Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping Is the Way to Go, According to ACOG

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists officially recommends delayed umbilical cord clamping for healthy newborns.

Newborn Umbilical Cord
It's not exactly news that delaying umbilical cord clamping can be good for your baby—as we've previously reported, there are some pretty significant benefits that come when you allow blood to flow from your placenta to your baby for a few moments after birth—but now, delayed umbilical cord clamping has officially earned the stamp of approval from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The organization officially recommends this practice: More specifically, ACOG recommends waiting at least 30 to 60 seconds after birth before clamping the cord. The guideline is based on recent research and represents a departure from 2012's guidelines. 

Babies born prematurely stand to gain a lot from this approach, according to a release from ACOG: The group cites improved transitional circulation and healthier red blood cell levels as benefits preemies can expect to reap. The group also believes delayed cord clamping could bring down a preemie's risk of needing a blood transfusion.

Infants born at term can benefit as well: ACOG's recommendations indicate that hemoglobin levels and iron stores improve with delayed cord clamping, which can protect against iron deficiency.

However, it's not all good news: ACOG acknowledges that delayed clamping could contribute to a slight increase in jaundice risk for babies and hemorrhage for mothers. With that being said, healthcare providers should manage clamping to minimize these risks.

The committee has not provided an opinion on umbilical cord milking (a practice that involves manually pushing blood from the umbilical cord towards the infant) as experts need more time and research to really understand the benefits behind this method.

"While there are various recommendations regarding optimal timing for delayed umbilical cord clamping, there has been increased evidence that shows that the practice in and of itself has clear health benefits for both preterm and term infants," Maria A. Mascola, MD, the lead author of the committee opinion, said, according to a release for this news. "And, in most cases, this does not interfere with early care, including drying and stimulating for the first breath and immediate skin-to-skin contact.