Delayed and Optimal Cord Clamping: What's the Difference?

Picture this. You’ve just given birth to your beautiful baby, in the way you chose, feeling in control and confident. But now it’s time to cut the umbilical cord and you need to ensure your baby's cord isn't cut too early - another fight for your rights to be heard. In this blog post I'm going to lay out the difference between delayed and optimal cord clamping so you know the difference between the two and the associated health benefits.

Let's start with delayed cord clamping.

Delayed cord clamping is when we allow the umbilical cord to pulsate for up to 1 minute after birth, before eventually clamping and cutting it. This means some of the baby's blood will be transferred to your baby but not all of it. Hospitals will do this as standard practice, but it’s important that parents know that they can ask for optimal cord clamping instead.

Optimal cord clamping - I would argue - is the ideal here. This involves waiting until the umbilical cord turns from purple to blue to white in colour, signalling that the cord has transferred all of its oxygenated blood. The iron, oxygen and stem cells in your baby's blood means they are generally more stable at birth if the cord isn't cut straight away. The umbilical cord contains a third of your baby’s blood volume! So it’s really worth being patient.

However, there are certain circumstances where optimal cord clamping shouldn’t happen, such as if you’re experiencing haemorrhage or an abnormal placenta. It also shouldn’t happen if your baby needs immediate medical care.

If you're having an elective c-section or even if you have an unplanned c-section, you can request that cord clamping is delayed. It's best to talk this through with your health care provider and remember to use one of the butterbean birth plans to lay out your birth preferences.

Remember, your birth partner can still cut the cord if you have delayed or optimal cord clamping so be sure to include this in your birth plan if it's one of your preferences.

 

umbilical_cord

Delayed and Optimal Cord Clamping: What's the Difference?

umbilical_cord

Picture this. You’ve just given birth to your beautiful baby, in the way you chose, feeling in control and confident. But now it’s time to cut the umbilical cord and you need to ensure your baby's cord isn't cut too early - another fight for your rights to be heard. In this blog post I'm going to lay out the difference between delayed and optimal cord clamping so you know the difference between the two and the associated health benefits.

Let's start with delayed cord clamping.

Delayed cord clamping is when we allow the umbilical cord to pulsate for up to 1 minute after birth, before eventually clamping and cutting it. This means some of the baby's blood will be transferred to your baby but not all of it. Hospitals will do this as standard practice, but it’s important that parents know that they can ask for optimal cord clamping instead.

Optimal cord clamping - I would argue - is the ideal here. This involves waiting until the umbilical cord turns from purple to blue to white in colour, signalling that the cord has transferred all of its oxygenated blood. The iron, oxygen and stem cells in your baby's blood means they are generally more stable at birth if the cord isn't cut straight away. The umbilical cord contains a third of your baby’s blood volume! So it’s really worth being patient.

However, there are certain circumstances where optimal cord clamping shouldn’t happen, such as if you’re experiencing haemorrhage or an abnormal placenta. It also shouldn’t happen if your baby needs immediate medical care.

If you're having an elective c-section or even if you have an unplanned c-section, you can request that cord clamping is delayed. It's best to talk this through with your health care provider and remember to use one of the butterbean birth plans to lay out your birth preferences.

Remember, your birth partner can still cut the cord if you have delayed or optimal cord clamping so be sure to include this in your birth plan if it's one of your preferences.