On The Optimal Time To Cut The Baby’s Umbilical Cord

The New York Times reports on a new analysis that lays out the benefits of waiting at least a minute or so before cutting a newborn’s umbilical cord; the standard practice in mainstream maternity care is an immediate snip, in under 30 seconds.

By delaying the time in which the mother is literally separated from her new baby, more blood can move from the placenta, the report says, which “significantly improves iron stores and hemoglobin levels in newborns and does not increase the risks to mothers.” The study was published Wednesday in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

andrechinn/flickr

andrechinn/flickr

Even with mounting evidence of its benefits, delayed cord-clamping remains controversial  (the influential American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement in December saying there’s not enough evidence to endorse or refute the practice). However “delayed” cord cutting — or the preferred term “optimal cord-cutting” has been common among midwives, doulas and mothers around the globe for decades.

Somerville doula Ananda Lowe (my co-writer on a book about birthing practices) recently posted this informative piece about “optimal” cord-cutting following either vaginal or cesarean birth. It’s written by Dr. Alan Greene, who in 2012 launched a worldwide campaign called Transitioning Immediate Cord Camping To Optimal Cord Clamping or TICC TOCC. Greene’s post clearly lays out problem, the history and the physiology of practice, and makes a powerful argument that optimal cord-clamping is a simple, inexpensive fix that can improve the health of infants around the world.  (Be patient with the YouTube video above — it takes Greene more then 10 minutes to get to this point, but the rest of the talk is pretty compelling too.)

Readers, how did you handle cord-clamping? What worked for you? Please let us know.

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