In the fast-paced bustle of an active L&D room, one thing always happens on time: the clamping of the umbilical cord.
Less than a minute after birth, doctors routinely clamp the cord in two places — near the infant’s belly and a little farther down. The cord is severed between these two locations.
Why so fast? The practice was thought to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging, however, doctors have questioned the timing of cord clamping for years. Now, a new paper gives evidence that says they should possibly wait to clamp.
The paper compares two groups: term babies whose cords were clamped early and newborns with later clamping. The newborns with later clamping had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 28 hours postpartum and were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months after birth. Birth weight was also higher in the later-clamping group possibly because babies received more of mom’s blood.
In light of this new evidence, the World Health Organization recommends clamping the cord after one to three minutes because it “improves the iron status of the infant.”
How about mom? The delay in clamping did not offer more risk for severe postpartum hemorrhage or blood loss, according to the paper’s findings. Most of the women studied in the paper did not have C-sections, a fact that experts have noted.
Something to consider: In the later-clamping group of infants, there was a 2 percent increase in jaundice.
What should you do? Always discuss any questions you have with your ob/gyn.