For years, one thing about birth has never changed. Until now.

Pregnant woman take note.

It’s an abrupt way to start your life. There’s leaving the place you’ve called home for around nine months. There’s getting through your own birth (yes, mums, birth is hard for you too). And then, to top it off, these random people cut the cord attached to your food source.

No wonder babies cry. I would too if someone took away my source of life so abruptly. But this is all completely normal when it comes to the birth procedure.

In the UK, however, things have changed. The birth practice that has been taught to midwifes and doctors for many many decades is doing a complete 180. Normally, the first thing that happens after the birth is the umbilical cord is cut. Sometimes by dad. Normally by the doctors or midwife.

But after UK midwife Amanda Burleigh has campaigned for a solid 10 years, the practice is no longer deemed the best way for baby.

Amanda Burleigh. Image via Optimal Cord Clamping Full Blood Benefit Facebook page.

"[Previously] midwives and doctors have resisted the idea [of delayed cord cutting] because they say if the cord is left the baby can become jaundiced, or receive too much blood. But research does not back this up," Burleigh told The Telegraph UK.

After practicing what she'd been taught for 16 years, to cut the cord immediately after birth, Burleigh started questioning the practice.


"[I started to reflect] on my own practice as a midwife and how we were trained to cut the cord immediately. I realised quickly that there was no evidence to back this practice up and set about challenging this non-evidence based intervention."

Burleigh decided to research the benefits, if any, of not cutting the cord immediately after the birth.

Watch the video for newborn umbilical cord care for new parents. Post continues after the video...

"It didn't take much to convince people, especially parents, because there’s just no need to cut the cord early - it isn’t rocket science to leave the cord while it’s still pulsating. When the blood has finished transferring, it goes white and theoretically, you wouldn't even need to clamp it."

"Slowly, the evidence to support my theory has started to come out. In 2010, a study found that when the cord wasn’t clamped immediately, babies gained up to 214 grams in weight. In 2011, more research found there was a higher incidence of iron deficiency anaemia in babies who had immediate cord clamping, which might have an impact on future neurodevelopment."

Image via Optimal Cord Clamping Full Blood Benefit Facebook page.

Even so, Burleigh still met resistance. About 15 per cent of babies need resuscitation after birth, and with the cord in place, there are difficulties in easily moving the newborn. Burleigh, along with a group of consultants, developed Basics/Lifestart which is a trolley resuscitation unit and allows the cord to be left intact while the baby is resuscitated.

Now, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has changed its guidelines. According to The Telegraph UK, "doctors and midwives should not routinely clamp the cord ‘earlier than one minute from the birth of the baby’, and instead should wait one to five minutes - and longer if the mother requests it."

iVillage Australia spoke to Midwife Cath Curtin (our - and Bec Judd's - baby guru) on the topic of cord cutting.

"In 2010, a study found that when the cord wasn’t clamped immediately, babies gained up to 214 grams in weight." Image via iStock.

"Obstetrician Dr Len Kliman and I have discussed this at length. We don't think there is a huge benefit but, we do have a lot of women requesting late cutting of the cord and we have no problem with it. We usually wait for five minutes and that certainly helps the new parents psychologically."

Midwife Cath continued, "We also explain to the parents within the antenatal period that if there is any breathing/medical issues at the birth we will cut the cord immediately to provide resuscitation of the baby. All parents are most understanding in this situation of course."

Would you opt to delay the cutting of the umbilical cord? Or did you?

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