New ACOG Guidelines for Delayed Cord Clamping

Photo Credit: DFW Birth Photographer


Last week, ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) gave us an early Christmas gift with their announcement of new guidelines about Delayed Cord Clamping

We wanted to be sure it didn't get lost in the holiday shuffle so we're sharing everything you need to know about Delayed Cord Clamping- read on!


So, what exactly is Delayed Cord Clamping?

DCC is the act of waiting to clamp and cut the umbilical cord for at least 30-60 seconds after the birth of the baby.  While it is routine for many care providers in our area to delay clamping and cutting the cord until it has stopped pulsing, ACOG's recommendations now specify at least 30-60 seconds for all healthy infants.


Which babies benefit most from Delayed Cord Clamping?

According to ACOG, Delayed Cord Clamping is appropriate for both preterm (born before 37 weeks) and term infants (born after 37 weeks).  "In preterm infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping is associated with significant neonatal benefits, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume and decreased need for blood transfusion. It also lowers the incidence of brain hemorrhage and an intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis. For term infants, it increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores for several months, which helps prevent iron deficiency during the first year of life. Iron deficiency has been linked to impaired cognitive, motor and behavioral development."


Can I still do skin to skin with delayed cord clamping?

Absolutely!  The evidence tells us that DCC does not interfere with other routine newborn procedures including skin to skin, drying or stimulation of the baby. 


Does Delayed Cord Clamping cause complications for the mother or baby?

According to the evidence, there is a "small increase in the incidence of jaundice that requires phototherapy in term infants".  Worth note, here, is the fact that some degree of jaundice can be normal for newborns and will clear either on its own or with the use of bili lights (phototherapy).

In regard to the mother, Delayed Cord Clamping does NOT increase the risk of maternal hemorrhage but ACOG does acknowledge that DCC should not interfere with active management of the 3rd stage of labor (delivery of the placenta).


Can I practice DCC and Cord Blood Banking?

This one can be tricky- essentially, DCC decreases the amount of cord blood that is available however, each company's requirements vary so you would definitely want to speak to your Cord Blood representative.  I know that Cryo-Cell is once such company that counsels their clients on how to do both, with great success.*  Worth note: ACOG finds that the benefits of delayed cord clamping at birth likely exceed those of banking blood for future use so, as always, visit with your care provider to help make the decision that's best for you and your family.

*If you would like more information on Delayed Cord Clamping and Cord Blood Banking, contact Sheila Purrington, the North Texas Cord Blood Educator for Cryo-Cell at Please note, this is not a paid endorsement- FWDA receives no incentives or kickbacks for referral of Cryo-Cell.