What you need to know to make an informed decision.

What is optimal cord clamping?

Optimal cord clamping refers to the practice of waiting until the optimal time to clamp and cut the umbilical cord. Also known as “delayed cord clamping”. The cord continues to pulse as the blood is transferred to the baby. This blood belongs to the baby and is part of the physiologic process at birth. Waiting until the baby is breathing and the cord has stopped pulsing is considered to be optimal.

What is cord blood banking?

Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the blood from the umbilical cord and placenta, then sending it to a long term storage facility for possible future use. After your baby is born and the cord has been clamped and cut, your provider will collect blood from the cord and placenta. It is then shipped off to the storage facility.

Why should I wait to clamp the cord?

After your baby is born, about ⅓ of their total blood volume remains in the placenta(4).

Infants are protected from anaemia and iron deficiency for at least six months(1). This is a time of rapid brain growth and development, and iron is essential to that process(2).

For those infants born early, the benefits are even more important. Waiting means they are less likely to require blood transfusion, ventilation and oxygen therapy, have more stable blood pressures, and thrive better(3).

Timing of umbilical cord clamping should not be altered for the collection of cord blood. -ACOG(5)

Will your provider delay cutting the cord? For how long? Will they alter this if you also plan to bank cord blood? ASK! The most important part about researching your options and deciding on your preferences is discussing them with your chosen provider.

(1)Raju, Tonse N. K., and Nalini Singal. “OPTIMAL TIMING FOR CLAMPING THE UMBILICAL CORD AFTER BIRTH.” Clinics in perinatology 39.4 (2012): 10.1016/j.clp.2012.09.006. PMC. Web. 26 July 2015.

(2)Carter RC, Jacobson JL, Burden MJ, et al. Iron deficiency anemia and cognitive function in infancy. Pediatrics. 2010; 126:2 pp e427-e434 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2097).

(3) Asfour, V. and Bewley, S. (2011), Cord clamping practice could affect the ratio of placental weight to birthweight and perinatal outcomes. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 118: 1539–1540. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03131.x (4)Farrar D, Airey R, Law G, Tuffnell D, Cattle B, Duley L. Measuring placental transfusion for term births: weighing babies with cord intact. BJOG  2011;118:70–5.

(5) ACOG Committee Opinion No. 399. Umbilical Cord Blood Banking. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 399. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:475–477