Give Baby Its Blood Back:
Why Is Early Umbilical Cord Cutting Dangerous?
Nadezhda Ionova in Russian
I read feedback on the process of delivery in the majority of our maternity homes and I feel terrified! The act of delivery is no longer considered to be normal process conceived by the nature. Now it has changed into the whole chain of rough medical interventions, that frequently ends with an operation! As soon as a mother-to-be enters a maternity hospital (good, if it happens by the time she has already gone into labor and not way earlier, as it frequently occurs) she becomes an object for all kinds of modern medicine achievements: labor induction, various IV lines with different drugs, amniotomy, cardiotocography, episiotomy and many other things … There is simply no time and opportunity for the mother and the baby to realize what was conceived by nature!
Can you imagine what kind of stress is experienced by the poor baby, when it’s finally been born? Instead of its mother’s breast – as a reward for going through tortures and a hard work - it has to go through a variety of unpleasant medical procedures. In overwhelming majority of cases as soon as the baby leave its mother’s womb, his umbilical cord gets dissected. This way it loses not only its connections with the mother but a part of its own blood (for more on this topic, please, read further). Then medical staff spanks the baby in order to hear the first cry as soon as possible (which is really unnecessary in case if the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut yet), carry it away from its mother, wash off vernix, which should protect and nurture baby’s skin during the first hours of life, apply eye drops that cause pain, weight, stretch for height measurement, swaddle ….
One can write the huge book about it. I will try if I have time to describe in more detail consequences of medicamentous birth management in other articles. But now I would like to dwell upon a procedure of cutting an umbilical cord.
Right before labor a baby looks too big comparing to the size of birth canal it has to go through. The most incredible moment is when the baby’s head is passing through pelvic inlet. It is a miracle every time. The form of the baby’s head changes cranial bones are displaced, they may even overlap each other. Besides, the baby simply becomes smaller. How can it be? Very simple. The baby’s body is experiencing high pressure, while going through the birth canal. Thus a third of its blood, which is about 100-150ml, is simply squeezed out to placenta. This way the baby is born “a squeezed orange”. After being born the baby receives this blood back, while the umbilical cord is pulsing, given that it hasn’t been cut. Thus, it manages to get back 60-90 ml (that is almost 20 %) of blood enriched with oxygen, hemoglobin and antibodies, which helps to prevent anemia. If the umbilical cord is cut, this blood becomes a property of cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies. For comparison – for an adult loss of 10% of blood is already considered to be dangerous. So why do we have to impose this kind of danger to a tiny human being, that has just come into this world? Who gave doctors the right to take away baby’s blood? In order for a baby to start its life strong and healthy, it is necessary to use all resources, and early cutting of an umbilical cord is a too generous donation.
There is a
myth that after labor baby’s blood can flow into placenta if positioned above
it (the child is on its mother’s breast, placenta is in uterus). Actually,
the nature is wiser, than we are inclined to think. Right after a birth of
the child, blood vessels (umbilical arteries), transporting blood from the
Besides, that the child loses blood as a result of early cutting of an umbilical cord, there is a risk at mum of retained placenta. The placenta is attached to the walls of an uterus by a large number of tiny blood vessels, through which the quarter (!) of blood of a future mother goes up at the end of pregnancy. After the baby’s birth all these vessels are supposed to contract, in order to prevent hemorrhage during the expulsion of afterbirth. It is considerable recovery work on the success of which the health of a new mother depends. And this process should go the way it is intended by nature. The best preventive measures against bleedings and complications during the expulsion of afterbirth is to give a breast to the child and not to hurry the mother to give birth to a placenta, not to press on her stomach, not to pull an umbilical cord and not to cut off it earlier than it is necessary.
Uterine involution, which is especially strong during the first breastfeeding, provides easier separation of placenta. When the baby is latched on right after labor, the level of oxitocin in the mother’s blood is rising naturally and there is no need for introduction of artificial oxytocin or methylergometrine. However, naturally the placenta is born during one-two hours after a birth of the child. Nevertheless, 2-3 decades ago it was considered to be quite normal, but according to modern clinical obstetrics it is too long (as though in these 30 years the female organism has suddenly changed …) – according to Russian maternity hospital rules the mother is obliged to produce placenta in 5-10, maximum 30 minutes after the delivery. And in order for the new mother to be able to do it with such fantastic speed, they inject her with artificial oxytocin or methylergometrine. The use of artificial oxytocin and haste can lead to incomplete separation of placenta and to uterine bleeding, which in their turn can result in serious consequences. In case if after 30 minutes the placenta hasn’t been produced the obstetrician performes manual removal of afterbirth, which guarantees five days course of antibiotics.
That is why
the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to wait until the afterbirth
is finally produced or at least until the umbilical cord has stopped pulsing
before cutting it. They believe that this is better both for the mother and
the baby. Fortunately, the medical centers, the centers of traditional
obstetrics engaged in natural delivery and observing not only these but also
many other rules of
May, 11th 2009