Immediate or delayed cord clamping? What does it change?
Cord clamping is an act practiced in different ways that can have a serious impact on the newborn’s health during his first days of life.
What is cord clamping?
At birth, the newborn is still attached to his mother through the umbilical cord (which is part of the placenta). To separate the baby from it, it is necessary to pinch the umbilical cord to stop blood circulation before cutting it.
This is what is called the umbilical cord “clamping” and “clamp” is the name of the tool used.
What is the difference between a delayed and an immediate cord clamping?
A cord clamping is considered “immediate” when it is done less than one minute after the baby’s birth and “delayed” when it is done more than 3 minutes after, or when blood pulses naturally stop inside the umbilical cord.
An immediate clamping involves health risks for the baby: it will reduce his blood quantity during the first weeks (that is called anaemia). The newborn will be weaker and more exposed to diseases and infections because immediate cord clamping denies the baby the blood from the placenta, creating an iron-deficiency. Newborns who lack blood can also suffer from lungs, intestines, heart or even brain function problems.
A delayed clamping allows to reduce or even avoid these problems: it is the practice recommended by WHO.
A delayed clamping has no negative impact for the newborn. If you are told that an immediate cord clamping needs to be done to avoid any disturbance of the umbilical cord pH exam, studies have shown that it only changes the umbilical cord pH by 0.01 points.
Therefore, always practice a delayed clamping, except for exceptional cases when the baby is in danger and needs to be rescued or resuscitated.