At last, your baby is out, all the preparing, stress and labor-related decisions are officially done… or so you thought! As your baby’s shoulders are expelled, the umbilical cord is typically cut within ten short seconds. To most mothers this is standard, and they are so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that they do not even give any thought to what has just happened. However, what these exhilarated, exhausted mothers do not realize is that they could potentially be supplying their child with a substantial amount of blood and iron by simply waiting two minutes before cutting the cord.
Iron deficiency is unfortunately an issue faced by both thriving and impoverished nations. This problem is so severe that in some developing countries half of all children become anemic during their first year, putting them at risk of developmental issues that may not be reversible with iron enriched formula or other iron treatments. Fortunately, there is an effortless solution! According to recent research from UC Davis, delaying cord clamping can increase a child's iron reserve by 27-47mg. This is equivalent to up to two months of an infant’s iron needs, and could help to prevent iron deficiency from developing before 6 months of age.
Other benefits of delaying cord clamping are increased hemoglobin levels as well as larger birthweights when compared with the standard ten second cord clamped babies. It is obvious that the impact of delayed clamping is particularly significant for infants who have low birth weights, are born to iron-deficient mothers, are premature, or those who do not receive baby formula or iron-fortified milk. However, with all the benefits that correspond with simply waiting an additional two minutes why would you not give your child a little extra boost? Some believe that delaying cord clamping has the potential for the mother to develop post-partum hemorrhage. However, according to the World Health Organization this unsubstantiated claim has no evidence to support it.
If you yourself have iron or blood related pathologies delaying cord clamping may be in your best interest. Some mothers even wait more than two minutes and don’t clamp until the cord stops “pulsating” which could take longer than ten minutes. So when the time comes, weigh out your options! Even though you want to embrace that long awaited moment, remind your physician/midwife of your desire to wait before clamping and provide your child with the greatest opportunity to thrive.