You will be asked to make some decisions about your baby before leaving the hospital, birthing center, or at your child’s first pediatric visit (in the event of a home birth).
Things to consider are:
- why you might want this?
- what other options are available and reasonable?
Please note: We do our best to offer the most recent and accurate information possible, but encourage you to do your own independent research before making any decisions. The decisions are yours to make for your baby.
Many doctors or midwives will clamp and cut the cord within the 2 minutes of birth. This may happen sooner if baby is struggling to breathe. There may also be new pressure to collect your child’s “cord blood” stem cells, either for your family’s use or for donation to others.
Why cut the cord early?
Stem cells in umbilical cord blood carry the potential to treat blood, immune and metabolic disorders, and several types of cancer. In order to obtain enough blood to harvest these stem cells, the cord must be cut and clamped immediately after birth. If a family member has these medical conditions (and your child doesn’t), you may want to explore this option.
Cord blood is actually the baby’s blood (about 1/3rd of its total blood volume). Throughout pregnancy your baby’s blood is filtered through the placenta and pumped back into the baby via the umbilical cord. After birth, the blood is flowing back into the baby as long as the cord is pulsing. What's happening is that the placenta continues to oxygenate the blood in case the baby doesn't breathe on its own right away.
Delaying the cord clamping until the umbilical cord stops pulsating (about 4-10 minutes), offers many benefits to the baby. Conversely, early cord clamping can be detrimental, particularly if the baby is premature or has low birth weight. In her book, Dr. Sarah Buckley outlines the risks of early cord clamping. Other parents opt for a 'lotus birth', never cutting the cord at all. Instead the placenta is treated with with salt, wrapped in a bag and the cord allowed to dry up and fall off at the belly button, naturally, on its own in a few days.
Note: each option is available after vaginal and cesarean birth. You just have to make your wishes known.