Posted by: babybumper | December 6, 2010

Just Wait: Severing the Pulsing Cord

Hello World by Oskay

There is a link between 2 worlds. At the dawn of birth, the baby is suspended between life in the womb to life in the world via the umbilical cord. This cord remains a connection between a place of free provision and a place of requirement. A channel joining the realm of mom’s lungs and child’s lungs.

The cord pulses until the baby has safely passed between worlds.

Welcome to Our World by chronic shock

As the newborn springs forth into the big world, mom’s contractions continue, pumping blood full of oxygen through the cord to the bambino. Between contractions, some blood is send back to the placenta. If the link remains undisturbed, the youngster can regulate how much blood is needed. This 2 ways street, that is the umbilical cord, results in the optimal amount of blood volume every time.

When a cord is clamped immediately at the dawn of life, the young one looses 1/3 of his blood, trapped in the placenta. In an adult this serious amount of blood loss is classified severe hemorrhage, at about 3.3 pints respectively. Not only does this result in blood depletion, but also requires the newborn to supply his own oxygen immediately, or else.

Cries by Tom Higgins

When a little one is born, what is the first sound you want to hear? Crying. Baby’s first cry is music and relief to all in the room. When a newborn cries, we know oxygen is moving in and out of the lungs. Silence at birth is frightening. When a tiny one is quiet, are they getting enough oxygen? If they don’t breathe soon enough, we fear long term consequences.

“Amputating a functioning placenta destroys the organ that is keeping the child alive and is preparing the child for life outside the womb.” –Dr. George M. Morley

If the cord remains connected, the silent child will continue to receive oxygen-rich blood from mom, while sending back wastes too her, just like in the womb. This link can be life saving for the tiny tot who does not immediately breathe. Crying actually slows the flow of blood from the placenta. Therefore, the cord of the newborn who adjusts quickly to life outside the womb may stop pulsing sooner than the cord of the bambino who has difficulty.

What a great means for resuscitation! Providing oxygen-rich blood, with a pathway for removing wastes (like Carbon Dioxide), and a system for volume regulation is astounding. Continuing the provision of mom while challenging the newborn to sustain life is ingenious and essential! In some ways the cord remains as a safety mechanism. If the little guy doesn’t get enough oxygen through his lungs, mom is still there to help. If outside medical help is necessary, it will be more effective if the channel remains intact.

Pretty Pink by Salim Fadhley

As a parent, how can you ensure your child’s passage between worlds is aided by a connected cord? This is difficult. Asking your provider to “delay cord clamping” may have some value, but if this is not routine, they may not grant your request when the time comes. It is most important to choose the right health care provider. Make it your ambition to select a Birth Attendant who is confident in the natural process of birth. Waiting until the cord stops pulsing usually only takes 3 minutes or so, but some doctors are so focused on speed that they clamp within 10-30 seconds after birth. Pick someone who doesn’t seem rushed, and will take time for you.

Sadly, the medical field at large has not caught on to the magnitude of this link between two worlds. The baby who most needs this connection to transition between realms is the one most likely to have this cord severed quickly. I hope to see a transformation to viewing a cord connection as our greatest resuscitation asset, and a routine in care for every child after birth.


I am grateful to Dr. Sarah Buckley who expounded on the importance of this issue beautifully in the interesting book, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering.

For a heavy article on Delayed Cord Clamping, see Dr. George M. Morley’s work here.


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