It has been pretty well known for several years that delayed cord clamping has many benefits for a newborn baby. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, World Health Organization, and The American College of Nurse-Midwives all agree that delaying clamping by at least 1-2 minutes after birth raises neonatal iron levels, which can provide cognitive benefits even years later.
With the known benefits and low risk involved, it should be standard practice across the board to delay cord clamping. However, that is not always the case. It is important to talk to your care provider and see what their standard of practice is, and make it clear that you would like the cord clamping to be delayed.
Of course, if you desire a significant time delay or a lotus birth, you may have as easier time at home or another out-of-hospital situation.
Besides iron levels, there are a few other benefits of delayed cord clamping that have been understood by more holistic practitioners for decades!
More Gentle Transition for Baby:
Birth is a jarring experience for the newborn! It has known nothing but the constant supply of nutrients and oxygenated blood from the placenta for its whole life. Breathing is a new and surprising sensation, as is the cold air. Keeping baby attached to the placenta for a little longer can provide comfort as baby takes a couple minutes to learn to breath.
In rural home birth situations, this becomes even more important, in case a transfer to a hospital becomes necessary. Oxygenated blood can still be “milked” from the cord for a while after birth, providing a lifeline for a baby struggling to get enough oxygen.
When a baby is attached to a placenta that hasn’t been delivered yet, there’s not a whole lot of places that the baby can be placed aside from Mom’s abdomen or chest. While rare emergencies do happen, most minor issues with a baby’s breathing or temperature can be sorted out while baby is on, or next to, its mother.
Ritual or Religious Benefits:
Birth is an intense and personal experience, and many people have religious or ritual reasons to delay cord clamping. Treating birth with the respect and ritual significance that your culture or religion ascribes to it will help you integrate the experience into your new journey as a parent.
Whether it is a lotus birth, cord burning, or a pause for a prayer before clamping the cord, honoring your desire for this piece of birth should be high on your care provider’s list of priorities. If it’s not, I highly suggest finding a new one!
Whether you are merely interested in better iron levels for your newborn, or you have a specific ritual planned, delayed cord clamping is something that all new parents should be aware of!
If articles like this bring up more questions for you, feel free to reach out to me via my Contact page to set up a consult! Both as a Virtual Doula and a Birth Doula, sharing information and talking through your birth wishes is one of my passions.