birth,  interventions

Optimal Cord Clamping

What in the world is optimal cord clamping? In medicalized birth, immediate cord cutting was the standard practice. Today, however, most women and care providers have heard of delaying cutting the cord.

Benefits of optimal cord clamping:

What is the big deal about waiting to cut the cord? Until the cord stops pulsing, baby’s blood is moving back and forth from mother to baby until the umbilical cord stops pulsing. Cutting the cord before it stops pulsing may leave the baby without as much as 30%-40% of it’s blood. This blood provides rich stem cells to your baby. Stem cells are protective against 80+ illnesses and cancer.

optimal cord clamping transfusion

Early cord clamping also increases the risk of anemia. In a Cochrane Review (, 3/full), babies who did not receive most or all of their transfusion were twice as likely to have anemia between ages 3 months to 6 months. At 2 minutes, your baby will have 70% of their blood from the placenta instead of 100% when the cord stops pulsing.

Defining the terms: Wait for the White

Why the concern over the difference in the terms delayed and optimal? The meaning of delayed cord clamping has changed. Your care provider could define it to mean delaying cutting the cord for 30 sec. – 2 minutes instead of waiting for it to stop pulsing. The cord will turn white when it stops pulsing.

Optimal Cord Clamping is the term that now defines waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. It’s still best to be specific with what YOU mean by optimal, though, and to ask your care provider what it means to them.

Bonus: Did you know your care provider can still delay cord cutting during a surgical birth if you and your baby are fine?

Have you had delayed or optimal cord clamping with your births? Do you plan to request Optimal Cord clamping with your next birth?

To learn more about optimal cord cutting and about childbirth, I invite you to attend my Lamaze childbirth classes.

Marcie Hadley, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), CLC, and LCCE(LAMAZE), has been serving families since 2010. She especially enjoys getting to know her families, meeting their unique needs, and sharing evidence-based care information. Marcie has worked with unmedicated, medicated, C-section, family friendly C-Section, and VBAC labors, Her postpartum experience includes working with families of first children to families of 10. She has worked with mothers who have experienced postpartum depression and illness following birth. Her goal is to empower mothers in their own mothering wisdom.