3 Good Reasons to Delay Cutting Your Newborn’s Umbilical Cord

Love It! 13

newborn babyYou've just delivered your baby, and the umbilical cord is still pulsing. Your doctor clamps it by your baby's belly, and a few inches farther up, and your husband gets ready to cut. But wait -- is your doctor depriving your baby of something incredibly important by moving so quickly? Mothers, midwives, dulas, and doctors have debated this question for years. Now there's new evidence that delaying cord clamping can benefit babies.

Doctors used to clamp and cut almost immediately because this was thought to reduce the risk of hemorrhaging for mothers. But it turns out quick clamping doesn't affect that risk. On the contrary, we've been withholding an important health boost almost every newborn could really use.

The main benefit of delaying cord clamping is that it sends more iron from the placenta to your baby -- a lot more. And you just have to delay that snip by a minute. Babies who had delayed cord clamping had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 48 hours after birth. Even more exciting, they were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months after birth. So the benefits last a while. Another more subtle benefit is that babies whose cords were clamped later also had higher birth weights. "Birth weight also was significantly higher on average in the late clamping group, in part because babies received more blood from their mothers," an article in the New York Times reports.

umbilical cord

“It’s a persuasive finding,” says Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, chair of committee on obstetrics practice for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “It’s tough not to think that delayed cord clamping, including better iron stores and more hemoglobin, is a good thing.” It's tough not to think he could have phrased his opinion more clearly, but I believe this is super-cautious doctor-speak for "delayed cord clamping is a good thing."

So there you go. If your natural parenting friends have been telling you about this practice, and you've been like, "whatever Granola Gladys, you also want me to eat my placenta," now you know they're actually on to something. It's just a matter of a minute, it makes a huge difference, and your husband can still do the honor of clipping the cord.

Have you heard about delaying cord clamping?


Image via Chris/Flickr

in the news, newborns, delivery


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mande... manderspanders

I gave birth 12 days ago to my first baby. I'm by no means a granola, earth mother, hippie-dippy type... But I had a doula, and had a completely natural, unmedicated birth. We delayed cord clamping, in fact my baby was attached for a good 5 minutes or more after he was delivered. I saw no risk to do so, and with the potential benefits being so great, there was no reason not to. I learned about delayed cord clamping over 6 years ago in nursing school, so the idea isn't new. Fortunately, I had an awesome doctor - family.practice, not an ob/gyn; and he honored my requests. So, I think it all goes back to the provider you choose and if they will respect your authority and autonomy.

Foley... Foleygirl24

And if you are O-, it also reduces the risk of you being sensitized if you have an Rh+ baby.

Foley... Foleygirl24

That should read Rh-, not just O-.


Isn't this really old news?

Shant... ShantiBantiMama

Fondue, thank you for that link. Those pictures do all the explaining, how neat!

nonmember avatar Lynn

My daughter just turned 1 and we did this last year. We actually waited until the cord stopped pulsing. We waited about 10 minutes. My OB was great. We plan on doing this again for the next baby. No Iron problems at all.

April Irish

would have loved to do this but my baby had to be sent to the NICU right away to check his lungs. some mothers don't have the choice just sayinh

Katheryn Blatt

We preserved our Babies Cord Blood and Tissue with CBR. My husband could not cut the cord as it has to stay sterile for the preservation. I do understand the importance of the natural iron from Mom, but most mothers I have found stop their preatal after they give birth and that is one thing that I was told to not stop. I took all my vitamins until I stopped breasdt feeding and that was when he was 20 months.

Thanks for all the information Love the site XOXO

Katheryn from San Jose, CA

nonmember avatar Morgan

I agree April, I don't think with my impending second c section that I will have his option.

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