Benefits of delayed cord clamping
If you’re expecting a newborn in your family very soon you must be busy doing a lot of research. It is likely that you would have come across various processes involved in birthing. Do you know the benefits of delayed cord clamping?
One such procedure is delayed cord clamping. It is not a very famous procedure and few know of it. But the process of delayed cord clamping is known to exist for a very long time.
In the upcoming sections of the article, we will discuss the benefits of delayed cord clamping and everything related to it.
What is delay cord clamping?
It is a process where the umbilical cord is not clamped and cut immediately after the birth. Instead, the clamp and cut happen between one and three minutes after birth.
Before the 1950s it was common practice to cut the cord after a wait of one to five minutes. But around this time the number of births started to increase. To cope with this increased number, medical practitioners began clamping the cord immediately to fasten the birthing.
Further, the research done on the matter also did not reveal any link between delayed clamping and health benefits.
On the contrary, early clamping could keep mothers from losing too much blood. So, healthcare providers adapted to the practice of early clamping.
It was only recently that more research in this field has brought out the links between delayed clamping and its health benefit for the newborn.
How does it work?
The process is like the normal process of cord clamping. Once the baby comes out of your womb, the baby will be connected to your placenta with the help of the umbilical cord. One end of the cord is attached to the baby’s navel while the other end is attached to the placenta.
In a delay clamping method, the doctors wait between 30 seconds to a minute before cutting the cord. If your partner is inside the labor room, the doctors might ask him to cut the cord of the baby.
The length of the delay is not standardized. The medical community agrees that clamping is delayed when it happens more than 30 seconds after the birth.
A wait of 1 minute after birth allows your baby to receive about 80 ML of blood from the placenta. A delay of 3 minutes increases this amount to 100 ML.
Until very recently it was told to hold the baby near the level of the placenta before clamping to increase blood flow.
It is so because it was believed that raising the level of a baby could get the gravitational force into action. This result would be that gravity will pull the blood back to the placenta, reducing the blood flow to the baby.
But according to a 2014 study, it is proved that gravity has no impact on the flow of blood. So good news for all those parents who want to opt for delayed clamping but still want to hold their baby.
You can do both things. It is also safe for the baby to latch on and begin breastfeeding right away.
What are the benefits?
This process is most beneficial for preterm infants. But, it also benefits full-term babies and mothers.
Delayed clamping is linked to increased hemoglobin and iron in full-term babies. This results in a reduced risk of anemia for the baby and other developmental benefits.
The benefits for a preterm baby are however the most. An extra boost of healthy blood can help lower a lot of health risks. In preterm babies, it has been shown to decrease the number of blood transfusions needed.
It also reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a severe complication involving the intestine of a preterm baby). It is also believed to reduce the risk of interventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the baby’s brain that can cause lifelong neurological problems).
What are the risks?
A delay in the clamping process exposes the baby to the increased risk of jaundice. But the benefits of the process may outweigh the risk as long as the phototherapy treatment is available for treating jaundice.
The process in no way is associated with increasing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage or excessive maternal blood loss. But in cases where the mothers start bleeding or have a postpartum hemorrhage, immediate cord clamping becomes necessary.
Cases where the mothers are HIV positive also demand immediate clamping.
Babies who suffer from breathing problems after birth and need positive pressure ventilation are also left out of this process.
The other major concern is that this delaying process could increase the chances of excessive placental transfusion.
What impact does it have on cord blood stem cell banking?
Today cord blood stem cells are used in treating a number of health conditions. At present, stem cell transplants can be used in fighting more than 80 conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma, and some immune and metabolic disorders.
The scope of treating conditions that currently have no cures like cerebral palsy, hearing loss, autism, etc. using cord blood is also underway.
It is known that delayed clamping diminishes the amount of blood that can be banked. Recent research also shows that it might not be possible to delay the process by more than 60 seconds.
But you must understand that the length of the umbilical cord, the size of the placenta, and the amount of cord blood vary from infant to infant. This means that some babies can undergo the delayed clamping process without having any significant impact on their cord blood banking while others may fall short.
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Parents must weigh their priorities and decide upon whether they want to opt for delayed cord clamping or not. Those families with an older child who needs stem cell therapy might find it beneficial to go for cord blood banking and skip the process of cord clamp delay.
But in the case of preterm babies or full-term babies parents might want to go for both processes. In such cases, it becomes essential that you discuss your birth plan with your neonatal healthcare provider. Find out the best options and procedures available at your healthcare facility.