Delayed Cord Clamping: What it Means and How it Benefits Baby
As the name indicates, delayed cord clamping means the health professional does not clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately after birth. The doctor allows an extra time of 1-3 minutes for the blood in the cord to flow to the baby.
Many birth centers and hospitals in the U.S usually practice early cord clamping, which is cutting the cord 10-15 seconds after birth. Previously, researchers believed that doctors could prevent mothers from losing too much blood with early clamping.
Recent research shows that delayed cord clamping offers several benefits to the baby. It allows the blood from the mother’s placenta to the newborn baby after birth. Studies show that this blood is beneficial for newborn babies, especially those who are delivered preterm. In today’s article, we will talk about delayed cord clamping and its benefits for the baby. Read on!
What is Delayed Cord Clamping and how it Works?
Many women plan on lotus birth, which involves clamping the cord immediately or a few seconds after delivery. A health professional usually clamps the cord in two places: near the belly button of the baby and down the cord.
Researchers and doctors have not standardized the delay length yet, but most health professionals agree that delayed clamping is the one that happens more than half-minute after birth. Delayed clamping allows the newly born baby to receive blood from the placenta.
For instance, if the doctor delays it for one minute, the baby will receive about 80 ml of blood. It is crucial to hold the newly born baby neat the vagina or placenta level before clamping the cord to increase the blood flow.
Otherwise, the gravitational force will pull back the blood into the mother’s placenta, leading to reduce blood flow to the baby. That’s the reason many doctors are not in favor of delayed cord clamping. However, if it is done correctly, your baby will receive more nutrient-rich blood from the placenta.
A 2014 research study examined the gravitational effects on blood flow. Researchers observed 391 newborn babies in three birth centers to study the effects of gravity on blood flow. However, they could not found any solid evidence that shows the impact of raised baby position on the blood flow.
Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
Research studies have recognized the health benefits of delayed cord clamping in premature babies. The increase in blood flow and volume also offers several health benefits for full-term or full-sized healthy babies. A 2018 research study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that full-term babies received increased iron levels and brain myelin with a five-minute delayed cord clamping.
Increased Iron Levels
Iron is one of the essential nutrients required by newborn babies. It helps in development and growth in the first few months after delivery. Studies show that breast milk does not provide all the iron needed by the baby. Therefore, most babies rely on stored iron in their cells. On the other hand, delayed cord clamping allows for increased blood flow, which means an extra burst of iron to the newborn.
Additional iron supplementation ensures the healthy development of the baby. A recent study found that four-year-old children who were born with delayed cord clamping had boosted cognitive performance and motor skills compared to children whose cords were clamped immediately after birth.
Elevated Brain Myelin
A growing body of research evidence shows that delayed cord clamping increases brain myelin. It is a white fatty substance that coats neuronal connections inside the central nervous system.
In simple words, myelin is insulation for nerve connections inside the brain and plays a crucial role in brain function. Bear in mind that increased myelin levels in the brain lead to efficient brain development.
Some studies highlight that increased myelination as a result of delayed cord clamping allows infants to lift the head, roll over and crawl, reach out, and eventually walk and run. Although motor skill development depends on practice, increased myelination improves various brain functions, including cognition, fine motor skills, sensory skills, neuronal connections, and other complex processes in the brain.
Reduced Complications in Preterm Babies
Preterm babies experience several health conditions, such as anemia, breathing issues, neonatal sepsis, jaundice, intraventricular hemorrhage, retinopathy of prematurity, etc. On the other hand, delayed cord clamping gives an extra boost of healthy and nutritional blood to the baby that help reduce the risk of these complications.
Although there are many benefits of delayed cord clamping, it is also slightly risky even for healthy mothers and babies. The primary risk is increased blood flow to the baby that can result in jaundice. That’s why the doctor must perform this procedure with caution. If it is done correctly, the baby will develop and grow healthily after birth.