Delayed Cord Clamping: What Is It and Is It Right For You?

Delayed Cord Clamping: What Is It and Is It Right For You?

The definition of delayed cord clamping (DCC) is waiting 2-3 minutes before clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. Currently most obstetricians clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately after birth. Studies in full term infants (37 to 42 weeks) have shown that DCC allows more blood to pulse from the placenta to the newborn, carrying with it an additional 30-35mg of iron (2). This additional blood can decrease the incidence of anemia at birth and through 2-3 months of age. This may be particularly advantageous for breast fed infants who are not supplemented with iron or formula. The most beneficial group for DCC is preterm infants who have less anemia and blood transfusions after DCC. (1)

So why not delay all cord clamping at delivery?

  • There may be an increase in jaundice and need for phototherapy in full term infants. There are studies and experts who say the risk is not increased.
  • There may be a higher incidence of polycythemia (too many red blood cells), especially for certain populations such as gestational diabetes or intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
  • It may interfere with banking your baby’s cord blood.
  • If the baby requires immediate resuscitation procedures. Some Pediatricians feel comfortable performing some of the procedures at the bedside, while allowing for DCC.

DCC is not without controversy. While the current opinion by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states the evidence is insufficient to confirm or refute the potential for benefits from delayed umbilical cord clamping, but that the evidence exists to support delaying in preterm infants. (1) Other expert groups argue that immediate cord clamping is outdated and we need to take advantage of the positive health benefits of delayed cord clamping.

Therefore, it is up to you the patient to discuss delayed cord clamping with your obstetrician or midwife and decide if it will be beneficial in your case.

Stephanie Fink, MSN is a Nurse Practitioner and Graduate Nurse Midwife at In-Touch Midwifery, a division of the Miami Center of Excellence for OB/GYN. She delivers at Baptist Hospital in Kendall.


  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion. Number 543, December 2012.
  2. Mercer, J.S., Erickson-Owens, D.A., Rethinking Placental Transfusion and Cord Clamping Issues. J. PerinatNeonatNurs. Volume 26 Number 3, 202-217.