Why Doctors Think We Should Rethink When We Cut the Cord

Fun fact: did you know that the umbilical cord — you know, that long, slimy tube that connects the placenta to the baby’s belly button — doesn’t need to be cut right after the mother gives birth?

Strange, right?

We don’t know about you, but we had always been under the impression that the cord had to be severed almost immediately. Perhaps we assumed that the baby didn’t need the nutrients from the placenta anymore since she would be dining on mother’s milk now that she’s no longer in utero. We’re guessing that you have always been under a similar assumption, too!

Well, what if we told you that cutting the umbilical cord directly after birth may be more of a hindrance to the child than a help? That’s right— a report conducted by Cochrane shows that the cutting – and especially the clamping – of the umbilical cord is usually done too hastily.

The report, which took a whopping 15 previous studies into account, found that when doctors wait at least 1 to 3 minutes post-birth to clamp the cord, the babies have higher initial hemoglobin concentrations. This means that their iron storage is greater for another 3 to 6 months post-birth. Who knew?!

On top of that, the studies showed that the babies who were given “the clamp” later also benefited from higher birth weights than their itty-bitty counterparts.

Of course, with all things in life, it looks like the practice does come with some tricky downsides. For instance, babies who benefit from the higher iron levels also seem to be affected by jaundice more often, a condition that often can’t be cured without the help of phototherapy.

Additionally, babies who are born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their bodies or necks have no choice but to endure the potentially life-saving premature cut. Definitely a situation where the risks outweigh the reward!

So, how can you as an expectant parent ensure that your baby gets to take advantage of the added iron and higher birth weight?

First things first— be sure that you have a word with your OB/GYN or midwife before the big day. Chances are, they will know all about how this delay in umbilical cord clamping can be beneficial to your little one. After all, the World Health Organization now recognizes this practice and even recommends waiting the extra minutes before cutting!

If all is going well in the delivery room, the mother or partner may be allowed to cut the cord, which can serve as the perfect opportunity to remind the doctors and nurses that you’d prefer the delay. Sound like a plan? Good!

To learn even more about how clamping and cutting an umbilical cord later rather than earlier can be beneficial to your baby, be sure to watch the video below. Good to know!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of umbilical cords. How long did your OB/GYN wait before they clamped the cord? If it was a few minutes or more, did your baby experience any health benefits? Do you have a unique birth story that you would like to share?