New Delhi: If you're pregnant and/or about to deliver soon, then make sure you get your umbilical cord clamped and cut after some time.
Most hospitals cut the umbilical cord right after delivery, but now, a group of physicians have suggested that delaying the procedure bears a huge amount of health benefits for the baby.
According to VOA News, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in an opinion from its Committee on Obstetric Practice that was published on the ACOG website, said that instead of quickly clamping off the cord that connects the newborn to its placental sac, doctors should wait an additional 30 to 60 seconds. Those extra seconds for babies born at term are associated with an increase in hemoglobin levels in newborns, the statement said.
In 2015, a similar recommendation was issued, suggesting that the umbilical cord should not be cut earlier than 30 to 60 seconds after birth, when it comes to term and preterm infants. However, the World Health Organization recommends delaying the procedure by an entire minute in the same conditions.
The main reason for the recommended delay is because the transfer of blood from the placenta takes place approximately a minute after birth and is extended for a total of three minutes thereafter. Moreover, the first breaths that the newborn takes have been correlated with this process.
Furthermore, the blood contains essential quantities of iron, which help provide the newborns with the requisite amount of iron for the first year of their life. This in turn helps build the baby's cognitive, motor and behavioral strength.
The longer the placental transfusion, the greater the benefits. The connection also facilitates immunoglobulins, as well as stem cells, which are indispensable for tissue and organ repairs.
VOA News further reported that waiting several seconds more to clamp off the umbilical cord also has benefits for premature babies, ACOG said. The practice improves circulation in the newborn just after birth and decreases the need for blood transfusion due to a decrease in red blood cell volume. In addition, delaying clamping lowers the risk of brain hemorrhage and intestinal disease.
While there are various recommendations for times to cut the cord, Maria Mascola, the lead author of the new guidance, said there is increasing evidence that waiting an additional 30 to 60 seconds to clamp the umbilical cord has clear health benefits.
Mascola said that the practice does not interfere with early care of the newborn, and that it does stimulate breathing and skin-to-skin bonding between mother and child immediately after birth.
However, the opinion issued by ACOG on delayed clamping noted that there is a slight risk of jaundice in the newborn. But the problem is manageable and doctors and other health care professionals should have proper procedures in place to handle it.