The Risks and Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
There are lots of different decisions parents-to-be need to make regarding how their baby is born. Do you want to give birth in a hospital or at home or in a birthing center? Do you want to have a natural birth or do you want an epidural? Another question to consider is whether or not you’re interested in delayed cord clamping.
Like any other decision you make regarding your child’s birth, it’s very important to understand the risks and benefits of each option so that you can make an informed decision. There isn’t a specific time that all hospitals, midwives, and birthing centers follow when clamping umbilical cords. For a long time, it was very common for umbilical cords to be clamped within a few seconds of birth, typically within 30 seconds, for a few different reasons. Some research had suggested that 90% of blood volume transfer was achieved within just a few seconds for full-term infants. It was also believed that immediate cord clamping helped prevent blood loss in mothers. This practice remains very common in hospitals throughout America.
However, subsequent research has shown that delayed cord clamping can be beneficial for newborns. Delayed cord clamping occurs when the umbilical cord is clamped within 30-60 seconds after a child’s birth. Some studies have shown that delayed cord clamping can result in a 30% higher blood volume in the child, a 60% increase in red blood cell counts, and a reduced risk of anemia. Delayed cord clamping also does not increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage for the mother.
Delayed cord clamping has been found to be beneficial for infants born at term and infants born prematurely. The benefits of delayed cord clamping can stay with full-term babies for months after birth and help them grow and develop, but delayed cord clamping can be particularly beneficial for babies born prematurely. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), delayed cord clamping can result in improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume, a decreased need for blood transfusions, and lower rates of intraventricular hemorrhage.
While delayed cord clamping can be beneficial in many cases, it does come with some risks. An increased risk of jaundice has been linked to delayed cord clamping. In most cases, jaundice won’t cause any long-term harm if treatment begins immediately, but it can potentially cause a brain injury known as kernicterus if it goes untreated. If you are considering delayed cord clamping, be sure to ask your doctor about whether or not they are equipped to treat jaundice right away if necessary. Polycythemia can also result if a child’s red blood cell levels are too high and can result in problems like poor circulation and breathing problems.
Delayed cord clamping also isn’t an ideal option in certain situations. ACOG does not recommend delayed cord clamping if the child is lacking oxygen and needs immediate resuscitation after birth or if there is an issue with the placenta that prevents placental circulation, such as umbilical cord avulsion or placental abruption.
If you are considering delayed cord clamping for your delivery, be sure to discuss it with your doctor to learn more about the risks and benefits involved. If a doctor or other medical professional fails to adequately warn patients of the risks involved with procedures like delayed cord clamping, it can potentially lead to birth trauma. If your child sustained an injury caused by delayed cord clamping, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a birth trauma lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we understand how upsetting these kinds of situations and we’re here to help you understand your legal options and make sure your claim is handled correctly. Contact us today for help with your case.