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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Umbilical Cord Blood Can Feed The Baby After Birth (Briefly)

At the time a full term baby is born they have a total blood volume of somewhere between 550-850 cc of blood. The umbilical cord may have only a few cc's of blood, but more likely it will have 100-200 cc and long cords can have more. If the cord is not clamped immediately, the baby's circulation will continue to draw some of the blood out of the cord and the placental circulation. We define 'early clamping' as within the first minute as opposed to 'delayed' meaning after a minute. If never clamped eventually the circulation in the cord will cease on it's own.  Full term babies can safely not rely on this cord blood, so it is safe to bank the cord blood for those who chose to do so. If your birth attendant wants to give the baby extra blood she can milk the blood from the placenta into the baby. If you just delay clamping for a couple of minutes the baby will get extra fetal blood. Eventually their blood changes in various ways so that their red blood cells become functionally more like adult cells in circulation. About 50 years ago medical experts actually thought that allowing the cord to still pump blood into the baby after birth was harmful and they began to recommend the cord be clamped as soon as possible. And scientific studies of those days couldn't find any benefits to delaying umbilical cord clamping after birth. But newer studies have showing significant benefit to delayed cord clamping, such as less anemia, less use of blood transfusions, better brain development and less serious bowel disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics has launched a helpful website that reviews this information, called Helping Babies Breathe. Which obviously focuses on the extra oxygen and oxygen carrying ability, and less on the food nutrients which are also contained in fetal blood.  In 2012 we began to advocate delaying the clamping of the cord for 30-60 seconds in the premature babies if possible. Sometimes they need other medical attention and this is not possible. There are some potential situations in which it is not favorable to do this: infections in the mom for instance. But another good topic to get in with your gyno to discuss. Or book online with us at : www.womenshealthpractice.com

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