When your baby is born, there are so many things that happen so quickly, but each one of them has rhyme, reason … and repercussions. The general theme that the ACOG, March of Dimes, and many other medical organizations have been trying to make clear to people is this: Patience. We need it.
Whether it’s letting your body take longer to dilate, waiting through the normally occurring stalls in labor that are intended to let the mother rest, or realizing that sometimes inductions can take days, we just need to slooooow dooooown.
Another place we need a little more patience? Cutting the baby’s umbilical cord. Generally done within the first few seconds, this rush to cut can cause a lot of immediate issues for the baby, as the awesome Penny Simkin demonstrates in a very easy-to-understand video.
So, like she demonstrates so beautifully, even if there’s a medical issue or baby needs to be resuscitated, it’s still imperative the cord remain attached to the placenta as long as possible. In fact, in a baby who is struggling, the cord remaining attached is even more important than a baby who isn’t, since if they’re not breathing through their lungs yet, they’re still getting oxygen through the cord — cut that, and then they aren’t getting oxygen from anywhere. A special trolley has even been invented and is spreading like wildfire through hospitals that allows resuscitation at the mother’s bedside, so the cord doesn’t have to be clamped.
It’s really a large volume of blood that the placenta holds for the baby, isn’t it? The amount that gets wasted when doctors are in a rush to clamp is really shocking. Even though emergency birth shows always have someone running for shoelaces and scissors to tie off the cord, it’s really not a good idea. In fact, some people leave it on, wrapped in leaves in a bundle, until it falls off naturally — that’s called a “Lotus Birth.” I’m not really on board there since I think nature has made it clear that mammals are intended to chew off and then consume the placenta once it’s empty (or in humans, take it in pill-form at least), but either way, it’s not meant to be cut from the baby’s body until it has done its job. Anemia through the first year of life and low blood pressure risks are just some of the many things risked if the cord is clamped early. Even two minutes can make a big difference!
Now, it’s still important to say that some studies show there might be some downsides, such as increased risk of jaundice, but currently the recommendation is to wait at least 1-3 minutes (which, really, isn’t that long at all), or until the cord is done pulsing and looks limp. I do have to admit, though, I haven’t looked into nor do I know how this relates to c-section babies. I’m sure there are lots of brilliant women out there who do know, though!