'Waiting for white': everything you need to know about delayed cord clamping
It's hard to believe that a seemingly small decision made when your baby is born could improve their health for years to come - but that's the power of delayed cord clamping.
The practice, which involves waiting before cutting the umbilical cord, is now recommended by NICE, WHO, and the Royal College of Midwives. Yet despite that fact, a recent report by Tommy’s revealed that 40% of babies are still missing out on the benefits of “waiting for white”.
Here’s everything you need to know about this emerging practice.
What are my options for cutting the umbilical cord?
The definitions of immediate, delayed and optimal cord clamping is often inconsistent and vary from study to study, which means it can be hard to work out what each means. In the UK, it is generally accepted that:
- Immediate (or early cord clamping) lasts approximately 1-60 seconds
- Delayed cord clamping lasts approximately 60 seconds - 5 minutes
- Optimal cord clamping lasts more than 5 minutes or until the cord stops pulsating
Why wait to clamp the cord?
There is some significant scientific evidence that delayed cord clamping leads to healthier babies in the short and long term.
According to the BMJ, delayed clamping leads to a reduced risk of nasty complications like haemorrhages, infections, intestinal damage and anaemia. Considering many babies are born with iron-deficient anaemia, that’s no small achievement.
There are several other stats which also suggest that waiting for white is a no-brainer. For instance, delayed cord clamping can provide baby with up to 30% more blood, which is crucial considering all babies are born with just 66% of their total blood supply.
Who would benefit from waiting to cut the cord?
All babies can benefit from delayed clamping, although it may not be possible if there is a complication in the pregnancy such as a baby urgently needing oxygen.
Premature babies particularly benefit from the delay, as it means they can receive up to 214g extra blood. The boosted blood count can make all the difference, considering most premature babies are born underweight.
Crucially, DCC also reduces the need for blood transfusions in premature babies by as much as 10%.
How long do the benefits of delayed cord clamping last?The benefits to your baby last more than just a few days. Doctors have recorded higher iron levels in babies who received delayed cord clamping for up to six months, and research also suggests that they have better neurological development up to four years of age – as well as improved social and motor skills.
Is delayed cord clamping compatible with my birth choices?
Delayed and optimal cord clamping are compatible with most birth choices, including caesarean sections and placenta encapsulation.
However, there has been some uncertainty about the compatibility of delayed cord clamping with cord blood banking
This is because waiting to cut the cord means that there is less blood available for collection. In the past, parents have therefore had to choose one or the other.
Fortunately, a private cord blood bank in the UK has now developed a new processing technology called TotiCyte, which collects higher cell counts from smaller samples - allowing parents to protect their baby’s immediate health with delayed cord clamping and their future health, with cord blood banking.
Cells4Life is the UK’s leading private cord blood bank, which procures, processes and stores blood left in the umbilical cord for future therapeutic use.
Today, the stem cells found in the umbilical cord form the basis of more than 80 life-changing therapies and there are 7,000+ clinical trials which suggest they will soon be able to treat other conditions such as stroke, autism and cerebral palsy To date, Cells4Life has released 13 samples for use in some of these cutting-edge treatments.
Find out more about cord blood banking and delayed cord clamping by visiting: https://cells4life.com/cord-blood-banking-overview/delayed-cord-clamping/
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of procuring and storing blood, and sometimes tissue, remaining in the umbilical cord after birth.
This blood contains powerful stem cells, which can be used to treat more than 80 conditions worldwide. In future, they are even expected to form therapies for diseases and disorders like cerebral palsy, autism and stroke.
Published: Thursday 10 October 2019