When Should You Cut the Cord? Delayed Umbilical Clamping Benefits

Does jaundice resulting from delayed umbilical cord clamping hurt the baby? Image by Carin

Does jaundice resulting from delayed umbilical cord clamping hurt the baby? Researchers show that it does not, and infants can benefit from this practice. Image by Carin

Premature Infants Also Benefit From Delayed Cord Clamping

In the case of multiples, immediate cord clamping may be necessary to prevent a phenomenon known as twin-to-twin transfusion, but ultrasound examination may determine the problem ahead of time. Early cord clamping is also thought to prevent delays when babies need resuscitation. Dr. Tonse Raju stated in the April 2013 issue of Current Opinion Pediatrics, however, that doctors should quickly “milk” blood from the cord toward the baby before it is clamped to take advantage of some vital benefits.

When outcomes were compared in early-born infants whose cords were clamped and cut at either 30 seconds or a shorter interval of less than 10 seconds, the delayed clamping group had better iron, hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. They required fewer transfusions and needed less days of oxygen therapy. Babies in the delayed cord clamping group also were given less medications, had less infections and had better heart, kidney and bowel function.  Only a slight increase in neonatal jaundice in premature infants has been associated with delayed cord clamping.

Neonatal Jaundice is a Condition Arising From Normal Physiology

Your newborn must transition to life outside the womb. Before birth, your baby needs extra red blood cells, as the placenta is her only source of oxygen. With her first breath, oxygen flows through the lungs and her liver soon eliminates unneeded red blood cells. Bilirubin is created by that process and is released through the blood, bowels and skin, causing yellow skin and eyes around three days after birth. Even if bilirubin reaches unsafe levels, the treatment is usually simple: exposure to bright light, or phototherapy, for a few days.

Delayed Cord Clamping

So go ahead, talk to your doctor or midwife about delayed clamping and cutting of your baby’s umbilical cord. State your preference ahead of time and make sure that all caregivers know and agree to honor your request. Because even a delay as short as 30 to 180 seconds has been shown to prevent anemia and improve body functions. It might also make your infant a better problem-solver, and who wouldn’t want that? It seems that waiting a little while could give your baby a very healthy advantage.


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McDonald SJ, Middleton P, Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes, (2009), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, accessed on July 23, 20013

Chapparo, C., Neufeld, L., et. al., Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping on iron status in Mexican infants: a randomised controlled trial, (2006), The Lancet, accessed on July 23, 2013
>Andersson, O., Domellöf, M.,Effects of delayed cord clamping on neurodevelopment and infection at four months of age: a randomised trial, (2013), Acta Paediatrica, accessed on July 23, 2013

Raju, Tonse, Timing of umbilical cord clamping after birth for optimizing placental transfusion, (2013), Current Opinions Pediatrics, accessed on July 23, 2013
Kinmond, S., et. al., Umbilical cord clamping and preterm infants: a randomised trial, (1993), British Medical Journal, accessed on July 23, 2013

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  1. I am a birth doula. I have seen OB’s that will do this but u have also seen those that don’t do the delayed cord clamping. If this is something you want to happen, put it in your birth plan! Also if it is that important to you, have your doula/labor coach watch after birth. I witness the delayed cord clamping and monitor it when it stops pulsating for the mom.


  1. […] that you would like that may be out of the ordinary. For example, some hospitals do not practice delayed cord clamping. If you desire to delay cord clamping for your child, this would be something that […]

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