Optimal Cord Clamping

I have been waffling on about umbilical cords and leaving the cord to pulsate for over 10 years now, as anyone who has been client of ours will tell you!  In that time we have seen some incredible changes happen across the world, but un-learning the process of cutting and clamping a baby’s cord and therefore depriving them of 30% of their own blood volume, still has a long way to go.

In 2012 Dr Alan Greene published this TED talk which enabled professionals like us to get the message out to parents about the importance of what was then called “delayed cord clamping” .  He began the campaign called TICC TOCC, and it proved to be highly successful.

Amanda Burleigh, a British Midwife who has spent the last decade speaking up about the benefits of Optimal cord clamping and is behind the campaign #waitforwhite speaks with the wonderful Alexia Leachman of Fear Free Childbirth in her podcast about why she became interested in educating the world of the benefits for the baby.

She explains how the practice of cutting and clamping a baby’s umbilical cord was never evidence based, it was simply introduced around the same time as the introduction of oxytocic drugs to expel the placenta and stem blood loss.  This was then considered “Best Practice” and spread around the world by well meaning midwives and doctors who travelled to many of the poorer countries giving their time to support maternity services.  It became so ingrained in the training of modern health professionals, that no-one thought to question why it might be detrimental to the baby.

In 2011, the British Medical Journal published a Swedish randomised controlled trial finding that two days after birth, babies who had delayed cord clamping had lower rates of anaemia  – 1.2% compared with 6.3%.  At four months the infants who had delayed cord clamping had lower rates of iron deficiency (0.6% vs 5.7%). Iron deficiency and anaemia in young children are really important for brain development

This valuable blood, which is approx 30% of the overall volume takes the baby around 6 months to replenish. For a video demonstration, you can watch Penny Simkin describe blood volume levels here.

Lastly, leaving your baby’s cord alone until it is finished, ensures that the baby remains with the mother.  This can help the release of hormones which supports bonding. The ‘Golden Hour’ as it is known, is a precious time in the first hour of a babies life where they are left skin to skin, and allowed to slowly transition from womb to world.  This time is unique and enables a great start to life. The mothers temperature adjusts to the babies and they may establish breastfeeding during this time.  It is also thought that during this time the baby’s Gut is “seeded or colonised” with the bacteria of those around, so it is far more important that it recieves the bacteria of it’s parents, which will develop and protect your baby’s immune system.  http://microbirth.com

So what’s the rush??  As long as everything is ok, let’s leave the baby and the cord alone.  #waitforwhite.

We recommend to all our clients that they write a list of birth preferences. One of the points on their list can then clearly inform the person caring for them that this is important to them.  You can say that you would like to leave the umbilical cord until it is has finished pulsating.  The easiest way of telling that the cord is no longer needed, is to either feel the cord yourself between your finger and thumb, or look to see if the cord is white and has uncurled/straightened out (this happens when the ‘Wharton’s Jelly’ inside the cord liquifies after the baby is born so the cord will then change shape).

Please feel free to click the link to receive a copy of our free birth plan checklist


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