When to Cut the Umbilical Cord? A Columbia Doctor Weighs in

July 11, 2013

The New York Times reported yesterday on a study that finds there may be benefits to delaying when doctors cut the umbilical cord after a woman gives birth.

Reporter Catherine Saint Louis writes that while clamping the cord less than a minute after birth has been "thought to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging," the study calls this practice into question because of potential infant health benefits related to the extra blood from the cord—including higher hemoglobin levels and less iron deficiency.

But Louis points out that "the new analysis did not include many women who had Caesarean section." She spoke to a Columbia doctor for expert commentary:

"We don’t have enough information on the effects of delayed cord clamping for someone undergoing a Caesarean delivery in terms of postpartum hemorrhage,” said Dr. Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, medical director of the perinatal clinic at Columbia University. “Waiting 30 or 60 seconds in a vaginal delivery in a low-risk patient is probably something we could do and wouldn’t have maternal consequences, but in a caesarean delivery, you’re cutting into a pregnant uterus that has a huge amount of blood.” In some scenarios, “there’s an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage.”

[The New York Times]