Why You Might Want to Ask Your Doctor to Wait Before Cutting Baby’s Cord

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A new study is sure to shake things up in the delivery room. Though it’s been a hot topic for years, research published yesterday in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Review may seriously influence how long you and your partner wait before cutting baby’s umbilical cord.

The analysis found that delaying the clamping of baby’s umbilical cord for at least one minute after birth (allowing more time for blood to move from the placenta) will significantly improves baby’s iron stores and hemoglobin levels. The delay, researchers found, poses no risk of blood loss, reduced hemoglobin levels or postpartum hemorrhage to moms.

Before siding with the skeptics, researchers found that the benefits for baby are unbelievably important. Newborns with later clamping, they noted, had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 48 hours after delivery and were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months later. Baby’s birth weight was also higher on average (compared to baby’s who had their cords cut immediately following birth), which was due to the fact that they were able to receive more blood from their mothers.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends clamping the cord after one to three minutes because it “improves the iron status of the infant.” However, they do note that delayed clamping can lead to jaundice in newborns, which is caused by liver troubles and an excessive loss of red blood cells. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed the research in December and the committee opinion was that the research was “insufficient to confirm or refute the potential for benefits from delayed umbilical cord clamping in term infants, especially in settings with rich resources.” They cited the risk of jaundice and iron deficiency as reasons for not changing the United States’ longstanding practice of immediately cutting the cord.

Doctors involved in the study, some of whom actually prefer delayed cord clamping, do not find the A.C.O.G’s statement unfavorable. They noted the need for more research and further studies to support their initial findings. “What will sway A.C.O.G. are a couple of studies in progress showing a potential long-term neurological benefit,” Dr. Raju, author of the guidelines, a neonatologist and a medical officer at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said. Improved iron stores in theory could help reduce the risk of learning deficiencies and cognitive delay in children, which have been linked to iron-deficiency anemia in school-age children.

Do you think you would wait to cut baby’s cord?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Caring for the Umbilical Cord?

Will My Husband Regret Not Cutting Baby’s Cord?

What Will Happen to Baby After Birth?