Pregnant moms will likely get more time to hold their babies immediately following birth as new research reveals holding off on the cord-cutting process while the baby is placed on the mom's stomach or abdomen doesn't present any potential danger to the child.
In fact, it can benefit the child, as delayed cord clamping allows for the passage of blood from the placenta back to the baby and reduces the risk of iron deficiency in infancy.
Researchers say the current protocol is for medical staff to hold the newborn for one minute in their hands on the same height level as the mother's body or slightly below for a certain time before cutting the cord.
The elapsed time allows placental fluid and nutrients to re-enter into the baby. But often that minute is just a few seconds, notes the study, given the awkward holding position. The study says the newborn can safely be placed on the mother's abdomen or stomach and that will likely foster greater compliance to the time requirement, which the research says can be extended to two minutes, and will ultimately benefit the newborn.
It may also help the bonding process between the mother and child as the mother has a visual of the new child.
"Mothers could safely be allowed to hold their baby on their abdomen or chest. This change in practice might increase obstetric compliance with the procedure, enhance maternal-infant bonding, and decrease iron deficiency in infancy," states the study published in The Lancet.
According to an interview with the study's authors, ensuring that the cord is not clamped for at least a minute could decrease the incidence of iron deficiency in infancy, which is prevalent in the U.S. and is a more serious public health issue in developing countries. Approximately 30 percent of fetal blood volume is in the placenta during delivery and a delayed cord clamp approach lets a large part of that blood return to the infant. This is called placental transfusion.
"The most important measure is that the recommendation of delaying cord clamping can be respected by obstetricians and neonatologists while the infant is held by the mother on her abdomen or chest, therefore enhancing maternal infant bonding and facilitating the procedure. In this way the procedure may contribute to decrease anemia and delayed neurodevelopment associated with iron deficiency in infancy," said the study's author.