood then the delayed time has to be shortened somewhat but it can be done.
However, ACOG recommends that delayed cord clamping should not be altered by choosing cord blood banking. The benefits of delayed cord clamping are too valuable to be messed with and outweigh the chance of using banked cord blood.
Girl, this is your birth and I am a total advocate for patients rights. It's your right to be insistent when it comes to things such as minimal interventions, skin to skin, protecting your golden hour, and delayed cord clamping. If you don't educate yourself on all these things, then you will be swayed to choose what others want for your birth.
Pretend you are planning your wedding. Would you show up and let someone else dictate what your wedding day entails? Heck no!
This group, board, and guidance have been absolutely invaluable.
I was extremely comfortable asking questions, making decisions and even though nothing went according to my "plan", I couldn't be any happier with the way everything went!!!
- Stacy A.
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