I heard about delayed cord clamping during my first pregnancy. My doula told me about it and recommend I request it in the birthing center where I would be delivering. She said it was a fairly uncommon procedure, but one that transferred more iron stores to the baby. I ended up with an emergency c-section, so the delayed clamping went out the window.
With my second pregnancy, I mentioned delayed clamping to my new doula. I told her I had put it on my birth plan and would be requesting it in the hospital. She said, “Oh please do. I would love to see how that would go over.” In over 10 years delivering babies she’d never seen a doctor “allow” delayed clamping in hospital. However, she admitted it was a pretty routine procedure among midwives. Again, I ended up with a c-section, so the delayed clamping would not be an option. Understandably, surgeons like to close you up as soon as possible to lower the risk of post-partum hemorrhage.
Maybe the new study that’s been released on the benefits of delayed cord-clamping will make it a common practice in hospitals. Doctor’s have always clamped the cord immediately after birth to reduce the risk of hemorrhage in the mother. It turns out there is no greater risk of severe bleeding with a slight delay in clamping. It also turns out that this delay allows more iron to travel from placenta to baby. From The New York Times:
Newborns with later clamping had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 48 hours postpartum and were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months after birth, compared with term babies who had early cord clamping, the analysis found. Birth weight also was significantly higher on average in the late clamping group, in part because babies received more blood from their mothers.
Delayed clamping did not increase the risk of severe postpartum hemorrhage, blood loss or reduced hemoglobin levels in mothers, the analysis found.
Eileen Hutton, a midwife who teaches obstetrics at McMaster University in Ontario told the Times, “The implications are huge. We are talking about depriving babies of 30 to 40 percent of their blood at birth — and just because we’ve learned a practice that’s bad.”
Now that there is a study to point to, maybe doctors will be more willing to allow this. It also reiterates how important it is to take control of your own health. It’s funny that I would have had to ask “permission” to wait a couple of minutes to cut the cord – with no excuses or dangers to point to. We’ve been depriving our babies of essential iron stores simply because immediate cord-clamping is something that has always been done. What a bummer.