By Traci Dunn, CNM, MSN
Preparing for the labor and delivery of a new baby is an exciting time. In your research, you may come across the term “delayed cord clamping” as a practice that is gaining popularity as a birth preference. Delayed umbilical cord clamping occurs when the doctor or midwife waits longer than 30-60 seconds after the delivery of the infant before the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.
For preterm infants, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) recommend a delay in cord clamping of 30-60 seconds. The benefits of delayed cord clamping for a preterm infant include reduced need for blood transfusions and significant decreased incidence of brain bleeds.
For the healthy, full term infant, ACOG recommends a delay in cord clamping for at least 30-60 seconds. Depending on the position of the baby after birth, ACNM supports 2-5 minutes as optimal time to delay cord clamping. Benefits of delayed cord clamping for a healthy, term newborn are increased iron stores and decreased risk for anemia over the first year of life, which is important because anemia has been linked to impaired cognitive, motor, and behavioral development.
However, there are some situations when delayed cord clamping is not recommended. If your baby needs help taking his first breaths after delivery, it may be necessary to clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately. For more information, talk to your doctor or midwife about whether delayed umbilical cord clamping is right for your baby.
Delayed umbilical cord clamping after birth. Committee Opinion No. 684. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2017;129:e5–10, www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Delayed-Umbilical-Cord-Clamping-After-Birth.
“Position Statement: Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping.” May 2014. www.midwife.org/ACNM/files/ACNMLibraryData/UPLOADFILENAME/000000000290/Delayed-Umbilical-Cord-Clamping-May-2014.pdf.