One of the biggest questions surrounding birth is ‘What about the cord?’
Many people have a sense of urgency that the cord must be clamped and cut in a dramatic and special way. This is not the case. Far from it in fact.
Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases. As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.
some hours after the birth the cord is thin, dry, hard, and exsaguine. It can then be cut without any special precaution
Some people choose to leave the cord intact. This does involve more considerations (as described by lotus birth). After a few days the cord and placenta come away from the baby.
If you find yourself birthing without assistance (as you may in the event of a fast birth), simply leave the cord alone. Don’t pull on it, don’t clamp it, don’t cut it.
BUT WHAT IF THE CORD IS AROUND THE BABY’S NECK!
There is a lot of misunderstanding about nuchal cords (cord around the neck). The cord around neck is rarely a problem, and the ‘somersault manoeuver’ (see below) is useful to know about. Understanding nuchal cords and this manoeuver can be very reassuring in the event of an unassisted birth. It is also helpful to understand even when being assisted, as you will be more aware of the language and less likely to feel anxious or confused about this situation. Knowledge is Power!
Midwife Thinking has written an excellent article discussing nuchal cords. This includes a description of the somersault manoeuver (also shown in the video below).
You may have heard that in very rare situations a baby has a ‘true knot’ in the umbilical cord. For this, I encourage you to read this article by midwife, Jane Palmer.
AND WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH DELAYED CORD CLAMPING?
At some point you are likely to heard about ‘delayed cord clamping’, or Optimal Cord Clamping. The evidence supports it, and it is increasingly becoming standard practice (to varying degrees). You still need to request it, however, and discuss it with your care provider to find out just what they consider standard. If this differs to what you want, you will need to discuss this with them to ensure your needs are met. For example, if you simply state you’d like ‘delayed cord clamping’, this could mean 30 seconds, or it could mean up to 3 minutes depending on the institution you are in or the attendant you have. You need to be implicit about how long you want to wait if you intent to sever the cord.
An excellent resource and campaign is #waitforwhite and (as stated above) knowing that it is not absolutely necessary to clamp the cord, or even cut it.
WHAT ABOUT CORD BLOOD BANKING?
You can read about that here.