40% of UK babies are not having optimal cord clamping despite guidelines

The Positive Birth Movement has discovered that many clinicians are not waiting for the recommended 1-5 minutes before clamping the umbilical cord, contrary to guidance from NICE.

A photo of a newborn lying on a hospital bed with a clamp around their umbilical cord

Pregnancy news, 28/02/2018

Optimal cord clamping (OCC) is when the umbilical cord is not immediately clamped after a baby is born. NICE recommends waiting for at least 1-5 minutes, unless the baby has a slow heart rate, needs to be taken away for breathing support, or there is a concern about the cord.

However, in a recent survey of 3500+ parents run by The Positive Birth Movement (PBM), one fifth reported that their baby’s cord had been cut immediately. PBM want to change this and are reminding midwives and obstetric doctors to #waitforwhite at every birth where it is safe to practice OCC.

‘This survey confirms what we already knew anecdotally: that many UK babies who should be benefiting from OCC are currently having their cords clamped much too soon. We need to be talking about why so many clinicians are obviously reluctant to change practice, even in the face of strong evidence. It's upsetting to think that something which is so simple and cost-free to implement, with proven health benefits, is currently being denied to so many UK families.’ Milli Hill, founder of the Positive Birth Movement

Why #waitforwhite for #everybabypossible?

OCC offers many health benefits for baby, including increased blood volume, iron levels and stem cells, and a lower risk of anaemia. In addition, waiting to clamp the cord may lead to a calmer and more pleasant post-birth experience for both mum and baby.

‘At the Positive Birth Movement, we want to raise awareness of this issue and make sure that the current NICE guidelines are followed for all but the tiny minority of babies who are unable to benefit from OCC. The current figure of 40% of babies not receiving OCC is shocking, and urgently needs to change.’ Milli Hill

Parents are becoming more aware of OCC and its benefits, and many are starting to add it to their birth plan. While it’s encouraging to see, NICE guidelines mean OCC should be practiced routinely.

Tommy's thoughts

We fully support The Positive Birth Movement’s #waitforwhite and #everybabypossible campaigns alongside Mama Academy, ChannelMum and Amanda Burleigh, midwife and OCC campaigner.

‘Changing practice can be a slow process, but the benefits of OCC are clear and we need to be confident in our practice to increase the numbers of babies who will benefit.’ Amanda Milne, Tommy’s midwife

Find out more about optimal / delayed cord clamping

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