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Should You Leave The Cord Connected After Birth?

By Jana Angeles  

While it may be hard to believe, there are numerous benefits when it comes to delaying umbilical cord clamping for your baby. However, we understand it’s a personal choice for all mothers and a decision that can only be made to their discretion. While there are numerous benefits to this, there are also some negatives associated with delayed umbilical cord clamping. We weigh in the pros and cons of leaving the umbilical cord connected after birth…

Pros of Leaving The Umbilical Cord Attached

  • It’s standard procedure for doctors to snip off the umbilical cord around 30 seconds after birth, but to get the health benefits from it, it’s recommended to leave it on for at least 2 mins or when the cord starts pulsating. The baby receives extra blood from the cord so this can in fact help them store extra nutrients to help boost their iron in their body.
  • Babies have a lower risk of being anaemic in their early stages of life if the umbilical cord isn’t cut off immediately. Again, because of the extra iron stores, leaving the cord attached can help them greatly.
  • Other benefits on leaving the cord attached include: protection from lead poisoning, healthier birth weights and higher concentrations of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin helps transport oxygen around the body, which has benefited premature babies to have increased oxygenation around the brain tissue according to a 2007 study by Baenziger et al.

Cons of Leaving The Umbilical Cord Attached 

  • While the research seems unclear, some have said that delaying umbilical cord clamping can cause jaundice for the baby.
  • There’s been concern over the extra blood received from the umbilical cord. Though the baby receives extra blood, some are concerned over the extra RBCs (Red Blood Cells) that are being transferred into their body. This is the opposite to anaemia called polycythemia. However, this has not been a pressing issue among infants, showing no negative effects to their health whatsoever.
  • If the woman giving birth is HIV positive, there are some concerns of the umbilical cord having her blood. This could put her baby at risk from an infection if the cord is attached for longer.

So what should I do?

While there are concerns over leaving the umbilical cord for longer than 30 seconds, it’s really up to you to decide whether this is something you’re willing to do. As with any research, take note of both sides and see which side you’re swayed to more. There is a lot of research noting down the numerous health benefits of keeping the umbilical cord on, but it’s also smart to stay cautious especially if it’s related to the well-being of your baby.

Just remember, at the end of the day the health of your baby isn’t determined by what you should and shouldn’t do with the umbilical cord. But if you feel like it’s necessary, then you shouldn’t let other people’s opinions affect you – whether if they’re for or against keeping the umbilical cord on.

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