Delayed Cord Clamping and Why You Should Consider It

Delayed Cord Clamping. You've probably heard the term thrown around a time or two, or breezed on by scientific articles online as you went about your business. But, now that you are either expecting or thinking about planning a pregnancy, this topic has become something you truly want to look into - and with good reason! In today's informative article, we discuss some of the incredible reasons you should seriously consider engaging in delayed cord clamping, including the major benefits for baby.

The Basics: What are placentas and umbilical cords, anyway?

Your baby’s umbilical cord is to your placenta, and to their umbilicus (belly button). The cord delivers oxygen and nutrients from the placenta to the baby. The cord has two arteries and one vein for ultimate oxygenation. At birth, the baby is delivered and generally within 10-30 minutes the placenta separates from the uterus and is delivered as well. 

There are two different ways to birth your placenta, one is called ‘Active Management of the Third Stage’ and the other is ‘Physiological Management of the Third Stage’.

The first method is suggested by most hospitals as a suggested protocol. This involves giving women an injection of ‘Syntocinin’ (synthetic version of oxytocin) as the baby is being delivered to help the placenta come away from the mother's body quicker and reduce the likelihood of significant bleeding from the uterus. 

The other option is where placenta delivery is kept as natural as possible and no interventions occur to facilitate the placenta to birth. 

Benefits of delayed cord clamping for baby:

You might be wondering why a mother would want to delay clamping her baby's cord. After all, we've all seen the movies where a baby is born and almost immediately the cord is clamped and cut, correct? But did you know that the blood flowing through the baby's umbilical cord and placenta is not processed back through to baby until after baby is born, and the placenta is delivered?

The American Academy of Pediatrics even backs this practice, stating it “recommends a delay in umbilical cord clamping in vigorous term and preterm infants for at least 30-60 seconds after birth.”

Some of the benefits to baby include:

  • Better hemoglobin levels at first check; less instance of anemia

  • Approximately one-third of a baby’s total blood volume resides in the placenta, cutting the cord early means a drastic decrease in a baby’s blood volume

  • For pre-term infants, increased circulation and it can allow for a higher level of red blood cell counts, and can even lessen the chances of colitis and blood transfusion

  • Long term effects on health and brain function

  • Neurodevelopment benefits, years on

  • Better outcomes for premature babies


The World Health Organization claims no cord should be clamped before 60 seconds after birth. According to the NCBI, "In term infants, one-minute delay in cord clamping after birth leads to an additional 80 mL of blood from the placenta to the infant’s circulation, which increases to about 100 mL by 3 minutes after birth." Amazing hey!

When baby's cord is ultimately clamped and cut, you can also opt to save whatever blood is left and bank the baby's cord blood. More on that in another article coming soon!

Ultimately delayed cord clamping SHOULD be the normal practice but as a midwife, I know doctors and midwives are often in a rush. Have a chat to your midwife and let them know you’ve done your research and what you would prefer.  

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you found this article educational and helpful and allows you some insight into making the best decision that's right for you and your baby. 

Incredible images by the talented @Monetnicolebirths