Cord Clamps

I’ve posted links about the benefits of delayed cord clamping elsewhere, here is a quick thought on methods of clamping the cord, should you decide to do it.

Essentially your options are:

•  Clamp the cord as soon as possible after birth.  This is usually recommended for a managed third stage where a syntocinon or syntometrine injection is given as the baby is being born.  Although the evidence supporting this is far from clear, it may be that the fast rush of blood as a result of syntometrine and the side effects of the drug itself reaching your baby has the potential to be harmful.  The clamp can be released to allow a lotus birth when the placenta has delivered, or the cord can be severed at any time to suit mum, or sometimes her midwife or other member of the medical team.

Delaying Cord ClampingWith early clamping the baby can easily lose 30% of their available blood volume, which has several major health implications.  Leaving a placenta engorged with blood may also make it more difficult for it to separate from the wall of the uterus and more difficult to pass, especially if the cervix has closed under the influence of oxytocic drugs. See here for more information.

•  Clamp the cord when it has finished pulsating or after the placenta has been birthed, using the same methods as above.

Lotus Kit•  Lotus birthing – where the placenta and baby remain attached until the cord snaps or comes away from the umbilicus as healing of the site takes place.

If the cord has finished its job of transferring blood to your baby, and the placenta has come away from the uterus, the cord can actually be severed without clamping at all as it is sealed at the umbilicus (belly button) and by Wharton’s jelly along its length. The mechanism is largely the same for all mammals, although the timing of cord separation and placental release vary from species to species.

Cords do not have to be cut, as well as leaving them, they can be burned, bitten, cut with a ceremonial blade or other methods that suit you or the culture you follow.

Plastic Cord ClampIf you choose to sever the cord and wish to seal it, then there are alternatives to the traditional plastic peg type clamp.

It is possible to tie the cord with a thread, dental floss or embroidery thread ties have become popular recently.  Whist they do not have to be sterilised, parents often boil them either when they wish to use them or just prior to the birth.  Sealing in a clean bag or wrapping and freezing have been suggested as ways to keep a fabric cord tie clean.

If you do opt for a plastic clamp you can always ask for the cord stump to be left long, and then once the cord has dried you can cut it off, or you can tie a tie between baby and clamp whilst the cord is soft and remove cut the clamp off later.

CordRingAnother way to seal the cord is with a rubber ring.  Unlike bulky, scratchy cord clamps, cord rings are virtually weightless and almost invisible.  There is no clip to catch in clothes or nappies, or to dig into mum and baby whilst enjoying skin to skin.  It also makes changing your new baby easier as the clamp does not catch or snag or get stuck in clothes or nappies.

Cord TieMany mums express a firm dislike for traditional cord clip, so here is an alternative that is secure enough to reassure parents and their care teams and soft enough to avoid the common disadvantages of plastic clips.  You can also tie a cord tie over a rubber ring if you like.

The most popular are available from Cetro, as they are applied with the kind of forceps carried by midwives and do not require a specialised application tool.  You can buy them as single units here and download a printable instruction sheet here – Cord Ring Application Instructions.