Optimal Cord Clamping: The Difference 90 Seconds Can Make

There are endless decisions to make when preparing for a birth, and it seems there are pros and cons on both sides of everything (and everyone has their own opinion!). Cord clamping however, is rarely discussed, has virtually no cons, a lot of pros, and is generally done without consulting the parents.

Since 1913 it has been common practice in Western medicine to immediately clamp the umbilical cord after birth, known as Immediate Cord Clamping (ICC)1 , a practice that has practically no known benefits2; other than the baby needing immediate medical attention, or perhaps simple convenience for the nurse and doctor to be able to evaluate and wash the baby immediately after birth.

Optimal Cord Clamping (OCC), also called Delayed Cord Clamping (DCC), is the practice of simply waiting an additional 2-3 minutes (some advocates say longer) after birth to clamp the cord.

Why? Up until the moment a baby is born, while in the womb, there is a continual flow of blood between the baby and the placenta, providing the baby with all the oxygen needed. At the time of birth, one third of a baby’s blood is still outside of its body, and inside of the placenta.

During labor and delivery, much of that blood is transfused from the placenta into the baby, driven by the force of uterine contractions. This transfusion continues beyond the moment of emergence from the vulva; and, if left undisturbed for a short 1-3 minutes, the placenta will deliver around an additional three ounces of blood to the baby,3 powered purely by contractions without the assistance of gravity.4

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©2011 Steph Goralnick - Please do not publish or repost without permission