It's often the first task a new Daddy is asked to do - cut the cord. In most Western countries this is most likely performed straight after birth but a growing number of studies are proving the benefits of waiting one to two minutes until the cord has stopped pulsating.
So what's all the fuss and what does it mean for us? Delayed or Optimal cord clamping is always something I mention to clients as it's not widely known about, but helps deliver approximately 40% more blood to the baby. During a vaginal birth, babies naturally mold themselves to fit down the birth canal - the plates in their skulls are flexible and move, the hormone relaxin loosens all the ligaments and muscles in their joints, they squeeze the amniotic fluid out of their lungs and they push some of their blood back into the placenta - all natural little ways to make themselves smaller. So when they are born, the cord continues to pulse and deliver this blood back to the baby. At the same time, when air hits the baby's skin they start to bring air into their lungs for the first time.
Allowing the cord to finish pulsating and finish delivering blood to the baby is shown to increase haemoglobin levels in newborns and iron levels in infants at 3-6 months. For me, it also makes sense to give your baby a helping hand in those first few moments when they are learning to breathe for the first time.
In most cases, it's as simple as just stating this as a preference. It's becoming more and more well-known and often I say to dads it's something they can remind caregivers of just after birth if this is something they want. Of course there are some situations where it's just not possible but in a 'normal' birth it may be something you might like to consider. If you are researching into cord blood banking, you may find that these practices can't be combined so it's a case of weighing up the benefits of both.