There are so many important decisions that a new mother has to make, whether it's getting an epidural or choosing whether to breast freed or not. You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what's best. Now there's another thing to throw into that baby prep worry — like the benefits of waiting to cut a baby's umbilical cord. For the longest time, doctors have cut the cord just after birth, but delayed cord clamping can allegedly have some great health benefits for your newborn. New guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest doctors delay cutting the cord for about one minute after birth. The organization wrote in their report that it helps the baby and won't hurt the mother, so it's a win-win.
In terms of maternal outcomes, delayed umbilical cord clamping does not increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage or the need for blood transfusion. Additionally, postpartum maternal hemoglobin levels are not affected by delayed compared with immediate umbilical cord clamping.
Blood continues to flow from the placenta through the cord for enough time after birth to result in 30 percent more blood volume. That means a possible decrease in iron deficiency for a newborn. Delaying the cord cutting for even a minute, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, can mean increasing the iron levels in an infant by anywhere from 27-47 mg, which might mean that you worry less about their iron levels in the first few months postpartum. Which is good, because you'll have a whole other stack of things to be focusing on with a new infant, right?
In addition to higher iron levels, not cutting the cord also means just a little more time with that delicious smelling (and sticky, let's be real) infant. Many hospitals take the baby away from the mother immediately after birth to run tests and all of that good stuff. But that means cutting the cord right away. By waiting a few minutes and handing the baby over to the new mom, the infant gets some bonus skin-to-skin contact.
Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to lead to less respiratory issues and just less stress in general, for both mom and baby. Researchers have found that moms who get skin-to-skin contact right after birth bond better with their new infant, too. It also, reportedly, leads to an easier breastfeeding experience for both the mom and the newborn, if that's something that's important to you.
According to the new ACOG guidelines, the previously held idea that cutting the cord too early would mean a greater risk of hemorrhaging for the mother are unfounded. So it might be worth asking your doctor what they think about waiting to cut the cord (and maybe getting some of that skin-to-skin action) on your big day.