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  • Writer's pictureZara

Delayed Cord Clamping

For many years, in a variety of birth settings, immediate umbilical cord clamping straight after the baby was born became part of normal birth practice- particularly in hospital settings.

Although, it is interesting to see that in the past thought was given to leaving the umbilical cord intact, as it was believed to be beneficial to the baby.

Extensive research in recent years has now revealed that the practice of immediate clamping of the umbilical cord can be detrimental to your baby. Delayed cord clamping (DCC) or optimal cord clamping (OCC) for all babies at birth, unless in need of intensive resuscitation, is now supported by, World Heath organisation, and The nursing and midwifery council.



In 1801, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, who was a doctor, said:


“Very injurious to the child is the tying of the navel string too soon. It should be left till all pulsation in the cord ceases. Otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.”



The reason that immediate clamping of the umbilical cord should not take place is because up to one third of your baby’s circulating blood volume is still contained within the placenta and umbilical cord at birth.

The transfer of this blood from you to your baby, which also contains nutrients and stem cells, needs at least a few minutes to be complete, but this timing can vary individually. If your baby's cord is clamped immediately, your baby can start their newborn life with up to 300mls less of the blood they were intended to have

The World Health Organisation defines the optimal time to clamp your baby’s cord as when it has stopped pulsating, which can be approximately 3 minutes or often much longer after the birth, but births and umbilical cords are very individual to each woman and baby. Some cords may pulsate (the pulsation assists the transfer of your baby’s blood back into their body) for as long as 30 minutes or more, where others may stop pulsating at 5 minutes or less after the baby is born.


You can request that the umbilical cord is left unclamped until it has stopped pulsating or until you have delivered your placenta after birth. If your baby is delivered via forceps or caesarean section time may be more limited due to other factors involved in the birth, but ask the doctor to delay clamping for as long as possible.

There are very few circumstances at birth where delayed cord clamping (DCC) cannot be implemented, however, the length of time may be subject to time limits due to the circumstances and the environment you birth in. If you want your baby to have DCC make sure you have it in your birth plan, or that the midwife caring for you in labour is aware of your wishes.



  • Increased blood volume: We draw blood from babies for various tests. Premature babies require even more testing, which can lead to anemia and require blood transfusions. Starting out with a higher blood count can help prevent the need for transfusions.

  • Increased iron: Babies who are breastfed require iron supplementation to reduce the chance of anemia, and this may help cut down on that need. Baby formula often comes with iron supplements added.

  • Stabilization of heart rate and blood pressure: Premature infants are at increased risk for bleeding into their brains, which can cause long-term developmental problems for the infant. We think the increase in blood volume helps stabilize blood pressure and improve other cardiovascular functioning that reduces the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage by about 50 percent.


Lotus birth vs. delayed cord clamping

Lotus birth is one delivery method where the cord isn’t immediately clamped or cut. In fact, it isn’t cut at all. Instead, the placenta dries and falls off naturally. This may take a few days to a week.


Some mother may also chose to consider a Lotus Birth. Lotus birth is when the umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta – instead of being clamped and cut – until it falls away on its own. This means the baby stays connected to the placenta for longer than with a typical birth.‌

It usually takes around 5-15 days for this to happen. It means that you’ll need to take good care of the placenta before it breaks away.


Benefits of Lotus Birth

Lotus births haven’t been studied enough for us to know whether or not they have real benefits. Supporters of lotus births claim that the fetus and the placenta are made from the same matter. They believe that not cutting the umbilical cord will lead to the baby having a stronger immune system, a greater supply of oxygen, and a calmer attitude.

Delayed cord clamping – waiting to cut the umbilical cord for 30 seconds to 2 minutes after birth – has been shown to increase an infant’s blood volume. It’s possible that lotus births have a similar effect on infants, but this hasn’t been scientifically proven.


Risks of Lotus Birth

Once the placenta and umbilical cord leave the womb, the placenta will no longer have blood running through it. It will be made of dead tissue. This makes the placenta susceptible to an infection. If this happens, the baby will also get an infection.


Lotus birth vs. delayed cord clamping

Lotus birth is one delivery method where the cord isn’t immediately clamped or cut. In fact, it isn’t cut at all. Instead, the placenta dries and falls off naturally. This may take a few days to a week.

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