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  • Writer's pictureNutured Birth Ottawa

Ask an Ottawa birth doula – What is delayed cord clamping?

A gloved care provider is cutting a baby's umbilical cord. The dark baby is resting on it's mother's chest.

Delayed cord clamping is a practice of waiting a period of time, usually between 2 and 5 minutes, before clamping and cutting the baby's umbilical cord after birth.

Most providers have been taught that immediate cord clamping (within the first 15 to 30 seconds following birth) is the safest practice, and that waiting any longer can be detrimental to both the birthing person and the baby. However, as more studies are conducted, many providers are changing the way that they do things and allowing for a greater amount of time before cutting the cord.

While there is a small increased risk of jaundice requiring phototherapy in the newborn, the benefits of delayed cord clamping are quite clear.

Delaying the cutting of the cord affects the babies total blood volume after birth. As the uterus contracts it pushes blood from the placenta, through the cord, into the baby's body. Studies show that waiting at least 2 minutes before clamping and cutting the cord contributes to higher levels of iron in the newborn and reduces the risk of anemia. Other benefits include a decreased risk of brain bleeds, positive impacts on the infant’s neurodevelopment, and a decreased risk of infant respiratory disease. It is important to note that there are some circumstances where cutting the cord immediately is important. For instance, the World Health Organization states that cord clamping should not be delayed in the occurrence that neonatal resuscitation is needed. If the birthing person or baby requires urgent care the benefit of immediate cord cutting would outweigh the risks.

As a practicing Ottawa doula, it is wonderful to see that many of our caregivers automatically wait two minutes or more to allow for delayed cord clamping. However, it is still an important point to add to your birth intentions or birth plan, and review this with your main health care provider beforehand to make sure that you and your midwife or OB/GYN are on the same page about your preference.

Do you plan on including delayed cord clamping on your list of birth intentions?

This post was written by Ottawa Doula, Julia Davie. Her approach to birth work is heart centered, holistic and inclusive. She is honored to support families in Ottawa, Gatineau, and the surrounding areas.


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