Articles - The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping
How to give your newborn its best start

The Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping


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How to give your newborn its best start

Optimal/Deferred or Delayed Cord Clamping provides so many benefits, giving infants the best start in life, providing the best woman-centred care and contributing towards the mental and emotional health of families.

Umbilical cord blood is the source of a baby’s lifeblood up until birth. It contains many critical cells, like stem cells, red blood cells, and white blood cells (including cancer-fighting T-cells) that help fight disease and infection. 

The World Health Organisation states that “optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord for all infants regardless of gestational age or fetal weight is when the circulation in the cord has ceased, and the cord is flat and pulseless (approximately 3 minutes or more after birth).”

The Benefits

For the baby:

  • Normal, healthy blood volume for the transition to life outside the womb
  • Full count of red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells

For the mother:

  • Keeps the mother-baby unit intact
  • May prevent complications with delivering the placenta

For very preterm infants:

  • Fewer days on oxygen and ventilation
  • Fewer transfusions
  • Lower rates of intraventricular haemorrhage and late-onset sepsis.

A review of large studies on delayed cord clamping shows the following additional benefits:

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher hematocrit levels
  • More optimal oxygen transport and higher red blood cell flow to vital organs
  • Reduced infant anaemia
  • Increased duration of breastfeeding

How to delay cord clamping

Info by Kate Emerson 

In a normal birth, delayed clamping is achieved by leaving the umbilical cord intact during the placental transfusion and not clamping until the cord has stopped pulsating.

Once the baby has begun to breathe and achieved a normal circulating blood volume, the cord ceases to pulse (cord appears white and flaccid). It can take around 3 to 7 minutes for a baby to transition and to establish a physiological blood volume, but this process can take longer for some babies.

In surgical deliveries (caesarean section), a ‘delay’ in clamping can be achieved (except in cases where there is incision or damage to the placenta). The baby can be held below the level of the placenta to assist with the transfer of blood from the placenta to the baby. The delay in clamping might be a minimum 40 seconds or even longer, depending on the circumstances of the birth. With a ‘lotus’ caesarean section the placenta may remain attached to the baby, without clamping the cord.

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