Evidence-based newborn care
There’s a common stereotype that midwives like to buck the medical “system” and reject evidence-based birth procedures. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth!
Midwives are often the birth professionals most aware of current research regarding pregnancy, birth, and neonatal care. And we love it when the “system” catches up and starts recommending that doctors follow the same solid practices we’ve been trusting for years!
The latest practice to catch up is delayed umbilical cord clamping — the practice of waiting a few precious minutes for the rich cord blood to finish its transfusion from the placenta into baby before it’s clamped and cut.
In recent years, even the World Health Organization (WHO) has realized midwives aren’t just crunching granola, and the practice of delayed cord clamping gives baby a healthy advantage right after birth.
Benefits of delayed cord clamping for baby
The commonplace practice of clamping and cutting the umbilical cord shortly after birth is a relic of a disproven myth that immediate clamping will help prevent a postpartum hemorrhage for the mother.
But as rushed clamping has been the hospital norm for decades, so many babies have missed out on some crucial advantages of delayed cord clamping, like:
- Increased blood volume for baby (up to 30% more) — Several decades of research show that delayed umbilical cord clamping increases baby’s plasma and red blood cell mass. Even just a one-minute delay is enough time to move an additional 80 mL of blood from the placenta to the infant’s body, and three minutes can allow about 100 mL to transfer. It used to be a common practice to delay cord clamping for premature babies, but now we have a growing body of research saying that extra blood is great for at-term babies as well.
- Higher iron levels and reduced risk of iron deficiency anemia — The additional blood volume also means greater iron stores for baby. The bulk of research shows the iron benefit helps babies for the first six months after birth, but there’s also evidence to suggest the effect lasts even longer, up to baby’s first birthday.
- A boost in brain development — In a study that followed up four years after birth, babies who had delayed cord clamping scored higher in tests for social and fine motor skills than their immediately-clamped peers.
- A rush of stem cells to help baby recover from any birth trauma — The blood in the umbilical cord is rich with haematopoietic stem cells, which are similar to the powerhouse stem cells we find in bone marrow. It’s possible a few extra minutes of cord pulsing could provide a baby with tissue-building stem cells that can help the brain recover from a difficult entrance into the world. Though the study of these stem cells found in umbilical cords is relatively new, there’s a theory that delayed cord clamping could potentially aid in later development and provide infants with an extra defense against age-related diseases.
Delayed cord clamping is a great addition to your birth plan
At The Retreat Birth Center in El Paso, it’s our sincere hope that every woman and baby receives respectful, professional care at their delivery. We believe that all mothers have a right to evidence-based childbirth education and the ability to research birth and newborn care options to decide what’s right for their family.
Delayed cord clamping is one of many wonderful gifts you can give your baby. If you’d like to learn more about birth and newborn care choices, check out our past blogs like:
And keep an eye out for some fun new topics coming soon!
We’d love to sit down and talk with you about how sweet birth is when mothers, their bodies, and their babies take priority. Get in touch with us below and set up a time to chat and tour our beautiful birth center.