Delayed cord clamping… why and for how long?

After baby is born the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, releasing their physical connection to mom. Studies have shown there are health benefits for baby if this is delayed.

Both, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, and American Academy of Pediatrics, supports delayed cord blood clamping. The research states that in term infants (37-41 weeks) it increases blood levels which improves iron stores, supporting infant development.

In preterm babies (24-36.6 weeks) the benefits are even greater. Along with increasing blood volume decreasing the need for blood transfusions in the preterm infant, delayed clamping also decreases the risk of serious bowel conditions and brain hemorrhage associated with preterm births.

While most institutions and providers have implemented this practice, the span of time before the cord is clamped varies. Both nationally accredited organizations recommend clamping the cord after 30-60 seconds. In emergency situations when delayed cord clamping is not safe, the provider may “milk” the cord to quickly transfer umbilical cord blood to baby.

Recap: Professional organizations recommend to

  • delay cord clamping for 30-60 seconds
  • benefits include favorable developmental outcomes and decrease health risks in preterm babies.