It seems like all of these ‘newborn decision’ posts end up with parents in a face-off with their mainstream healthcare providers- whether it’s avoiding vaccines, eye goop, or circumcision, you end up on the other side of ‘normal’ and nobody wants to make it easy for you. However, one of the easiest things you can do for your newborn baby, that will definitely make them healthier, that almost NO health practitioner will object to, is delay the clamping of their umbilical cord!
What exactly is the purpose of this? Well, when a baby is born, the placenta is still pumping blood to the baby through their umbilical cord. When the cord is immediately clamped and cut, approximately one-third to one-half of the baby’s total blood volume is still in the placenta and cord- resulting in higher instances of anemia, babies that have trouble ‘pinking up’, and a slew of other issues that are completely avoidable.
How does it work? In most cases, after the baby is born, the cord is simply allowed to stop pulsing naturally (no squeezing or forcing the blood in)- this usually happens around ten minutes after birth. This ensures that the baby has received as much of their blood volume as possible- more iron, more stem cells, more white blood cells. Then the cord is cut and clamped like normal.
There are some families that choose to have what is called a ‘lotus birth’, in which the placenta remains attached until the umbilical cord falls off naturally. The placenta is usually treated with oils and herbs to keep it smelling nice (it starts to deteriorate rather quickly). This low-intervention way of allowing the baby to enter into the world is a great choice for some parents, but for others can be quite a hassle. Personally, I think that delayed cord clamping gives parents the best of both worlds: the baby receives all the good stuff, but you don’t have to tote an extra organ around for a week or so!
Now, if you’ve been to any type of baby store- be it maternity clothes shopping or picking our nursery items- chances are you’ve had your hands shoved full of information about cord blood banking. This new technology allows parents of newborns to save some of their baby’s umbilical cord blood (which is rich in stem cells) in a bank in case the child (or a sibling) should come down with some type of life-threatening illness and need advanced medicine that may be furthered by set cell usage. The process is relatively simple, but very expensive. Cord blood can also be donated to blood banks for other children.
So obviously, this blood is GOOD STUFF- that’s why banking it is becoming so popular! But don’t we want our babies to be as strong as possible as they start their life outside the womb? Having a sufficient blood volume, especially chock full of that rich cord blood, seems like the best way to do this.
Secondly, it is still completely possible to bank cord blood AFTER allowing the umbilical cord to stop pulsing. There will still be a certain amount of blood left in the cord and the placenta, which is usually more than sufficient for what is necessary to bank. Stem cell research has proven to be very valuable in the medical world already, and certainly could have amazing benefits for our children’s future- if you can afford it, I say go for it! But not until after you give baby some blood back 🙂