Cutting the baby’s umbilical cord is a ritual repeated unthinkingly by many doctors and midwives every day. Please educate yourself about the potential harm that could be caused for the baby by doing this.
In 1796, Dr Erasmus Darwin, a physician, and the grandfather of Charles Darwin, published a book in which he highlighted the dangers of cutting the umbilical cord too soon.
“Erasmus Darwin died 200 years ago this month; this is a quotation from his publication, Zoonomia:
“Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon which should always be left not only until the child has repeatedly breathed, but till all pulsations in the cord cease. As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been
in the child.”
Two hundred years later, NICU’s are filled with anemic newborns, many of whom require blood transfusion to keep them alive. Nearly every preemie has its cord clamped immediately. The most common cause of neonatal morbidity is respiratory distress syndrome, known under the name of “shock lung” at any other age.”
In the 1980’s I was taught to feel for the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck, once the head was born, and to cut it if it was tight to facilitate delivery. I realise there were so many things wrong with this practice now. What if we cut a cord and then have a shoulder dystocia? We have effectively cut the baby’s lifeline. I don’t think many practitioners do this now. I certainly do not feel for nuchal cords as babies can be born, even when the cord is tight. The somersault manouver can be used to keep baby close to the mother whilst the cord is untangled.
The brilliant midwife thinking blog highlights the dangers of premature cord clamping if a baby needs help to start breathing. When the baby is first born a significant amount of it’s blood is still in the placenta. After birth that blood is needed to perfuse the baby’s respiratory system, ( and brain and other organs}, enabling him to transition to breathing air for the first time. If a baby is slow to breathe but has a good heat rate he is still receiving oxygenated blood through his cord if it remains intact.
Some families like to keep the cord intact in the form of a lotus birth. Aida’s birth and lotus birth was filmed, and illustrates how not cutting the baby’s cord helps when her baby needs assistance to start breathing.
Here is a 7 minute film with good, common sense advice about not cutting baby’s cord immediately after birth. This film has brief images of a woman’s breast and nipple as she is with her newborn baby as his cord is cut and as he crawls to the breast to self-attachment. This process, called Self-Attachment and/or Breast Crawl is becoming known now as a very critical part of human development that has been disrupted by modern, medicalized birth. Click to view: We can be much kinder Tweet
Penny Simkin gives a visual aid teaching session on the subject of how much of baby’s blood is still in the placenta if we cut the cord too soon after birth. here
Robim Lim explains the importance of not clamping or cutting a newborn’s umbilical cord here: