Should You Delay Clamping Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord?

When I had my kids, I admit that I never even gave a second thought to my baby's umbilical cord. 

Sure, it was the virtual lifeline that connected us, nourished my baby, and probably performed a lot of other functions that we still don't fully understand, but once it had done its job, it was (quite literally) out of sight and out of mind. 

But more and more evidence is proving that the work done by the umbilical actually doesn't end immediately after birth. 

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Image via Flickr/ Mike Liu

The benefits of delayed cord clamping last beyond birth too. NPR recently reported that delaying cord clamping in children actually benefits them years later. 

In addition to the extra blood that prevents anemia in babies, waiting a few extra minutes before cutting the cord can actually help the baby transition into life outside of the womb and prevent some of the breathing difficulties that can happen as a newborn gets used to breathing oxygen from the air. 

Even more compelling is that tests have shown that comparative children with delayed cord clamping also had higher social skills and fine motor skills, especially in boys, at four years old. Premature babies, who are more at risk for complications, especially benefit from delayed cord clamping. 

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Some doctors even theorize that the umbilical cord blood, which is rich in stem cells, may help repair babies' brains that have gone through a difficult birth. 

Knowing what I know now, I wish that I would have insisted on delayed cord clamping for my babies. It's just such a simple thing to do–in fact, it's not even doing anything as much as it is not doing anything for a few minutes. And it really is just a few minutes. The World Health Organization recommends waiting between one and three minutes. So even if you wait a few minutes, there's no reason why your baby shouldn't be able to do skin-to-skin or even breastfeed if you would like. 

And in emergency situations, doctors point out that the cord blood doesn't have to be sacrificed. It would be possible to simply “milk” the cord to make sure the baby gets all the blood left in the cord. There also are no known negative effects of delayed cord clamping to the mother or the baby, aside from some babies having a slightly higher risk of jaundice.  

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Did you practice delayed cord clamping with your baby?

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Should You Delay Clamping Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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