Thursday, April 10, 2008

Delayed Cord Cutting Benefits Babies

In most hospital settings, doctors routinely clamp the umbilical cord as soon as the baby is born, cutting off blood and oxygen flow from the placenta to the baby. However, waiting until the cord has stopped pulsating (just a few minutes) allows the baby to get his or her maximum blood flow and iron stores, and makes the placenta less bulky and thus easier to detach from the uterine wall.

A new study out of Canada, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, challenges the common practice of immediate cord cutting. Read more about it here.

Dais in India, and I'd guess other Traditional Birth Attendants around the world, are quite puzzled and sometimes even appalled at immediate cord cutting. Here's an excerpt from Hearing Dais' Voices, a publication by Matrika:

"The practice of not cutting the cord until the placenta is delivered is common in all the areas we have studied. Doctors, health workers and anthropological literature report the custom throughout the country. Dais have the utmost respect for these parts of the female body usually considered as waste products by the bio-medical system or highly polluting by the Brahmanic religious texts. Dais consider the infant-cord-placenta as a package. They have been together for nine months with cord and placenta functioning to nurture the fetus -- why should they be severed too quickly? The placenta is considered 'another mother' to the baby. Sometimes this afterbirth is buried with rituals and prayers for the well being of the infant. It is believed that how the placenta-cord-sac is handled influences the child's health in later life."