Cutting the cord - wtf is 'Optimal Cord Clamping'


Optimal Cord Clamping is different to delayed cord clamping.


You might even be thinking I don't know what either of those are??? 🤷 When your baby is born, approx 1/3 of their blood remains in the placenta & umbilical cord. After the baby comes out, the umbilical cord continues pulsing that blood back to baby.


It used to be standard practice to clamp and the cut the cord almost straight away. (This is what happens in most TV & films btw, so it's probably what you'd expect). But that meant baby didn't get all it's blood back.



More recently, there has been recognition of the health benefits for the baby of delaying this process - including the increased iron levels, stem cells transferred to the baby, and it aids the babies breathing function and lung expansion when it has it's 'full complement of blood back' (from Dr. Sara Wickham - see reference links below).


The World Health Organisation currently recommends clamping the umbilical between one and three minutes after birth, 'for improved maternal and infant health and nutrition outcomes'.

However, even after 3 minutes the baby may not have received all the blood that had been circulating the placenta and umbilical cord.


When first born umbilical cords look all purple and thick, full of blood. When it's finished doing its job, it goes white and sinewy. That's when you know it's done.


There is a campaign called #waitforwhite i.e. wait for the umbilical cord to finish it's work and go white before cutting it. This is what's referred to as 'Optimal Cord Clamping'.


That's ideally what you want (where possible - there may be some circumstances where it isn't. For example where they need to take baby away from mum for resuscitation, or in a caesarean where they need to sew you back up) (p.s. you can have 'delayed cord clamping in a caesarean, even just for a few minutes).


You can write in your birth plan / preferences that where possible, you specifically want OPTIMAL cord clamping, or that you want to 'wait for white' before cutting the cord.


I hope that helps lovelies!


For more information check out the world health organisation's info here: https://www.who.int/elena/titles/full_recommendations/cord_clamping/en/#:~:text=Late%20cord%20clamping%20(performed%20approximately,be%20moved%20immediately%20for%20resuscitation.



And read this EXCELLENT article by the amazing Dr Sara Wickham here: https://www.sarawickham.com/articles-2/the-value-of-leaving-the-umbilical-cord-intact/


Lauren x




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