I've heard (and read) that waiting a minute or two for the pulsations to stop decreases chances of anemia in a newborn. My sister had her baby just two days ago but despite requests that they NOT clamp/cut the cord right after birth, they did it anyway.

They then had to "slap" the baby's feet to get her to breath as she turned "purple". Everything turned out fine but it seems to me that leaving that cord flowing just a little longer might have prevented this.

I'd like to know what other parents out there have experienced? What can you say about the pros and cons of delaying clamping or cutting?

Note: I am familiar with the medical studies, etc. I'm not looking for a medical study answer or a doctor's advice. I'm looking for answers from actual parents who have decided one way or another and why.


Our doctor was absolutely fantastic! When one of the nurses moved in to clamp off the cord our DOCTOR stopped her and said, "They want it to stop pulsing first." I could have EASILY missed it. Like Scott said... your perception changes... there is SO much going on at that very moment.

In any case... the cord stopped pulsating after (I'm guessing) 3-4 min and then the doctor asked if I wanted to cut it. I did. :-)

She's a beautiful little girl, had great color, etc. Based on our personal experience and what I've read... I would highly recommend doing this with your baby. At the end of the day we decided to do this based on the following logic:

"Several medical studies show it is beneficial. The doctor WILL tell you if there is a medical reason why they need to cut it right away. By waiting for 2-3 minutes you are potentially giving your son/daughter a small advantage in life. Why wouldn't you?"

We are very happy that we did.

asked 18 Oct '09, 06:14

KPW's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%

edited 14 Dec '09, 02:07

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Tammy ♦♦

12next »

My wife and I went through the Bradley classes, so I learned more about this stuff than I ever wanted to.

I think it's beneficial to let the cord stop pulsing prior to cutting. Keep in mind that the process of getting the baby out is a transition, and one that should not be hastened unnecessarily. The birthing process is complete once the baby is sucking from mom's breast. I don't think it's a coincidence that the cord is long enough for baby to go immediately to the breast after it is born.

During labor, mom and baby begin an exchange of hormones that set off processes that help mom's and baby's developmental processes. The exchange of nutrients, antibodies, and hormones continues after birth until the cord turns a whitish color. It's safe to cut the cord at this point. Hey, it changes color when it's done - that's nature making it easy for you :)

There's a great book called The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth that I think you will help you with this issue and many others you'll encounter.


answered 18 Oct '09, 16:07

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Jeremy Ross
accept rate: 20%

Jeremy, thanks for the reference. :-)

(19 Oct '09, 00:06) KPW

On questions like this, I like to defer to the medical professionals. Delivering and caring for babies is their profession, and for me that caries a lot more weight than "I read on the Internet that..."

Basically, I think this is a great question for your medical provider.


answered 18 Oct '09, 11:48

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accept rate: 11%


Brien, thanks but I'm already familiar with what JAMA and other studies have produced. I was asking for what other PARENTS had experienced. Thanks for you input though.

(19 Oct '09, 00:00) KPW

I frankly don't understand questions with such restrictions, @KPWINC. The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence", and without a time machine (to go back and try the other option) no parent's experience alone is indicatory of anything.

(14 Dec '09, 19:38) ceejayoz

I've definitely read that this is the case. It seems like cutting of the life support cord sooner rather than later would naturally be undesirable.

Our most recent child (less than a week old now) was born in a birthing center and our midwife let the cord stop pulsing before cutting (it was actually a full 10 minutes, seems like).

I can tell you that if you find that you have a few of these requests for your birth, hiring a doula can help you make sure than you have an attentive advocate for these issues during the birth. We hired one and I would have paid her twice over without thinking about it.

If you are interested in a doula, check out http://www.dona.org if you are in North America.


answered 18 Oct '09, 14:39

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Anderson Imes
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edited 29 Oct '09, 02:58

Anderson, thanks for the link. I'll check it out! Like Scott said, after 24hrs of labor everyone's perception changes. :-)

(19 Oct '09, 00:04) KPW

The spelling is "doula". Maybe someone can edit this? Anyway, I completely agree with this - doulas can be fantastic!

(21 Oct '09, 20:47) Emily

I'd like to know what other parents out there have experienced?

During a c-section, I'm not even sure it would even be an option.

It's good that you're thinking about this stuff, but I agree with Brien... it's something to discuss with your MD before you're in the middle of the situation. I can tell you, after 24 hrs of labor, everyone's perception changes. :) From experience, I suggest formulating a plan ahead of time and then be willing to change it under the circumstances. (Think "Agile")


answered 18 Oct '09, 13:12

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Scott ♦♦
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Thank's Scott. Apparently it can still be done during a c-section but typically not as desireable and typically not as long. Based on what I've been reading in JAMA and other studies there are typically three test groups. Group1: Immediate (15sec or less) Group2: 1-2min Group3: 2-3min Every study I've found so far indicates that Group2 and Group3 do better than Group1. But I wanted to know what experience PARENTS have had with this. :-)

(19 Oct '09, 00:03) KPW

Based on our experience, c-sections are tough because the baby doesn't get pushed through the birth canal. So the baby generally needs to be immediately moved to a warming table, away from the operating table, and get the amniotic fluid sucked from the nose and lungs. It does take a couple of minutes to remove the placenta, but probably not enough to make a difference. After that, they're getting mom put back together - no way they're going to wait.

(19 Oct '09, 01:07) Jeremy Ross

My third child was born at home with a midwife. As I recall, we didn't cut his cord until after the placenta was delivered (which took probably about 10 minutes). To me, it just makes sense to let the baby get all the final oxygen and nutrients available in his cord blood.

I've also read some of the medical literature, and you're right - it really seems to just be America that is still a bit backward on this issue.


answered 21 Oct '09, 20:46

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I never knew there was any controversy, so I never said anything to my doctor about when to cut the cord, only that my husband did not care to be the one to do it. So when the time came, we let the doctor do what she deemed best for my children, which was to cut the cord pretty quickly (within a few minutes). Both of my children did just fine. They started crying as soon as they cleared the mouth and nose and then didn't calm down until I was holding them. They had no problems breathing, they didn't turn blue, and it wasn't necessary to flick or slap their feet.


answered 21 Oct '09, 21:02

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accept rate: 8%

edited 22 Oct '09, 03:02

I had read about the benefits of waiting until the cord stops pulsing, and my dr. agreed to wait when my son was born. The best laid plans...when he was finally delivered they were worried about his heartbeat, so they cut it immediately, before I even delivered the placenta. He was revived quickly and has been healthy as an ox ever since! On the other hand my daughter remained attached to the placenta longer (can't say for sure that it had stopped pulsing, but probably as it was at least two minutes before she was taken away), but she wasn't very alert and required narcon. She, too has been healthy ever since. I guess, in the end all I can do is share my experience and say that despite the benefits I had read about it, it didn't seem to make much difference for my kiddos!


answered 22 Oct '09, 03:57

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accept rate: 15%


I agree with Igritz's second comment below. Studies indicate that it has a positive effect, so if you can delay cutting, go for it! My bias would be that the "purple" color of your niece or nephew was more likely caused by medical interventions such as pitocin or oxytocin, (not sure that your sister had this, but the experience of myself and many women I know supports this idea). You can learn more about this in the movie The Business of Being Born http://www.amazon.com/Business-Being-Julia-Barnett-Tracy/dp/B0013LL2XY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1256184315&sr=8-1 it's an amazing movie!

(22 Oct '09, 04:07) Tanisha

I had all of ours at home (we're in the UK).

  1. we clamped and cut after the cord stopped pulsating, a couple of minutes I think
  2. we waited until after the placenta was delivered, about 4 minutes
  3. again, waited til after the placenta was delivered. This time discovered the draw back of standing up to deliver the placenta whilst baby is still attached to it, and in my arms - luckily we had a quick thinking midwife who bunged one of those cardboard bowls between my legs to catch the placenta in the nick of time.

All three were fine. Our eldest was rather a deep blue when first born - she'd had the cord round her neck, don't know if that's why, but her brain is fine <parental boast>she has a reading age about 4 years ahead of her actual age</parental boast>.

As I understood it at the time, from my reading of, probably the same, studies, it's only if there is a need for that hormone injection to quickly contract the womb and expel the placenta (syntocinon?) that they have to cut the cord so that the drug doesn't go through it to the baby. And the only reason for the injection is if you are haemorrhaging. So I had instructed my midwife (no doctors at a home birth usually) that unless I was haemorrhaging then no injection and no cord clamping.

Have you read about lotus births where you don't cut the cord at all, but wait for it to dry out and detach naturally? I threatened my midwife with this when pregnant with the second one, but couldn't really work out what the point was.


answered 23 Oct '09, 19:34

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Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

It's unfortunate that parents' wishes aren't always followed in the heat of the moment. Once you make your decision, I'd recommend having a written birth plan where you're explicit about how your ideal birth would go. But it's also important to acknowledge that things don't always go as we might plan. On our birth plan, we wrote that we would prefer certain things to happen, rather than an alternative. For example, we wrote, "We would prefer to allow the cord to pulse before being clamped and cut." Do your best to make it like a resume, 1 page. The nurses and doctors have so much to do already, you don't want to get off to a bad start by showing up with a novel of a birth plan. Keep it simple. When you get to the hospital, have a copy of the plan out and ready to hand to a nurse. Stand there and look over it with the nurse and make sure to answer any questions. Because you have it written down, the nurse and the doctor can look over it again instead of having to ask, plus you'll remember all the decisions you made when you were calm and level-headed.


answered 29 Oct '09, 17:20

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Scottie T
accept rate: 15%

I agree a birth plan is a great idea. Our hospital made a point to go over ours with us weeks before the baby was due to discuss everything calmly in advance.

(29 Oct '09, 21:05) Tammy ♦♦

I should add that I wrote this from the perspective of the birth partner. I definitely don't expect the laboring mom to stand there and discuss the plan with the nurse!

(29 Oct '09, 21:37) Scottie T

You're asking a scientific question (if I do X, will the chance of medical outcome Y change) that DOES have an objectively true answer (assuming anybody has studied it carefully). Rather than ask a few random parents who each have experience with a handful of births at most, I'd be more concerned about getting the opinions of somebody who really knows something about childhood anemia (i.e. a doctor). Ask your own obstetrician and/or pediatrician -- they've seen thousands of births/children and will know the real answer, or can easily look it up in the medical research literature.


answered 20 Oct '09, 14:45

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accept rate: 14%


Igritz, as stated in my question, I'm VERY familiar with the subject matter and what the "scientific studies" suggest. Here is just one example http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/11/1241?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=2720&resourcetype=HWFIG Pretty much every study I've read has said its beneficial. Yet for some reason (here in North America) we're clamping and cutting almost immediately. I'm not sure why exactly that is. What I wanted to know was what actual parents have experienced.

(20 Oct '09, 21:42) KPW

I'm sure the reason we do it here is just habit. I think for my son, we cut fairly soon (though I didn't exactly have a stopwatch), had no ill effects, but I wasn't aware of any medical controversy at the time. If you're confident that the research is all pointing in the direction of delaying the cut by a few minutes, then you should do that regardless of what people here say.

I'm not sure why the negative vote. I'm just saying that you seem to have all the facts, trust what you seem to believe based on that. Peer reviewed controlled studies trump the superstitions of North Americans IMHO.

(21 Oct '09, 03:28) lgritz

It's possible KPWINC just wants to know if other parents have had trouble getting the medical staff to follow their wishes, rather than to know if it's the right/wrong thing to do. Sounds like KPWINC thinks it IS the right thing to do, and wants to know what preparation to make to be sure it actually happens.

(29 Oct '09, 10:16) Scott ♦♦
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Asked: 18 Oct '09, 06:14

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Last updated: 15 Jan '10, 18:55