Cutting the umbilical cord represents the final act in the wild and wonderful birth process. Now, in many hospitals, doctors will be waiting a little longer to perform this cut—30 to 60 seconds to be exact.
This recommendation to pause briefly prior to cutting the umbilical cord comes from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which made public its endorsement this past January. The short wait time prior to clamping and cutting the umbilical cord allows more blood to return to the baby, thereby providing an extra shot of iron—necessary for infant brain development.
In 2012, ACOG suggested that this delay occur during the delivery of premature infants, whom research showed could benefit by the practice. More recent research concluded that the benefit extends to healthy, full-term infants. Already, some local hospitals have implemented the practice.
“We have begun encouraging our obstetricians to delay the clamping for 30 to 60 seconds. A lot of our obstetricians are already doing it. There are proven benefits to the healthy full-term infant,” says Claire Weitz, MD, the division head of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
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