Say No To Premature Cord Clamping

By Briana McDonald; ( When my obstetrician placed my sweet, slippery bundle of joy on my chest after only two pushes and 10 long months of heartburn and anticipation, the very last thing I thought about was what was going on with his umbilical cord and the placenta. I should have been; had I known what I know now about cord clamping immediately after birth, I would have ran at THEM with scissors. Cord clamping is a very common practice since the 1960’s; hundreds of  thousands of babies have undergone this routine very shortly after birth to reduce the risk of the mother experiencing serious bleeding after birth, called post partum hemorrhage, which can be fatal. They are just recently realizing that this is not necessary for every birth and in fact, is putting many newborns in danger and depriving them of 40% of vital blood and stem cells from the placenta. It is too late for me to say no to premature cord clamping, but if you are a soon to be mother or thinking of becoming pregnant, here are several reasons why you should say yes to delayed cord clamping (which should really be called normal cord clamping since immediate is a premature act) and no to standard procedure.

First and foremost I think we should look at the true reason why this is common procedure. I’m not talking about emergency situations where this may be necessary, but why this is done for every single birth. The answer is money. It will always be the answer. The sooner that mama gets in and out of there the faster the next one can come in and ca-ching! That obstetrician’s wallet is lined a little thicker. With no good evidence to support it, it is accepted practice to accelerate the arrival of the placenta with an injection and clamp and cut the cord immediately, depriving the baby of its blood. What’s the rush? I know of many women whose placenta did not come out for almost 5 hours and their babies were perfectly healthy. Why does it need to be a quick paced process? Why not let nature take its own course? You don’t see farmer’s rushing out to the fields when a mama cow is giving birth to clamp the cord. You don’t see a scuba diver going after dolphins to make sure the mama doesn’t hemorrhage. We are the only mammal that does this, but why? We are the only mammal that gives two sticks about money. That’s why.

So now you know why it’s practiced, let’s look at the physiology of newborn transition and the benefits of saying no to immediate cord clamping:

“The baby slash placenta has a separate blood system from the mother. The placenta does the job of the lungs by exchanging gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide) via the intervillous space between the baby’s and the mother’s blood system. Before birth, a third of the baby/placenta blood volume is in the placenta at any given time to facilitate this gas exchange… Textbooks will tell you 3-7 minutes, but I have felt some cords pulse for longer than that. While these changes take place, oxygen continues to be provided by the placenta until the baby is ready to begin breathing. Stem cells are also transferred into the baby during this time..”

  1. Vital Stem Cells– the umbilical cord contains vital stem cells, red blood cells, and white blood cells, all of which help give babies a good start in life. When the umbilical cord is cut within the first 10 and 60 seconds, your baby loses a third, that’s right, a THIRD, of his or her vital stem cells that rightfully belong to them. These stem cells actually go in and repair any damage that birth could have caused, even problem free births do some damage, and it is a natural part of the process.
  2. Increase Number of Red Blood Cells-This increases the baby’s capacity to send oxygen around the body.
  3. Extra Blood Volume- the extra blood volume needed for the heart to direct 50% of its output to the lungs (8% before birth). This extra blood fills the capillaries in the lungs making them expand to provide support for the alveoli to open. It also aids lung fluid clearance from the alveoli. These changes allow the baby to breath effectively.
  4. More Iron-delaying the clamping of the cord even by just 2 minutes can increase the infants iron reserves by 27-47mg. That is equivalent to 1 to 2 months of a newborns iron requirements.

I firmly believe peace on earth begins at birth. Having your vital oxygen source being cut off from you within the first minute of life is tragic and unnecessary, all for the sake of saving some time. Coming into the world having to “gasp” for your first breath is a tragedy in my eyes. In my opinion, the first inhale and the last exhale should both be a peaceful transition, in a loving and supportive environment. Say no to premature cord clamping, and yes to giving your baby the best start possible.