3 Reasons to Delay Cord Cutting

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Image via Flickr/ Dan Cross

Delayed cord cutting has been around for quite a while but has been making a comeback as a more mainstream birthing practice in recent years. Read on to find out what benefits waiting to cut the umbilical cord may offer your baby and how to increase the chances your wishes are honored.

An increased blood volume.

Some studies have shown that babies who do not have their umbilical cords clamped immediately have a blood volume up to 33 percent higher than those who are immediately clamped and cut. That increased blood volume can provide major benefits. Some studies have indicated that the stem cells present in the placenta blood may be able to help repair damage in the infant’s body, such as from having breathing or blood pressure issues during or after the birth.

A lower risk of iron deficiency.

The increased blood volume also means that the baby gets more iron-rich blood. One paper posited that delayed cord cutting led to higher hemoglobin levels after birth and a decreased risk of becoming iron deficient for as long as six months after birth. This may also provide additional neurological benefits, as some experts have linked iron-deficiency anemia to learning problems and cognitive delays later on in childhood. 

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Better outcomes in preterm infants.

The extra blood that the baby gets when birth attendants wait to cut the cord has been shown to make it easier for the newborn’s lungs to do their job. The more blood there is, the more cells there are to transport and facilitate the exchange of oxygen. Preterm infants also benefit from delayed cord clamping in other ways, including having better blood pressure readings and having a decreased risk of needing blood transfusions after birth.

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So how long should you wait? The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests waiting a minimum of one full minute after the birth to clamp and cut the cord. It’s important to note that this is a minimum, however, and many families choose to wait until the cord has stopped pulsing entirely, which usually happens within five minutes. If delayed cord cutting is something you’re interested in for your birth, it’s important to discuss your reasons and options with your care provider so that you, the doctor, and the staff can all be on the same page. 

{ MORE: When Things Don't Go According to (Birth) Plan }

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3 Reasons to Delay Cord Cutting

Katelynne has been trying to get the hang of this raising kids thing since 2007 but spends most of her time wondering who stole her copy of Parenting 101. When she’s not playing referee for her two children or writing all the words, she fantasizes about a full night’s sleep, uninterrupted showers, and triple venti caramel macchiatos with coconut milk. ... More

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