Cutting the umbilical cord: When is the best time?
Find out why doctors recommend delaying cutting the umbilical cord by three minutes!
Cutting the cord
One of the many troubling matters that worries a mother that is about to give birth is safely cutting the umbilical cord as soon as the newborn is out. However, doctors now say that this standard practice is not that great after all. Cutting the umbilical cord after three minutes is better for the baby.
According to Daily Mail, the World Health Organisation recommends cord clamping between one and three minutes after birth. This is because cutting the umbilical cord too soon may reduce the amount of blood that passes from mother to the newborn.
The previous guidelines that were published in 2007 said that cutting the umbilical cord immediately was the best result, and caused the least health risks. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is ready to publish a new set of guidelines.
Delaying is better
Researchers studied 3,911 women and their babies. They found that delaying cutting the umbilical cord later has no effect on mothers, but babies were healthier in several respects.
Cutting the umbilical cord between one to two days after birth showed that babies were less likely to be iron deficient three to six months after birth. Babies also weighed heavier when cord clamping was delayed.
“In light of growing evidence, delayed cord clamping increases early haemoglobin concentrations and iron stores in infants,” said Dr. Philippa Middeton of Adelaide University.
But she also added, “The benefits of delayed cord clamping need to be weighed against the small additional risk of jaundice in newborns.” Cutting the umbilical cord after a minute can still pose slight increased risk of jaundice.
Overall, a delay in cord clamping is proven beneficial for babies with severe risks of anaemia.
Iron deficiency anaemia
Iron is important because it is needed to make haemoglobin in the body. Haemoglobin is necessary for the body to transport oxygen to cells and tissues, and hence produce energy. A lack of iron, and hence haemoglobin, affects the production of red blood cells. A decrease in haemoglobin and red blood cells in the bloodstream can result in less effective oxygen transfer. This condition is known as anaemia.
Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is caused by insufficient iron intake, which is primarily responsible for childhood anaemia. A lack of oxygen in the body therefore causes a lack in energy. Extreme fatigue is one of the symptoms of IDA.
Other symptoms of IDA:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat or a new heart murmur
- Appetite loss
- Dizziness or light-headedness
The body requires more iron during infancy and adolescence because these are the periods of rapid growth and development. It is important to continue iron-fortified formula in infants. But do not give your child potent iron supplements without consulting the doctor.
Feed your newborn with either breast milk or formula fortified with iron. Only after 6 months of age should your infant receive iron-rich solid foods. Kids under 2 should have no more than 700 ml (24 oz.) of cow’s milk because it inhibits iron absorption. Cereal, meats and plants fortified with iron are also recommended for your baby’s diet.
Would you delay having your baby’s umbilical cord cut? Tell us your opinion! For more on this topic, watch this video
For more information, visit KidsHealth.