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Kellie Eason RN, RM, IBCLC
Kellie is a Nurse, Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in private practice, with over 25 years experience. She has a special interest in providing personalised support for families with complex infant feeding issues. Kellie works collaboratively with holistic practitioners at Osteo 4 Kids & Adults in Preston, Melbourne as well as providing a home consulting service within the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne.
Until birth, your baby's umbilical cord is rich with blood which has been his or her lifeline.
Umbilical cord blood is rich in immune factors, stem cells and iron that help fight disease and infection.
Approximately 450ml of blood is shared between your baby and his or her placenta at birth.
At birth average sized babies have approximately 300ml of circulating blood.
The video below demonstrates a fantastic visual representation of this.
With most births, clamping and cutting of the cord as soon as the baby is born is the standard form of care. When the cord is cut before the baby's blood has fully drained from the placenta, up to 1/3 of your baby's total blood volume remains with the placenta. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends that the cord not be cut in under 1 minute, but ideally after 3 minutes.
Normally, the baby's cord is not cut and allowed to stop pulsating - then the placenta is born. During the period that the cord stops pulsating, the baby's blood is being transfused from the placenta back into the baby's circulation.
Studies have identified that delayed cord clamping creates foundations for a better establishment of red blood cell volume, decreased need for blood transfusion, and lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (partial infection and bowel injury most common in preterm infants) and intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding into the brain). It has also been found to reduce the amount of neonatal weight loss that commonly results in early formula supplementation in babies.
It has also been found that infants gain long term benefits from delayed cord clamping. Improved long term neurodevelopmental outcomes have been reported, such as IQ, motor skills, social skills, problem-solving, communication skills and behaviour.
Whilst delayed cord clamping is safe for most births, there are some where it is unsafe.
Unfortunate and rare situations whereby the placental circulation is not intact, such as placental abruption, bleeding placenta previa, bleeding vasa previa or umbilical cord avulsion are contraindications for delayed cord clamping.
A few things to be mindful of: