RCM to Issue New Guidelines on Umbilical Cord Clamping

24.08.2012 image

A Midwife at St James’s Hospital in Leeds has petitioned for a change to national guidelines around a crucial element of childbirth.

Midwife, Amanda Burleigh, has been researching the health benefits of delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord which connects mother and baby. The midwife started to look into the issue after noticing the increasing numbers of youngsters with special needs or conditions like asthma, autism, deafness and allergies.

Now, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has said its latest guidelines will advise that delaying umbilical cord clamping is best practice.

Current guidance is that the cord should be clamped within 30 seconds. It was previously thought that cutting the cord within 30 seconds protects babies from exposure to hormones given to speed up labour and deliver the placenta and could also prevent jaundice.

However, growing evidence suggests that being connected to the maternal blood supply for longer helps protect against iron deficiency, anaemia and allows the transfer of vital stem cells.

Mervi Jokinen, practice and standards development adviser at the RCM, said: ‘We are supporting the midwives not to clamp the cord immediately.’

She said that ‘denying a baby a boost of blood’ can lead to lower haemoglobin levels later on.  She added that it hasn’t been confirmed what the advised clamping delay will be but it is expected to be about three to five minutes.

The new guidelines are currently being drawn up but they are expected to be published at the RCM Conference in Brighton in November later this year.