Delayed cord clamping: Things to know and consider
Learn more about delayed cord clamping from Angelyn Seet, childbirth educator and director of Parentlink.
You’ve been waiting for 9 whole months for this day — your little one is finally here! As you lie exhausted but unbelievably happy, your partner quickly snips your newborn’s umbilical cord.
It’s a moment you both will never forget. Indeed, to many parents, the cutting of the umbilical cord brings with it so many emotions.
Cutting a baby’s umbilical cord seconds after birth is routinely practised by doctors around the world as it is believed to lower the risk of severe bleeding in the mother.
But what if you found out that cutting and clamping your baby’s umbilical cord immediately after he is born may not be the best thing for your little one?
This is where the topic of delayed cord clamping comes in.
Some medical experts say that waiting for at least 2 minutes before clamping and cutting a newborn’s umbilical cord has a host of benefits for the baby.
Q: What is delayed cord clamping?
A: Delayed cord clamping usually refers to waiting for the umbilical cord to cease pulsation before clamping and cutting.
Q: What are the benefits?
A: Your baby will receive all the blood, stem cells and oxygen contained in the cord blood and placenta, which will continue flowing to your baby as cord blood for as long as the cord pulsates. This reduces the risk of anemia in the baby.
Research has also shown that delayed cord clamping is linked to higher birth weight and is safe, as it does not have any impact on the rate of deaths in newborns.
A study published in the The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews confirms that delaying cord clamping by at least a minute gives more time for blood to move from the placenta.
It also reported to help boost iron stores and hemoglobin levels in newborns, without increasing the risks to mothers.
Q: Are there any risks (to baby or mum) with delayed cord clamping?
A: Some parents are concerned with an increased risk for jaundice but this is a myth.
Studies have shown that there is no relation between jaundice and the time the cord is clamped. In these studies, the bilirubin levels (excessive bilirubin levels are linked with jaundice) were within normal range, regardless of the time the cord was clamped.
Q: Can I still go through with cord blood banking if I choose delayed cord clamping?
A: Usually, this is not very feasible as it is dependent on the medical personnel harvesting the cord blood. Sometimes, there won’t be enough stem cells in the cord blood [due to] delayed cord clamping.
I have seen a few couples select the option of giving half the cord blood to the cord blood bank and half to the baby, but there is no accurate way to do this. Most times, the doctor might delay clamping for 1-2 minutes before clamping and cutting the cord.
However, we have seen that some cords are able to pulsate for long periods, like 10 minutes after birth. But this is different for every baby and every mother.
Q: Should I opt for delayed cord clamping, for how long will the umbilical cord stay attached to my baby before it is cut?
A: With delayed cord clamping, usually the cord will be cut about 5 minutes after birth, as the cord has usually ceased pulsation by that time.
Q: Is delayed cord clamping popular in Singapore? Can I request my Ob-Gyn to do this?
A: This is dependent on whether the parents are choosing cord blood collection. If not, then, yes it is very popular – especially among the couples at ParentLink – to request for delayed cord clamping for maximum benefits to the baby.
Q: What is better for the baby — banking cord blood or delayed cord clamping — and why?
A: This is a decision for the parents. We present the pros and cons for both options and let them decide.
There is no right way to do this. This is their baby and we encourage all our couples to decide what they feel is best for their baby and for them.
Alternatively, there was 1 couple so far who banked the umbilical cord itself as it has been shown to contain a great amount of stem cells as well.
So, that might be an option for parents who want the best of both worlds — less anemia for baby (from delayed cord clamping and cutting) and stem cell banking.
There are also couples who choose to donate to the public cord blood bank. Many lives have been saved using the public bank of stem cells in Singapore.
Would you consider delayed cord clamping for your child? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.