Cause to Pause: Recommended Delay in Cutting the Cord

Cause to Pause: Recommended Delay in Cutting the Cord

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“Cutting the cord” is an exciting and memorable part of the birth experience for many. New research from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee suggests waiting at least 30 seconds longer before taking this meaningful step. Terri Jo Peterson, a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital’s Family Birthing Suites, explains more about what this new recommendation means for you and baby.

What is the Umbilical Cord?

“The umbilical cord is a cord-like structure that connects the developing baby to the placenta inside the womb of the mother to be. The cord is the baby's “supply line”, because it carries the baby's blood back and forth, between the baby and the placenta,” says Peterson. This allows the following important functions to take place:

  • Carrying of oxygen and nutrients to baby
  • Removal of waste products from baby
  • Passing of antibodies from mom to baby (in the last trimester)

What Does “Cutting the Cord” Mean?

Cutting the cord means cutting or clamping the umbilical cord from the baby in order to allow movement of the baby away from the mother after birth, while the placenta is still attached inside the mother. While cutting the cord might sound painful, the cord does not contain nerve endings so there is no pain associated with the process.

New Recommendations

New American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee recommends a 30-60 second delay in umbilical cord clamping for healthy infants. As a provider who attends the births of high risk infants at Finley, Peterson agrees. She will request delayed cord clamping for 30 seconds after the birth of a premature infant, as long as the infant is moving and breathing before clamping the cord and unless there is an emergency where delayed cord clamping would not be recommended.
Emergencies where the new recommendation would not be considered generally include situations where there are problems with the umbilical cord, placenta, or other neonatal problems.


“In premature infants, delayed cord clamping has decreased the need for blood transfusions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), reduction of intestine disease (necrotizing enterocolitis), brain bleeds (intraventricular hemorrhage), late onset sepsis and prevention of iron deficiency into childhood,“ explains Peterson.  

The new recommendation applies to all healthy infants – not just premature babies. For families interested in delayed cord clamping, Peterson recommends discussing with the mother’s obstetrical provider at prenatal visits, prior to delivery.

To learn more about Finley’s Family Birthing Suites and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, click here.