Saturday, March 16, 2013

Delayed Cord Clamping

What is delayed cord clamping? It is the process in which after the baby is born, the doctor does not clamp the cord right away. I will explore what the evidence says, and what some of the common misconceptions are. I will link to all of the sources of information at the end of this post.

According to a Cochran Review on the studies done on DCC (delayed cord clamping) there is a slight advantage to waiting up to two minutes to clamp the cord. The slight advantage is an increase in iron in the baby. There is also a slight risk of hyperbilirubinemia or polycythemia with DCC. The current recommendation is still under debate, however there is some consensus on clamping between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. I will note that these guidelines are for uncomplicated pregnancies. Complications during pregnancy could facilitate early cord clamping. There is no negative effect on the baby with immediate cord clamping.

One of the myths I saw a lot of while researching this is that you should wait until the cord stops pulsating. The idea being that as long as the cord is pulsating, it's transferring nutrients and blood to the baby. This is not supported by the evidence. A pulsating cord does not mean anything is being transferred. Another myth is that all of the blood in the placenta belongs to the baby. This is also a wrong assumption, as some of the blood would have been needed to support the placenta as well. The idea that you should wait to clamp the cord because it's the natural way turns up a lot. This is of course the natural logical fallacy.

As always, follow the recommendation of your doctor. Because immediate cord clamping has no negative effect, and the effects of delayed cord clamping are minimal, delayed cord clamping should only be done under uncomplicated circumstances.


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