Delayed cord clamping: What’s the big deal?

There are many questions you’ll have to make about your labor, delivery, and the moments directly after. A birth plan can help you discuss a lot of these ahead of time. Whether to request delayed cord clamping for your baby is one of these decisions.

None of the information in this post should be used in place of medical advice. Always consult your healthcare professionals if you have concerns.

delay cutting of umbilical cord

Should you request delayed cord clamping?

Many places are starting to make delayed cord clamping the standard of care as the benefits are being more widely acknowledged. However, if it’s something you want, be sure to discuss it with your OB as well as the staff on hand at your birth.

At older or smaller hospitals it may not be the standard procedure yet. I included on my birth plan that I wanted to delay cord clamping and will do so again with my second child.

What is delayed cord clamping?

Delayed cord clamping is simply delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord after birth. The umbilical cord attaches the mother’s placenta to the baby and is what supplies your baby with nutrients throughout your pregnancy.

When your baby is born the placenta stays inside the mother and will continue to work until the cord is cut. Your placenta will actually be delivered a few minutes after your baby is born.

If you want to know more about the amazing placenta check out our post all about the placenta!

The proposed delay isn’t very long. The current recommendation is to wait an extra 30-60 seconds after birth before clamping and cutting the cord that attaches mother and baby. Some recommend waiting until the cord stops pumping all together which could take 2-5 minutes!

The World Health Organization recommends waiting 60 seconds after birth before clamping and cutting the cord.

What are the benefits of delayed cord clamping?

By allowing this extra time with the baby attached to the cord it allows more blood to flow into the baby. For preterm and term babies it’s been shown to increase hemoglobin levels and improve iron stores preventing infant anemia. Preterm babies may experience extra benefits from a delayed cutting of the umbilical cord.

The extra iron can reduce or prevent iron deficiency in your baby in the first year of their life. Iron deficiency has been linked to “impaired cognitive, motor, and behavioral development“. Getting your baby this extra iron can help to set them up for success in their first year of life.

Delaying the cord clamping also allows for more stem cells and immunoglobins to flow into your baby. These are essential for organ and tissue repair.

In short, delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord for 30 seconds to 3 minutes allows more good stuff from the placenta to get into your baby before they are separated from the mother and their body has to do all the work on its own.

delayed cord clamping
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Are there Risks of delayed cord clamping?

There are no great risks to doing delayed cord clamping, although it should only be done on infants that don’t need any immediate medical intervention. There have been small increases in the levels of jaundice in babies who have delayed cord clamping so they will need to be monitored for that, but this is standard for all infants as jaundice is quite common.

If you plan to bank your baby’s cord blood you should seek additional guidance from your doctor as delaying cord clamping allows more cord blood to flow into the infant thereby reducing the amount available for banking or donating.

Information for this post was adapted from the

Hopefully, this information helps you tick off one more box on your birth plan checklist! If you found it helpful please share or pin it so another mom to be can find it as well. Be sure to check out more great pregnancy tips on my Pregnancy Page.

delayed cord clamping

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