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What is delayed (or optimal) cord clamping?

The umbilical cord links your placenta to the baby. After your baby has been born, the umbilical cord continues to pulsate. This is because it is still transferring blood, oxygen, and stem cells to your baby while they adjust to being outside the womb.

It used to be common practice to cut the umbilical cord straight after your baby is born. Now guidelines say that delayed (or optimal) cord clamping is better for your baby.

It is normal practice to wait until the cord has stopped pulsating and becomes white before cutting the cord. Normally the midwife should be able to feel when this happens by just touching the cord. This is called delayed (or optimal) cord clamping.

The cord should not be clamped earlier than one minute after birth.

It’s recommended that the cord is clamped before five minutes (so the placenta can come out after it has separated from the uterus), but you can ask for it to be clamped and cut later than this.  

Your doctor or midwife may need to clamp the cord earlier if there is a problem. For example, if there are concerns about your baby’s heartbeat and they need breathing support.

You do not have to have delayed cord clamping if you don’t want it.

You can have delayed cord clamping if you have active or physiological management to give birth to the placenta after giving birth.

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