The umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. It provides all the oxygen, nutrients, and blood the baby needs to grow and develop. It is understandable that parents who want to store their child’s umbilical cord blood have questions about when to clamp the cord and how the timing affects cord blood collection and storage.
Your doctor or midwife will have a preferred time of clamping the cord, and there may be medical reasons or circumstances around the delivery specific to your baby to consider. Still the decision on when to clamp is personal, and one best discussed with your caregiver. The good news is that cord blood can be collected regardless of when the cord is clamped. The collection will occur once the cord is clamped and can take place after a vaginal or C-section birth. Regardless of what you and your caregiver decide, the collection of the cord blood will not interfere either way.
Expecting parents are often inundated with information about the upcoming birth. Often this information can be confusing, and sorting fact from fiction, or misconceptions, can be a daunting task. The best resource for most of this information will be your doctor. Research is currently underway to help determine the risks or benefits altering normal cord clamping may have. There have been many studies with varied results. Some of the most current research suggests that a small delay in clamping may yield a slight benefit to lowering anemia in a full term newborn. The research also shows there may be a slight increase in jaundice with delayed clamping. Thus there are potential benefits and potential risks to be aware of. The medical community in general believes more research needs to be done before any changes to standard deliveries are made.
For instance, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the research shows there is not enough evidence to support or refute the purported benefits some claim delayed clamping has for full term infants. There is a benefit for pre-term births, but these instances are best handled by your medical caregivers.
So what is umbilical cord clamping and how is normal timing different from delayed? Normal umbilical cord clamping is defined as less than one minute after birth. In most instances a ‘delayed’ clamping occurs 1-3 minutes after birth, and poses minimal risk to the cord blood collection. Again, it is important to note that the doctor’s primary job is to safely deliver the baby, and may have to alter the time of clamping appropriately.
We believe the timing of umbilical cord clamping is a decision for families and their doctor to make together. Tell him or her about your wishes to collect the cord blood and discuss it with them before the birth.