Everything That You Need To Know About Delayed Cord Clamping

(Photo : pexels/Jonathan Borba)

Ever since the World Health Organization or WHO recommended delayed cord clamping or DCC in 2012, more and more mothers are inquiring about its benefits and potential risks. WHO stated that it is best to leave the umbilical cord for at least 5 minutes before clamping it. 

There are numerous discussions about the right time to clamp the umbilical cord, and WHO's suggests that late cord clamping has benefits for types of births. But most midwives and healthcare professionals advise women to wait until the umbilical cord stops pumping before clamping it. The WHO also suggests that immediate cord clamping or ICC is not recommended unless the baby is asphyxiated and needs resuscitation. 

What is delayed cord clamping?

Delayed cord clamping is the delaying of the clamping of the umbilical cord. It is usually performed 25 seconds to 5 minutes after delivery. DCC allows more blood to transfer from the placenta to the newborn baby, and it usually increases the blood volume of the child by up to a third. 

DCC can also help increase the iron count in the newborn baby's iron storage, which is very important for healthy brain development. The umbilical cord will be clamped in two places, it is near your child's belly button and down the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is then cut neatly between these clamps. 

There is no exact length of the delay, it can go for as long as 30 seconds to 5 minutes. It is a unanimous agreement amongs healthcare professionals that if the umbilical cord is not clamped under 30 seconds, it is already considered DCC. If you wait for a 60 seconds before you clamp your umbilical cord, your child can receive 80 milliliters of blood from the placenta. After three full minutes, your child can receive 100 milliliters of blood from the placenta. 

Recently, health experts recommend holding the child at or near the level of the placenta before clamping the umbilical cord to help increase the blood flow to the newborn child. If the baby is raised above this level, it could pull the blood back into the placenta due to gravity and it could reduce the blood flow to the child. Some parents and doctors are reluctant because they are worried that the delayed clamping of the cord will result to a delay in skin to skin contact that is needed between a mother and her newborn child. 

Are there risks?

There are three possible risks of DCC. One of them is hyperbilirubinemia. Hyperbilirubinemia happens when bilirubin levels build up and incease in the blood syste,. This can result from a sudden breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Experts say that children who underwent DCC have a greater chance of having hyperbilirubinemia because of too much iron that was stored in their system. 

Another one is the risk of polycythemia. It happens when there is an excess of red blood cells in circulation and it can cause problems with breathing, blood circulation and it can often lead to hyperbilirubinemia. And lastly, experts are worried about respiratory distress. It is a delayed absorption of the lung fluid because of the sudden increase in blood volume and it that may cause rapid breathing. 

Ultimately, the benefits of delayed cord clamping outweigh the risks. There is still no concrete evidence to show that full-term infants can't gain the same benefits from DCC as preterm babies. A study by The JAMA Network also showed that DCC can help boost neurodevelopment in children.  

ALSO READ: The Do's And Don'ts For Caring Your Baby's Umbilical Cord

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