In a Cochrane review, prepared and maintained by The Cochrane Collaboration, 11 trials of 2989 mothers and their babies were reviewed. The issue of delayed cord clamping was looked at. I believe that delayed cord clamping is ideal, so I prefer to differentiate between the two practices by using the term “premature cord clamping” to talk about the standard procedure clamping the umbilical cord before it’s done pulsating, but the Cochrane Review still uses the old semantics just like most studies.
According to the review, delayed cord clamping allows time for a transfer of the fetal blood in the placenta to the infant at the time of birth and that this “placental transfusion” can provide the infant with an additional 30% more blood volume and up to 60% more red blood cells. That’s kind of a big deal.
The infants’ benefits from delayed cord clamping also includes higher hemoglobin levels, additional iron stores, less anemia for up to six months, higher red blood cell ﬂow to vital organs, and better cardiopulmonary adaptation. <— Also very big deals.
I find it interesting how many doctors encourage women to give iron supplements claiming that a woman’s breast milk is insufficient (while fortified formula has added iron) when, from the looks of this, the real cause of the deficiency is having drastically less red blood cells. See, an infant may end up anemic because no one wanted to wait a few minutes for the baby to be allowed the blood that was his birthright.
Doctors like to say they don’t delay because they are worried about maternal hemorrhage, but according to the Cochrane review, premature cord cutting actually does nothing to help with maternal hemorrhage. So…. um…
“Wait, wait, wait!” the OBs exclaim, “Delayed cord cutting increases the risk of jaundice in newborns!”
That does seem to be the case. Yet, the treatment indicated was merely light therapy. I know lots of moms who hate that lamp-bed thing, saying it dried out their babies skin. In mild cases though, many good doctors and midwives suggest merely laying the baby near a window to get sunlight. Even in more severe cases, doesn’t it feel like being under the lamp is still better than losing out on so much blood? Doctor’s point out the jaundice issue as an obvious flaw in delaying cord clamping, but I argue that it’s a flaw in us, not in delayed cord clamping. Think back to early human kind. We didn’t birth in a hospital and then hide out in our houses covering the baby with blankets to protect the infants from the sun. Naturally, the baby would get real “photo-therapy” from the real life sun.
The point is, every step of the way, natural birth is thrown up road blocks, scare tactics even, but if we look at the whole picture, with the exception of some high risk circumstances or emergency situations, a natural birth continuously offers tremendous benefits over the standard hospital birth.