It is common to cut the cord shortly after the baby is born; however new information shows that waiting for a few minutes before clamping can be beneficial.
Obstetricians have been urged not to rush to clamp the umbilical cord too soon after a baby’s birth, with a retired UK doctor suggesting doing so could be harmful to the baby.
Ground-breaking research suggests the routine practice of cutting the cord quickly after delivery may reduce an infant’s supplies of oxygen and nutrient rich blood in the crucial minutes before they start breathing.
Waiting even three minutes longer could allow for increased blood flow which plays an important role in “opening the lungs, increasing pulmonary perfusion, enhancing lung fluid clearance and improving oxygen delivery to the infant’s tissues”.
At birth babies are separated from their mother and the placenta by clamping and cutting the umbilical cord.
Researchers say this is normally done straight after birth as part of so-called active management of the final stage of delivery.
However: a growing number of experts, including Dr Hutchon, believe the risks to the baby outweigh the potential harm to the mother. They say at least three minutes should elapse before the cord is cut to allow the mother’s blood from the placenta to continue to flow into the baby until its breathing is more established.
“Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproven intervention,” Dr Hutchon wrote.
“Lack of awareness of current evidence, pragmatism, and conflicting guidelines are all preventing change. To prevent further injury to babies we would be better to rush to change.”
“There is evidence to show it [immediate clamping] can damage a baby but none to show it can benefit.”
Putting into Practice Delaying Cord Cutting
In order to change the practice of early cord cutting, Hutchon recommends that it will require more research. Not only do scientists need to prove that there is harm in cutting the cord too early, but technology must be developed so that doctors can use neonatal resuscitation equipment while the umbilical cord is still attached to the baby. He also believes that care providers need to know how to remove the exact amount of umbilical cord blood necessary for cord blood banking without removing too much.
Hutchon believes that there is an urgency with obstetricians and midwives today to learn to delay cutting the baby’s cord. He explains that not moving forward to change this routine practice of early cord cutting will just continue to harm more babies.
Birth injuries caused by immediate clamping of the umbilical cord are explained and discussed fully at the following web sites: