A precious minute

by Christina on August 25, 2013

When I first started residency, we were not doing delayed cord clamping at all – in fact, I don’t remember it even being discussed at all on the labor floor – the baby came out and we cut the cord right away.

A couple years ago I went to a fascinating lecture where the obstetrician started her talk asking, “What do other animals do?” More on that here.

She went on to discuss the emerging evidence at the time showing that delayed cord clamping in preterm infants leads to fewer rates of hemorrhages and sepsis. Other studies were also showing that delayed cord clamping in full-term infants may actually improve iron stores and prevent anemia.

Now, we have even more data coming out on the benefits of delaying cord clamping, and our practice is changing.

When I was on call for labor and delivery last weekend, this paper was hanging up around the floor:

It’s a recent Cochrane Review on the benefits of delayed cord clamping in full term infants, including higher birthweight and improved iron stores.

Right before my patient was about to deliver, a nurse approached me and asked if I’d seen the paper. I was really grateful for the reminder. When my patient delivered soon after, we put baby to mom’s chest skin-to-skin, waited about a minute (such a precious minute to actually be present for), checked the cord had stopped pulsing, and then gave dad the scissors to cut the cord. It was quiet, calm, and a beautiful delivery.

I love when we realize that sometimes the best medicine means intervening less and aligning again with natural processes.

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