Most doctors are up-to-date with the research based practice of delayed cord clamping, so you as a parent-to-be don’t need to worry about whether your doctor needs to be informed or not. Although it is always good to know what they’re doing and why, and to advocate for your care when necessary. The following is a list of the essential things you need to know about delayed cord clamping.

1. What does an umbilical cord do?

An umbilical cord contains 3 vessels (1 vein and 2 arteries). The vein is what supplies the baby his nutrients and oxygen throughout pregnancy. And the arteries are the route that the metabolized blood and carbon dioxide take to be circulated back into Mom’s blood stream and be rid by her. When the baby is born, the blood is still being pumped from the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord. If the cord is clamped too early there is a large blood volume that the baby does not receive that was meant for him to receive.

2. What is delayed cord clamping?

This is a practice done immediately after giving birth; the doctor places the baby on mom while the baby is suctioned, stimulated, and dried. Instead of clamping and cutting the umbilical cord right away, the doctor will wait for at least one minute (1-3 minutes) to clamp the cord. Delayed cord clamping is just as important in cesarean section births as in vaginal deliveries.

3. When is delayed cord clamping not recommended?

So long that the baby is stable, the baby can have delayed cord clamping. However as soon as the baby has signs of asphyxiation and requires assistance to breathe, the baby’s cord will be clamped right away and brought to an open bed in the same room to be helped by nurses and doctors specialized in neonatal resuscitation. Some studies suggest that delayed cord clamping can increase a baby’s risk of newborn jaundice due to the increased number of red blood cells, however the research shows that the benefits of delayed cord clamping outweigh these risks.

4. What are the benefits of delayed cord clamping?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends delaying cord clamping for at least 1 minute after birth to increase the benefits of maternal and newborn health. In premature babies, delayed cord clamping is particularly important as it can prevent intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleeds). In all newborns, delayed cord clamping can increase their blood volume and all blood cells including stem cells, decrease cases of anemia, and increase a baby’s overall health.