Thursday, September 16, 2010

Delayed Cord Clamping and Why You Should Do It

I was talking to a friend who is due any time now and she said that during her last visit (last week) her doctor mentioned that they do not "infuse" the baby (some refer to it as "transfuse"), it's not their procedure and it takes too much time.  She asked me what the doctor was talking about.

Infusion is when you birth the baby and then allow the placenta to transfer the remainder of the blood within it to the baby.  This accomplishes a couple of very important things (from Midwife's Thinking Blog):
  • Provides the extra blood volume needed for the heart to direct 50% of it’s output to the lungs (8% before birth). This extra blood fills the capillaries in the lungs making them expand to provide support for the alveoli to open. It also aids lung fluid clearance from the alveoli. These changes allow the baby to breath effectively.
  • Increases the number of circulating red blood cells which carry oxygen. This increases the baby’s capacity to send oxygen around the body.
You can see how important this is...especially if a baby is born by C-Section (well, at any time).  During natural birth, the baby is massaged through the birth canal.  This helps expel any fluids in the lungs to prepare the baby to breathe oxygen.  During a C-Section, this does not occur and the fluid needs to be manually removed, but the massaging action also stimulates the baby's body, increasing the blood flow.  By prematurely clamping/cutting the cord it prevents the baby from getting even more of what he/she needs to breathe effectively outside of the womb.  It's easy to see why so many C-Section babies are NICU'ed for respiratory issues.

If you need something to take review on your way to the doctor's for this conversation, see these websites/articles:

For those of you who prefer actual scientific studies, see "Delayed Cord Clamping" on the Birth Balance Blog.

And watch this video with Dr. Stuart Fischbein.

You can insist on infusion in the hospital.  This is not illegal and it is not against the rules of the hospital.  It is simply a way for the doctor to be done with the birth faster, although waiting an extra few minutes will make no big difference to the doctor/nurses and a whole lot of difference to the baby (unless, of course, there is an emergency to deal with). 

This is something that needs to be discussed with your doctor/care provider in advance.  So, make sure this topic is covered.  Print up the importance to the baby for infusion and talk it over with your doctor.  Most midwives will, however, do infusions, as they prefer to wait until the body is ready and are not on a "time crunch".  It is still important to discuss this no matter who is going to attend your birth.

You have every right to demand that your baby be allowed to benefit from the infusion or that the placenta is allowed to stop pulsing on it's own before the cord is clamped and cut. 
An extra few minutes after birth is a short time to wait to ensure your baby has as much as they need to begin the first moments of their lives. 

Besides, you'll never notice the time because you'll be too busy admiring the beautiful baby in your arms.


  1. We did this with my son and even though he was 6 weeks premature, he had 9 on his APGAR. I think even though he was induced due my membrane rupturing and some really rough labor, having him vaginally and waiting to cut the cord helped him out tremendously. The NICU folks were shocked he had such good scores and was in such great shape. :)

  2. That's great, Cassandra!! It is amazing at how well babies who are allowed to get all of their cord blood do! Glad your little guy is doing great!