"Ask an OB" is a weekly series with Dr. Maude "Molly" Guerin, MC, FACOG. If you have a question for her, please share it with us here.
What are your thoughts on delayed cord clamping?
The main issue for cord clamping is iron stores in the newborn. Blood flows from the placenta into the baby for up to 2 – 3 minutes after birth, and then ceases. Clamping the cord early (less than 30 seconds) deprives the baby of this extra blood. This extra blood can be thought of as an “iron transfusion” for the baby, which lasts about 3 months. Because breast fed babies are more prone to iron deficiency, this may be mother nature’s way of protecting the baby from anemia (Timing of umbilical cord clamping: effect on iron endowment of the newborn and later iron status Volume 69, Issue Supplement s1, pages S30–S36, November 2011.)
In the US today where most babies take a vitamin and iron supplement, the benefit of delayed cord clamping (2 – 3 minutes) is probably not as important as it was in times past.